What Am I taking away from EDS 103?

EDS 103 has been a rewarding journey.  I spent long hours in digesting the volumes of reading materials – some are easy to read and many are too sedentary (induced me to sleep). I enjoyed listening to what people say in videos – some are too simplistic others are too technical.

To sum it all, the course journey affirmed my personal epistemology, and I wish to borrow the quote of Mahatma Gandhi:

 “You must be the change you want to see in the World”

And this is consistent with my first e-journal reflection – that learning is not merely to acquire knowledge  and better professional qualifications.  Early on my belief is that learning is about willingness to change self, to positively affect the lives of others and the world we live in.  As we swam in the deep sea from module 1 to module 4, I realised that there are many ways to learning and re-learning.  Educators can not prescribe a one-size fits all system. There are models and mentors that actually shaped the way we think and behave. So, as teachers, we need to be serious on the different ways we reward and punish our student deeds, our actions and words can reinforce bad behaviours, because student’s learn by observing others.  So, to become a good constructivist teacher, I must remember that my role is like an Orchestra Conductor – dealing with different talents. Moreover, an effective teacher is also a good moral steward, a bridger, a change maker, facilitator and a guide on the side rather than a sage on stage.  Assignment 1 was truly an experience that gave me lessons on how to work with others – thinking that others have better ideas than me.

The final exam, helped me think through the realities inside the classroom that can make or break a good learning performance.  I affirm my conviction on the importance of research to inform teacher professional development and school management practices.   I will continue to contribute in this arena of education research to inform policies and practices that yield high quality learning for Philippines education graduates.

Thanks to all virtual classmates – your reflections in the forum and e-journals have sharpen my understanding. I must admit that I have been reading the post of classmates outside my Barangay Gardner.   Please don’t hesitate to contact me through tfelipe@unicef.org.

Cheers,

Tess

My Epistemological Repertoire

The word epistemology was difficult to retain in my brain despite many education fora that I have attended where eminent Educators talked about it. On hindsight, I think this has to do with my personal belief that knowledge is universal – meaning available to anyone, the main difference among individuals is the judgment on what knowledge is the truth.  And to me the inconvenient truth is that we all live in different worlds – with different paradigms.  And paradigms (beliefs) can change depending on maturation, context and genetics.  So, I asked myself, why is epistemology – or theory of knowledge important? And the answer is because knowing is a fundamental demand of human being. I believe that human beings were created with a quest for knowledge as we keep asking the question – why things happen, what is the purpose of life?

A growing body of work provide evidence that personal epistemology is an important component of student learning (Tutty and White 2005) and teacher’s approach to effective teaching.  I would like to use the 5 dimensions in the Epistemic Belief Inventory (EBI) used in a study (Tutty and White 2005), to reflect on my personal epistemology.

1. Omniscent Authority – I do not question an authority. For me this is relative,  so long as the actions are according to my personal principles that I believe in – like there is sovereign creator, that man is morally accountable for own deeds. The implication of this to my teaching approach is to respect education authorities and implement rules accordingly. This means I will never subscribe to practices such as teaching to the test – just for the sake of being promoted.

2. Certain knowledge – the moral rules that I live by apply to everyone. I have no control over the lives of others as moral values are relative to what one believes as a standard. So, the certainty applies only to my moral personality. The impact of this belief to my teaching career is to be certain on where I stand with regards to moral issues in the education sector – like illegal collection of fees, plagiarism and dishonesty on one’s qualifications.

  1. Quick learning – working on a problem with no quick solution is a waste of time. I believe that for certain concepts, knowledge is absolute and that truth can be transmitted (dualistic epistemological belief).  This means that I cannot cheat my students, I will have to master the content of the subject to teach, otherwise I am wasting the time of my students, as they will learn nothing. On the otherhand, real learning is not focused on the quick solution but helping the students construct the knowledge through series of activities.
  1. Simple knowledge – instruction should focus on facts instead of theories. While I believe that facts are important, however, understanding the underlying theories and principles provide a deeper understanding of more complex knowledge and helps students to become rational decision makers. So, as a teacher, I need to keep a balance on teaching the facts and helping students construct knowledge on more complex theories.
  1. Innate ability – how well you do in school depends on how smart you are.  I don’t believe that ability is fixed.  I agree on the view that knowledge comprise of absolute truth and personal opinion, making me a multiplistic believer (respecting many points of views). My role as a teacher is to provide equal opportunities for my students to the basics and guide them towards higher order thinking skills. In a sense I take a relativistic  view – believing that students can be creative and innovative.

