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BasicMethodsofInstruction

Module 7: Generic Skills

WhatisaGenericSkill?
PrinciplesofLearningforGenericSkill
PrinciplesofTeachingaGenericSkill
SkillBuilder
GroupActivities
SixthGradedProject
Comments

What is a Generic Skill?


Agenericskillisaskillwhich:
canbeappliedacrossavarietyofsubjectdomains,and
takeslongertoacquirethandomaindependent(subjectarea)skills.
ItiswhatGagnreferstoas"cognitivestrategies"andwhatmanycognitivescientists
refertoas"domainindependentknowledge."Themajorkindsofgenericskillsinclude
thinkingskills(suchasproblemsolvingtechniques),learningstrategies(suchascreating
mnemonicstohelpyourememberthings),andmetacognitiveskills(suchasmonitoring
andrevisingyourproblemsolvingtechniquesormnemoniccreatingtechniques).
Thereareatleastthreemajorpartsofagenericskill.Themostprevalent
componentisaprocedureasetofstepsyouusetoperformtheskill.Butyoualso
usuallyneedtounderstandandbeabletoapplycertainprinciplesthatprovideguidance
astohowtoperformeachstep,orevenguidanceastowhentousewhichprocedure
(approach).Thirdly,itisoftennecessarytomemorizetheorderofthestepsa
memorizationcomponent.

Principles of Learning for Generic Skills


Sohowisagenericskilllearned?Sinceagenericskillismadeupofsimpler
components(primarilyproceduresandprinciples),weneedtolookathowthose
componentsarelearned.Wehavealreadydonethisinthepreviousmodules.You
maywanttoreviewtheappropriatesectionofthememorization,procedure,and
principlemodules.Butthereismore.
Agenericskilldiffersfromadomaindependentskillinthatitisappliedacross
differentcontentdomainsandittakeslongertolearn.Bothofthesedifferenceshave
importantinfluencesonhowagenericskillislearned.
Thefactthatitisappliedindifferentcontentdomainsmeansthatitcanonlybe
learnedthroughapplicationtodomaindependentknowledge.Therefore,itmustbe
integratedwithdomaindependentknowledge.Inlearningagenericskilllikeproblem
solving,theproblemsmustbefromatleastoneparticulardomain.Therefore,youmust
decidewhatdomaindependentcontenttouseforteachingthegenericskillateachpoint
inyourinstructionalsequence.Secondly,ifwewantthelearnerstobeabletoapplyitin
differentcontentdomains,theyneedtolearntogeneralizeittodifferentcontent
domains.Thisisawholenewkindofvariablecharacteristic,orequivalenceclass.This
hasveryimportantimplicationsforthewayyouwouldwanttodesigninstructionona
genericskill.
Thefactthatittakeslongertolearnmeansthattheorderoflearningbecomesan
importantissue.Thinkabouthowyoulearnedproblemsolving.Youdidn'tlearnhow
todealwiththemostcomplexcasesallatonce,didyou?Youprobablystartedby
learningproblemsolvingtechniquesthatenabledyoutosolveverysimplekindsof
problems.Youprobablydidn'tstartbylearningallthediscriminationsandconcepts
relevanttothemostcomplexproblemsolvingtechniques,andthengraduallyworkyour
wayupaGagnanlearninghierarchytobeingabletointegrateallthosesimpler
componentpartsintoawhole.Rather,youlikelystartedbylearningthefew
discriminations,concepts,andrulesyouneededtosolvetheverysimplestkindsof

problems,andyoumasteredthatlevelofproblemsolvingbeforeyouproceededto
slightlymorecomplextechniquestodealwithaslightlymorecomplexkindofproblem.
Thisalsohasveryimportantimplicationsforthewayyouwouldwanttoorganize
instructiononagenericskill.

