Archive for March, 2010

Aye Aye And…

Instructional Strategies – ADLT 603 – Post 7

Last year when I was doing a team teach project I had heard of Vella’s four I’s – Inductive, Input, Implementation, Integration – from some of my teammates who had taken Instructional Strategies that year, but I didn’t quite get it. Dr Carter gave us a further intro to Vella with her presentation of the basic concepts and then the practical activity of “preparing a Thanksgiving meal”. The inductive part for me connects with what others refer to as prior knowledge or experience. I find this helps to bring learners into an active and engaged state, if done thoughtfully and well. Then putting it into practice – testing the new ideas out. And then having the learners consider how they will integrate the new knowledge.

Actually, it’s interesting to consider another model for instruction or learning. From my prior connection with my colleague who was actively involved in experiential learning when it came out 20-30 years ago, I have leaned towards the experiential model. I have conducted quite a few learning events with this in mind, but I still don’t think I fully grasped the process.

The experiential approach basically centers around Kolb’s model [concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, & active experimentation] or a variation thereof. It was also fascinating to learn about brain function and adult learning. This the part that was interesting to me was how the neuroscientist, Jim Zull, proposed that the brain learns by “gathering, reflecting, creating, and testing.” This corresponds to Kolb’s model (Taylor, 2006).

Image from:

I can see Vella’s model is somewhat different from the experiential model. Some of the elements seem are the same although named differently and in a different sequence. I’m not sure which I prefer. I think I’ll have to explore more of Vella’s approach. I think by seeing different models, it helps me to develop an overall sense of some key elements or factors involved in learning. One key factor is to consider how learners make meaning and give them the opportunity and situations that allow the meaning making process to connect with their prior knowledge and experience, bring in new knowledge, put it into action, and reflect on the whole process (in one order or another).

Tell me, I will forget
Show me, I may remember
Involve me, and I will understand

This above saying really rings true for me. It’s a great summation of adult learning principles!

Taylor, K. (2006). Brain Function and Adult Learning: Implications for Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education,110, p.71-85. DOI: 10.1002/ace.221


Assessment Again

Instructional Strategies – ADLT 603 – Post 6

It was great to listen to summaries and have discussion about the different articles class members found. I was again struck by how assessment was a key topic. I think one thing that struck me in this session was to consider assessment as an extension of learning – something to help the teacher help the learner. I think I have such an ingrained view that assessment is about grading – pass/fail and all the various pressures to succeed. Through such a lens, learning itself seems to be pushed into the background. However, to consider ways to assess where learners are so that a teacher may address the gaps is important. I think there are clearly many informal ways of assessing and I have used some of them, but again for me, the point here is to become more conscious about it.

Blogs to assess reflective practice, e-portfolios to have a view of perhaps different aspects/perspectives of learning… The idea that blogs can help build communities of practice which are known to deepen learning (hey, this isn’t assessment is it? but it is about learning…!!)

The article by Shavelson and Huang on assessment in higher ed mention some key things for me – we often get what we test for, consider assessing personal, social, and civic abilities as well as cognitive¬† – wouldn’t that be a change!

Frequent, human, efficient, valid, reliable and consistent, and an extension of learning… more points to consider about assessment. I’ve never created a rubric. I think this could be a good exercise to gain some perspective in assessing.

I think a whole course could be devoted to assessment. I still feel I am without a full grasp, but I do have many new things to consider the next time I need to plan an assessment strategy.

A paradigm shift

Mind Walk – out of the past and into the future?

Here’s a great movie that explores the paradigm shift from a mechanistic worldview to one of living systems. It’s kind of heady with quite a lot of talk, but the setting is beautiful and acting engaging.


Change Strategies – ADLT 625 – Post 2

It was incredible to hear Demetria’s explicit tale of the layoff she experienced some years ago. Even though it was over 10 years (I think), her recollection was so vivid. I can imagine it would be difficult to be unaffected by such an event and that, indeed, it would take some time to let it pass and move on.

The reading on transitions was important for me. It really helped me have some perspective on a team situation I was in that ended with the team being disbanded. There were a number of factors that led to the disbanding, but essentially the full team could not work together. There was a subgroup of the team that could work together and did, but a key member of the team was really a solo worker. While this person was very creative, intelligent – even brilliant; there was not really an atmosphere where open feedback and dialogue was possible, even though efforts were made.