This is my repertoire of epistemological beliefs.

References:

  1. Tutty, Joddi and White, Barbara, 2005. “Epistemological Beliefs and Learners in a Tablet Classroom.” Charles Darwin University.
  2. Brownlee, Joanne, 2003. “Paradigm Shifts in Pre-Service Teacher Education Students: Case Studies of Changes in Epistemological Beliefs.” Queensland University of Technology.

Seeing through my lens – principles behind motivational Quotes

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Tony Robins, a well known inspirational speaker  – said that “why we do what we do?”  is explained by our needs, beliefs and emotions. He defined emotion as E=energy and Motion = action.  Motivations, without, doubt can influence what we learn, how we learn and when we choose to learn (Schunk 1995).  Motivation is thus, an explanatory concept that help teachers understand why students behave the way they do and how to help them do better.

It is fascinating that students exposed in the same learning environment differ in their motivations to learn and thus different performances and learning outcomes.  Below are motivational quotes which I will attempt to dissect viz the different drivers of motivational theories learned from Module 4.  

 1. You must be the change you want to see in the world (Mahatma Gandi)

  • Self-determination theory drives the person to achieve as autonomy and relatedness are given focus. The drive can be both intrinsic with “I can” thought and extrinsic, if inspired by the need to make change in the environment affecting the person’s life. 

 Teacher can help the student achieve better if learning goals are clear on the onset and the student is able to exercise power of choice – such as on topic/type of project. 

  1. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit (Aristotle)
  • Expectancy-value theory and goal orientation theory are reflective of the drive to excellence.  Because of the high target, there is also high expectation to succeed.  This type to motivation could be what makes highly competitive students.

 Teacher can help the student meet the high expectation by identifying focused-goals and providing detailed feedback on specific tasks. 

  1. Try to become not a man of success but try rather to become a man of value (Albert Einstein)
  • Self-worth is the drive that motivates the person to attain the desired outcome on account of one’s competence.  Success is defined by the person, so the likelihood to achieve is also self –determined.

 Teacher can help the student achieve by providing opportunity for student to set own standard (level of achievement) rather than imposing a “one size fits all student” standard. With guidance, the student can learn on own pace and approach provided that the teacher gives feedback.    

  1. There is always a philosophy for lack of courage (Albert Camus)
  • Attribution theory is the driver for the performance. The learner always seeks explanation for the success or failure.

 Teacher can help the student keep a positive view on what ever consequences of actions. Providing immediate and specific feedback to the learner will help keep the positive spirit. 

  1. It is not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have (Anonymous)
  • Self efficacy theory and self-worth are the drivers for making good use resources and talents that the student has. The student has a “can do” attitude with extrinsic motivation more than intrinsic – given the direction to give benefit to others using own competence.

 Teacher can help the student set realistic goals, otherwise disappointments for non-achievement may lower the motivation for the next learning events. 

My reflection is that motivation comes from within a person, because despite environmental influence, without the will to do something, it will be impossible to make any change in the behaviour of learners.  I find the motivational videos very entertaining as the speakers are highly passionate on their own experiences. Motivations is cognitive – as it entails knowledge and skills to make decisions. Motivation is also affective, because it results to behavioral changes and sometimes the psyche of the mind. 

