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Lesson Plan Critique

By Michael Bui

In this lesson on entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, three theories including

behaviorism, information processing/cognitive learning theory and constructivism are applied

and used to analyze the content and purpose of the lesson. This analysis will be separated into

four sections: Reflection of the Theories, Gaps in Lesson, Proposed Changes and Summary.

Reflection of Theories

I. Behavioral

Many parts of the discussed lesson utilizes positive reinforcement as a way of structuring

the lesson. Classroom routines and management are vital for creating an atmosphere conducive

to learning. Participation from students is solicited and encouraged through the use of

participation marks, praise for correct answers, validating responses by writing them on the

board and asking students to recall information they have been taught in the past. As part of their

classroom routine, students are asked to answer the central question at the beginning and end of

the class with well-reasoned arguments earning participation marks. This forms much of what

Skinner (Standridge, 2002) indicated about operant conditioning in training students to respond

to a stimulus, the grade.

Other established routines during the lesson include reminders about putting up their

hand to participate and praising those who are modelling the desired behavior. Negative

punishment includes me abruptly stopping my instructions until the class is silent. In order to

extinguish that behavior, a stimulus is taken away, which includes me providing the next set of

instructions. In the summative assessment, students are being rewarded for following a template

and certain formatting criteria within Microsoft Word.


II. Information Processing/Cognitive Learning Theory

Throughout the lesson, there are attempts to move items from working memory to long

term memory and the repeated use of recall. Beginning with associating their working definitions

of entrepreneurship, students are asked to utilize this information to make connections to a

foreign term to them, social entrepreneurship. From there, students are asked to complete a

survey that will reinforce some ideas and concepts they had about entrepreneurs and connect it to

components that they personally value about entrepreneurs. After personalizing it, students are

asked to apply these values and draw a diagram about how their values connect to the

entrepreneur they are creating a case for. These represent metacognition and cognitive strategies

that are in place to help solidify their understanding of the material. By asking students to

reconceive the information they are processing, they are better able to retain it.

Students utilize an existing framework taught to them about Discovering Opportunities

where they learned in the past through note taking, teacher modelling, class modelling and

individual application. They are utilizing the Social Entrepreneur Features Assignments with the

existing framework and relating information about social entrepreneurship to the information

they will find about their selected business persons with an aboriginal focus. Association is often

used during the lesson to bridge short term and long term memory. In presenting their case to the

class, students utilize reciprocal teaching which reinforces the discussed concepts to the class.

III. Constructivism

Collaboration is structured throughout the lesson for students to work together to create

meaning for themselves and others. During the pre-activity, the micro business idea is left to the

imagination of students to work together and scaffold each other to devise a suitable idea. In

generating different ideas, they need to consider the market, the need, the want, the consumer
and the impact that their decisions would have on settling on that idea. By conducting a cost-

benefit analysis, students had full creative freedom to suggest unconventional product or service

ideas in this open ended activity.

Students are also asked to construct meaning for the term Social entrepreneurship and

apply their own values to determine whether an entrepreneur is successful. Each person has a

different set of experiences that they are drawing from to come to these conclusions. The term

success is subjective and students are asked to reflect and generate their own definitions of

success. In asking students to order the five entrepreneurs from least successful to successful,

students draw on their created definitions to justify.

Gaps in Lesson

There are opportunities to employ either of the three theoretical perspectives in certain

sections of the lesson. One omission can be seen in the post-activity where students are

instructed to Google search to start their research. This can be broadened immensely to break

down how one should research, strategies to research and discussing what they hope to find from

there.

Perhaps the most glaring omission can be seen in the focus of the summative assessment

coming from the Social Entrepreneur Features Assignment. The connection and facilitation with

an aboriginal focus or lens is not expanded or described well enough to incorporate constructivist

learning. There is a missed opportunity to have students develop their own ideas to explore in

order to be more impactful and the use of cognitive learning theories to help bring together

previous knowledge on the subject areas.


