Reflection of student learning: conceptual and practical considerations

Clare (2007) provides an overview of how she encourages deep learning by considering teaching, learning and assessment characteristics. It is important to treat each learner as an individual, considering how they learn and how to encourage engagement with deep learning approaches within and beyond formal lectures. Clare (2007) relates the need to consider the individual by giving reference to educators describing the content of teaching and assessment and essentially negating attention towards how students learn. As teachers, we often concern ourselves with details of curriculum design, constructive alignment, assessment mode and schedule. However, we also need to consider how students learn, so that we can encourage them to do so effectively, both within and beyond the individual lecture.

I believe learning to be a progressively deepening process, illustrated by the SOLO taxonomy, whereby connections between cognitively situated schema become progressively abstract. Schema can be modelled as ‘implicitly linked’ and ‘explicitly defined’ networks of declarative and procedural knowledge. The progression towards deeper levels of understanding can be thought of as the development of increasingly complex connections between schema and the addition and integration of new declarative and procedural knowledge into the complex ‘network’ of understanding.

Using this model, our challenge is to encourage and organise the continued learning of declarative and procedural knowledge, while facilitating the generation of further connections between schema. This can be performed by giving students focussed pre-reading related to the lecture while providing guidance to relevant papers and/or given a task to complete to begin to embed this knowledge within current schema by initiating the development of implicit connections. Secondly, practical and conceptual knowledge is ‘given to the student’ (the didactic bit) on the basis of the lecturer’s professional opinion. Stober, Wildflower, and Drake (2006) provide an overview of current thinking about evidence based practice in coaching and emphasise the utilisation of best available knowledge, informed by professional opinion while considering the client as an individual. Finally, students are given an activity to consolidate and contextualise the development of inter and intra-schema ‘connections’. This activity could take the form of a critical reflection, problem solving on the basis of a case study (enquiry based learning/problem based learning). This provides an opportunity to perform a mini-version of a modular assessment that is aligned with an appropriate level of academic skill (eg present your ideas for viva based assessments, critically reflect upon best available evidence for coursework based assessments etc). Therefore, the individual lecture follows the principles of constructive alignment while also logically scaffolding student learning along a structured series of activities that facilitates the development of progressively abstract levels of learning.

 

References

Clare, B. (2007). Promoting deep learning: A teaching, learning and assessment endeavour. Social Work Education, 26(5), 433-446

Stober, D. R., Wildflower, L., & Drake, D. (2006). Evidence-based practice: A potential approach for effective coaching. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 4(1), 1-8