References:

  1. Motivation for distance learning, cited Schunk 1995, retrived from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1030/1988.
  2. Motivational quotes retrieved from You Tube

On becoming a constructivist teacher – like an Orchestra Conductor

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The constructivist theory explains learning as the process of gradual acquisition of knowledge and skills characterized by construction of knowledge.  Knowledge is first constructed in the social environment and is then internalized by the individual. Piaget focused on individual cognition while Vygotsky focused on individual learning through socio cultural context.  The debate is on – Piaget claimed that the development of the child precedes learning, while Vygotsky believed that social learning happens first before development. A good relief, is that both Piaget and Vygotsky agreed on the role of the teacher – a facilitator/ guide and not a director.

How do I become an effective constructivist teacher?

 I like the propositions in the book –  Dynamic Teachers: Leaders of Change, which suggested that dynamic teacher take on no less than seven roles, as follows:

  1. “The Moral Steward,” recognizing the worth, capabilities, and rights of their students
  2. “The Constructor,” who understands the subject matter and knows different ways to teach it in order to accommodate students’ various ways of learning
  3. “The Philosopher,” who reflects critically about what is and isn’t working in the classroom and makes midcourse corrections as necessary
  4. “The Facilitator,” creating conditions in which students feel safe to take risks and make mistakes and have time to try again
  5. “The Inquirer,” who depends heavily on assessment to find out what students have learned and what they need to learn more about
  6. “The Bridger,” a partner with parents, other teachers, and the community to ensure that their classrooms are responsive to the community’s needs and wishes
  7. “The Change maker,” actively pursuing change in classrooms, schools, districts, professional associations, and policy arenas.

The above roles are fitting if teachers’ take seriously their role in facilitating student learning.  The above list clarifies my first impression that constructivism puts so much power on the learners that teacher’s role as facilitator becomes easy.

In my imagination, my role as a teacher is like an Orchestra Conductor – who is an expert in the field of music and knows well the talents of my group members.  As a conductor, I may never play a single note, but will have to combine the different parts (members of the orchestra) to produce an excellent musical rendition.

As a classroom teacher in a constructivist teaching and learning set-up, I may assign students to work in groups.  The students then contribute to their group outputs based on the skills and knowledge that they bring to class.  However, to be an effective “orchestra conductor,” I have to put together, the work of all groups to produce a more powerful output. In doing so, a teacher has to be an expert on the subject matter, in order to be able to add context and bring the learning process into a higher level of cognitive learning according to Bloom’s taxonomy. And such facilitation tasks goes beyond the classroom as indicated in the “change maker” role, which requires advocacy and connections with education policy makers and parents.

Thus, teachers make change happen.  I am proud to be in the field of education.

References:

  1. Resources for Constructivism, retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedletter/v09n03/credits.html
  2. Mindshift, retrieved from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/teachers-most-powerful-role-adding-context/

Role of teachers: “A Guide on the side or a Sage on stage?”

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In Piaget’s constructivism theory, it is assumed that (i) there is no tabula rasa – that learners come to learning situations with prior knowledge; and (ii) learning is active rather than passive – learners are not passive listeners but remain active throughout.

It is worth noting how Twomey Fosnot (1989) defines constructivism through four principles:

  • learning  depends on what we already know;
  • new ideas occur as we adapt and change our old ideas;
  • learning involves inventing ideas rather than mechanically accumulating facts;
  • meaningful learning occurs through rethinking old ideas and coming to new conclusions about new ideas which conflict with old ideas.

A productive, constructivist classroom, then, consists of learner­-centered, active instruction.

What does this mean on the role of the teacher? The traditional teacher who is a “sage on stage” now performs the role of a “guide on the side.”  The teacher then, should be willing to give up the traditional position of “expert” in the classroom and that the domination of teacher-talk should no longer exist.

