Thoughts & Ramblings

Location: Tobaccoville, North Carolina

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Education in Rural Columbia: Overview

Well I finally got to hear the Wallace lecture. (Computer problems at home. I think I'm buying a new one next week!) It was very interesting. I'll post a Blog later tonight about my personal opinion. This Blog contains the notes I regarding the lecture. In CAPITAL LETTERS are comments or things I thought of while listening. I'll use this points in my sythesis Blog.

Jose Jachim Salcedo 1947 Study to be Catholic Priest.

  • Interest Beyond Church matters
  • All aspects of parishioners
  • Questioned orthodoxy
  • Bucked the system
  • Radical ideas: Bucked the system
  • Different view of priest’s work: extend beyond spiritual to practical matters

Influence of elders

  • Provided the greatest challenge as punishment attempt to bring in line
  • Arranged a hardship location –
    • described as end of the world
    • Columbia in South America
    • Specifically Sutentenza
  • Sent Not to Bogota –
    • modern city with sophistication & wealth
    • Several universities,
    • wonderful museums,
    • international people
    • Sent to Andes mountains to valley of Tenza – Sutentenza
      • “Banished” there in 1947 his charge to bring religion to people

Sutentenza Area

  • People were dispersed/isolate
  • had heath & economic problems
  • illiterate with poor mortality & morbidity figures
  • Some younger children had a little literary
  • life expectancy in 40’s

Access to Schools

  • Few schools – mostly younger people
  • dropped out by grade 3 b/c difficulty to travel curriculum inappropriate
  • Children needed at home (Farm/younger siblings)

Country Problems

  • Small family farms
  • Illiterate
  • Poor health
  • Day to day existence
  • Low life expectancy
  • Outdated agriculture practices (no modern farming)
  • Extreme poverty
  • Steep terrain/people isolated & ignorant
  • Couldn’t reach all people – maybe visit all families once a year

Salcedo worried that religion not enough

  • Realized education is the key ot improving situation
  • Focus on critical needs (MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS)
  • Use of knowledge can reduce problems
  • Use of mass media to reach people (face to face communication very hard)
  • Help people participate
  • Educate & move to action – go beyond learned helplessness
  • Knowledge = reduction in problems

To visit the people

  • See people on other ridges – see across valley – sloping land
  • A day’s ride to reach other village even though you can see them
  • Transit via horse/donkey makes travel time consuming
  • Meant little time education much time travel


  • Felt was divinely inspired
  • Ham radio operating
  • Radio’s influence
    • Reach dispersed audience
    • Extend influence
    • Talk to people without having a physical presence

Radio Sutatenza – radio school


· Started in 1947 with one transmitter/three receivers

· Has had substantial growth for 50 years

· Considered “grandfather” for radio schools worldwide

· Brought news for farmers = AUDIENCE

· Crops/faming info

· Health segments

· Basic schooling (reading/writing/arithmetic) THE CONTENT

· More news report format/news specials/interviews

· Appropriate for audience

· Limited formal Instruction (3 of 18 hours)

· Considerable interviewing

· Much use of soap operas

· Musical segments

· Everything coordinated messaged even news

Focus on issues relating to his people

  • Soap Opera = ROLE PLAYING issues like people
  • Instruction –1st grade through university
  • Information – news and new bulletins
  • Complementary
  • Radio magazine
  • World trends (music, art, science, sports)
    • -services (health, opinion, sciences, analysis
    • –promotional
  • Produced 1.5 million hours of programming

Encourage people to take action –

  • people can use this knowledge to help families/crops/health problems
  • People can improve their life

Radio Schools

  • Learning should not be isolated
    • knowledge through interaction with other (i.e. more capable) SCAFFFOLDING
  • Encourage people to listen with 3-5 people
    • ideally with someone who is slightly more capable than self

Network of People

  • National level of people
  • Regional level of people
  • Local level (radio schools)
  • Paid & volunteers who worked to help Sutentenza
  • Teacher training institute
  • Located in Sutatneza
  • People learn from radio sutatnenza and then donate time to help others

Content focus

  • Most books, magazines and newspapers focused on formally educating people in cities
  • Not appropriate for the rural people
  • Created Print Resources
    • Books
    • Pamphlets
    • Newspaper
  • Content geared to radio programs
  • Coordinated messages
  • Series of textbooks that dealt with basics skills/health/good speaking/clear mathematics/productive land/ Christianity

