Higher learning entails more than just inculcating the capacity to recall information among students. According to Kolb, learning refers to “…the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (41). However, in any learning model, knowledge is desirable if learning results are to be left to the students permanently. Border notes that “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience” (65). Effective teaching to enhance deeper learning implies the application of strategies that result in subtle increased grasping experience characterized by ardent conceptualization of information delivered.
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One cannot, therefore, achieve deeper learning through one-way traffic. It requires more than just information vomiting. Students take on certain hot topics under discussion are paramount. Some pre-scrutiny of the topics is essential to be done principally by students before the teacher takes up to provide the students with an amicable opportunity to have attained the gist of what is to be covered and if possible to have digested the better part of the themes. Experimental and reflective learning thus remains advocated for if people wish to achieve effective teaching especially at higher institutions of learning.
Enhancing effectiveness in higher education to achieve the “deeper” level of learning
As a teacher or a professor in an institution of higher learning, several strategies seem worth adopting to score the goal of achieving a deeper level of learning. Understanding and application of experimental learning technique is one of the ways through which one can use to achieve this. About Kolb, people have conducted extensive research on the contribution of experimental learning. The results of the studies point to attributing significance drumming up support for the technique as it “aids learners learn how to learn by following a recursive cycle of experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting” (Kolb 297).
The technique helps to raise the learner’s learning power. The integration of priory mentioned four experimental learning cycles’ confines and entangles deep learning as contrasted to surface learning. Surface learning does not deploy the experimental learning cycles but rather focuses on “accumulation of information and memorization for extrinsic reasons such as getting a good grade” (Mickelson 53). One can anticipate the experimental approach of teaching to bring about a deep level of learning since it is consistent with the traits of any deep level of learning model of teaching. Such a model “is more intrinsically motivated, integrated, reflective, and complex” (Border 92).
The second technique that could yield substantial fruits towards the attainment of a deeper level of learning is a group-learning technique of teaching. Research has shown that acutely facilitated and organized teams of students can generate and foster deep learning: what all teachers/ professors strive to achieve. Again, it proves impossible to detach the experimental approach method of learning from team learning techniques; they have to go hand in hand.
According to Mickelson, an “experimental approach to team learning to develop deep learning and excessive consciousness through recursive movement through the learning cycle members” (61) is essential for team-based learning techniques to operate substantially. Focusing on engaging learners in learning teams creates opportunities, which according to Argyris engages students in “reflective conversations, explore different experiences and different perspectives which are directly related to learning and improving performance” (54).
Through this learning strategy for inculcating deeper learning, students incorporate cute behaviors of listening to one another to raise queries. This explains the effectiveness of the teaching methodology since for interrogatives to come up, substantial contemplation and internalization of information must have taken place. Furthermore, it helps students to take pragmatic roles in the exploration of personal values, self-disclosures, and the possibility of invalid assumptions and incoherent arguments in the words of their fellow team members.
Why knowledge of current teaching practices is important for a teacher
For any changes to occur on some phenomenon or a way of doing particular tasks, adequate information on current practice or methodologies is of great importance. In deriving a new teaching model that would foster deep learning, knowledge of the current teaching practice is noble for comparative purposes. The extent to which a new teaching formula is successful can only be determined by measuring the departure from a preset standard of measure, which acts as the datum or simply point of reference.
Gain in the applicability of the new formula in the positive direction of the established point of reference: In this case, one would interpret the current practice as an improvement or the magnitude of success. On the other hand, a negative gain in the opposite direction of the established datum would indicate the magnitude of the impracticability of the newly adopted technique in realizing the desired output arising from the implementation of a given methodology of accomplishing a certain task.
The knowledge of current teaching practice is also paramount to a teacher since it lays a stratified foundation for identification of possible likely challenges, which one can encounter in the journey of shifting into a different teaching practice: deemed appropriate to provide room for deep learning. Concerning Argyris, Knowledge of the current practice aids to “agitate and reveal unanticipated degrees of challenge” (35). Failure to seek this knowledge exposes the plans and strategies of a teacher who is in the dare need for a positive change to the danger of being heralded due to “lack of guidance and support material” (Border 81).
The absence of guidance and support material has devastating effects. Among them is inadequate confidence and registration of alarming levels of anxiety due to unavailability of experience in the facilitation of learning through the current formats. Controlling an ongoing new teaching program becomes a tragedy due to insufficient clarity on the process. Finally, the teacher will more often than not find himself or herself trapped in between the dilemma of different engagement degrees for his/ her subjects: learners or students.
