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Learning Theory

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  • 1. Oxford Brookes UniversityPCTHE
    Learning Theories
    December 2010
    George Roberts
    Oxford Brookes University
  • 2. That’s all very well in practice,
    but how does it work in theory?
    Do you use theory as a drunk might use a lamp post:
    more for support than illumination?
  • 3. ... learning can be enhanced through: a consideration of the context and experience of others, familiarity with received wisdom, reflection on these, and the use of the first hand experience of the learner.
    [however]
    Discussions of reflection in learning often emphasise the first hand experience of the learner rather than
    - the role of formal theory,
    - the importance of the broader social context
    - and the experience of others
    (Dyke 2006)
    Reflective practice?
  • 4. Outline
    1330 – 1430 Position Papers
    1430 – 1500 Theory of theory
    Break
    1515 – 1600 Critical theory and academic identity
  • 5. Position papers
    How is your assessment practice a representation of what it means to be a good teacher in higher education?
    What is your assessment practice?Consider different aspects of assessment: diagnostic, formative, summative, evaluative, as well as the question of feedback. This might take the form of a brief catalogue of practices, categorised according to aspect.
    What, broadly, does it mean to be a “good teacher in higher education”? That is, what are the quality criteria which you will bring to the paper?
    Syntheseyour understanding and evaluate your collective practice in light of the criteria which you have developed
  • 6. Feedback
  • 7. Good Learning
    Good Teaching
    • sets ground rules
    • 11. provides alternatives
    • 12. exemplifies models
    • 13. gives access to experience
    Good Design
    Good Practice
    encourages
  • Learning Theory“Visual Triggers”
    A theory of theory
  • 26.
  • 27. http://www.artsreview.co.za/fashion/2009/03/19/fuck-the-rainbow-nation-coz-94-changed-fokol-blackwash/
  • 28. Activity
    In pairs/threes:
    In light of those pictures
    What [the heck] use is “A theory of learning”?
    Discuss, and produce (at least) one idea, that, for you, is central to this question
  • 29. Feedback
  • 30. Feedback
    Context
    To promote “better” learning
    Aspirational
    Theory as a set of ideals
    Frameworks can be one sided, do not acknowledge diversity
    Challenge
    Misrepresentation, goal oriented
    Confusion
    Social stimulus
    Many theories could be applied to negotiate difference
  • 31. Learning Theory“difference”
    A theory of theory
  • 32. There is difference
    What do you do with it?
    as a teacher
    as a researcher
    as an academic
  • 33. 2 orientations towards acquiring knowledge & … 2 functions of theorydeductivefrom theory to observationpredictiveinductivefrom observation to theoryexplanatory
  • 34. another orientation towards acquiring knowledge & … another function of theoryholisticgenerative
  • 35. So… theory is:
    predictive
    explanatory
    generative
  • 36. and, which reminds me… theory is:
    nomothetic
    oops!
    typical
    Or typifying
    Or typologising
    Or generalising
  • 37. So, we have a typology of theory…
    a theory of theory
    explanatory
    predictive
    generative
    typical
  • 38. And the last bit?
    Falsifiable
    Theory vs.. ideology:
    Ideology may well be predictive and explanatory, but instead of generative it is restrictive, instead of typical it is normalising and instead of falsifiable it is enforced. (Popper)
    • Theory “proves” nothing
    • 39. things/the world challenges theory
  • So, we have a typology of theory…
    a theory of theory
    explanatory
    predictive
    generative
    typical
    falsifiable
  • 40. Theory
    Systematic codification or abstraction of:
    • Accumulated observations (or assertions)
    • 41. Beliefs
    Conceptual framework
    • Model
    An attempt to answer the question, “Why...?”
    An approach or a perspective, e.g.:
    • Positivist
    • 42. Socio-cultural
    See De-localized Production of Scientific Knowledge. (2007, October 7). . Retrieved from http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/mediaberkman/2007/09/21/de-localized-production-of-scientific-knowledge-2/
  • 43. So, Learning Theory
    • An attempt to answer the question, “Why...?” or "How?" with a statement: "Because...”
    • 44. Why and how do we learn?
    • 45. How is it that we come to know things?