Newspaper – Rural Farmer (Peasant)

  • Content by people from rural areas
  • Consistent focus
  • Circulation of 70,000 (readership higher) each paper read by about 10 people
  • Sections: information/recreation/knowledge


  • Encourage people to write to radio
  • Many people sent first letter they every wrote here
  • People respond to each others letters
  • Talk about problems, request information,
  • Gives insight into audience (FORM OF EVALUATION ongoing needs assessment)

  • Stay in touch with audience – know what they need
  • Based on letters adjusted content choose speakers etc.

Printing operation

  • Modern printing press
  • Large production capacity
  • First shift for them
  • Second shift for commercial uses
  • Self-funding operation (commercial use pay for ministry use)

Training institute (Leadership)

  • Located in Sutatenza – Formal & informal training
  • Immersion courses – stay for a couple of weeks train to be local leaders
  • Then stay for months study content/pedagogy/development/promotion
  • Knowledge and skill to be agriculture leader, minister, etc.
  • Prepare leaders to help people change their lives
  • Capacity for change
  • Teach essential content

Efforts blended

  • Emphasis on religion
  • Practical matters of health and agricultures
  • Becoming more capable by reading, writing, and doing arithmetic
  • Coordinated use of mass media – radio school, newspaper, broadcast textbooks

Focuses on the learners

  • Based on real needs
  • Use content that matters
  • Deliver the education in best possible manner
  • Emphasizes success
  • Requires constant evaluation and revision
  • Requires a systematic approach

Focus on education mission (MEGA VIEW)


Emphasis on Mastery learning – stay with it to most all people got it.

  • Need for constant evaluation & revision
  • Not for accountability but to improve quality of instructions
  • Evaluation lead to revision to improve instructional program

What Salcedo did

  • Analyzed – needs assessment
  • Designed – task analysis
  • Developed – align curriculum to focus on tasks/needs – people who understood audience & content did development – team approach – co-design – people who did mass media
  • Implemented – totally matched to content very IMPORTANT
  • Evaluated – constant and revisions put in palce

Instructional Systems development

  • Process for creating effective educational programs
  • Systematic approach
  • Takes the broad systems view
  • Produces superior results
  • Has not been formalized to modes
  • ADDIE design – Instructional Systems Design (PRINT OUT THIS SLIDE)
  • Very human process in design
  • Now quite systematic

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Instructional Evaluation

Did the presenter/designer articulate an evaluation plan that is appropriate to the project?

Evaluation will be done both formally and informally. Informally evaluation will occur through discussion with stakeholders. Formally evaluation will be done at the end of the fall semester through an anonymous survey of some stakeholders. The survey will elicit responses regarding the usefulness of the information posted on the website, effectiveness of discussion boards, and suggested changes. Time will be spent during January compiling the results of these surveys and completing a self-survey of the website. Necessary modifications will be made. Informal evaluation will continue during the spring semester and another formal evaluation will take place at the completion of the spring semester. This evaluation pattern will continue.

Instructional Methods & Media

Did the presenter/designer select and provide a rationale for methods and media appropriately keyed to goals and objectives, job, needs, and context?

My primary method and media to complete the objectives will be an interactive course website. I want to provide a place where all students have to the course at the various times they do their homework. The website will include:

Concept Reviews (Objective 1.1, 1.3)
Discussion Board for Concepts (Objectives 1.1, 1.2, 2.1)
Discussion Board for Homework (Objectives 2.1)
Technology Resource Assistance (Objectives 2.3)
Links to Other Math Websites (Objectives 2.3)
Assignments (Objectives 2.1, 2.3)
Copies of Outlines & Lectures (Objectives 1.2, 1.3)

Class Structure will be adjusted to include group/co-operative learning once-a-week. This meets with Objectives 2.2 and 2.3.

Instructional Goals

Did the presenter/designer state goals and objectives that state clearly how the instruction will enable learners to master the selected tasks (from task analysis) and in turn address identified needs (from needs assessment).

In other words are mega elements carried through into goal statements?

Did the presenter’s objectives clearly state what is to be done, in what conditions, and according to what criteria?

