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Assignment 10: “Learning: From Speculation to Science” – Jodi Kiefer


Learning: From Speculation to Science ‡ Introduction to Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.) (2001) How People Learn — Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. (distributed on paper)

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found the two examples (Fish is Fish and Throwing Darts Under Water) to be very interesting and helpful in creating a visual representation of the points the article was making about a student’s learning behaviors.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I thought the article was a little choppy in switching from the major topics even though it was well organized within each topic. Without a clear outline of the topics being discussed, this article offered more of a post-reflection on the topics and their interactions rather than knowing the flow beforehand. Just as a side note, I was missing pages 10 & 13 of the report.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

This article summarizes three core learning principles - building on existing knowledge, developing competency in topics, and applying metacognitive approaches to create active learning. It then explains how teachers can adapt their styles to accommodate and apply these principles and also how classroom environments can contribute to the success of the learning process.

3. analyze and describe how you have learnt a complex systems (e.g.,“Microsoft Word” or a similar system incase you have never learnt MS-Word, Photoshop, Java, using the Web effectively, …)?

I took on a discovery learning approach while learning Word. When I first started using Word, my knowledge of a word processor was limited to very basic capabilities which are found in Notepad. As I continued to use Word, my skill base and knowledge of the program increased dramatically. I became sufficient in the basic functionality Word has to offer such as formatting, using shortcut buttons and inserting clip art and tables. I stayed at this “informed” user state until I was comfortable and efficient in completing my tasks within Word. It wasn’t until I was proficient as an “informed” user that I took the active steps to become an “expert” user in finding more efficient ways of completing tasks (i.e. shortcut keys) and exploring the full functionality of Word (i.e. Equation Editor).

4. describe the most interesting / exciting learning episode of your life!

As an undergraduate, I took a semester off of school and took a 81-day Outward Bound Leadership Course. We spent our days learning about ourselves and our interactions with others through mountaineering, white water rafting, rock climbing and canyoneering. It was a hands-on course where you learned by doing. I walked away from that class with not only a larger technical skill base but also with an expanded interpersonal skills set.

5. write in one short paragraph (a) what the following concepts mean and (b) which role they have played in your personal learning (e.g., where you have encountered them)

5.1. learning by being told

This usually occurs in a school base setting where the teacher teaches and the students learn. The teacher imparts knowledge onto the student by telling them about it. I have encountered this throughout my school years from elementary to college.

5.2. self-directed learning

A individual takes it upon themselves in their actions to learn. This has also been termed active learning. I have experienced this when reading tutorials to learn the workings of various software systems.

5.3. learning on demand

Learning on demand is the process of learning information when it is needed. For example, while I was teaching at a high school I was placed in charge of the school’s computer system. When the system went down, being that I did not have any prior networking knowledge, I was forced to learn about the networking intricacies in order to fix the problem.

5.4. discovery learning

This is learning in the process of completing a task. For example, I have experienced this while working with Word. I have accidentally pushed a set of keys and found a new shortcut key (i.e. justifying a paragraph, etc.).

5.5. experiential learning

Experiential learning is based on a learn-by-doing mentality. The individual learns as they engage in the process. I have experienced this on my Outward Bound Course which I explained in #4.

5.6. informal learning

Informal learning is the process where the individual acquires knowledge from their daily experiences and influences in their environment. I experience this type of learning daily which would include anything from learning a new recipe that my roommate has just cooked to learning a random piece of information that appeared in the newspaper.

5.7. collaborative learning

Learning that occurs from working with and learning from others that result in a shared knowledge base. I have experienced collaborative learning when working on a research project with a group from various disciplines. We worked together to combine our knowledge to design and build a robotic prototype for use in Urban Search and Rescue situations.

6. which media support have you used and are you using for your learning?

The internet is a great tool that I have used extensively when looking for a solution to a problem. It has been useful for everything from looking up the syntax of a programming language to researching a topic of interest to gain general knowledge.

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