Student-centred Learning techniques, Faculty Development Program at Mount Royal University

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The present article is about the experience lived by eight professors[1] of The Guanajuato University in the city of Calgary, Canada, for two weeks from November 19th to 30th of 2018 at Mount Royal University. The Professors attend to the Faculty Development Program, Building Capacity: Teaching Content in English.

 

The activities that they achieved were related to the constructivism way of teaching, that is the main theme we want to describe in this text. First of all, the most important aspect of constructivism is that the student is in charge of their own learning process, on the other hand the roll of the teacher is to prepare the class in order the student could learn different topics that are relevant for their professional life. In addition of that is necessary to say, these requires constructivism fundamentals and enough teaching experience. Because of that the course was focus in provide the techniques to achieve this professor new roll in class.

 

The main goal of the course was give constructivism tools to teachers to be able to teach a course using English as a second language, the “Course topics” document said:

 

This course is designed for those professors in the international community who wish to teach a content course using English. The course focuses on the development of teaching methods and techniques that support students learning in a second language and are based in constructivist learning theory. The goal is to promote an active, learner-centered philosophy. […] The course covers aspects from course planning to alternative methods of assessment. The format of the course requires the participants to be engaged in the types of activities that they are learning to use with their own students. Participants take part in team-building exercises, work with partners and in small teams, are involved in ongoing peer feedback, and focus on integrating the ideas into their own courses.

 

Some of the Teaching techniques of the course Building Capacity: Teaching Content in English, are going to be describe in the next lines of text.

 

Teaching techniques

 

 Supporting students’ learning in a second language environment

o Word wall / keywords

o Graphic organizers

o Think / pair / share

o Linguistic modification/ support

o KWL (+1)

 

 Group or cooperative learning strategies

o Organizing groups / partner work

o Using roles in groups to support group function

o Jigsaw technique

o Effective brainstorming

 

 The role of discussion and debate

o Managing interaction

o Supporting learning

o Socratic discussion

 

 Questioning Techniques

o Types / levels of questioning

o Using wait-time and its effects

 

Alternative Assessment

 Linking assessment and learning outcomes

 Rubrics for performance assessment

 Classroom feedback techniques /debriefing

 Peer assessment

 

 

 

Besides, we are going to describe some of these techniques as a way to encourage other professors to apply these to their own classes, no matter if the classes are in Spanish, because the techniques are very useful in English or Spanish.

 

 

Practical Assessment[2]

 

According to Craig A. Mertler they are formally defined as scoring guides, consisting of specific pre-established performance criteria. There are two types of rubrics: holistic and analytic. A holistic rubric requires the teacher to score the overall process or product as a whole, without judging the component parts separately (Nitko, 2001). In contrast, with an analytic rubric, the teacher scores separate, individual parts of the product or performance first, then sums the individual scores to obtain a total score (Moskal, 2000; Nitko, 2001).

 

Holistic rubrics are customarily utilized when errors in some part of the process can be tolerated provided the overall quality is high (Chase, 1999). They are probably more appropriate when performance tasks require students to create some sort of response and where there is no definitive correct answer. Use of holistic rubrics can result in a somewhat quicker scoring process than use of analytic rubrics. At most, only limited feedback is provided to the student as a result of scoring performance tasks in this manner.

 

Analytic rubrics are usually preferred when a fairly focused type of response is required (Nitko, 2001); that is, for performance tasks in which there may be one or two acceptable responses and creativity is not an essential feature of the students' responses. Analytic rubrics can cause the scoring process to be substantially slower, mainly because assessing several different skills or characteristics individually requires a teacher to examine the product several times. Both their construction and use can be quite time-consuming.

 

However, the advantage to the use of analytic rubrics is quite substantial. The degree of feedback offered to students-and to teachers-is significant. Students receive specific feedback on their performance with respect to each of the individual scoring criteria. It is possible to then create a "profile" of specific student strengths and weaknesses (Mertler, 2001). Regardless of which type of rubric is selected, specific performance criteria and observable indicators must be identified as an initial step to development. In some instances, teachers might want to utilize both quantitative and qualitative labels.

