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First Principles, Adolescents and Media Arts

By Katherine Percival

To summarize Merrills principles it is suggested that learning is best promoted when


instruction engages with five ideals of instruction. Merrill suggests that to improve performance
achieved by students and overall satisfaction of instruction, it should include; instruction that
connects with real world problems or tasks, instruction that activates students prior knowledge,
new learning should be modeled, students should have a chance to apply their new knowledge
and practice it multiple times and lastly, instruction should connect the new knowledge outside
the classroom and to personal contexts in regards to students interests.

Merrills principles are deconstructed further discussing each principle at length.


Instruction that connects to the real world problems need to be authentic and meaningful to
students. These tasks should include students prior knowledge and should progress in
difficulty, including the use of new knowledge as the tasks progress. When activating students
prior knowledge, teachers need to not assume student knowledge and understanding and
instead assess prior knowledge through student recall. During this stage students should be
shown a trajectory of what knowledge is to come and a real world connection for why students
are learning the topic. These steps will help the foundation for building new knowledge on.
When demonstrating new skills/ knowledge to students the teacher should provide a model on
how a skill could be performed. Additionally adding varied examples and perspectives while
referencing prior knowledge. This will guide students in this new learning and aid them in a
starting point. Using the real world problems/ tasks allow students to practice their new
knowledge. Have students apply new knowledge in a variety of contexts such as working as a
whole class to smaller groups to individually to gain confidence and additional strategies.
During this practice feedback is key, focus on their effort instead of luck. Finally, have students
reflect on their experiences and challenges with the new knowledge and how that problem-
solving and modeling of instructions can be applied to personal contexts. Challenge students to
test or apply their new skill in a different context, allowing them to explore new knowledge
more personally.

As I was reading Merrills Principles I found many connections with the five ideals of
instruction with Eriksons Stages of Psychosocial Development & High School Students, Teaching
Adolescents Effectively. In both articles, they state a variety of ways learning is best promoted,
however, Eriksons stages reflects on psychosocial development and Merrills principles reflect
on theory to practice. When you combine the two, Merrills principles supports Eriksons
strategies for teaching adolescents. For instance, in Eriksons stages it states to be supportive
by [e]ngaging students in the planning for their own future (Teaching Adolescents
Effectively 1). This strategy connects well with Merrills principle of activating prior knowledge
because of how the principle suggests showing students a trajectory of knowledge to come. If
you combine the two together an effective way to promote learning is including students in the
new knowledge trajectory. Have students be involved in course content and unit development.
Ask student what they think is important to learn to further their engagement for both the
course and in new learning.

An additional connection that is found in the two articles is Eriksons strategy of being
interested in your students by [a]sk[ing] students about their time outside of the class
(Teaching Adolescents Effectively 2). This connects well with Merrills principle of using varied
examples and perspectives when modelling new skills and connecting instruction to real world
tasks. These two connect well because if you use the students interests when discussing new
knowledge, whether it is one example during the modeling stage, you are both connecting the
subject to the real world as well as giving students alternative perspectives that are
contemporary and meaningful. This combination demonstrates that as a teacher you listen and
care about your students interests, demonstrating that through lesson incorporation.

Accompanying Merrills connections with Eriksons strategies, another article, Teaching


and Learning with Young Adolescents: Celebrating Diversity, a Working Document, also relates
to several ways to promote the best learning. In the article, Teaching and Learning with Young
Adolescents, the author evaluates adolescents through a subsection of lenses that deconstructs
five areas of development. In the subsection of social development the article states [a]s the
adolescent engages in more interactions, many involving risk-taking behaviours, there is a
transference of loyalty to the peer group (Teaching and Learning with Young Adolescents 5),
suggesting lessons that [p]rovide activities (role playing, sociodramas) which will allow
students to explore ways of dealing with various situations that may arise (Teaching and
Learning with Young Adolescents 5). This note on social development connects with creating
lessons and engagement through the use of real world problems and tasks. If you connect
Merrills principle with the understanding of social development teachers can assist students in
experiencing real world situations without the real world consequences. Allowing for learning
to transcend past the academic and into adolescents personal lives. Over all, providing
authentic learning that can highlight prior and new knowledge and how that transfers past the
classroom and into the real world.

In combination of Merrills Principles, Eriksons Strategies and with the aid of


understanding adolescent development, creating goals for curriculum can better become
student centred and theoretically should improve student engagement and satisfaction within a
course. With this is mind for Media Arts and to look at the discussions our class has had on
essential concepts for Media Arts, I feel that these are particularly helpful when implementing
critical literacy. As mentioned in our discussion, social networking is taking over as the next
platform for traditional media outlets and it is important that students are able to navigate
through the hordes of information critically. I believe the best way for teachers to approach
this is through Merrills perspective of authentic real world connections that allow students to
explore ways of dealing with all this information through student developed course content. By
engaging students in course development Media Arts courses are ensuring content is
contemporary and relevant to what students are facing on an everyday basis. This also provides
the opportunity to give students tasks that explores different sections of development allowing
social, emotional, intellectual and moral learning in a safe and caring environment.
Bibliography

Gardner, Joel. Applying Merrills First Principles of Instruction: Practical Methods Based on a
Review of the Literature. Applying First Principles(n.d.): 1-15. Web. 5 July 2017.

"Teaching Adolescents Effectively." Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development & High


School Students. N.p., 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 05 July 2017.
Teaching and learning with young adolescents: Celebrating diversity: a working
document. St. Johns: Division of Program Development, 2001. Print.