Definition Learning Abstract: What is Learning? Does a new term need to be coined for learning? One hundred and four students undergraduate and graduate were asked to respond to the question. Their responses were coded using the five levels researcher designed rubric which was modeled after Bloom‘s Taxonomy for depth of knowledge. Of the responses coded fifty-one were from Pre-Service teachers and fiftythree were from graduate students enrolled in the Principals Masters Program.
The effects of understanding learning include the preparation of lesson plans, classroom instruction, the guiding of student learning, and the professional development of teacher leaders. Introduction: Learning is a term that is being used with great frequency in Education. Learning is a critical event today, because if a child has learned, then doors are opened to the world. If the student has not learned then their opportunities for success have been narrowed. Teachers are heard to say, ? my students learned their multiplication tables today.? It is concrete and measurable, either they can recite them from memory or they can not.
Can they recite them today and a week from today? Other teachers are heard to say, ? my students learned to write an essay.? They learned the parts of an essay. They learned the parts of an essay, but can they write an essay? The question of ? What is Learning? has become critical in the lives of children, adolescents, and adults. In some states children cannot move from one grade to another without passing a criterion referenced test which is given on one day of the year. If on that day the child can answer an appropriate number of the given questions they can pass on to the next grade.
Should the student fail the test, then he is given the test repeatedly-until he/she ? passes? and then he is permitted to move on to the next grade. If the student does not pass, then the student is retained, to try to learn again (Texas 726 Education Agency, 2010). When the student reaches High School they may face end of course exams that determine whether or not they are able to graduate or the level of the diploma that can students receive. Scores on one test determine whether or not a student is required to take remedial classes before entering the regular college program, even if the student ? assed? the course in high school. If the student received a passing grade and then can not perform on the designated test, did they really learn? No, by our measures they did not learn. When then, has learning occurred? It is often said, ? when I can teach someone else, when I can apply the information, when I can make ? learning? connections of content across conceptual areas.? All the responses and many more may be correct. The question still remains, when has learning occurred and to what degree has that learning been embedded for connections to new learnings? What is Learning?? It is no longer acceptable to say, ? I know that the students are learning as they all are smiling and giving positive body language of acceptance during the lesson?. This was at one time considered a ? check for understanding‘ however, understanding is also a vague term which is not measurable unless ongoing formative assessments are given by the teacher (Popham, 2008). Schlecty (2002) identifies the behavior of smiling and nodding on the part of the teacher pleasing student as either 1) Ritual engagement, or 2) Passive compliance.
According to Schlecty (2002) ritual engagement occurs when the student is undertaking the task or assignment because of the end
This could lead to another discussion to be addressed at a different time. It is critical for today‘s educators to be able to document a student‘s progress or lack of. Ron Edmonds put forth the belief and is quoted in 1979 as saying ? It seems to me, therefore, that what is left of this discussion are three declarative statements: (a) We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; (b) We already know more than we need to do that; and (c) Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel bout the fact that we haven‘t so far.? (p. 22) Ron Edmonds believed that all students can learn. He based his life‘s work on learning trying to determine why in some schools all children were learning and in other schools, the same level of learning was not happening. There have always been pockets of schools ? where learning occurred? and other similar schools where students were not learning as identified by state criteria. Yet, defining learning is still an area that is often unclear for teachers, parents, and the larger community they serve.
When education faculty members are asked to define learning, they are seen to smile and write an answer that is a collection of vague terms or words. By vague, the researchers are defining it as being unmeasurable or something that can not be documented without a judgmental reply on the part of the person attempting to define learning; it is abstract. So what is learning? Learning is defined in about as many ways as the number of people you ask. The dictionary thesaurus states that learning is knowledge, education, erudition, scholarship, understanding, research, study, teaching, instruction, edification and wisdom.
