Share the Future IV

How Do People Learn?
Jeff Froyd
Texas A&M University

PowerPoint Presentation

If questions about teaching arise, the most frequent one seems to be "How might I teach differently, preferably better?" Although there are many answers to this question, most people seem to agree that there is no one right answer. Before trying to develop her/his answer to the question of how to teach, addressing three other questions might be reasonable:

  1. What are you trying to teach, and how might you communicate your expectations to your students?
  2. Where are your students starting from?
  3. How do people, including your students, learn?

None of these questions can be addressed independently.

Workshop participants will explore three streams of learning theory: behaviorist, cognitive, and metacognitive. Each has its own body of supporting research, and researchers in each stream of learning are active today. Participants will also explore questions relating to expectations for engineering graduates. With a better understanding of the streams of learning and expectations for learning, participants are positioned to address questions such as "Can engineering graduates achieve the expected level of skill in engineering design using instruction methods that follow from a behaviorist stream of learning?" With answers to questions like these, participants will tackle questions along the line of "What learning strategies are appropriate to different levels of learning?" Hopefully, participants will complete the workshop with a better background to select their instructional approaches.

Learning Objectives
Workshop participants will

  • Describe five tools for articulating program and course expectations
  • Describe three streams of learning theory
  • Describe connections between learning theory and pedagogical theory
  • Describe different learning strategies, and describe relationships between learning strategies and levels of learning
  • Describe how they use expectations and learning theory to help select approaches to teaching


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