The atmosphere of respect and trust never really developed despite efforts. As a result two ‘camps’ evolved within the team. I was in one ‘camp’ and really didn’t want there to be two, but the issues couldn’t be reconciled. Ultimately, the team was disbanded, partly due to logistical reasons and, I think, a major part due to its dysfunction. The transition of letting that go, being in ‘the wilderness’ and being ready for wide open future took some process for me.

Development and Transformation

I’m finding a clearer perspective on what constitutes org development (OD) and what constitutes org transformation (OT).¬† I understand better now that OD is more evolutionary and OT rather revolutionary. So, OD is dealing with small groups – coaching, team building, skill building — most likely resulting in incremental changes in some aspects of an organization. It’s clear that these processes are needed in an organization. And yet, I am really fascinated with the idea OT. I can understand that OT sometimes just happens due to environmental circumstances and it’s kind of a reactionary process. However, to plan a large group intervention does indeed seem on the edge of something revolutionary!

I can imagine the circumstances would definitely have to be right and enough people interested and willing to go with it. I guess it’s really a bit of a mystery to me. I can read about Open Space, or Future Search or the others mentioned where ‘the whole system is in the room’, and find it quite fascinating. I see there would be totally different way of working than in most types of strategic planning events. Having large numbers of people with diverse perspectives and interests as well as a level playing field (at least for the time being) would really create a powerful opportunity for new ideas to come forward and commitments to take hold. I can see how important it is to create the space for the participants to fill. These type of events would definitely need facilitation skills.

Part of why a large group intervention seems so mysterious to me is surely because I have never participated in one! And while reading about it and even watching a video of participants describing it gives some clues, it’s just not the same as doing it! I look forward to sampling the three different types we’re doing in class. I would also really love to be a part of a real one with a topic for which I had a deep interest.

Image: M.C. Escher, Sky and Water I, 1938

Image: M.C. Escher, Sky and Water I, 1938

Assessment Factors

Instructional Strategies – ADLT 603 – Post 5

It was fascinating to hear the different perspectives on assessment last class when different class members shared the articles they found. One of the themes that i caught coming through many of the articles was the need for multiple forms of assessment and that assessment build on previous assessment. As I understood assessment can really be used as a teaching tool rather than evaluation tool – meaning to help the teacher understand where learners are and what their needs may be. It can also help to better understand strengths of learners. For instance if some learners have more knowledge or experience in a topic, then they can be invited to help others learn in some way.

It was interesting to hear about Alverno College where they have no grades. I’m sure that I read about Alverno in some publication within the past 2 years. I do recall that the college was in the Mid-West and basically had no explicit grading system like most colleges. It seems like it would be an interesting learning environment. I imagine the students learn to take responsibility for their work. I would imagine it would be more motivating.

I think I would have appreciated an undergraduate learning environment like that. As such, I went to a large state university that had mostly traditional style of teachers — lecture, lecture, lecture…. without opportunities to reflect, integrate, or dialogue with the teacher or fellow learners. I had a difficult time integrating all of the information and often it just seemed to go in one ear and out the other. As such I think this also affected my motivation because i could not see the relationship or relevance to other parts of my life, or life outside the classroom.

I think one of the main things I am catching about the idea of assessment is that there can be a human element or factor involved whereby it can be used to really help learners rather than grade them as pass/fail. To help learners there is then the need for feedback. How to give feedback in a helpful, constructive way? Ah, and that is quite a subject in itself from my experience — perhaps another blogday…

Goals and outcomes

Instructional Strategies – ADLT 603 – Post 4

I think I had a big aha for the last class where we three main points to consider when developing instruction – goals, assessment, and learning activities and then the consideration of ‘situational factors’ that impact activities and assessment.The main thing that really struck me was how assessment should be clearly tied back to goals and objectives. Of course, if I am assessing, I should assess to see if learners reached the goals I had for them. However, I had not heard or seen this put so clearly. I think I have mostly considered my learning goals and objectives and then planned activities to reach them.

Granted, I haven’t usually worked in a formal educational environment where grades need to be determined. But i have had to give reports on training to management and actually recommend or not recommend people for roles based on their participation. We did have criteria for that fellow trainers used to evaluate. However, I can say we did not design specific assessment activities to go along with our learning activities. There was a way to assess, but it was probably quite subjective.

I think this is the biggest thing that came from this class – considering how to plan and tie assessment right back to the learning objectives. Dr. Schmidt even put assessment as step 2, after defining goals and learning objectives and before looking even thinking of learning activities. I see this as an area where I need to learn more in theory and practice… bookmarks