Principles for Teaching a Generic Skill


Giventhatagenericskillismadeupofsimplerskillsandknowledge,wecanuse
theprinciplesforteachingeachofthosecomponents.Youmaywanttoreviewthe
appropriatesectionofthememorization,procedure,andprinciplemodules.Butour
instructionaldesignsmustalsotakeintoaccounttheotheraspectsoflearningageneric
skill:thatitisappliedacrossdifferentcontentdomainsandthatittakeslongertolearn.
Perhapsthefirstissuetoaddressishowtosequencetheinstruction.Basedonthe
principleoflearningpresentedabove,weshoulduseanelaborationsequenceratherthan
ahierarchicalsequence.Weshouldfigureoutwhatthesimplestkindofcaseis,and
teachittomastery,completewithalltheprocedures,principles,andothercontent
neededtolearnit.Thenweshouldfigureoutwhatthenextsimplestkindofcaseis,and
dothesame.Acertainkindoftaskanalysisisnecessarytodothis,anditwillresultin
anoutlineofthesequenceoflevelsofcomplexityofthegenericskill.
Thenextactivityshouldbetoidentifytheproceduresandprinciplestobetaught
foreachlevelofcomplexity.Thisrequiresacertainformofcontentanalysis,anditwill
resultinanoutlineofthesequenceofcontent(skills,understandings,andinformation)
tobetaughtforeachlevelofcomplexity.
Thenextactivityshouldbetoselecttacticsforteachingeachofthepiecesof
contentinthesequence.Thisisastraightforwardapplicationofwhatyouhavelearned
frompreviousmodules.
It'sreallyquitesimple,isn'tit!

Attheendofthismodulearesomereadingsthatmayhelpabit.ThenIsuggest
youworkonPart2,theSkillBuilder,onHyperCard.Thisisanewandilldefinedarea,
wherewearegraduallydiscoveringbettermethodsofinstruction.Therefore,although
theintegratedexamplesmaybeofsomehelp,theydonotshowsequencingwellfor

eitherlevelsofcomplexityorcontentwithinlevels.Wewillfocusonthisinourclass
time.Seeifyoucandiscoverabetterway!

Skill Builder
Go to the HyperCard Program for this.

Group Activities: Practice with Feedback


Section1
Synthesis:SampleBlueprint
"Prioritizing"
byKushigian,Lin,&Matsubara
Pleasedothisactivitypriortoclass.
Thefollowingisasampleblueprintthatshowstheuseofthestrategiesandtacticsyou
havejuststudied.Itisforafairlydifficultlesson,soitincludesrichinstruction(theuse
ofmanyenrichmenttactics).Youwillfindthefollowingactivitiesverybeneficialto
yourunderstanding!Pleasedothem.
1. Withyourteam,studythedimensionsofdivergence(simplifyingconditions)
carefullyandseeifyoucanthinkofanythatshouldbeaddedordeleted.Alsotryto
identifywhichonesyouthinkwillcontributemosttothedifficultyofthetask.
2. Lookatthesequenceoutline.Discusshowwouldyouchangetheorderinwhich
thesimplifyingconditionsarerelaxed,andwhy.
3. Lookatthecomponentsofthegenericskillfortheepitome.Istheprocedure
indeedasetofsteps?Isitagoodprocedure?Aretheprinciplesreallyprinciples?Are

theyimportantones?Aretherecallcomponentstrulythingsthatshouldbememorized?
4. Howcouldyouimproveonthetacticsthatwereselected?Wouldyou
implementeachtacticthewaythedesignersdid?
5. Whatstrengthsandweaknessesdoyouseewiththeselectionofdomain
dependentcontent?

Section2
CritiqueaSampleLesson"Creativity"
byInaeKang&LouEdmondson
Pleasedothisactivitypriortoclass.
Workingwithyourteam,critiquetheattachedunderstandinglesson,identifyingbothits
majorstrengthsandweaknesses,andrecommendwaystoimproveit.Yourcritique
shouldincludethefollowing:
a. Rankorderthedimensionsofdivergence(simplifyingconditions)accordingto
whichoneshavethegreatesteffectonthecomplexityofthetask.Arethereanyyou
wouldaddordelete?Why?
b. Whataretheoneortwomajorstrengthsandweaknessesofthesequence?How
wouldyouimproveit?
c. Haveanyimportantcomponentsofthetaskbeenleftout?Wouldyouchangeany
ofthecomponentslisted?Ifso,how?
d.

