From Teller to a Facilitator of Learning

The greatest sign of success for a teacher . . . is to be able to say, “The students are now working as if I did not exist.” (Marie Montessori)

Slides will be available at

From Teller to Faciliator of Learning LILLY North 2012

Here is the Problem?
Teachers can’t make informed decisions about the best way to facilitate learning if they don’t first have a definition of learning and an understanding of how learning happens in the human brain.

We are Born to Learn
The brain is meant to explore and learn

2012 Neuroscience and Learning
“We have accumulated enough knowledge about the mechanisms and molecular underpinnings of cognition at the synaptic and circuit levels to say something about which processes contribute” (James Bibb of the
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

The Definition of Learning
Learning is a change in the neuronpatterns of the brain.
(Ratey, 2002) neurons-small.jpg

Teachers’ Definition of Learning?
Learning is the ability to use information after significant periods of disuse and it is the ability to use the information to solve problems that arise in a context different (if only slightly) from the context in which the information was originally taught.
(Robert Bjork, Memories and Metamemories, 1994)

Basic Finding from Mind, Brain and Education Research

It is the one who does the work who does the learning
( Doyle , 2008).

Why do Teachers Like to be Tellers?

Why do we love to tell students things?

1. We worked very

hard to learn the subject(s).

Why do we love to tell students things?
2. We know our students don’t know most of what we have to tell them. AND We went into teaching to help students learn our subject areas.

Why do we love to tell students things?

3. We feel powerful when sharing our knowledge—we like to show off.

Why do we love to tell students things?

4. Lecture is expedient.

Why do we love to tell students things?

5. Lecture requires limited planning.

Why do we love to tell students things?

6. We remain in control of the learning process.

Definition of Lecture
• Lecture is at its best when it is talking with students about things they can’t learn on their own

What are the drawbacks to just telling students about things?

Drawbacks to Telling
1. Lecture is often unisensory which makes it a much less effective way to learn than many other learning approaches.

Drawbacks to Telling

2. Requires extended attention for the learner which is difficult for today’s learners.

Drawbacks to Telling

3. It is natural for humans to daydream— we all do it all the time.
(Smallwood &Schooler, 2006)

Drawbacks to Telling
4. Students’ brains will begin to habituate the sound of our voice especially if it is unmodulated
Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology, Volume 1, Salkind.

Drawbacks to Telling
5. Lecture doesn’t cause the learners to do much work.

Except multitask— listening and taking notes diminishes the processing time needed for comprehension.

Drawbacks to Telling

6. No physical movement on the part of the learners. Movement is very important to learning

What does it mean to facilitate?
In education, it most often means supporting students in learning their course material by-1. Providing an environment for engagement.

What does it mean to facilitate?
2. Providing students a set of resources such as questions, articles, research findings, problems, and/or cases to engage with.

What does it mean to facilitate?
3. Using authentic assessment tools that provide our learners with meaningful feedback that leads to further learning.

Facilitation is a Learned Skill

The skill of facilitation is something that has to be learned.

What do facilitators do?

The facilitator's job is to optimize the opportunity for each students to master the learning outcomes of the class.

What do Facilitators Do?
Initiate activities that get the full participation of learners. Cultivate shared responsibility for the learning between the teacher and the students.

(Kaner et al., 2007).

What do Facilitators Do?
Effective facilitation also involves thorough content knowledge.

This role of teacher as expert does not change. What changes is how this expertise is used.

Facilitation of Learning Starts with Learning Outcomes
Four steps 1. Who will be doing the learning?

2. When will the learning be completed? 3. What will the students be able to do or know as a result of the learning? 4. How will you know they learned it?

The Planning Process
Question 1 What is the best use of my time during class to help students successfully reach the learning outcome(s)?

The Planning Process
Question 2
What will my students do both in and out of class to reach the learning outcome(s)?

The Planning Process
Question 3
What resources will I need to provide my students so they can accomplish this learning?

The Planning Process
Question 4
What resources will my students need to provide themselves so they can reach the learning outcome(s)?

The Planning Process
Question 5 How much time do I need to allocate to the various parts of the instruction, practice, and feedback of this lesson?

The Planning Process
Question 6
Will the students work alone, in pairs, or in groups?

The Planning Process

Question 7 How will I assess my students’ learning?

Really Important Question!!!
Do students need feedback on what they did in class before trying additional activities like homework?

Now What?

Assessing the Effectiveness of the Planning Process
Question 1. What additional help do students need to better understand the new material or become more proficient with the new skill?

Assessing the Effectiveness of the Planning Process
Question 2 What is the best way to deliver this help?

A. B. C. D. E.

Teacher Peers Tutoring Media Practice materials

Assessing the Effectiveness of the Planning Process
Question 3 What resources do students need to continue their learning?

Assessing the Effectiveness of the Planning Process
These questions can help us decide what practice, assignments, tutorials etc. are most effective and keep outof-class learning from becoming busy work.

Giving Feedback
Giving meaningful feedback that promotes improved learning is one of the greatest skills of an effective facilitator of learning.

Giving Feedback

Feedback is the key to improved learning.

Giving Feedback
Quality feedback is the difference between all of the hard work and planning that went into a great teaching activity paying learning dividends and the teaching activity being just a great show.

Giving Feedback
The feedback process is most effective when both students and teachers are actively involved in the process. Students often see feedback as the sole domain of the teacher
(Taras, 2003).

Giving Feedback
Assessments should be designed so that students can see the direct benefits of attending to the feedback.

Examples of Effective Feedback
• Divide assignments into stages and provide feedback that is essential to completing the next stage. • Give students a provisional grade with opportunity to visit, discuss their work, and potentially earn a higher grade using the feedback.

Giving Feedback
Give feedback that focuses more on instruction rather than correction. The message is how to improve.

(Hattie & Timperley, 2007)

Giving Feedback

Link feedback to the specific assessment criteria. A rubric is helpful for this step.
(Nicol & Draper, 2008)

Giving Feedback
Give feedback as soon as possible once students have made every effort to complete the task on their own

(Hattie &Timperley, 2007).

Giving Feedback
Use language that the students can understand and that relates directly to the task and its improvement .

Focus on the effort and the strategy used.
Avoid references to their intelligence.
(Duncan, 2003, Dweck, 2006)

Feedback that Students Can Understand
Just as we want our students to consider the reader when they are writing, we must think of the receiver of the feedback when we are delivering it.

Research on Feedback
The feedback needs to be very specific to the task and how the task can be improved. Research shows that this type of feedback can have a significant effect on learning enhancement.
(Hattie &Timperley, 2007).


Research on Feedback
Praise, reward, and punishment have little effect on improving learning.

(Hattie & Timperley, 2007).

Research on Feedback
Feedback should be related to the learning outcomes. The feedback should reduce the gap between current levels of understanding and performance, and the ultimate learning outcome. (Hattie & Timperley,

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