What I enjoyed most about the concepts covered in this course was that many were covered from multiple perspectives. While I did not learn anything that could be considered new, I can say that I learned to view information from several lenses. With each unit, information was presented in a very structured and concise manner which provided an opportunity to explore some of these theories and concepts in a critical manner. One of the topics that interested me most was the information discussed in Learning Theories and Instruction (2008, p. 213) regarding APA Learner-Centered Principles. According to this theory, factors that impact student learning are grouped into four categories: (a) cognitive and metacognitive; (b) motivational and affective; development and social; and individual differences. These categories essentially provide a framework for learning that should be consulted as educators go about the process of instructional design. As an educational leader, I know that I will be able to use these principles as an additional resource to support the need for differentiated learning.
I have given a great deal of thought regarding how I learn. Specifically, I have always been concerned about how I process and apply information. I am very intrigued with the research that centers on multiple intelligences and learning styles. According to Howard Gardner (2003), your learning style dictates how you process information while your intelligence determines what product, strategy, and/or activity best fit your particular intelligence. With this belief in mind, I would contend that the cognitive and constructivist theories are most aligned with my personal approach to learning. With the cognitive approach, I am ‘thinking about my own thinking’. I am actively exploring the manner(s) in which I process information. On the constructivist level, I am looking for opportunities to apply information and use in a real-world situation.
My challenge in terms of learning has always been to retain information for a time period that extends beyond ‘the test’. Whether I cram or study and practice information over a period of time, I always tend to forget the information when it is no longer immediately needed. One concept I was able to learn more about is elaboration. Elaboration is defined as the process of adding to information being learned in the form of examples, details, inferences, or anything that serves to link new and old information. (Laureate Education, Inc. 2008). In my experiences, I have found that when I take the time to link content and create my own examples and/or draw from previous experiences, I retain information for a longer period than I would otherwise.
What I have learned regarding learning theories, learning styles, technology, and motivation is that all four concepts are deeply connected. As stated by Ormond, Schunk, and Gredler (2008), learning theory allows for the development of instructional guidelines that are reflective of a coherent set of assumptions about aspects of the learning process. With that in mind, the learning style provides a guide for the way one processes information based on skills and interests. Technology becomes a tool in which these instructional strategies can be funneled. Motivation comes into play in that we are using the theory to develop lessons and link content that will appeal to the experience and circumstance of the learner. By understanding how students learn, we are motivating them simply because we are ensuring that their psychological needs are being met through our instructional delivery.
As stated initially, the content in this course has allowed me to explore several concepts on a deeper level. Thus, the experience will help me be more reflective about how I design and deliver instruction. One practice I am committed to doing is using the learning theory matrix to evaluate instructional strategies. This matrix along with one that I am using to ensure rigorous instruction and higher order thinking will help me design lessons that are appropriate to my learners. I also enjoyed the introduction and experience with utilizing blogs to support instruction. I was not familiar blogs and have already set up a blog that is aimed at supporting my first term college students. I have gotten a great deal of positive feedback about our blog and how they appreciate an additional forum that supports their academic growth and development.
Overall, I enjoyed this course and how the content flowed through each unit. I believe that using some of the tools presented, I will provide my future students with a rich and significant learning experience.
Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple intelligences after 20 years. Retrieved on October 6, 2010 from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/PIs/HG_MI_after_20_years.pdf
Ormrod, J.E.; Schunk, D. H., & Gredler, M. (2008). Learning theories and instruction. New York: Laureate Education, Inc.