Identifythethreegreateststrengthsofthetacticsand/ortheirimplementation.

e. Identifythethreegreatestweaknessesofthetacticsand/ortheirimplementation,
andbrieflydescribewhatshouldhavebeendone.
f.

Identifyanyothercreativechangesyouthinkwouldimprovethelesson.

Section3

DesignaNewLesson
Thisactivityistobedoneinclass.
1.
Workingwithyourteam,pickoneofthefollowingtwogenericskillsonwhichto
designalesson:
A. Howtomemorizethings.
B. Howtosynthesizewhatyouhavelearned.

2.
Designthelesson.Askforfeedbackfromyourprofessorifyouwish,andrevise
accordingly.

Sixth Graded Project: Generic Skills Lesson Critique


YourteamisworkingfortheVanguardSchoolCorporationtohelpthemimprovetheir
thinkingskillscurriculum.Theywantyoutoimprove(rewrite)thelessonspecsthatI
willhandouttoyou.Yourrevisedlessonspecsshouldincludethefollowing:
a.

Adescriptionofthesimplestkindofcasefortheskill.

b.

Alistofthedimensionsofdivergenceforthethinkingskill.

b.

Thesequenceforintroducingeachnewdimensionofdivergence.

c. Thecomponentsofthethinkingskill(procedures,principles,etc.)forthesimplest
levelofcomplexity.
d. Achronologicallessonplanforthesimplestlevelofcomplexityinyoursequence.
Itshouldshowwhatcomponentsshouldbetaughtinwhatorder,whattacticsshouldbe

usedtoteacheachcomponent,howthetacticsshouldbeimplemented,howthe
instructionshouldbeintegratedwiththeschoolcorporation'sexistingcourses(at
whatevergradelevelisappropriateforthislevelofcomplexity),andhowyoucan
maintainasholisticaspossibleanapproachtoteachingthethinkingskillatthislevelof
complexity,withoutoverloadingthestudentswithtoomuchnewstuff.
Besureyoudonotgetanyhelpfromanyoneotherthanyourpartnersindoingthis
assignment.Youareunderhonortosayabsolutelynothingaboutyourgradedprojectto
otherstudentsinthecourseuntilOctober15.
Useawordprocessorifpossible,with81/2by11inchpaper,putthelessonspecs(one
fortheteam)inalargeenvelope,alongwiththeoriginallessonspecs,thefeedbacksheet
(onefortheteamp.164),thesealedTeammateParticipationRatingForms(onefor
eachmemberp.165),theModuleEvaluationSheets(oneforeachmemberp.166),
andbesuretoincludeanaudiocassette.

F500 Instructional Strategies


FeedbackonRedesignofGenericSkillsLessonSpecs
Note:20pointsismasterylevel
Names

Points:

a.Dimensionsofdivergence

Deductionsoradditions

_______

b.Sequence

Deductionsoradditions

_______

c.Components

Deductionsoradditions

_______

d.LessonplanOrganization/Sequence/Holism

Deductionsoradditions

_______

Tactics/Implementation

Deductionsoradditions

_______

Integration

Deductionsoradditions

_______

Total

______

F500 Instructional Strategies

ConfidentialTeammate
ParticipationRating
Myself:_______________________________________________________
Whatpercentoftheworkdidyoudo?(33%isexpectedwithateamof3.)
Intermsofconceptualinput(applicationofskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofcreativeinput(goingbeyondskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofroutineinput(e.g.typingandlogistics)?_______
Howdoyouthinkyoucouldimproveasateammate?
NameofTeammate:______________________________________________
Whatpercentoftheworkdidthisteammatedo?(33%isexpectedwithateamof3.)
Intermsofconceptualinput(applicationofskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofcreativeinput(goingbeyondskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofroutineinput(e.g.typingandlogistics)?_______
Howeasywasittogetalongwiththisteammate? 1
(Circleonenumber.)
Hard

Howmuchwouldyouliketoworkwiththispersonagain?
(Circleonenumber.)
1
2
Pleaseno!
Howcouldthispersonimproveasateammate?

