The Changing Role of Students in a Learner Centered Environment

Professor Terry Doyle Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning Ferris State University Doylet@Ferris.edu

Not a single grad school or employment recruiter has ever indicated that what they are really looking for in a college graduate is: ‘A great note taker and someone who is excellent at multiple choice tests!’

I share Zull’s view about faculty development
“

But revolution is not my goal. There is no reason to abandon good practices that cognitive science and education research have given us. Rather , I hope to deepen and enrich our understanding of these practices.” James Zull, The Art of Changing the Brain

What is a representative definition of learner-centered teaching?

From Maryellen Weimer’s book LearnerCentered Teaching:

Being a learner-centered teacher means focusing attention squarely on the learning process: 1. What the student is learning 2. How the student is learning 3.The conditions under which the student is learning 4. Whether the student is retaining and applying the learning 5. How current learning positions the student for future learning.”

What the student is learning
 What

are our learning outcomes?

 What

would make us happy( from all that you taught—the skills, content and behaviors) that students remembered and could use six months after they left our class?

What the student is learning
 All

faculty teach all of the following:  Skills  Behaviors  Content  Thinking strategies
 What

should the role of content be in a learner centered classroom?

What the student is learning
 What

we want the students to learn should determine what teaching strategies to select

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What the student is learning
 “Focusing

on how people learn also will help teachers move beyond either-or dichotomies — it is not should facts be taught or should we be teaching problem solving and critical thinking, both are necessary—the learning of facts and skills is enhanced when attached to meaningful problem solving activities”( How People Learn, 2000)

1. Content drives the total learning process

Skills

Behaviors

Content

Critical Thinking

How the student is learning
1. What learning skills and strategies do students need to develop to be successful learners—long term and in your classes? 2. Are students aware of their own best learning methods/styles? 3. Are the assignments, activities and assessments designed to drive students’ learning?

Answer the following
Add

56 + 17 in your head.

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We don’t all Learn Alike
 A--In

columns like on paper 10 to 56 and 7 to 66 20 to 56 and subtracted 3 56 to 60 added 17 and

 B—Added

 C—Added

 D—Rounded

subtracted 4

Remember the following

4915802979

Patterns aid learning

(491) 580-2979 or 4,915,802,979

Remember the following

LSDNBCTVFBIUSA

Patterns aid learning

LSD

NBC TV FBI USA

The conditions under which the student is learning
One of the most important jobs teachers have is to maintain the classroom learning environment so that it maximizes the opportunity for students to learn
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The conditions under which the student is learning
 The

norms established in classrooms have strong effects on students’ achievement. we want risk taking, open discussion and constructive criticism from our students the norms of the classroom must support these actions.( How People Learn p. 25)

 If

Whether the student is retaining and applying the learning

Using the kinds of assessments that drive long term learning is one key to a learner centered process We must do more than exercise our students’ working memories

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How current learning positions students for future learning

What set of life long learning skills will our graduates possess?
www.goshen.edu/.cWtools/ download.php/mnF=life...

How current learning positions students for future learning
 The

first factor that influences successful transfer is degree of mastery of original subject. Without an adequate level of initial learning, transfer cannot be expected (How People Learn p.53)

Learner Centered Teaching

The question I ask all faculty is: Given the context of your teaching assignment, will the actions you take (teaching methods, assignments, activities or assessments) optimize students’ opportunities to learn?

Example of a Learner Centered Decision
Setting

our office hours at times that are best for our students
www.anglistik.uni-freiburg.de/ institut/lsmair...

The Definition of Learning
 Learning

is a change in the neuro-patterns of the brain
(Ratey, 2002)

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What do I mean by 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)

Time for a Change
All of this new knowledge requires a change from the traditional “stand-in-front-of-the-room and-talk” education that higher education has been using since the 14th century.
(Peter Smith, The Quiet Crises in Higher Education)

How do Faculty Change Their Role to help Students Learn in a Learner Centered Classroom?

Who Makes the Decision?
Teacher Students Together NA

              

1. Course Textbook 2. Number of exams 3. When in the course exams will be given 4. Attendance policy 5. Late work policy 6. Late for class policy 7. Course learning outcomes 8. Office hours 9. Due dates for major papers 10. Teaching methods/approaches 11. How groups are formed 12. Topic of writing or research projects 13. Grading scale 14. Discussion guidelines for large or small group discussions 15. Rubrics for evaluation of self or peers work

Step One
Ask: What do I need to control to effectively teach this course and what can I give over to the students?

How can I create real community in the classroom? How can I get students to take more responsibility for their learning?

Step Two

Ask: “Why am I telling them this?”
(John Tagg, The Learning Paradigm College, 2003)

One definition of effective lecture is telling students about things they can’t learn on their own.