How can a teacher – who has been an authority in the classroom transform into a new role?  A number of recommendations and best practice approaches are outlined below:

  • a process approach to learning – the teacher will allow ideas to develop in the learner’s own mind and not just to transmit the information, and this is through series of supportive activities;
  • negotiating a curriculum – meaning that students are deliberately invited to contribute to the planning of education programs that fit their needs;
  • teacher is a researcher – continuously gathering data on student performance through observations and formative assessments, and use that to refine the teaching approach;
  • teacher allows democratic management of the classroom – by structuring the learning environment towards shared control where there is reciprocity, cooperation and collaboration;
  • teacher uses indirect form of control and empowers students by giving them responsibilities and encouraging them to be self­controlling and autonomous – able to hypothesize, question, investigate, imagine, reflect

Constructivism is not really new in the Philippine education system, as we can see in the articulation of the new K to 12 curriculum, the elements and principles of a learner-centered approach.  However, the big question is whether teachers – who have been trained in the old school “ sage on stage” role are able to transform themselves into a consultant or mentor role?  And we can not totally fault the teachers, because despite the decentralisation thrust of basic education, the management of public schools remain very centric, and such culture transcends from central to schools.  Teaching is still mostly textbook based – including the questions that the teacher ask in class, and students do mostly paper and pencil exercises.

I wish to end with a positive note, that with the increasing use of internet, teachers (public and private) now have the opportunity to enhance their teaching approaches.  The use of multi-media in the classroom enhances the constructivist theory for learner-centered approach.  And with  this, I commend DepED for the Learning Resources Portal.

References:

1. Overview of student-centered and Constructivist Approaches to Instruction, retrieved from http://wps.ablongman.com/ab_slavin_edpsych_8/38/9953/2548032.cw/index.html

2. DepED K-12 curriculum retrieved from http://www.deped.gov.ph/k-to-12/About/features

Prime-time and down-time in learning

It is my first time to come across the terms “primacy and recency effects,” but on hindsight they have been part of my daily life as a professional.  Now, that I understand better the implication of prime-time 1, down-time and prime-time 2 in the learning process,  I can improve the way I deliver  my own presentations during meetings and workshops. My take away is that “short discussions are better than long ones.”

For classroom instruction, it is very important that a learning facilitator is conscious on what to take up during prime- time 1 – or at the beginning of the learning period.  It is true from observations that many teachers waste this prime- time 1 to check on attendance or go around and check compliance or not to assignments.  Researches have shown that retention is high at the first 10 to 20 minutes of a 40 minute learning episode.  So, teachers should use this period to introduce new topics, because of the high retention in the memory of the students.  The next 10 minutes is down-time, or when the information is hardly processed because learners have lost their attention and focus.  As I have observed in a pre-school class (private school), the teacher very well used such down-time, to allow the kids to play on their own as a break.  In assignment 1, I have observed in an undergraduate class, that students start to talk to each other after a long wrap-up of the teacher at closure of the session.  My intuition is that they don’t find meaning to what was said because the teacher was summarising what have been discussed and thus bored the students. It is thus very important for teachers to use prime-time 2 to engage the students on reflections and maybe drawing up questions that lead to new concepts which can arouse interest for the next session.

I think that no matter how simple the  primary-recency concept is, it has critical impact on how learners effectively learn with the right scheduling of the activities inside the classrooms.  An excellent teacher on the content of the subject will be wasting enormous teaching effort and resources if these concepts are taken for granted.  After all, our primary concern as educators is the retention of knowledge that contributes to quality learning.

But, are school supervisors conscious of the primacy-recency effect when they do classroom supervision? This is a simple area of improvement that will have lasting impact on learning effectiveness, don’t you think so?

Models and Mentors in My Life

Reflecting back on the track behind me, I recall models and mentors whom I have always look up to.   They have inspired, shaped and directed me to where I am right now. Some of them didn’t know how much I value their contributions in my life.

My Models and Mentors
Role Models and Mentors
Their Contributions
Tatay and Nanay They raised me up with the view of simple life.  They will always be my model for raising my kids divest with goals for material things, fame and glory.
Lulay Growing up professionally with devoted and sweet but strong willed lady was an inspiration.  Lulay is a great mentor  in my career that I almost followed her footsteps. In fact, I took over many of her positions in the education sector.
Mariquit My sister-in law is a great model for humility and sacrifice for the good of others. She gave up her respectable career to care of sick mother (my mother in law). She is also selfless in helping a brother (my brother-in law) recover from alcoholism.
Dr. Victor Ordonez My mentor for xx years working in the education sector.  His passion to bring innovations and global standards to Philippines educations inspired me to work in Government and subsequently in education development organizations.
Persy Her strong will to work for children in the most difficult situations is an inspiration.  Persy is my model for dedication to the cause of children in the most difficult situations.  She got killed by suicide bombers in Pakistan while on duty.  I will always remember her dedication, as I continue to work for conflict-affected children in our country.

