From PROF INGVAR

Different Educational Approaches and Best Practice Schooling

Good evening dear colleagues.
Today I would like to discuss following topics:
1. How we understand learning and learning environment?
2. How we can compare different educational technologies and learning environments?
3. What educational approaches were used in order to create the learning environment?

From PROF INGVAR

*What is learning?*

Learning is socialization process between humans.  When children learn how to use a computer, they might make some mistakes along the way, but at a certain point they will get the knack of the behaviors required to use computer effectively. The children will change from being individuals who can not operate a computer into being individuals who can. Once they have learned how, they do not lose those skills. It is like learning to write. Once you have learned how, you do not have to learn all over again.
In this case we can define learning as a relatively permanent influence on behavior, knowledge, and thinking skills that comes about through experience.
Not everything we know is learned. We inherit some capacities – for example, to swallow, to flinch at loud noises or to blink.

Most human behaviors do not involve heredity alone.
When children use a computer (or whatever) in a new way, work harder at solving problems, ask better questions, explain an answer in a more logical way, or… listen more attentively – the experience of learning is at work!
How broad is the scope of learning? Well, it involves academic behaviors and nonacademic behaviors.  Learning occurs in schools and everywhere else that children experience their world.

Generally, we call “place” where learning occurs for a learning environment.
Learning environments can differentiated as “Teacher-Centered” or “Student-Centered”. Sometimes we can observe mixed form. What is difference? Everything depends of teacher’s management style.

Student-Centered management style called AUTHORITATIVE management style. If you have this style you going to have students who tend to be self-reliant, delay gratification, get a long well with their peers and show high self-esteem. An Authoritative strategy of classroom management encourages students to be independent thinkers and doers but still involves effective monitoring. As an authoritative teacher you engage students in considerable verbal give–and-take and show a caring attitude toward them. You will declare limits when necessary. Authoritative teachers clarify rules and regulations, establishing these standards with input from students.

We all agree that learning environment should be motivational but to whom? It is clear that students should find a learning environment motivational. But we forget teachers! Learning environment must be motivational for teachers as well. Usually I tell to my students that they must motivate me as well – Motivate me to share my knowledge and skills!
Learning environment should stimulate creativity for both participants – teachers and students.

Teacher-Centered management style called AUTHORITARIAN style. This style is restrictive and punitive. The focus is mainly on keeping order in the classroom rather than on instruction and learning. Authoritarian teachers place firm limits and controls on students and have little verbal exchange with them. They think that if they are teachers, which should means to students that they must follow teacher’s instructions 100% percent. I was asking such teachers only one question – why (exactly as our students do!)? Students in authoritarian classroom tend to be passive learners, fail to initiate activities, express anxiety about social comparison and have poor communication skills. Generally authoritarian teachers tend to be permissive – to allow students considerable autonomy but provides them with little support for developing learning skills or managing their behavior.

Learning environment has content. The content can be presented as “knowledge and skills to learn” or as “competencies to achieve”.  Simply said – Knowledge based curriculum or competency based curriculum. NB! Any competency based curriculum including knowledge. Once you learned something you should be able to apply, use your knowledge in unknown situations.

Which learning environment is better?

This is not easy question to answer. We should talk about effectivity of learning environments.  In order to define the effectivity of the learning environment we use following strategy: level of pre-knowledge and skills  → intervention → level of knowledge and skills after intervention. The differences of between them show so-called Knowledge Increase (%). This indicator need own lecture.
KI is one way to compare effectivity of learning environments and educational technologies.

In the foundation of any learning environment lies some educational approach to learning.
Approaches to learning can be categorized as behavioral or cognitive.
There are five different approaches with their advantages and disadvantages.

Behavioral Approach.
Emphasis on experiences, especially reinforcement and punishment as determinants of learning and behavior.
The most important for this approach is to teach students find/experience connection between experiences and behavior. There are two methods: 1. Classical Conditioning (stimuli ←… → reaction), and 2. Operant Conditioning (consequences ← … → behavior changes).

Learning environment has content. The content can be presented as “knowledge and skills to learn” or as “competencies to achieve”.  Simply said – Knowledge based curriculum or competency based curriculum. NB! Any competency based curriculum including knowledge. Once you learned something you should be able to apply, use your knowledge in unknown situations.

Behavioral Approach.
Emphasis on experiences, especially reinforcement and punishment as determinants of learning and behavior.
The most important for this approach is to teach students find/experience connection between experiences and behavior. There are two methods: 1. Classical Conditioning (stimuli ←… → reaction), and 2. Operant Conditioning (consequences ← … → behavior changes).

Social Cognitive Approach
This approach emphasize interaction of behavior, environment and person (cognitive) as determinants of learning.

Advantages: 1. Applied behavior analysis, 2. Associative learning
Disadvantages: 1. Statistical – doesn’t work on all children, 2. External control of behavior, 3. Stimuli and punishment doesn’t “change” behavior ( take a look on a picture), 4. Ethical issues, 5. AUTHORITARIAN style.

Advantages:1.Self-instruction
Disadvantages: 1. Students behavior doesn’t show their knowledge, 2. We are not sure what they are thinking, 3. Huge problems with gifted children, 4. Problems with discipline- take a lot of time in order to establish desired one.

Information-Processing Approach
Emphasis on how children process information through attention, memory, thinking and other cognitive processes. Important skills are 1. Ability to create a strategy, and 2. Metacognition.
Advantages: 1. All from Social Cognitive Approach, 2. Explain understanding as phenomenon, 3. Critical thinking, 4. Metacognitive strategies.
Disadvantages: 1. Difficult to connect different strategies in order to build the holistic understanding, 2. Learning environment becoming “programmed” as an assembly line.

Social Constructivist Approach

Emphasis on collaboration with others to produce knowledge and understanding. I means that the social context give possibility to our students(included teachers) to learn. Understanding is the way  to get knowledge. Learning occurs in different situations – “situate cognition”.
Advantages: 1. All forms from approaches above, 2. Cooperative learning (small groups), 3. Collaborative learning, 4. Teacher as companion in interactions, 5. Student-centered learning environment, 6. Diversity is a wealth, 7. There is no problems with discipline!
Disadvantages: 1. Seems as difficult from the beginning ☺.

I was brief overview about approaches to learning. I am sure that everyone has a lot of questions. The KI- indicator helps a lot in order to decide what approach should be used in order to create effective learning environment.
You can find more information about Interdisciplinary Learning Environment on our webbsite www.iletsgroup.eu

Thank you for your time and attention.