Step Two
 Books

and lectures can be wonderfully efficient modes of transmitting new information for leaning, exciting the imagination, and honing students critical faculties—but one would chose other kinds of activities to elicit from students their preconceptions and level of understanding or to help them see the power of metacognitive strategies.( How People Learn p.22)

Step Three
More clearly define what it is that we want our students to learn within the context of the definition of learning. Explain to students how a learner-centered approach is in harmony with current research about how people learn. “The one who does the talking, does the learning.” --Thomas Angelo

Step Four

Explain WHY
WHY solve a problem a certain way WHY I am not giving any more direction that I have WHY I want you to do this in groups or on your own WHY these skills are needed?

Why is this important for future learning WHY I am facilitating and not lecturing WHY to use this thinking process WHY to use this learning strategy WHY think in a particular way

Step Five Get Students’ Feedback

Seeking ongoing formative feedback from students is a win-win activity
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SGID Questions
Ask around the fifth or sixth week of the semester
 1.

What do you like about the course? What would you change about the course? What would you delete from the course?

 2.

 3.

Get Students to use the Feedback
 Require

students to summarize written comments on papers and explain how the feedback will be used to improve the next paper.  Retest and rewrite—have students use feedback on errors to correct them

Why must the learning roles of students change?

Research tells us that to really learn something takes attention, time, practice, effort, reflection, connection and application -- learning is not short-term regurgitation. (James Ratey. Users Guide to the Brain) Research tells us that unless the learner is actively engaged in the learning process, no change occurs in the neuro-networks of the brain. (R. Sylwester, A Celebration of Neurons, 1995)

Why must students’ role change?

Knowing has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it—more than ever the sheer magnitude of human knowledge renders its coverage by education an impossibility (Nobel laureate Herbert Simon)

In many areas what is taught is fluid and changing. (Jim Carroll )

Why must students’ role change?

Students must come to realize the role of content must be to drive the development of the life long learning skills, thinking abilities and communication skills that are crucial to success in a fast-paced, changing world. THIS IS A NEW VIEW FOR THEM!

Why must students’ role change?
2.

Professions, careers and jobs require people that can (for example)
A. Effectively communicate in a wide variety of ways with very diverse populations - this is why students need to talk and listen to each other.

Why must students’ role change?
B. Use information to solve problems that will occur in different contexts than the context used by the teacher during instruction in college

C. Transference of information to solving new problems (that have yet to even be discovered) is the life-long skill learners need. D. Use reasoning skills that require addressing multiple pieces of data at once.

Why must students’ role change?

E. Each patient, each client, and each customer will be different.

These kinds of skills and abilities can only be learned by active engagement in authentic, often firsthand, learning experiences. The professor cannot teach them to students just using lecture.

How do faculty help students to change?
Let the students do the work

Firsthand learning, self-discovery, selfassessment, performance, teams, and groups all enhance the opportunity for deep learning. Abide by the definition of lecture and choose activities that present multi-sensory engagement which improves the chances for connections to background

How do faculty help students to change?

Let discussion occur between students - keep our mouths shut!

How do faculty help students to change?
1.

Address students’ Self Theories

Dispel the myth of the entity theorist - intelligence is NOT fixed at birth. (C. Dweck, 2000) Help students to see that effort results in improved intelligence and abilities - effort is not a sign of being stupid. Help them to see failure as just one step in the path to success. For example, Thomas Edison.

How do faculty help students to change?

Share more of the responsibility with them for their learning.

Make them teach each other, perform for each other and critique each other. Explain the value of group work - the diverse points of view that you as a lecturer cannot provide them. Mutually set the rules for the class - attendance, due dates, late policies.

How do faculty help students to change?
Give them learning activities that are A-R-I-I

Authentic - academic service learning, internships, clinical experience, field trips, conferences, job shadowing, client work and real world problems

How do faculty help students to change?
B. Relevant Guest Speakers from their fields of interest. Former students that sat where they are sitting. Map the connections between all of the courses in their area of study Map the connections between the skills they are learning in one class and where these skills will be used in future classes. Tell them WHY

Creating Relevance for Learning Activities
1. Place learning activities in the context of current knowledge of how the human brain learns 2. Place learning activities in the context of how they aid in the preparation for careers 3. Place learning activities in the context of life long learning 4. Place learning in the context of immediate future learning—the next course, next year etc.

How do faculty help students to change?
A.

Interesting

Find out what interests them – students are motivated - teachers need to discover what is motivating them. When ever possible give them a choice in what the learning activities will be/how they can show what they have learned.

How do faculty help students to change?
A.

  

Important No busy work. Explain the importance of the work. Value the work assigned. Example: Class discussion-if you want them involved they need to know you value it by grading it.