Weighing student opinions in determining teachers effectiveness
The question of how much one needs to weigh the student’s opinions in determining teacher’s effectiveness proves an intriguing one. Many management scholars even wonder whether the rating of the student-oriented performance is desirable at all. Some of the scholars like Martin propose teacher’s effectiveness evaluation method based on Deming’s theory as opposed to the student opinions oriented one (91). Martin feels that student opinions as a basis for evaluating teachers’ effectiveness is “invalid measures of quality teaching and provide no empirical evidence” (Martin 92).
Student often tends to incorporate their social differences and affiliations to different teachers in expressing their opinions. In the light of the likelihood of prejudiced regards toward different teachers, the opinions are “incomparable across different courses and different faculty members, promote faculty gaming and competition, tend to distract all participants and observers from the learning mission of the university and ensure the sub-optimization and further decline of the higher education system” (Martin 81).
Minimal attention should be paid to the students’ opinions surveys while evaluating the teaching effectiveness. More focus should be channeled to “development and assessment of program-wide learning outcomes” (Senge 70). To achieve this sporadic change, effectiveness measurement systems need to be altered to amicably motivate various members of faculties to become part and parcel of an integrated assessment and development learning team as opposed to independent contractors groups battling to obtain self-based rewards.
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Current teaching practices
Current teaching practices involve moving students through classes, which remain graded about age and efficiency criteria. Arreaga Points out that “The pace of instruction, the mode of presentation, the designed activities, the response modes for students, the format of materials, and the assessment of results are all standardized to allow the majority of learners to succeed” (89). The current practice calls for every teacher to simulate classroom-learning environment so that every student achieves his or her maximum potential.
To accomplish this noble task, teachers are expected to “structure an environment that is flexible, sensitive, and welcoming to the countless forms in which learning potential might be expressed” (Arreaga 90). Through making a variation of the actual information accompanied by the context in which the delivery of the information is done, teachers critically address the myriads of needs for the various students, which are diverse in all manner that you may think of.
However, it is not all that simple task. Senge laments that “Rather, a rich and productive learning environment evolves as the result of teachers’ careful consideration of an abundance of questions concerning the learning needs of each student about the learning needs of every student” (84). Teachers teach both small and large groups of students and individual students. The practices remain dominated by question: this helps improve on the traditional lecture format of teaching and teacher-led discussion practice takes a toll. Teachers more often will be held between deciding on the desired instructional formats and most substantial instructional techniques to help him or her accomplish the intended mission.
How to implement an effective teaching plan
An effective teaching plan would encompass cooperative learning and student-to-student learning plans whenever demanded. In case of cooperative learning analogous to Mickelson’s line of thought, “…small teams, each with students of different ability levels would be designed to use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject” (51). Through the deployment of this strategy, every student will have a feeling of being a valued member of the class.
To enable the students to build teamwork and communication skills group projects are an outstandingly vital way of implementing the plan. Again, during the group’s sessions, the members will learn to think critically through the project challenges without looking upon the teacher for the answers. Cooperative learning would, therefore, remain expected to in overall boost the student capacity to comprehend and challenge information given to them. This comes in as a crucial element that fosters deep learning.
Student to student teaching plan would encompass two methods. Cross-age and peer tutoring form the first approach. In the technique, the teacher sets up lessons and its contents, direct process of learning while evaluating the progress of the teaching technique. For the second plan: another class cross-age tutoring, “one or more students are asked to present a prepared lesson to another class, usually in a lower grade” (Kolb 107). Lessons are a repercussion of the individual contract or a class, which is part of a group project. This plan would be particularly crucial for music, art projects, storytimes, holiday centers or even seat works.
Argyris, Charles. On Organizational Learning. Malden, MA: Blackwell Business, 1999.
Arreaga, Michael. Increasing active student responding and improving academic performance through class wide peer tutoring. Intervention in School and Clinic 34.2 (1998): 89-94.
Border, Lester. Understanding Learning Styles: The Key to Unlocking Deep Learning and In-Depth Teaching. NEA Higher Education Advocate 24.5 (2007): 5-8.
Kolb, David. Experimental Learning: Experiences as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984.
Martin, Jim. 1998. Evaluating faculty based on student opinions: Problems, implications and recommendations from Deming’s theory of management perspective. Issues in Accounting Education (1998): 79-94.
Mickelson, Knight. Team Based Learning: A Transformation Use of Small Group in College Teaching. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2004.
Senge, Paulsent. The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. New York, NY: Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Incorporated, 1990.