The definition in the dictionary defines learning as acquiring of knowledge, acquired knowledge and change of knowledge. The term ? learning? seems to float around teacher meetings, in-service and professional development training, the teachers lounge, parent-teacher conferences, university faculty meetings and even in 728 the classroom with the students. The term learning seems to be used in many cases to indicate a mastery of a concept, yet if a ? number of‘ or ? mount of‘ learning (a quantitative amount) had to be documented for any student, that amount would be a human guess, which maybe altered by the State to reach identified targets for learning for that year, that testing cycle. Learning in this context is not or has not been measured, when the targets for learning continue to move up and down based upon the scores of the students on the test. We are all familiar with movement of the learning—in the University classroom it is called a curve. The moving target that maybe unidentified leads to a vagueness or lack of clarity if we want to know ? ow much? or ? what? did the student learn? Learning by necessity in conversations about curriculum is generally connected to assessment in order to determine if learning has occurred. This ? learning? becomes critical for the classroom teacher. W. James Popham says, ? …That formative assessment process must be based, not on a whim, but on evidence of the students current level of mastery with respect to certain skills and bodies of knowledge? p. 7. This being the case, then the role of determining learning becomes the responsibility of the classroom teacher.
When observing in classrooms, today, many of us have witnessed students being given a passing grade because they were compliant teacher pleasers, or a terrific problem that the teacher did not want to deal with again, they passed on to the next level of learning without understanding the ? learning?. Assessment did not occur and if it did, it was ignored. These children who have not learned and who have been passed from grade to grade experience the frustration and failure that accompanies, never learning. During a recent observation an eighth grade science class, the teacher stated to the observer that this ? as a difficult group of students.? The day before the classroom observation a fight had occurred with three boys in the class and another teacher had to come into the science teacher‘s class to intervene 729 and stop the fight. The planned lab for the observation day was excellent, even though students were threatened, ? if you don‘t behave you will not get to go outside for the lab. It is a really good lab and it will be fun. You are going to miss the lab if you don‘t finish the lab sheet. You are going to keep everyone from getting to do the lab; it is fun.
You are going to get beads.? Finally, with help and coaxing all of the students finished the pre-lab form. Then students were given string and colored beads to put around their wrists, to go outside and see what happened to the beads in the sun. It was exciting for the Junior High students to watch as the beads as they changed colors. Then it was time to complete the lab sheets. The teacher relished the curiosity of the students as they asked questions about the process of the color transformation and she skillfully guided their responses. Now the students had to write up the lab report.
One African American student walked around with his head down looking for beads. Other students, also African American and Hispanic, never attempted to complete the form. The observer offered to help, finally going over to one black child sitting on the ground with his head between his legs. The observer asked, ? can I help you finish the form?? the student had not started to write. The black child responded that, ? He did not want to.? It became ever so painfully obvious that a number of the students in this predominately low-income classroom could not write and were reading at an elementary level.
Had science learning occurred for the students who were actively involved in the lab with the changing colors of beads when exposed to sunlight? Learning was not evidence for the classroom teacher, since the lab forms were not completed. Yet, for the school by state standards, reading is rated at an acceptable level of performance for the majority of the students tested. Given the significance of high stakes testing that effects children and teacher‘s lives, it is no longer acceptable to say learning has occurred, when one child has been left behind.
Learning must be measurable and real. It must last. Today educators need to be able to document a student‘s 730 progress or lack there of and the interventions for learning are essential. Yet, is high stakes testing the answer for the dilemma of ? learning.? It is very difficult to pass a high stakes test, and to learn if a child can not read, yet they must also be able to demonstrated learning in science, math, and social studies. High stakes tests provide a framework for accountability. High stakes tests may serve to distribute teaching fairly and equitably for all students.
Funding for schools is connected to learning or the lack thereof, but much more is learned in schools than can be measured on one test, on any given day of the week. The measurement for learning and of learning is critical to the life of the child. For the purposes of this work an attempt was made to determine a definition for learning based upon the understanding of Teacher-candidates (pre-service students) and graduate students in the School of Education and Human Development in a regional institution that serves a predominately low income, rural, minority population.
Additionally, this institution serves a large metropolitan area, which has a population that is diverse financially, ethnically, and culturally. Research Study This research study began as university faculty reviewed lesson plan assignments of teacher candidates. It was found that an acceptable assessment/evaluation of the skill being addressed was missing in approximately 90% of the plans submitted. This seemed to be very odd that the students would just omitted one of the components of the lesson plans which they were developing even though it was listed in the assignment directions.
In the directions, it was stated that all lesson plans must contain a title, objective/s, supplies, procedure and assessment/evaluation which matches the objective/s. It was noted that most of the lessons which were missing components cited an online source for his/her lesson. In her work, Patton (2009) found that many of the lesson plans on the Internet were not quality. Using the very basic components, she found that less than 10% were 731 complete. There was not any judgment used as to the quality of the component as at this point it was a simple response of yes if the was there and no if it was not.
