Thursday, April 7, 2011

What's wrong with the modern view of objective-oriented, competency-based education?

The tremendous amount of progress toward an improved educational system in the U.S. over the past few years is amazing. A movement is now in place to define education based on valued outcomes or objectives. Objectives, of course, are not new to the 21st century. They've been around in public education for many decades. What's new is the increased accountability and ownership that has begun to spread very quickly into all K-12 public institutions. The result is increased awareness of what should be taught, and what kids should be learning. However, there is still a big missing piece. Educational content production is objective-focused---meaning content is created in alignment with a specific objective, or set of objectives. This is good for educational practitioners who need to assess student ability at a given level of expected competency, but not helpful for a student who does not have the prerequisite knowledge or skill for content aligned to a given objective to be meaningful or digestible. The next step toward an improved educational experience is to start creating content that is developed on a foundation of connected learning progress pathways that specify not only competencies at a given point, but describe the complete sequence of progressive attainments necessary to ascend the path.

Friday, June 26, 2009

James Paul Gee's 36 principls of learning from What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

In his book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee identifies 36 principles of learning:

  1. Active, Critical Learning principle

All aspects of the learning environment (including the ways in which the semiotic domain is designed and presented) are set up to encourage active and critical, not passive, learning.

  1. Design Principle

Learning about and coming to appreciate design and design principles is core to the learning experience.

  1. Semiotic Principle

Learning about and coming to appreciate interrelations within and across multiple sign systems (images, words, actions, symbols, artifacts, etc) as a complex system is core to the learning experience.

  1. Semiotic Domains Principle

Learning involves mastering, at some level, semiotic domains, and being able to participate, at some level, in the affinity group or groups connected to them.

  1. Metalevel Thinking about Semiotic Domains Principle

Learning involves active and critical thinking about the relationship of the semiotic domain being learned to other semiotic domains.

  1. “Psychosocial Moratorium” Principle

Learners can take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered.

  1. Committed Learning Principle

Learners participate in an extended engagement (lots of effort and practice) as extensions of their real-world identities in relation to a virtual identity to which they feel some commitment and a virtual world that they find compelling.

  1. Identity Principle

Learning involves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choices (in developing the virtual identity) and ample opportunity to meditate on the relationship between new identities and old ones. There is a tripartite play of identities as learners relate, and reflect on, their multiple real-world identities, a virtual identity, and a projective identity.

  1. Self Knowledge Principle

The virtual world is constructed in such a way that learners learn not only about the domain but about themselves and their current potential capacities.

  1. Amplification of Input Principle

For little input, learners get a lot of output.

  1. Achievement Principle

For learners of all levels there are intrinsic rewards from the beginning, customised to each learner’s level, effort and growing mastery and signaling the learner’s ongoing achievements.

  1. Practice Principle

Learners get lots and lots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring (i.e. in a virtual world that is compelling to learners on their own terms and where the learners experience ongoing success). They spend lots of time on task.

  1. Ongoing Learning Principle

The distinction between learner and master is vague, since learners, thanks to the operation of the “regime of competence” principle listed next, must, at higher and higher levels, undo their routinised mastery to adapt to new or changed conditions. There are cycles of new learning, automisation, undoing automisation, and new re-organised automisation.

  1. “Regime of Competence” Principle.

The learner gets ample opportunity to operate within, but at the outer edge of, his or her resources, so that at those points things are felt as challenging but not “undoable”.

  1. Probing Principle

Learning is a cycle of probing the world (doing something); reflecting in and on this action and, on this basis, forming a hypothesis; reprobing the world to test this hypothesis; and then accepting or rethinking the hypothesis.

  1. Multiple Routes Principle

There are multiple ways to make progress or move ahead. This allows learners to make choices, rely on their own strengths and styles of learning and problem solving, while also exploring alternative styles.

  1. Situated Meaning Principle

The meanings of signs (words, actions, objects, artefacts, symbols, texts etc) are situated in embodied experience. Meanings are not general or decontextualised. Whatever generality meanings come to have is discovered bottom up via embodied experiences.

  1. Text principle

Texts are not understood purely verbally (i.e. only in terms of the definitions of the words in the text and their text-internal relationships to each other) but are understood in terms of embodied experiences. Learners move back and forth between texts and embodied experiences. More purely verbal understanding (reading texts apart from embodied action) comes only when learners have had enough embodied experience in the domain and ample experiences with similar texts.

  1. Intertextual Principle

The learner understands texts as a family (“genre”) of related texts and understands any one such text in relation to others in the family, but only after having achieved embodied understandings of some texts. Understanding a group of texts as a family (genre) of texts is a large part of what helps the learner make sense of such texts.

  1. Multimodal Principle

Meaning and knowledge are built up through various modalities (images, texts, symbols, interactions, abstract design, sound, etc), not just words.

  1. “Material Intelligence” Principle

Thinking, problem solving and knowledge are “stored” in material objects and the environment. This frees the learners to engage their minds with other things while combining the results of their own thinking with the knowledge stored in material objects and the environment to achieve yet more powerful effects.

  1. Intuitive Knowledge Principle

Intuitive or tacit knowledge built up in repeated practice and experience, often in association with an affinity group, counts a great deal and is honored. Not just verbal and conscious knowledge is rewarded.

  1. Subset Principle

Learning even at its start takes place in a (simplified) subset of the real domain.

  1. Incremental Principal

Learning situations are ordered in the early stages so that earlier cases lead to generalisations that are fruitful for later cases. When learners face more complex cases later, the learning space (the number and type of guesses the learner can make) is constrained by the sorts of fruitful patterns or generalisation the learner has found earlier.

  1. Concentrated Sample Principle

The learner sees, especially early on, many more instances of fundamental signs and actions than would be the case in a less controlled sample. Fundamental signs and actions are concentrated in the early stages so that learners get to practice them often and learn them well.

