Monday, February 20, 2012

Reflecting on Podcast with Dr. Bill Cerbin

Greetings VTLCers,

I hope you enjoyed listening to Drs. Nancy Chick and Bill Cerbin discuss learning styles.

Here are a few questions for your consideration:

  • Dr. Cerbin mentions several misconceptions about "learning styles," ultimately concluding that "learning styles" as we often think of them, do not exist:  Do you agree?  What have you found in your own teaching and learning that supports or undermines this?  
  • At about the 24-minute mark, Nancy summarized a useful response to misconceptions about learning styles as "thinking less about student's learning styles and thinking more about the ways of thinking that are required by my subject."  What kinds of thinking are required by your subject?  What are the most effective ways to teach students to think in these ways?
  • Dr. Cerbin offers a few practices that enhance student learning: "free recall retrieval practice: "expressive writing" and "solution analysis."  How might you use one or all of these in your courses?
  • To paraphrase Dr. Cerbin's question in the podcast, what makes your field difficult for someone who doesn't know about it? 
  • What background knowledge do students need as a "framework" for your course? 
Feel free to reflect on your own or leave comments below.

UWC VTLC Podcast 3: A Conversation on Learning Styles with Dr. Bill Cerbin

Greetings colleagues and VTLCers,

Welcome to the second UWC VTLC podcast of the 2011-12 academic year, a conversation on learning styles between Dr. Bill Cerbin, Professor of Psychology at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he has taught for more than 20 years, and between our inaugural director, Dr. Nancy Chick, who is now the Assistant Director at Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching. Dr. Cerbin also directs the UW-La Crosse Center for Advancing Teaching & Learning, which sponsors programs and activities to support teaching and learning. Active in the scholarship of teaching and learning, he has twice been a Carnegie Scholar with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His work focuses on understanding the relationship between teaching and college student learning and thinking.       

You can listen on your computer by clicking here or always on the title above, or you can subscribe via iTunes and listen there or on your MP3 player.  See here for more details on subscriptions.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

VTLC Reading Circle 2012 (part 2 of 7)

This post is the second in the series on the VTLC Reading Circle on How Learning Works by Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, and Norman.  There are several ways to participate, including reading and reflecting on this series of blog posts.  For more details, see our website.

The previous post asked reflective questions about students' prior knowledge.  The second concept in the book is "How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know."

Questions for reflection:
  • What knowledge organizations do students need in order to understand your course content? 
  • Around what knowledge organizations do you organize your course content, syllabus, and/or lesson plans? 
  • One recommendation in the text for helping students organize their knowledge meaningfully around "deep features" of the domain is to give students problems that are already solved and explain the solutions to themselves.  This seems like a strategy that works in any discipline.  Do you employ this strategy?  What knowledge organizations does it/would it reveal to students?
  • In what ways do you make the needed/optimal knowledge organizations "visible" to students in your courses?
  • Which of the strategies suggested by the research do you plan to use? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

VTLC Reading Circle 2012 (part 1 of 7)

Greetings VTLCers and Scholars,

Today kicks off the reading activities for our annual common read, which is How Learning Works by Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, and Norman.  There are several ways to participate, including reading and reflecting on this series of blog posts.  For more details, see our website.

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about this reading is the way this book addresses concepts that I think I knew (instinctively or unconciously, perhaps), but I had not necessarily thought about how to address in specific ways through curriculum, course design, in-class activities, and assessment activities.

The first concept the authors present is "Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning" (13).  Because we all work in disciplines with content knowledge, I would not be surprised if many examples of this came to mind as you read the chapter on this concept.

Below are a few questions for reflection on the first chapter and concept.  Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments (which is where I'll share my reflections as well).

  • How do you gauge prior knowledge of students? What assumptions do you make about what they do or do not know when entering your courses? 
  • Do you use activities to “activate prior learning” (15)?  What strategies might you recommend to your colleagues about this? 
  • What examples of inaccurate prior knowledge do you encounter in your courses? To what extent are they “isolated” or “integrated” misconceptions (24)? 
  • When you encounter integrated misconceptions or stereotypes, what strategies do you think best work to unseat, suppress, or replace them?