Goal 1: Increased Reflection regarding mathematical concepts
Objective 1.1: Journal about concepts
Objective 1.2: Write summaries (review pages) about concepts
Objective 1.3: Read about concepts prior to concept discussion in class

Goal 2: Increased Communication regarding mathematical concepts
Objective 2.1: Participate in discussion board about concepts & homework
Objective 2.2: Participate in class discussion
Objective 2.3: Completion of Group Assignments (Problem Sets & Projects & Web Research)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Instructional Articulation

Did the presenter/designer use the task analysis tool to identify and clearly name a holistic ‘job’ that learners will be able to perform as a result of having participated in their proposed instruction?

Students job is to build connections between various courses and units within a single course. Worded another way, students’ job is connection building specifically in relation to mathematical understanding, i.e. to develop mathematical understanding.

This ties in with NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) Learning Principle:
“Students must learn mathematics with understanding, actively building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge” (NCTM, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, pg. 16).

Mathematics with understanding = mathematical understanding
Building new knowledge from experience and prior knowledge = connection building

For information regarding Mathematics Understanding see Blog entry (under construction) entitled “Meaning & Understanding in Mathematics”

Did they then articulate and list the component parts of the job –the tasks—and further select the ones to focus instruction on, based on a stated criteria such as DIF (difficulty, importance, frequency)?

Through observations of students, informal interviews with students and teachers, and readings regarding mathematics curriculum; students who build connections (develop mathematical understanding) typically engage in the following tasks:

Reflection and Communication on course material regarding what was done and why
Reflection means consciously thinking about your experiences
· Evaluating own thinking
· Writing
· Regularly reviewing homework
Communication with others (social interaction)
· About concepts
· Strategies to solve Mathematical problems (i.e. homework)
· Talking
· Listening
· Writing
· Demonstrating (Projects)
· Watching

Criticality (Importance):
High – What should be implemented first.
Medium – Already implemented, but should be improved to increase effectiveness
Low – Good to do, but can be implemented as time permits.
High – Logistics of implementation will be involved or Breaking students “beliefs” will be challenging or time issues.
Medium – Already implemented, but modifications are necessary to increase effectiveness
Low – Can be implemented relatively quickly with few if any difficulties
High – Students should complete on daily basis
Medium – Students should complete on weekly basis
Low – Students should compete when time permits

Importance Difficulty Frequency
Writing about concepts Medium Medium Medium
Regularly reviewing homework High Low High
Listing question to discuss with
classmates Low Low Low
Review of previous concepts Medium Medium Medium
Reading about concepts High High High

Communication (social interaction)
About Concepts
(Regular class Discussion) Medium Medium High
(Open Discussion Board on
Website) High High High
Strategies to Solve Homework High Low High
Group Work/Co-operative Learning Medium Medium Medium
(Demonstration & Watching
Classmates) Medium Medium Med/Low
Review of previous concepts Medium Medium Medium
Researching other Math-related
Websites Low Low Medium

Project Definition

Has the presenter/designer appropriately used the needs assessment tool to ‘excavate’ their project context?

Numerous activities are happening at Salem Academy this year in relation to curriculum assessment and changes. The largest of these is the re-accreditation process for SACS (Southern Accreditation of Colleges & Schools) and SAIS (Southern Accreditation of Independent Schools). Another happening is the Academy becoming part of the World View program at UNC-CH. A main focus of the World View program is to incorporate a more global perspective into curriculum. An aspect of this involves teachers in different disciplines working together to build connections between the disciplines.

When discussing connection building with other teachers, many of us felt our students did not “connect” efficiently or “connect concepts” often enough. Teachers felt students saw each course as separate distinct units rather than a whole cohesive program. In many cases (particularly math) students saw each unit as separate and distinct from other units in the course. This is a great drawback, particularly when students reach the Advanced Placement and college level where “synthesis of material” and not “regurgitation” is expected. Teachers saw two reasons for the connection difficulties: academic immaturity (some students just aren’t ready to make connections at this level) and lack of a venue which encourages connection building.

This leads to the need (the gap): Connecting material in different courses and within a course.

In relation to math, the gap is “Connecting material between the sciences (biology, chemistry & physics) and mathematics; and connecting material within an individual math course (Pre-Calculus, Calculus) and between different math courses.”