  1. Bottom-up Basic Skills Principle

Basic skills are not learned in isolation or out of context, rather, what counts as a basic skill is discovered bottom up by engaging in more and more of the game/domain or game/domains like it. Basic skills are genre elements of a given type of game/domain.

  1. Explicit Information On-Demand and Just-in-Tine Principle

The learner is given explicit information both on-demand and just-in-time, when the learner needs it or just at the point where the information can best be understood and used in practice.

  1. Discovery Principle

Overt telling is kept to a well-thought-out minimum, allowing ample opportunity for the learner to experiment and make discoveries.

  1. Transfer Principle

Learners are given ample opportunity to practice, and support for, transferring what they have learned earlier to later problems, including problems that require adapting and transforming that earlier learning.

  1. Cultural Models about the World Principle

Learning is set up in such a way that learners come to think consciously and reflectively about some of their cultural models regarding the world, without denigrations of their identities, abilities or social affiliations, and juxtapose them to new models that may conflict with or otherwise relate to them in various ways.

  1. Cultural Models about Learning Principle

Learning is set up in such a way that learners come to think consciously and reflectively about their cultural models of learning and themselves as learners, without denigration of their identities, abilities, or social affiliations, and juxtapose them to new models of learning and themselves as learners.

  1. Cultural Models about Semiotic Domains Principle

Learning is set up in such a way that learners come to think consciously and reflectively about their cultural models about a particular semiotic domain they are learning, without denigration of their identities, abilities, or social affiliations, and juxtapose them to new models about this domain.

  1. Distributed Principle

    Meaning/knowledge is distributed across the learner, objects, tools, symbols, technologies, and the environment.


  2. Dispersed Principle

    Meaning/knowledge is dispersed in the sense that the learner shares it with others outside the domain/game, some of whom the learner may rarely or never see face to face.

  3. Affinity Group Principle

    Learners constitute an “affinity group”, that is, a group that is bonded primarily through shared endeavors, goals, and practices and not shared race, gender, nation, ethnicity or culture.

  4. The insider Principle

    The learner is an “insider”, “teacher”, and “producer” (not just a “consumer”) able to customise the learning experience and domain/game from the beginning and throughout the experience.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learn it RIGHT the First Time

How important is it for students to learn things correctly the first time? Here's an answer that comes to us from a study reported in October 1910:

Very early in the experimental work, it was noticed that if a learner got a point wrong in the first or any early repetition, the error consistently reappeared after future repetitions. In the early presentations, certain words, phrases or sentences would be given particular interpretations, and when the words came again in later readings, the first interpretation came again also. It seemed that the first meaning conveyed by the words would come as a matter of course in future readings and prevent any other interpretation. Since it was impossible to get more than about half of the facts at one reading, many erroneous meanings were usually conveyed by the word symbols in the first reading; these errors were on a low level of attention in later readings, the focus of attention being occupied with facts not gotten at all in the first reading. It was only after 'these other points had been gotten and
fixed that the symbols erroneously interpreted would come to the focus of attention and the right interpretation appear. Usually, however, the learner would finally get the right meaning, although sometimes the right meaning would not appear till attention was called by the experimenter to the particular point. Sometimes a phrase used by the learner would be just slightly different in meaning from the one used
in the matter presented to him, and in these cases, the learner would persist to the end in giving his own slightly incorrect expression. It therefore appears that the length of time required for a learner to get all the points in a given material is in part dependent on the number of points got wrong in the beginning that must be unlearned later.

Pyle, W. (1910, October). One function of the teacher in memory work. Journal of Educational Psychology, 1(8), 474-476. Retrieved June 23, 2009, doi:10.1037/h0074059

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Method - analysis of existing theories to identify principles of learning

My method for analyzing existing theories to identify principles of learning:

1) Select appropriate theories and sources of literature for review (justification for selecting sources to be analyzed)

2) Method of analysis (described in detail)

Monday, December 8, 2008

significance (effort)

"a combination of the intensity of the mental effort being expended by the learners and the level of performance attained by the learners, constitutes the best estimator of instructional efficiency" (p. 266)

(Sweller, van Merrienboer, Paas)

heuristic factor analysis

A heuristic is a way of thinking about a topic which is convenient even if not absolutely true. We use a heuristic when we talk about the sun rising and setting as if the sun moved around the earth, even though we know it doesn't. "Heuristic" is both a noun and an adjective; to use a heuristic is to think in heuristic terms.
The previous examples can be used to illustrate a useful distinction--between absolute and heuristic uses of factor analysis. Spearman's g theory of intelligence, and the activation theory of autonomic functioning, can be thought of as absolute theories which are or were hypothesized to give complete descriptions of the pattern of relationships among variables. On the other hand, Rubenstein never claimed that her list of the seven major factors of curiosity offered a complete description of curiosity. Rather those factors merely appear to be the most important seven factors--the best way of summarizing a body of data. Factor analysis can suggest either absolute or heuristic models; the distinction is in how you interpret the output. (Darlington, 1997)

Monday, December 1, 2008

types of principles discovered

The principles of learning I have identified can be grouped as follows:

Principles of PROGRESSION
1) direction---by definition one can only progress if he is moving towards some destination
2) potential---one can only progress if he possess the possibility of extension
3) opposition---in order to move toward some destination one must be moving away from some alternative
(not sure about 1 and 3 but solid on 2)

Principles of CHANGE
1) repetition
2) time
3) sequence
4) step-size
5) significance
6) contrast
7) feedback

Principles of PRACTICE

Principles of ENGAGEMENT
1) motivation
2) confidence

Principles of CONTEXT
1) content providing
2) performance enabling

Principles of AGENCY
1) learner
2) teacher
3) peers