Professor Marcia Devlin: "Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies"

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Professor Devlin was an invited speaker at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: National University of Singapore, Dec 3-5, 2008

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Professor Marcia Devlin: "Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies"

  1. 1. Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Frontiers in Higher Education   December 3-5, 2008 National University of Singapore Singapore Professor Marcia Devlin (PhD) Deakin University
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Why interdisciplinarity in higher education? </li></ul><ul><li>Variants of disciplinarity </li></ul><ul><li>Pedagogical challenges in interdisciplinarity </li></ul><ul><li>Four learning theories and ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Which theories/ideas are ‘best’ for interdisciplinary teaching and learning? </li></ul><ul><li>Your questions and comments </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why interdisciplinarity? <ul><li>‘ Big topics’ such as climate change and the AIDS pandemic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are global topics of interest and relevance to international community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are difficult to study from a single disciplinary perspective – require more than one </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Why interdisciplinarity? <ul><ul><li>As the world becomes more connected and integrated in managing these issues, interdisciplinarity increasingly has a place in higher education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>W e need graduates who can work across disciplines and with others who ‘see’ things differently </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Variants of disciplinarity
  6. 6. The interdisciplinary continuum <ul><li>Elective subjects that relate to a topic (Women’s Studies) </li></ul><ul><li>-> </li></ul><ul><li>Entrenching discipline boundaries while leaving open possibility of mutual critique </li></ul><ul><li>-> </li></ul><ul><li>Integration/modifications of sub-contributions while inquiry proceeding </li></ul>
  7. 7. The interdisciplinary continuum (cont.) <ul><li>Pluridisciplinarity: two or more disciplines combine their expertise to jointly address an area of common concern </li></ul><ul><li>-> </li></ul><ul><li>Transdisciplinarity: collapse of academic boundaries and emergence of new disciplines </li></ul>
  8. 8. Pedagogical considerations <ul><li>Two major challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dissonant/different cognitive maps, ways of seeing and knowing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disciplinary language </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Pedagogical considerations (cont) <ul><li>Dissonant/different cognitive maps, ways of seeing and knowing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each discipline has a way of seeing, a way of knowing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Members of a discipline community ‘see’ things differently to other communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students learn disciplinary maps and models when inducted, hard to see things another ways </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Pedagogical considerations (cont) <ul><li>Disciplinary language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strong linguistic preferences within disciplines in choice of, and meanings of, language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As important to teach language as concepts, methodologies </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Pedagogical considerations <ul><li>Other challenges: </li></ul><ul><li>Preparation and curriculum implications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tutor training </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other considerations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rewarding disciplinary/interdisciplinary efforts </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Four learning theories and ideas <ul><ul><ul><li>Constructivism </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Situated learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Experiential learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Phenomenography </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Four learning theories and ideas <ul><li>1. Constructivism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learners ‘construct’ new ideas or concepts themselves, dialogue encouraged </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Situated learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs, social interaction and collaboration necessary </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Learning theories and ideas <ul><li>3. Experiential learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ideas can be formed and re-formed through experience or learning by ‘doing’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4. Phenomenography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A research method that focuses on how people experience phenomena. The focus in teaching and learning is on the student experience of learning – there are different understandings of reality </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Which theory/idea is ‘best’? <ul><li>1. Constructivism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognises that students need to build their understanding of concepts – such building is critical with multiple ways of knowing are involved </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2. Situated learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promotes interaction to build knowledge – particularly important if knowledge is construed from different perspectives </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Which theory/idea is ‘best’? <ul><li>3. Experiential learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>P oints to the benefits of learning by doing, ‘application’ of multiple perspectives may assist in understanding the contributions of various disciplines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4. Phenomenography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlights the fact that there are different understandings of reality, reminds us of the centrality of the student experience in learning </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Which theory/idea is ‘best’? <ul><li>It depends what you believe about teaching and learning, that is, what theories or ideas you adopt </li></ul>
  18. 18. Y o ur comments
  19. 19. References <ul><li>Davies, M. & Devlin, M. (2007). Interdisciplinary higher education: Implications for teaching and learning. Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne. Retrieved 25 September 2008, from http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/pdfs/InterdisciplinaryHEd.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Devlin, M. (2002). Taking responsibility isn’t everything: A case for developing tertiary students’ conceptions of learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 7 (2), 125–138. </li></ul><ul><li>Feyerabend, P. (1993). Against Method. (3rd ed.). London: Verso. </li></ul><ul><li>Kearsley, G. (2008). Experiential Learning (C. Rogers). Retrieved 25 September 2008, from: http://tip.psychology.org/rogers.html </li></ul><ul><li>Kuhn, T. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions . Chigago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press. </li></ul>
  20. 20. References (cont.) <ul><li>Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice: Mind, mathematics, and culture in everyday life . Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Marton. F. (1986). Phenomenography—A research approach to investigating different understandings of reality. Journal of Thought 21 (2) , 28–49. </li></ul><ul><li>Petrie, H.G. (1976). Do you see what I see? The Epistemology of Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Educational Researcher, 5 (2), 9–15. </li></ul><ul><li>Rogers, C.R. (1969). Freedom to Learn . Columbus, OH: Merrill. </li></ul><ul><li>Rogers, C.R. & Freiberg, H.J. (1994). Freedom to Learn (3rd ed.). Columbus, OH: Merrill/Macmillan. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  21. 21. Learning Theories and Interdisciplinary Epistemologies International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Frontiers in Higher Education   December 3-5, 2008 National University of Singapore Singapore Professor Marcia Devlin (PhD) Deakin University

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