5
Easy

5
Fantastic!

NameofTeammate:______________________________________________
Whatpercentoftheworkdidthisteammatedo?(33%isexpectedwithateamof3.)

Intermsofconceptualinput(applicationofskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofcreativeinput(goingbeyondskillslearnedinthemodule)?_______
Intermsofroutineinput(e.g.typingandlogistics)?_______
Howeasywasittogetalongwiththisteammate? 1
(Circleonenumber.)
Hard

Howmuchwouldyouliketoworkwiththispersonagain?
(Circleonenumber.)
1
2
Pleaseno!
Howcouldthispersonimproveasateammate?

5
Easy

5
Fantastic!

Module 4. Generic Skill Module


EvaluationSheet
Whatdidyoulikemostabouttheprintedportionofthismodule?

Whatwouldyoulikechangedabouttheprintedportionofthismodule?

WhatdidyoulikemostabouttheHyperCardportionofthismodule?

WhatwouldyoulikechangedintheHyperCardportionofthismodule?

Whatdidyoulikemostabouttheuseofclasstimeforthismodule?

Whatwouldyoulikechangedabouttheuseofclasstimeforthismodule?

WhatdidyoulikeaboutSection1ofGroupActivities?

WhatwouldyoulikechangedaboutSection1ofGroupActivities?

WhatdidyoulikeaboutSection2ofGroupActivities?

WhatwouldyoulikechangedaboutSection2ofGroupActivities?

WhatdidyoulikeaboutSection3ofGroupActivities?

WhatwouldyoulikechangedaboutSection3ofGroupActivities?

Canyouthinkofanywayofimprovingthegradedassignment?

Sixth Graded Project


Workingingroupsofthree,createablueprintforteachingagenericskillofyourchoice.

a.Pickagenericskillwhichisfairlysmall(manageable)inscope.Ofcourse,itmust
notbeanythingwehavediscussedinthiscourse.

b.Selectyourtargetpopulationoflearnerssothatthecontentisofmoderatedifficulty
(3onascaleof15).Assumethatnoneofyourlearnershasalreadylearnedyourtask,
andthatallofyourlearnershavealreadymasteredallprerequisitesforit.

c.Yourblueprintshouldhavetheusualheaderinformation:
yourname,
thekindoflesson(genericskill),
thelabelforyourgenericskill,
thetargetaudience,
therichnesslevelforthelesson(15)
thedimensionsofdivergencefortheexamplesandpractice.
Thenitshouldhaveanoutlineofthesequenceoflevelsofcomplexityforthegeneric
skill(shootfor46levelsforthisexercise),withalistingofallcontenttobetaught
withintwoofthoselevels.Thelistingofcontentshouldincludethesteps(procedures),
principles,andanyothercontentyoufinduseful.Assumethatallprerequisiteconcepts
havealreadybeenmastered.
Thenforoneofthelevelsofcomplexity,theblueprintshouldhaveaseparatesection
withprescriptionsintheformofachronologicallistingofthetacticsyouwoulduseto
teacheachpieceofcontent(inalefthandcolumn)andanindicationofhowyouwould
implementthem(inarighthandcolumn).

Finally,instillanothersectionoftheblueprint,listsomedomaindependentcontent
fromavarietyofcoursesyourstudentswouldbetaking(say,twopiecesofcontentfrom
eachcourse).Thiscontentshouldbeappropriatetoserveasexamplesandpracticefor
thechosenlevelofcomplexity.
Youdonotneedtodevelopinstructionforthisassignmenttheblueprintisallthatis
required,andIexpectittobeabout35pages.

d.Pleaseputyourblueprintinalargeenvelopeorafolderwithapocket,andincludean
audiocassetteforfeedbackfromyourprofessor.
Notethattheexamplesyouhaveseendonotusethissameformat.Pleaseusethisnew
format.