    • 46. How do we come to know things or do things differently?
  • Break
  • 47. History of Ideas“purpose”
    Institutions of society
    Hidden curriculum
    Critical theory
  • 48. Hidden curricular issues
    Overt curriculum of the early modern age
    “3 Rs”:reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic. Reproduction of these cultural goods, universal literacy and numeracy, would benefit both the individual as well as society.
    Today’s overt curriculum
    Transferrable skills, graduate competencies
    Flexibility
    Community/team work
    Personalisation
  • 49. Covert or hidden curriculum
    Industrial era covert curriculum:
    Punctuality, tolerance of repetition, subordination
    Post industrial “Knowledge Economy” covert curriculum
    Piecework, precarity, competition
    Normalisation
    Surveillance
  • 50. Criticality
    Exposing assumptions
    Ron Barnett
    Exposing culture
    Scollon, Barthes, Bourdieu, Latour
    Exposing power
    Brookfield, Fairclough, Bhabha
  • 51. Stephen Brookfield’s four “critical reflective lenses”
    • our “autobiography as teachers and learners”, i.e. through our own eyes
    • 52. through our students eyes
    • 53. through our colleagues’ experience and peer review
    • 54. through the theoretical literature
    Theoretical literature helps us to name our practice and to find that it is not idiosyncratic
  • 55. Critical theory
    Expose hidden assumptions
    Structured reduction of complexity
    • What is left out
    Indirect object of learning
    • Hidden curriculum
    Appropriation
  • 56. Typical critical theory
    • anti-essentialist/critical realist: the basic givens of existence are fluid and unstable
    • 57. heteroglossic/dialogic: all thinking is largely determined by prior cultural experience
    • 58. language is an actor (weak linguistic determinism)
    • 59. meaning is characterised by ambiguity
    • 60. context is everything
    • 61. grand narrativesvpetitsrecipts
  • Positivism
    Anti-metaphysical/clericalist, accumulist theory of knowledge based on observation plus logic.
    Theory is simply the codification of accumulated knowledge and not of particular importance.
    Logic plus observation can lead to a grand unification of all knowledge. (Gailson, 2007)
  • 62. Socio-culturalism
    Social constructivism
    The simplest utterance, far from reflecting a constant, rigid correspondence between sound and meaning, is really a process. … the inner relationship we were looking for was not a prerequisite for, but rather a product of, the historical development of human consciousness. (Vygotsky)
    All observation is theory laden (Popper)
    Disciplines are like ships passing in the night (Kuhn)
    Cultures parse the world differently (Gailson)
  • 63. In Groups: Consider this
    Most academics - in the humanities and social sciences, particularly - come at their subject these days from a relativist perspective: knowledge is "in here"; there is no knowledge without the knower; knowledge is "constructed" in cultural contexts; knowledge is not "given" or "out there". There is no "absolute truth".
    This position is quite different from the classical approach: knowledge is "out there"; the "laws of nature" are independent from the mind of the investigator; there is "truth" to be discovered. This approach depends on the "independent, objective observer", who can stand aside from the observed phenomenon and form an unbiased view.
    This classical approach is the traditional position of many scientists, as well the commonsense view of how knowledge is produced, which (according to Scollon) is held by an international public discourse of commerce and government.
    (Scollon 2003: 71)
  • 64. Activity
    Explain this statement to one another
    Position yourself in respect to the statement
    What does "theory" mean to you?
  • 65. Discussion?
    …?
  • 66. Academic identity
    VAK
    Models
  • 67. A theory of identity…?