 

The bottom line for classroom teachers is that they must find a system of conversion that works for them and fits comfortably into their individual system of reporting student performance.

 

A step-by-step process for designing scoring rubrics for classroom use:

 

1.Re-examine the learning objectives to be addressed by the task.

2.Brainstorm characteristics that describe each attribute. Identify ways to describe above average, average, and below average performance for each observable attribute identified in Step 2.

3.For holistic rubrics, write thorough narrative descriptions for excellent work and poor work incorporating each attribute into the description.

4.For analytic rubrics, write thorough narrative descriptions for excellent work and poor work for each individual attribute.

5.For holistic rubrics, complete the rubric by describing other levels on the continuum that ranges from excellent to poor work for the collective attributes.

6.For analytic rubrics, complete the rubric by describing other levels on the continuum that ranges from excellent to poor work for each attribute.

7.Collect samples of student work that exemplify each level.

8.Revise the rubric, as necessary.

 

 

Learning Styles[3]

 

For Harvey J. Brightman from Georgia State University the MBTI instrument (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) should be administered in the first or second class period by the counseling center at every school. Because this preference tells us how people "charge their batteries". With MBTI teachers can know the style of learning of their students.

 

Introverts find energy in the inner world of ideas, concepts, and abstractions. They can be sociable but need quiet to recharge their batteries. Introverts want to understand the world. Introverts are concentrators and reflective thinkers, for them there is no impression without reflection.

 

Extraverts find energy in things and people. They prefer interaction with others, and are action oriented. Extraverts are interactors and "on-the-fly" thinkers. For the extravert, there is no impression without expression. The majority of university faculty are introverts.

 

Teaching Extraverted Students

 

Extraverted students learn by explaining to others. They do not know if they understand the subject until they try to explain it to themselves or others.

 

Extraverted students enjoy working in groups. Consider in-class or outside-of-class group exercises and projects. We recommend the “Thinking Aloud Paired Problem Solving (TAPPS) method” and “Nominal Group Method”.

 

TAPPS

-Teacher poses question and provides quiet time for students.

-Teacher designates the explainer and listener within each dyad.

-Explainers explains ideas to listeners. Listeners can (1) ask questions of clarification, (2) disagree, or (3) provide hints when explainers become lost.

-Teacher critiques some explainers' answers and provides closure.

 

Nominal Group Method

-Teachers pose question and provide quiet time for students.

-Each team member shares ideas with others in a round-robin fashion.

-Teams discusses ideas and reaches closure.

-Teacher critiques some team's answers and provide closure.

 

Teaching Introverted Students

 

George Miller noted that people can hold 7 + 2 chunks of knowledge in their minds at any given time. If each knowledge chunk contains a specific fact, then the amount of knowledge possessed is limited. But if each chunk contains many interconnected facts, a network or framework of facts, then the amount of knowledge is almost unlimited. To an introvert, disconnected chunks are not knowledge, merely information. Knowledge means interconnecting material and seeing the "big picture."

Faculty should teach their students how to chunk, or group and interconnect, knowledge. We recommend that faculty teach students how to build a compare/ contrast table, flowchart, or concept map.

 

Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N) Some of us choose to rely on our five senses. Some prefer taking in information through our "sixth" sense. Sensing people are detail oriented, want facts, and trust them. Intuitive people seek out patterns and relationships among the facts they have gathered. They trust hunches and their intuition and look for the "big picture."

 

Teaching Sensing Students

 

Sensing students prefer organized, linear, and structured lectures. We recommend three methods for organizing a lecture: (1) the what must be known organizing strategy, (2) the application-theory-application organizing strategy and (3) the advance organizer.

 

In the what must be known (WMBK) method, we first ask: What is (are) the topic's most essential general principle(s) or goals? Place the answer in a goal box. We then ask: What topic(s) must be known such that students could achieve the goal? Place these subgoal boxes below the goal box and show an arrow leading from each subgoal box to the goal box.