Mega: Societal Payoffs & consequences: Affecting all stakeholders

Students will be better able to synthesize material. This is a very important job skill which all students will benefit from having.

Macro: Relate to what the organization (organization = math class) delivers outside itself:

Connections between different courses (particularly sciences & math) which a student is taking will be better seen. Concepts will have more meaning, be better understood, “stick longer” because the same concept is presented in different classes from different points of view.

Micro: Individual or small group: Individual learning & way class structure affected

Classes will become more learner-centered and less teacher-centered. Teacher’s role will move to more of a coach/facilitator and less of a task master (as Perkins stated).

Did they arrive at a clear statement of ‘ideal state’ and ‘actual state’ based on data gathering (documents, interviews, etc.)?

Information regarding “ideal state” and “actual state” was gathered through discussions (both formal & informal) with other teachers. Additionally “ideal state” information was gathered through readings relating to mathematical understanding and mathematical meaning.

Ideal State:

Students will “know” the concepts and material they are studying. “Knowing a subject means getting inside it and seeing how things work, how things are related to each other, and why they work like they do.” (Making Sense: Teaching & Learning Mathematics with Understanding, pg. 2)

Definition of understanding “we understand something if we see how it is related or connected to other things we know (Brownell 1935, Hiebert & Carpenter 1992) as listed in Making Sense: Teaching & Learning with Understanding.

Students will be able to make connections between different courses they are taking and different units in a single course. An increase in the understanding of mathematics will occur because students will “know” the material.

Actual state:

Numerous students view course material as separate distinct units rather than a cohesive related concept. Numerous students see their courses as being unrelated.

Have they listed needs and then categorized those needs according to knowledge/skill, motivational, and environmental? Is it clear that their project is focused on knowledge/skill needs?

From Martin & Reigeluth “Affective Education and the Affective Domain” pg. 494

Knowledge: Understandings and information related to a dimension, for example, knowledge of terms, ideas, concepts, rules, and strategies as they apply to oneself and others;
Skills: abilities that are based on aptitudes, relevant knowledge, and practice for competent performance, for example self-control

More learner centered class structure
Increased student discussion: knowledge/skill, environmental
Collaboration between students:
Student Discussion: knowledge/skill, motivational
Group/Co-operative Learning: knowledge/skill, motivational, environmental
Reflection about Material: knowledge/skill, motivational

Collaboration between teachers
Interdisciplinary units: knowledge/skill, motivational, environmental

Increased Communication among stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, administration)
Environmental Issue

Venue to promote student discussion: Environmental issue

Has the presenter used concept mapping to discover possible connections that may have escaped a purely analytic/excavational approach?

Concept mapping was used to layout the venue (website) used to increase learner-centered teaching. The concept map allowed my to see connections between standard course needs (lectures, homework, quizzes, test) and modification to make course learner-centered (discussion boards for concepts, homework help, tutorial sites, links to related websites which address material differently or demonstrate connections to other disciplines).

Was the reframing tool used by this presenter/designer? Was its use warranted? How about modeling tools?

From Paul Watzlawick Chapter 8: The Gentle Art of Reframing pg. 95

“To reframe, then, means to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or viewpoint in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the “facts” of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changes its entire meaning.”

I feel I’ve used reframing in an unusual sense. The original idea for a Math Department website is the result of a suggestion (increased technology use and practice for students) from a 5-year SACS review. The website was originally seen as location to slap up and put up generic course information. Based on the need discovered (connection building) the meaning of the website has been changed. Now the website is seen as a venue to encourage student-centered learning thereby improved connection building. The fact of the website has not changed but the meaning of the website has be changed. In essence reframing has been used.

Has the presenter addressed feasibility (i.e. will the context support the instruction and is there an audience who will be able to benefit from it)?

Proper implementation of the website will support the proposed changed in instruction (to student-centered) and ideally fulfill the need (connection building). The recent addition of a course management system makes implementing a website very feasible. Although students are main audience for the instruction additional stakeholders (parents, other teachers, administrators) will also benefit from the website.

Designer's Philosophy

Has the presenter/designer stated their design philosophy in easy-to-understand terms?

When it comes to determining want should be designed (the need) I tend to sit back and listen. People around me often speak of things they notice, want to do, need to do but don’t seem to have the time to do. By listening to what I hear from various sources or compiling information from what I’ve read I’m able to prioritize and determine which project should actually be tackled.

