How Do We Learn?
 

Workshop Goals
The goal for the workshop is greater understanding of a model for the learning/teaching process and the roles played in the process by four components: (a) articulation and assessment of expectations, (b) how people learn, (c) where learners start, and (d) facilitating learners as they close gaps between their starting points and established expectations and may enhance conversations that are intended to improve teaching.

(a) Expectations
The workshop introduces participants to established mechanisms for articulating and assessing expectations: course syllabi, learning objectives, taxonomies of learning objectives, competency matrices, and rubrics.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to
• Rate themselves as more confident in their abilities to hold productive conversations with their colleagues regarding the place and importance of articulating expectations in the teaching-learning process,
• Write specifications for learning objectives,
• Rate themselves as more confident in their abilities to describe quality learning objectives,
• Write learning objectives for one or more courses that they teach,
• Rate themselves as more confident in their abilities to describe and apply Bloom’s taxonomy as a tool for articulating and organizing learning objectives,
• Write specifications for a rubric,
• Describe themselves as more confident in their abilities to describe a quality rubric, and
• Prepare a rubric for one or more courses that they teach.

Workshop Activities
As time allows, participants will practice writing specifications for learning objectives, writing learning objectives, applying Bloom’s taxonomy, writing specifications for a rubric, and preparing a rubric. In addition, teams of participants will provide suggestions for improving individual work products.

(b) Learning Processes
The workshop introduces participants to various theories of learning and connections between theories of learning and roles of teachers.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to
• Describe learning. What does it look like? How might you be able to tell the degree to which it occurs?
• Connect their ideas about learning to various learning theories.
• Rate themselves as more confident in connecting their ideas about learning to various learning theories.
• Describe learning strategies using concepts of declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge.
• Rate themselves as more confident in describing learning strategies and eliciting descriptions of how other people describe and apply their learning strategies.
• Connect their ideas about learning to approaches to teaching.
• How does your understanding of learning affect your approach to teaching?

Workshop Activities
In addition to presenting material, the seminar engages participants in team activities in which they prepare statements about the nature of learning and generate examples of learning strategies and how the strategies might be useful to students in one or more of their courses.

(c) Starting Points
Participants are introduced to various ways in which additional information about the starting point of learners might be acquired and applied.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to
• Describe the value of greater knowledge about the starting point of learners.
• Describe various means through which greater knowledge of the starting point of learners might be obtained.
• Rate themselves as more confident about their abilities to engage peers in productive conversations about the value and means for obtaining greater knowledge about the starting point of learners.

Workshop Activities
In addition to presentation of materials, teams of participants will consider how they might obtain more clarity about starting points of learners in their courses and programs.

(d) Pedagogical Approaches
Participants consider alternative pedagogical approaches—such as active/cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and technology-enabled learning—and practice developing lesson plans that they might use in courses they teach.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to
• Prepare lesson plans that incorporate one or more of the alternative pedagogical approaches that are presented in the seminar.

Workshop Activities
After listening to descriptions of an alternative pedagogical approach, teams of participants will develop and critique lesson plans that apply to pedagogical approaches to courses that participants have or will teach.

Throughout the seminar, participants reflect on the material and engage in cooperative learning activities with other participants. Participants can access post-seminar materials via the Web or through e-mail requests.

Workshop Facilitator

Jeff Froyd is Director of Academic Development in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. He serves as Project Director for the Foundation Coalition, in which six schools have collaborated since 1993 to restructure undergraduate engineering curriculum and improve engineering education. He also serves as Project Director for “Changing Faculty through Learning Communities,” which is a project sponsored by the Gender Diversity Program of the National Science Foundation. He helped create the Integrated, First-year Curriculum in Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where he taught for eighteen years before moving to Texas A&M University. His interests include learning, organizational change, faculty development, and engineering education.

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