The Type of Role Model I Want to Be for My Students.

I will work hard and persevere  to become a role model for my students in the following aspects.

 
1.      Passion to help others  –  in whatever I do, the ultimate goal is to make the lives of others better.
2.      Humility – the greatest virtue is considering others before self. Humility is respecting others and caring for others. It also means recognizing that we are not perfect and that we should admit our mistakes.
3.      High moral values –  this means living up within the standards of  God and not of men.   
4.      Walking your talk – sincerity in everything that I do.
5.      Innovation – always make room for improvement.

How I Will Incorporate Models and Mentors in My Classroom?
I will incorporate models and mentors in my classroom by providing opportunities to (i) get to know my students well including their different  beliefs and cultural background and  respecting diversity; (ii) promoting connections and positive associations; and (iii) discussions and reflections on exemplary  models in various aspects of life.

Who Will Be My Education Mentor? What Would My Ideal Education Mentor Be Like?

My ideal mentor would be a simple person who has dedicated self to the cause of others.  I have in mind, a simple teacher who preferred to work in remote villages to teach Indigeneous People.  She left the comfortable life in the city to live with IPs. She helped them establish a community school where parents and children where the students. The teacher is well loved by the community so she has been living with them for more than 10 years.  Every time I meet this teacher for IPs, I always feel refreshed, inspired and moved to continue helping others to improve their lives.  She is a great mentor.

Reference:

Santrock. Online Learning Center.
http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/education/edpsych/santrocked02/ch07a_sa.html

Intelligence: Doing well in school and life

The many definitions of intelligence

I will define intelligence as what you do with what you know – which to me is what matters most. Intelligence is not just the capacity to think well, neither it is a “genie in a bottle,” that makes a student top a math quiz. I will explain this progressively, but first, let’s go through the changing perspectives about intelligence.

  • General Intelligence theory (Charles Spearman) – argued that intelligence is a general cognitive construct that is measured numerically called factor g, that classify people according to levels of intelligence, such as low, average and genius
  • Primary mental abilities (Louis Thurstone) – argued that intelligence composed of seven primary mental abilities and not a single factor: verbal comprehension, reasoning, perceptual speed, numerical ability, word fluency, associated memory and spatial visualisation.
  • Successful intelligent (Robert Sternberg) – explained that people succeed because of the balance of “triarchic abilities:” analytical, creative and practical
  • Multiple Intelligence (Howard Gardner) – identified distinct intelligences that function in problem solving and creation of new products: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal.
  • Mindware and metacurriculum (David Perkins) – believes in three mechanisms that underlie intelligence: neural or genetically determined, experiential and reflective which is the “good use of the mind” for self- managing, self- monitoring and self-modifying
  • Emotional intelligence (Daniel Goleman) – asserted that intellect and emotions are interwined. He also believed that the human brain is a “social brain,” with innate capacity to bond and empathize with others.
  • Moral Intelligence (Robert Coles) – believes that children can be more intelligent by developing their inner character.

Influences on the way intelligent person behave and learn

The explanations on how intelligent person behave and learn depend on the theory of intelligence that is embraced by social and education systems that a person live in.  It is interesting to note a research finding that the school is the originator of individual differences in intelligence and became the solution to it (Raty 1995).  While it sounds anomalous, the research admits that the issue is more on the practices and principles of the school that make the diversity among children.  As pointed out by Dewey  (cited in Practical Intelligence) education is a process of living and not a preparation for future. This is why my proposition above – doing well in school and life.  Students must learn how to use their intelligence while in school which has implications on their future life. A practical intelligence curriculum developed at Yale University that is based on the theory of human intelligence demonstrated how theories can be put into practice (Sternberg, Practical Intelligence For School Success).  It is very interesting to see in the curriculum how the intellectual domains from Gardner’s multiple intelligence are translated into mental processes, practical application and transfer to new situation, see example below:

Figure 1.  Intellectual Operations

Componential Contextual Experimental
Intellectual Domains (multiple intelligence) Examples of mental processes Practical application Translate to new situation
Linguistic Selecting the steps needed to solve a problem How to organize your thoughts in order to write a book Writing a history report, writing a letter, giving direction
Logical-mathematics Ordering the components of problem solving How to complete a math worksheet Figuring out the steps in balancing a budget
…….. ….. …. ….