How do faculty help students to change?

Don’t give in to the students’ initial whining, complaining and unhappiness.

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How do faculty help students to change?
Change is very difficult for students. Learnercentered practice goes against 12 or more years or beliefs that school is about teacher control and student submission - it is not easy for students to give up their motto: “Tell me what to do.”

What are the students’ new roles?
1.

Students must become incremental theorists.
a.

Value Effort Seek feedback Study for learning, not tests Use failure as a step towards success

c.

e.

g.

What are the students’ new roles?
1.

Must learn to accept the new responsibility given to them for their own learning.
a.

Professor is not going to give you all the answers. Professor may not tell you exactly what to do.

c.

What are the students’ new roles?
1.

They will have to work with others.
a.

Learning is a social/emotional process. Most learning occurs in community. Professionals rarely operate solo.

c.

e.

What are the students’ new roles?
3.

Build on their strengths and work to improve their weaknesses.

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What are the students’ new roles?
They will have to spend more time learning on their own.

1.

Professors only have students in class 1.7% of the time each week. (3 credit class)

What are the students’ new roles?
1.

They will share in many of the roles of the professor.
a. b. c. d. e. f.

Facilitator Instructor Organizer Performer Leader Evaluator

What are the students’ new roles?
2.

They will have to be able to demonstrate a more complete understanding of what they have learned.
The professor will not be the only judge of their work - they will have “real” audiences to convince.

Traditional Roles

          

Roles
Take lecture notes Listen in Class Read the textbook Read other assigned reading Take tests and quizzes Take part in recitation Do homework Take part in whole class Discussion Write papers on assigned topics Memorize Organize information

Traditional responsibilities
 Work mostly alone
 

Seek out the teacher if You had questions Read independently Develop own study habits Develop own time management program

Learner Centered Student Roles Self-teach Collaborate with others Work in teams/groups Take part in discovery learning Teach others Evaluate own learning Evaluate others’ learning Perform/present learning publicly Learn new “how to learn skills and strategies” Solve authentic problems Engage in reflection Demonstrate use of teacher feedback to improve performance Take learning risks Practice more Take class notes Listen in Class Read the textbook Write papers Take tests and quizzes Take part in recitation Do homework

Learner-Centered Student Responsibilities Make choices about own learning Take more control of own learning Give input to the evaluation/ assessment methods Give input to course rules and guidelines Give formative feedback on learning Spend more time outside of class learning Working with people not in your class

References
 

Angelo, T.A. & Cross, P.K. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques, 2nd Edition. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Bjork, R.A. (1994). Memory and Metamemory Considerations in the Training of Human Beings. In J. Metcalfe and A. Shimamura (Eds.) Metacognition: Knowing About Knowing. (pp. 185-205). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Givens, Barbara, Teaching to the Brain’s Natural Learning Systems, ASCD Publications, 2002.

Ratey, John. A User’s Guide to the Brain. Pantheon Books, New York, 2001.  Sousa, David. How the Brain Learns, 2nd Edition. Ed 2001 Corwin Press, INC, Thousand Oaks, CA

References
   

Rethinking Teaching in Higher Education, Edited by Alenoush Saroyan, Cheryl Amundsen, Stylus Pub.2004 Sprenger, Marilee. How to Teach so Students Remember. ASCD Publication, 2005. Sylwester, Robert. A Celebration of Neurons: An Educator’s Guise to the Human Brain. ASCD Publication, 1995. Zull, James. (2002), The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, Cirginia: Stylus Publishing.

 

Tagg, John. The Learning Paradigm College. Anker Publishing , Bolton MA 2003 Covington, M. V. (2000) Goal , theory motivation and school achievement: An Integrated review in Annual Review of Psychology ( pp 171-200) Dweck, Carol ( 2000) Self Theories: Their roles in motivation, personality and development. Philadelphia, PA Psychology Press

References
   

How People Learn by National Research Council editor John Bransford, National Research Council, 2000 Goldberg, E. The Executive Brain Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind ,Oxford University Press: 2001 Ratey, J. MD :A User’s Guide to the Brain, Sprenger, M. Learning and Memory The Brain in Action by, ASCD, 1999 Pantheon Books: New York, 2001

  

Damasio, A. R. (1994). Descartes' error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. New York, NY, Grosset/Putnam Damasio AR: Fundamental Feelings. Nature 413:781, 2001. Damasio AR: The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1999, 2000.

References
 

Weimer, Maryellen, 2002, Learner Centered Teaching, Jossey Bass, San Francisco. Smith, Peter, 2004. The Quiet Crisis; How Higher Education is Failing America, Anker Publishing, Bolton MA (Barbara L. Mcombs & Jo Sue Whistler, The Learner-Centered Classroom & School, 1997)

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