  • 68. Academic identity
    Disciplinarity as a dimension of diversity in higher education, showing an understanding of broad differences in epistemologies
    Disciplinarity may affect
    learning approaches
    curriculum outcomes
    current challenges
    learner characteristics…
  • 69. Approaches to teaching
    Prosser & Trigwell (various)
    Simple but well researched 2-dimensional framework
    Information transfer (teacher focus) scale
    Conceptual change (student focus) scale
    Relational and context specific
  • 70. Teaching Perspectives
    Transmission
    Apprenticeship
    Developmental
    Nurturing
    Social Reform
    http://teachingperspectives.com/
  • 71. Wider aims: good practice
    encourage student-tutor contact
    encourage student-student co-operation
    encourage active learning
    give prompt feedback
    emphasise time on task
    have and communicate high expectations
    respect diverse talents and ways of learning
    (Chickering & Ehrman, 1987)
    independent of the mode of engagement
  • 72. Good Learning
    Good Teaching
    • sets ground rules
    • 76. provides alternatives
    • 77. exemplifies models
    • 78. gives access to experience
    Good Design
    Good Practice
    encourages
  • Models
    Typologies
    Linear
    Beetham
    Cyclical
    Kolb
    Laurillard
    Hierarchical
    Bloom
    Salmon
  • 91. Beetham’s typology
    Assimilative
    Constructivist
    Social constructivist
    Situative
  • 92. Kolb’s Learning Cycle
  • 93. Scholarship of teaching
    Boyer’s model of 4 scholarships (Nibertn.d.; Boyer 1997)
    Discovery
    Teaching
    Integration
    Application
  • 94.
  • 95. Honey and Mumford
    Activitists (Do)
    Immerse themselves fully in new experiences
    Enjoy here and now
    Open minded, enthusiastic, flexible
    Act first, consider consequences later
    Seek to centre activity around themselves
    Reflectors (Review)
    Stand back and observe
    Cautious, take a back seat
    Collect and analyze data about experience and events, slow to reach conclusions
    Use information from past, present and immediate observations to maintain a big picture perspective.
    Theorists (Conclude)
    Think through problems in a logical manner, value rationality and objectivity
    Assimilate disparate facts into coherent theories
    Disciplined, aiming to fit things into rational order
    Keen on basic assumptions, principles, theories, models and systems thinking
    Pragmatists (Plan)
    Keen to put ideas, theories and techniques into practice
    Search new ideas and experiment
    Act quickly and confidently on ideas, gets straight to the point
    Are impatient with endless discussion
  • 96. Group (team) roles
    “A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way” (Belbin)
    Everybody has a preferred role
    People are likely to take on more than one role
    team roles are not personality types; they are clusters of characteristics,
    Role orientation
    Action
    shaper, implementer, completer finisher
    People
    chair/co-ordinator, teamworker, resource investigator
    Cerebral
    plant, monitor/evaluator, specialist
    General group roles
    Group building & maintenance
    Group task
  • 97. Conversational model
    Borrowed from http://www.elicit.scotcit.ac.uk/modules/intro/unit3.htm
  • 98. Levels of learning: Bloom
    evaluation
    synthesis
    analysis
    application
    comprehension
    knowledge
    ATHERTON J S (2005) Learning and Teaching: Bloom's taxonomy [On-line] UK: Available: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/bloomtax.htm
  • 99. Sequence & Stance
    Sequence
    Where are you in the course? Is it the first week or the 8th week?
    Have groups been used in other settings?
    Do people know one another yet?
    What is the interactional function of groupwork (as opposed to the instrumental or regulatory orheuristicfunctions?)
    Maxims of stance (Scollon 1998)
    Channel
    Relationship
    Topic
    e-Tivity Sequence
    (Salmon)
  • 100. HEA Values
    Core values
    Respect for learners
    Commitment to scholarship
    Developing learning communities
    Encouraging participation in higher education
    Commitment to personal CPD (or CPPD)
  • 101. Professional values
    Instrumental, other-directed
    Compassion
    Determination
    Competence
    Resourcefulness
    Respect
    Solidarity
  • 102. QCF Level descriptors
    Level 7 (paraphrase)
    Ability to reformulate and use relevant methodologies and approaches to address problematic situations that involve many interacting factors
    Taking responsibility for planning and developing courses of action underpinning substantial change
    Critically analyse, interpret and evaluate complex information, concepts and theories as they apply to current developments that affect the areas of work or study.
  • 103. Wrap-up
    Questions?
    Academics anonymous
  • 104. Thank you
    George Roberts
    Senior Lecturer, Educational Development
    OCSLD
    Wheatley Campus
    Oxford Brookes University
    Oxford, OX33 1HX
    groberts@brookes.ac.uk
    http://www.google.com/profiles/georgebroberts