Once the need has been determined I tend to run with things. I talk with people who have mentioned the need in order to discover what they feel is connected with need and how they feel the need will impact people (students, the school, community, family, etc.) From here I make a list of what should be done, sort of a plan of action. These actions are then organized and prioritized.

Now it’s time to stop and think again. I think by drawing pictures (graphic organizers, flow charts, concept maps). My mind thinks like a flow chart. I do best when I see where I’m starting, where I’m going, and have a pathway to get there. Concept Maps and flow charts help me see this. The diagramming process also helps me view various ways (pathways) to fulfilling the need. I choose the particularly pathway by talking to those who originally articulated the need. Their input helps me to put the pieces together; sometimes this means throwing out all of my plans, combining plans, and eventually putting a plan into action.

Once a plan is put into action I stop every once in a while to evaluate how things are going. Do I need to make modifications? Are things going as they are supposed to? My evaluation is both self-evaluation of the project and through discussions with stakeholders. If changes need to be made then I make them. The plan goes back into action using the modifications. And the process of evaluation begins again.

If you were to hire the presenter/designer, would you have a clear idea of how they will work with you and your organization and where they stand philosophically?

As you can tell by my design process, I consult with others at most stages of design. I find others input to extremely helpful. Often times, people in the same organization will have the same need but very different ideas of how the need should fulfilled or implemented. When this occurs good communication skills (negotiation, compromise, collaboration) are necessary. It is important for everyone to bring their ideas to the table and discuss them. An open dialogue is extremely important for the designer because the design should fit the needs of the user. The designer should be in contact with the user (stakeholders) to make sure the need is being fulfilled in the desired way. It is also important for the designer to feel comfortable making suggestions. The designer has the toolkit and knows what tools are available to complete the project. Essentially, the designer needs to put their knowledge to use (by making suggestions) in order to fulfill the stakeholders needs. The stakeholders and designer stay on track through communication with one another.

Did the presenter discuss their preferred processing types(s) based on the Learning Connections Inventory and indicate how they would ‘correct’ for their own processing biases in designing instruction?

I’ve have gone back and forth about which processing types I am. There are aspects of each that I use. Of the four processing types I feel that I lead with the sequential pattern because I like have a “map” to follow. This map does not need to be given to me because I feel comfortable creating my own map. I also have a strong desire for everything to be neat and well organized. I like to be able to put my hands on what I need immediately. I feel I am also strong in the precise pattern. I tend to be wordy, wanting to fully explain and provide details to back up what I’m saying. I enjoy researching information and coming up with a synthesis of the material I’ve found.

I correct for my processing biases by discussing the design with stakeholders and using a variety of teaching/explanation techniques. Through discussion examples of “real-world” (technical) and hands-on (technical) will come about. Such discussions allow people to pull from their own experiences (confluent) and demonstrate their own way (confluent) to fulfill the need being discussed.

In terms of the project at hand, a discussion board will be setup-allowing students to discuss homework problems. Through these discussion students of different processing types will be able to present their way of solving a problem. All processing types will have a chance to give input and take time to analyze what is being discussed.

Did the presenter indicate how their infrastructural skill set (e.g. communication, negotiation, conversation, etc.) would enable them to effectively address gender and cultural diversity in designing instruction?

Communication is a cornerstone of my design process. I plan to take time to allow stakeholders to provide input in the design, implementation and evaluation of this (and any other) project. I will work to provide a venue which is open and inviting thereby encouraging communication. Through conversation I will be able to listen to the voices of the stakeholders and make design adjustments accordingly.

Learning Connections Inventory

As I mentioned last week during our MOO session, I am really looking forward to taking the Learning Connections Inventory. It appears to be very different than over Learning Preference/Style/Inventories I’ve taken before (VARK, Felders, & Myers Brigg).

The LCI deals more with style and pattern recognition of style rather than preference. I do see a difference between a learning style and a learning preference. Preference, to me, seems to change with the situation. For example, when I study math concepts I prefer for the material to have a visual presentation. I like to look at math and see what’s going on. On the other hand, when I am studying education concepts I prefer a verbal and auditory presentation. I like to discuss education trends and bounce ideas off of other people. So, in essence my preference depends on what I’m studying. A learning style on the other hand is something that doesn’t change with what I’m studying. For example, I always prefer to start with the big picture and work down to the detail and I always prefer to have a “map” of what I’m doing.