It is known that how an intelligent person learns is influenced by genetics, culture, socio-economic status; the individual’s motivation and learning style; and the actual teaching-learning practice in the classroom.  I wish to point out how advanced economies like the USA, Canada and U.K. have integrated in their curriculum – social and emotional learning, which have been advocated by recent research researches as an effective learner-centered approach.  It is worth noting that students in these countries do well in international test, and that the human development index of these countries are also high.  This demonstrates the equal importance of non-cognitive skills to cognitive skills in a person’s success which then contributes to the country’s economic development.

Am I intelligent?

Following the moral intelligence proposition, I consider myself  “intelligent.”  The principle of the Golden Rule – “that do to others what you want others do to you,” lays the foundation of my own being.  While I have achieved remarkable educational attainment and success in my career, I do not consider these as the best indicator of being intelligent.  I continue to strive in using what I learn for the sake of others – specially the most disadvantaged children.  This explains my mantra for intelligence – doing well in school and life.

Thoughts and actions for the future

With the greater understanding of the historical and the changing perspectives on intelligence and learning theories, I am more convinced that we are all born “gifted” and “retarded” human beings.  Living in different context means different challenges on how the potentials for using our intelligences can be realised at the fullest.  As an education development worker, I will continue to contribute in:

  • making schools effective in nurturing the nature given educational potentials of learners
  • developing assessment innovations that focus less on I.Q, or cognitive skills but more on non-cognitive skills
  • advocating on the importance of strengthening early learning social and emotional skills
  • understanding gender issues – such as, why women got involved in the recent terrorism in France.

References:

Raty, H. Snellman, L. (1995). On the Social Fabric of Intelligence. Papers on Social Representations, 4 ( 2 ). [pdf] Based on a paper presented at the Symposium of Social Representations in the Northern Context, 22 -26 August, 1995, Mustio, Finland. http://www.psych.lse.ac.uk/psr/PSR1995/4_1995Raety.pdf

Kearsley, G. (2014). Triarchic Theory (Robert Sternberg) In The Theory Into Practice Database. Retrieved from http://InstructionalDesign.org

Sternberg, Robert and Okagaki, Lyn (1999). Practical Intelligence for Success in School. Retrived in  http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_199009_sternberg.pdf

The many ways of learning and re-learning

Every individual is unique having own preferences on how to learn at specific events. This is recognise in various learning style theories (Kolb and Dunn) and multiple intelligence theory (Gardner).  Kolb and Dunn consider cultural, environmental and personal factors as variables affecting individual learning style.  They proposed that teaching should fit learning styles.  The multiple intelligence theory, on the other hand, claims that humans have 9 innate intelligences and posit that education can be improved by addressing the intelligences.

Research has consistently shown that when anyone is taught according to their individual learning style their academic achievement increases, as does their attitude, self-esteem discipline and outlook towards the future.  Knowing this and the fact that each person has different intellectual composition has implications on the teaching and learning practices.

First, there is no “one size fits all” in a learning event.  The teacher should be able to discern specific learning preferences of students and assign them to tasks that fit their mode of learning and interest. Applying Kolb’s model, a student who is in accommodating mode (doing and feeling) is good at hands-on work, and  should not be expected to come up with ideas and concepts like someone in assimilating mode (watching and thinking).

Second, learning is best conceived as a process – thus both teacher and student should engage in effective feedback.  The teacher may provide a “parking space” in the wall of the classroom where students can post their comments, feedback on the lesson for the day. Teacher should give specific feedback to students that will help them identify what to change in their study habits.