 

The A-T-A method begins with a faculty member presenting an (A)pplication (problem or mini-case) to the class. The students attempt to analyze and solve the case or problem without the benefit of the upcoming chapter's theory or ideas. An opening application problem or mini-case should (1) be familiar to students, (2) engage their curiosity, (3) be almost solvable from previous text material or student experiences, and (4) be baffling, or counter-intuitive, if possible.

 

Teaching Intuitive Students

 

Intuitive students prefer either the traditional Theory-Application-Theory approach or the A-T-A approach using discovery learning. The discovery method, or the why method, will appeal to intuitive students and will teach sensing students how to uncover general principles. In using this method, sensing and intuitive students should be combined in learning groups. The intuitive student can help the sensing student to discover the theory; the sensing student can help identify and marshal the facts of the exercise.

 

Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F)

 

Some of us choose to decide things impersonally on analysis, logic, and principle. Some of us make decisions by focusing on human values. Thinking students value fairness. What could be fairer than focusing on the situation's logic, and placing great weight on objective criteria in making a decision Feeling students value harmony. They focus on human values and needs as they make decisions or arrive at judgments.

 

Teaching Thinking Students

 

objectives are precise and action-oriented. By precise we mean that teachers can write objectives at three meta-levels of learning: rote, meaningful and integrated, and critical thinking

 

Teaching Feeling Students

1. Make process suggestions to regain session focus.

2. Keep individuals from personally attacking one another.

3. Monitor time remaining within a session and gently remind members.

4. Encourage equal participation among members in discussion phase.

5. Demonstrate collaborative-seeking (WIN-WIN) behaviors.

6. Assure that recorder writes legibly.

7. Respond to group member's questions to you by restating the question and asking other group members to respond (the boomerang method).

8. Recognize that all the objectives and goals within a session may not completed. Get group to do the possible given the time constraints.

9. Use light-hearted (or self-deprecating) humor to break tension.

10. Keep group enthusiasm high and sell ideas to members.

 

Judging (J) versus Perceptive (P)

 

Some of us like to postpone action and seek more data. Others like to make quick decisions. Judging people are decisive, planful and selfregimented. They focus on completing the task, only want to know the essentials, and take action quickly (perhaps too quickly). They plan their work and work their plan. Deadlines are sacred. Their motto is: just do it!

 

Perceptive people are curious, adaptable, and spontaneous. They start many tasks, want to know everything about each task, and often find it difficult to complete a task. Deadlines are meant to be stretched. Their motto is: on the other hand...

 

Teaching Judging Students

 

We have found that the following hints on note taking and test taking help judging students learn more effectively.

 

Speedwriting


Most students can learn speedwriting in several minutes. Just omit all (or most) vowels. Or develop your own shorthand method. For example, mst stdnts cn lrn spdwrtng in svrl mnts. Jst omt ll or mst vwls. After class, write a commentary on the right-hand side. Include restating ideas in your own words, finding sources of confusion, identifying key points, looking for links to earlier learned material, and asking what does this mean to me (the student).

 

Color Coding

Use different colors to record ideas presented in class and found in the text or readings. For example, use blue to code major ideas and green to code links to previously learned material.

 

AOR Model

In answering an essay question, first Analyze the question and jot down key ideas, Organize the ideas into a logical sequence, and only then write the essay (Respond).

 

Reverse Question

To review an essay question, first read your answer. Then construct a essay question based on your answer. Now compare your question to the teacher's question. If different, revise your answer. This strategy ensures that students answer the teacher's question.

 

Treating Objective Questions as Essay Question

Read the question's stem (the portion that contains the question) and write a brief answer. Then compare your answer to the four or five choices, and select the answer most similar to your mini-essay.