The LCI deal with recognizing how four different learning patterns work together. The LCI is “conceptually driven by a clear definition of learning as an integrative process, not simply a preference, an issue of personality, nor a strategic approach to learning” (pg. 14).

The four learning patterns discussed are:

Sequential Pattern:

Order & Consistency
Reliance on Directions
Use of Neatness
Staying within the parameters

Precise Pattern:
Detail & Exactness
Memorization of Details
Asking/Answering Questions, Researched Answers
Tests to “show what I know”

Technical Pattern:
Stand-Alone, Independent Reasoning
Reliance on Information from previous “real-world” experiences
Hands-On doing
Sense of self in construction of final project

Confluent Pattern:
Pull together all the area of experience and forms them into new ideas and thoughts
Doing things in a unique manner

I was struck by the quote “When teachers understand their own learning connections, they are better prepared to act as catalysts for initiating diverse instructional activities and effective alternative assessments” (pg. 4). I feel this is very true. I’ve noticed that I tend to teach concepts the way I am comfortable learning them. Because all of my students do not necessary learn the same way that I do, I’ve learned to make adaptations and find alternative ways to teach the same concepts. These alternative ways made my teaching more diverse and more effective.


I must admit the postmodernism article challenged me. I had to read it twice and I’m still not sure if I grasped everything I need to.

One aspect of this article that intrigued me was viewing instructional development as a social practice. This seems to be a “moral” issue addressing the questions “what kind of society do we have or are we construction” (pg. 84). The idea of instructional development as a social practice interests me. I feel other articles I’ve read in the past have encouraged the designer to separate themselves from their work. Meaning the designer should limit personal bias. I almost feel that the idea of ID as a social practice can encourage the use of bias (intentionally or unintentionally) because the designer’s choice of techniques could be based on the type of society they desire to create.

My questions seem to be addressed on page 85 in the quote stating “How is it possible for us to talk about something while, at the same, time, we are caught up in or implicated in that something?” How can we design instruction if we intentionally plan to use our design to promote change in society? I feel the design should fit the needs of the user and not the needs or desires of the designer. As I read more on page 85 one of the paragraphs gave me the idea to view the social practice idea as more of a negotiation between the designer and the user. This ties into the “process of socialization for the developer and the setting participants” (pg. 85). From this view, I can see the type of construction or societal change made by the design as a direct result of the needs/desires of the setting participants, i.e. the design user.

Another aspect of this article that stuck out to me was that the “purpose” of the postmodernist approach was to provide a different way to approach educational problems. It is a different approach because “post modern instructional developers asks different questions in an effort to help educational settings and participants ‘breathe’; to explore new outlets for looking at social environments” (pg. 88). Further discussion of the postmodern approach reminded me of previous readings dealing with qualitative research and gathering information based on the “interaction of people and social settings” (pg. 89). Qualitative research further comes to mind when Jamison is quoted on page 91, “explore how individuals’ lived experiences often differ from those defined within current educational technology systems.” It is important for designers to understand the experiences (and needs) of those they are designing for. This information provides valuable insight into how a design should fall out.

Mergel: Instructional Design & Learning Theory

I really enjoyed the Mergel article. It reminded me of the readings from my Educational psychology class, but focusing in on the ID aspects of Educational theory. I chuckled to myself when I read the phrase “cognitive dissonance” in the introduction. I feel “discomfort” is necessary for learning. Discomfort forces us to stretch beyond our comfort zone (which is how I felt in my Ed Psych class.)

This article basically broke ID down into the three “main” educational theories and their ID history. I’m going to break my summary up by listing the definition, theorists, and personal comments on each of the theories.

Definition: “focuses on a new behavioral patter being repeated until it becomes automatic” pg. 2
Theorists: Pavlov, Watson, and Thorndike & Skinner
Evaluation: based on meeting specific objectives (pg. 10)


Thorndike summarized learning as the formation of a connection between stimulus and response. This is an interesting way to look at learning. This definition seems to fit well with “drill and skill” type teaching and assignments. A certain type of problem (stimulus) should automatically elicit a certain type of process (response). Drill and skill problems and supposed to focus on connecting recognition of a problem type with immediate recognition of what to do.