Third, students bring with them their strong and weak intelligences (from the 9 identified by Gardner), prior knowledge and social skills which the teacher can tap or strengthen. Students with mathematical-logical intelligence may help in peer to peer teaching, while those with musical intelligence can lead activities to help others develop similar talents.

As a learner myself, the best realisation is from Kolb’s experiential theory- that leaning is a cycle of doing, reflecting, concluding and trying out.  I consider myself in the “watching and thinking” style, and I think going through the readings in EDS 103 is not enough. I really need to interact with virtual classmates in the discussion fora.  As a future teacher, I need to learn more about social and emotional learning because I am convinced that learning involves the whole person – thinking and feeling.

References:

Dunn and Dunn:  School-Based Learning Styles http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/863/884633/Volume_medialib/dunn.pdf

Kolb, A. Y. &  Kolb, D.A. (2005)  Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential. Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4: 2, 193-212.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/40214287

Why do some people learn better ?

I have been thinking that the world in unfair.  Why do grade 6 students in Singapore perform better in math than Filipino counterparts?  Research has accurately found some answers – that learning happens in many ways, even in educational settings.   I realised the importance of educational research in improving and revising theory and practice to reflect the emerging needs of different learners. What science discovered in the functioning of the brain has affected the way education systems develop the curriculum, instruction and assessment methods (Gredler, 2008).

It is amazing how revolutions in scientific studies of the mind and brain, on the process of thinking and learning  and on the neural processes for development of competence continues to generate important evidences that shape education systems. Piaget’s development epistemology theory laid the foundations for four distinct stages for intellectual development from infancy to adulthood. Piaget’s observations that children are “little scientist,” actively exploring the world, has been widely used as basis for advocacy on the importance of ECCD.  Bandura’s social-cognitive theory, brought out the influence of models and other environmental and personal factors on behaviour.  Many education reform platforms have talked about evidenced-based practice.  What does this mean to a teacher in Philippines public school?

As I reflect on the importance of research in education, I kept thinking – how realistic is the proposition for making the teacher as researcher (Plano Clark and Creswell, 2010)?  We all know that teachers have to handle as many as 60 pupils in urban schools or about 30 multi-grade pupils in remote villages.  Do teachers have the competencies to (i) form hypothesis, (ii) make observations, (iii) refine a theory and (iv) develop a theory?

As a future teacher, I wish to take the challenge that I can be an effective teacher-researcher.  I have outlined below a list of research questions that I will investigate:

  • How is the use of the local language affecting the performance of pupils in mathematics? I will use both quantitative and qualitative research methods.  Some inferential statistics as well as in depth analysis of how kids use the local language to express themselves in math will be undertaken.
  • How is group work influencing the study habits and performance of pupils in grade 6 science? I will use quantitative research methods, as I record observations on the behaviours and performance of the pupils.

Despite the hardwork that teachers undertake in actual teaching, I strongly believe that the teacher already has the opportunity to use the classroom as a research laboratory.  In fact, the benefits of such action research in the classroom are immediate as the teacher is able to refine own teaching strategy that fits the learning styles of the pupils.

Going back on my earlier question, it is well known that children in Singapore benefit from researches such as understanding the development of students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills (RECSAM).  How I wish that education research will also gain prominence in the Philippines not for academic purposes but more to inform policy and practice in our schools.

References:

1. Gredler, M.E. (2008).Chapter 1 Introduction. of Learning and Instruction: Theory into Practice  (6th ed.). NJ: Prentice-Hall. Retrieved from http://human- learning.wikispaces.com/Chapter+1+Introduction

2. Hammond, LD, Austin, K., Orcutt, S. & Rosso, J.  (2001). How People Learn:  Introduction To Learning Theories http://www.stanford.edu/class/ed269/hplintrochapter.pdf

3. Mathematical Modelling as Problem Solving for Children in the Singapore Mathematics Classrooms http://www.recsam.edu.my/R&D_Journals/YEAR2009/june2009vol1/mathmodelling%2836-61%29.pdf