 

 

Teaching Perceptive Students

 

Perceptive students often postpone doing an assignment until the very last minute. They are not lazy. Quite to the contrary, they seek information to the very last minute (and sometimes beyond). We recommend decomposing a complex project or paper into a series of sub-assignments and providing deadlines for each sub-assignment. The deadlines may keep the perceptive students on target. Decomposing a major project into sub-assignments provides the opportunity for continuous feedback to the student. Have students hand-in an audio tape with their sub-assignments.

 

 

Socratic Seminars[4]

 

A Socratic seminar is a conversation among students that is facilitated or led by the teacher. The seminar is based on a text assigned before the seminar. Examples of texts that could be used in a classroom are: a short story, an historical document, a reproduction of a piece of art work, a video, a chapter of a novel.

 

Socratic seminar begins with an open-ended question from the teacher that requires students to turn to the text for answers and that sparks divergent and critical thinking. From here, the leader, through careful listening and questioning, helps students explore each other’s ideas in depth as they work to better understand the various issues, ideas and values in the text.

 

Icebreakers

 

This is an important part of a class centered on student learning process, through Icebreakers the work in class would be more easy, with more engagement of the students. According to Eric Garner[5],

 

"Icebreakers are one of the most important sets of resources for trainers. Originally, an icebreaker was used at the start of a training course to “break the ice” between people who were out of their normal workplace environment and perhaps feeling nervous and apprehensive. !ey were also a useful way of getting people to speak up, join in, and have a bit of fun. From their “ice-breaking” role, icebreakers were further used at any points in a course to inject a change of pace, lighten the atmosphere, bring people together, or as a way of bringing home a learning point. Hence, today, it is quite normal to have icebreakers at the start of a course".

 

There are plenty of examples on internet of Icebreakers, the important thing is to apply them on class in order to see if they fit with the student profile, their learning style and the class topics; it is convenient to start a class with icebreakers, the class would evolve more properly with this technique.

 

K-W-L Chart

 

Finally, the KWL Chart helps to see: “K” What I know (the student) about the class theme; “W” What I want to know about this topic; “H” How will I find information (which resources, web pages, texts, etcetera); “L” What I Learned. These aspects are necessarily to know about the students because by this it is possible to lead the learning process in a more effective way; these requires more knowledge of the student.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The strategies of Student-centred Learning are a way to ensure a real learning process in the classroom, very far from the outdated classes where the professor assume the main roll of the class and speaks for hours.

 

In the course Building Capacity: Teaching Content in English the Professor Rebeca Young encouraged the students to participate and prepare the classes, and through that action the participants (professors) were in charge of the whole teaching and learning process. The final result was a very enriching experience in the pedagogical aspect and professional field.

 

 

 

References

 

Mertler, Craig A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(25).

Available online: http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=7&n=25.

 

GSU Master Teacher Program: On Learning Styles. Harvey J. Brightman, Georgia State University. http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwmbti.html

 

The University of Adelaide. https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/70815. Query: 01-01-19.

 

Quotations

 

[1] Antonio Sustaita (Depto. Artes/Posgrado en Artes), Cynthia Villagómez Oviedo (Depto. Diseño/Posgrado en Artes), Arcángelo Tomassella (Depto. de Música), Jesús Flores (DCEA), Mónica Trejo (Campus Irapuato-Salamanca), Nancy García (Depto. Enfermería), Octavio Jiménez (Depto. Enfermería) y Dora Almanza (DICIS).

[2] This section is a synthesis of the text:  Mertler, Craig A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(25). Available online: http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=7&n=25. Query: 01.01.19.

[3] This section is a synthesis of the text:  GSU Master Teacher Program: On Learning Styles. Harvey J. Brightman, Georgia State University. http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwmbti.html. Query: 01-01-19.

[4] This section is a synthesis of the text from: Rebeca Young (2018). “Class Document”. Faculty Development Program, Mount Royal University. Calgary, Canada.

[5] Eric Garner (2012). Icebreakers: 65 of the best exercises to build team spirit in training. bookboon.com. Available at http://weraby.org/files/icebreakers_65_of_the_best_exercises_to_build_team_spirit_in_training.pdf