In the discussion on Thorndike it is stated in this theory of connectionism that “practice without feedback does not necessarily enhance performance” (pg. 4). Comments such as this remind me of why teachers need to return assignments as soon as possible. Picking up an assignment and holding onto it for a week is not in the best interest of students. Students need feedback. On form of this feedback should come in the form and promptly returned assignments. (Often easier said then done!)

I was glad to see Bloom’s Taxonomy mentioned. I have found Blooms Taxonomy, in particular a list of verbs or each domain of Blooms, to be very helpful to me when I write lesson objective and unit goals. As I read about behavioral objectives one of the notes I made to myself questioned whether or not such objectives would take away from the Mega goals. Specifically, when teacher using behavioral objectives in the classroom do theses objectives tie into the Mega goals of the school. Programmed instruction reminded me of what I’ve heard and read about the Saxon program.


Definition: “changes in behavior are observed and used as indicators as to what is happening inside the learner’s mind.” pg. 2 (Thought processes) “Cognitive theorists view, learning as involving the acquisition or reorganization of the cognitive structures through which humans process and store information.” (pg. 7 from Good & Brophy, 1990. pp. 187)

Theorist: Piaget
Evaluation: based on meeting specific objectives.

There are many aspects of cognitivism which I like. I can see what I would call “true learning” as the acquisition and/or reorganization of thoughts (cognitive structures.) My personal learning style/preference involves using many of the key concepts of cognitive theory such as creating meaning (meaningful effects), remembering through ordered lists (serial position effect), advance organizers, mnemonics or repeated practice.

On page 16 of my article printout there is a diagram entitled “Standard Systems View of Instructional Systems Design.” when I first saw this diagram it reminded me of the Power Train. This view of ID has the following sequence: conduct needs assessment; establish overall goal; conduct task analysis; specify objectives; develop assessment strategies; select media; produce materials; conduct formative evaluation, revise, conduct summative evaluation. This model encourages more of a focus on the learner and the thought processes of the learner and has more of a focus on moving from the simple to the complex.


“We construct our own perspective of the world through individual experiences and schema.” (pg. 2) “Constructivists believe that ‘learners construct their own reality or at least interpret it based upon their perceptions of experiences so an individual’s knowledge is a function of one’s prior experiences, mental structures, and beliefs that are used to interpret objects and events’” (pg. 8)

Evaluation: more subjective


Constructivism reminds me of qualitative research and the interpretivist paradigm’s notion that multiple views of reality are valid. I see this more in constructivism that I do in behaviorism or cognitivism because perceptions of experiences are based on an individual. Two people can perceive the same situation differently because of their prior experiences; hence both perceptions would be valid.

Constructivism “promotes a more open-ended learning experience where the methods and results of learning are not easily measured and may not be the same for each learner” (pg. 17). For some schools the idea of “not easily measured” learning can be hard to swallow. This statement reminds me that tests and quizzes are just a single snapshot in time. Learning is demonstrated in many ways not just by the results of a test. Teachers can help assess learning through conversation, project, presentations, group work etc. There are many different ways to assess, i.e. “measure” learning.

I really like the quote about instruction fostering but not controlling learning. I think this is a very important idea because everyone learns differently and at a different pace. Instruction should promote learning without forcing everyone to learn in a single manner. Instruction should encourage but not control. This once again brings me back to Perkins and the model of the teacher as coach/facilitator and not the sole source of knowledge.


I really feel Mergel summed up the role of the designer very well on page 21. “The instructional designer must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each learning theory to optimize their use in appropriate instructional design strategy.” A designer needs to know how to put the pieces together to fit the needs of the learner. A design should focus on meeting the needs of the user, not necessarily the needs or desires of the designer. A solid understanding of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism give the necessary tools to plan a practical, useful and successful design.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Design Flow Chart - Work in Progress

I spent several days this week just trying to put everything from the past three weeks together. How do needs assessment, task analysis, goals/object, method & media and instructional analysis all fit together? I put together a flow chart to help me visualize all that is going on. I see myself as using sequential and detailed processing, so this type of visual has really helped. I hope this flow chart shows up in this Blog. It's not working aaugh!! I'll play with it some more tomorrow morning to see if I can get the chart to show up.