Proposed Changes

Many of the changes were put in place to further reflect the greater use of constructivist

teaching and cognitive learning theories to help embed knowledge into students long term

memory. A good proportion of the previous lesson focused on knowledge recall and limited

cognitive learning theories. By applying techniques associated with information processing, such

as diagram drawing, presentations and case building, students will be further immersed in subject

content material and will more easily transmit knowledge from working memory to long term

memory. Utilizing metacognitive learning strategies is effective to use in this lesson because it

challenges students to utilize different parts of their brain to recall, visualize and apply their

learning in practical methods. It is an exercise that further develops concepts in your mind.

The changes do not explicitly address a focus on behavioral tasks because the strategies

in place are to help facilitate learning to occur. Formative assessment strategies such as positive

feedback from presentations and observations of group work encourage continued exploratory

learning. Behavioral techniques are meant as a way of creating an appropriate environment

where cognitive learning strategies and constructivist learning may take place. Effective learning

takes place with some structure and routine.

The biggest change stems from the focus on constructivism with the changes that have

been implemented. Students are asked to bring fourth their own experiences, values and opinions

to make value judgments in considering social entrepreneurs and ideation in venture planning.

The lesson shifts from a previously heavier top-down or didactic teaching approach to a more

balanced one with the teacher taking on facilitator roles periodically throughout the lesson.

Constructivism allows students to take more ownership of their learning and is more exploratory
in nature. Students are able to pursue what interests them further which is necessary to integrate

deeper learning from students.

Summary and Implications

Based off of Fugdge et als (2008) study demonstrated that creating proper classroom

routines, set repercussions and reinforcements of wanted behavior creates learning environments

where students are able to achieve more and learn at a more efficient pace than other classrooms.

It is here where I found it important to demonstrate the classroom routines for the successful

delivery of the lesson to the students. Behaviorism is meant to create the right atmosphere for

learning to take place and is an important part of the overall lesson.

Information processing theory indicates that our memory is shaped by the experiences

encountered by a person and what was already known to them (Lutz & Huitt, 2003). As students

encounter new information, existing memory gets refocused and reshaped by the new knowledge

that comes about (Lutz & Huitt, 2003). Therefore, in shaping a lesson, special considerations

were made to recall past information to reinforce learning and to scaffold and build upon what

students have already known with new material or by applying it to new instances. Students

would become more aware of adapting new material and are able to process information faster

and learn more by ensuring this is embedded into lessons.

John-Steiner and Mahn (1996) indicated that people construct meaning individually and

socially and having students interact brings in the different cultural backgrounds allows them to

scaffold and bridge the zone of proximal development. Additionally, collaboration and creation

through authentic situations such as case studies allow for deeper learning to occur (John-Steiner

& Mahn, 1996). Each modification increased the involvement and interaction between students a

specific case challenge was provided to students to exercise their rationalizing and reasoning.
While behaviorism has a place in classrooms, it has been the focus of educational learning

theories for much time, doing irreparable damage to the educational field (Von Glaserfeld,

2008).

This lesson critique outlines a well balanced approach and combination of behavioral

techniques, information processing theory and constructivist practices that benefits from student

interactions to create an effective learning environment for all students.


References

Fudge, D. L., Skinner, C. H., Williams, J. L., Cowden, D., Clark, J., & Bliss, S. L. (2008).
Increasing on-task behavior in every student in a second-grade classroom during
transitions: Validating the color wheel system. Journal of School Psychology, 46(5), 575-
592. Available online:
http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.ubc
.ca/science/article/pii/S0022440508000307?np=y

John-Steiner, V. & Mahn, H. (1996). Sociocultural approaches to learning and development: A


Vygotskian framework, Educational Psychologist, 31, 191-206. Available online:
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9710150897&site=eh
ost live&scope=site

Lutz, S., & Huitt, W. (2003). Information processing and memory: Theory and applications.
Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved
[September, 2016], from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/papers/infoproc.pdf

Standridge, M.. (2002). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning,


teaching, and technology.Available online:
http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Behaviorism

Von Glasersfeld, E. (2008). Learning as a Constructive Activity. AntiMatters, 2(3), 33-49.


Available online: http://anti-matters.org/articles/73/public/73-66-1-PB.pdf