The study evaluated approximately 200 lesson plans which were retrieved from the Internet. These lesson plans were just picked randomly after a Google search was done to locate the various sites. Only one lesson plan was printed from each site to be included in the study. Further while in consultation with a graduate faculty member who also teaches ? learning? for teachers becoming principals, it was determined that several class sessions were being spent on ? learning.? What is learning and when has learning occurred?
Again, the responses were vague, non-specific and general, without the extended focus and discussion on learning, there was no real determination of ? learning? by prospective principal students. Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine what undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Education and Human Development consider to be ? learning.? That is: The researchers for this project were attempting to determine how others describe and interpret learning. Methodology The subjects of the study were 104 teacher candidates and graduate students preparing for the principalship.
There were 51 teacher candidates and 54 graduate students. These students were surveyed to determine how or what they perceive as learning. The teacher candidates are in the last semester of coursework before doing student teaching. These Teacher candidates have been busy preparing lesson plans and were asked as a part of a multiple phased assignment to give their personal meaning of learning. In an additional, second assignment, they were asked to write a paper on learning and to state how they could document a student‘s progress. Definition Learning 732 will be addressed in this paper with the primary question being ?
Does a new mental model need to be developed for the Teacher candidates?? The future principals were given the same assignments; we must remember that these graduate students are in the classrooms, thus preparing lesson plans on a daily basis. The process was equally important to these future Teacher Leaders, as they help others at the campus find their meaning of learning. The ethnicity of the students in this study is very diverse. Approximately 50% of the student body is majority and the other 50% are minorities including about 4% international students. Instruments: Survey A: quick 3-4 minute response to the question ? hat is learning?? Rubric: researcher designed. See figure 1 below. Levels of Learning Level 5 Level 4 Level 3 Level 2 Level 1 Gained information, able to apply and then have that information which was gained measured in some way Gained information, complex definition and the person is able to apply what was gained. A detailed definition however is just banking the information and is not able to apply the gained knowledge Is able to give an answer however, is not able to do more than bank the information. Lowest of levels. Only repeat the word, learning; does not give an answer or defines learning with learning.
This one is almost lower than the knowledge level on Bloom’s taxonomy. Figure 1 Researcher –designed Rubric of the levels of learning Several weeks prior to the survey being distributed, the researchers developed a hierarchical, five-tier ranking system to evaluate the surveys. Bloom‘s taxonomy served as a model 733 of hierarchical ranking to evaluate the surveys. Charles Randall‘s work with problem solving was also an influence. Responses to the surveys were scored using the rubric to measure levels of thinking. The grading rubric was a 1-5 Lickert scale. Level 1) The lowest of levels.
The student only repeated the word, learning; does not give an answer or defined learning with the word learning. Level 2) The student is able to give an answer however, it not able to do more than bank the information. Level 3) The student is able to give a detailed definition, however, but is not able to apply the gained knowledge. Level 4) The student gained information, provided a complex definition and is able to apply what was gained. and Level 5) The students gained the information was able to apply and then have that information which was gained measured or evaluated in some way.
The participants in the survey were asked to write their definition of learning. They were given about 3 minutes to do so. They were told well in advance that the task was not a graded exercise as to the quality. It was either a full credit if you participated or no-credit if you did not. It was hoped that this would relieve some anxiety and allow the participants to elaborate on the task. Graduate students breathed deeply and hesitated to respond to the quarry. The responses which only had a few words and repeated the word ? learn‘ or used the word ? earn‘ to complete the definition were rated a one (1). A rating of a two (2) was reserved for definitions which were of very low level and seemed to believe that the human mind was a bank for the information and was not be used. It was to be stored or banked. This banking was more like a safe deposit box where the info was safe but did not gain any interest or in this case no new information could be added. The ranking of a three (3) was given for a more detailed definition and possibly even added a little information but it was still kept in the safety of the bank.
For a four (4) the response illustrated that the person gained the information and was able to apply and 734 use it in a constructive manner. The highest tier on the hierarchical chart was a five (5). In this highest ranking the students illustrated gained information, which he/she was able to apply and then have that application measured or evaluated in some manner. After the surveys were completed the responses were first coded into two categories. The first being very simply responses and in the other the responses were more complex.
Next the responses were evaluated using a researcher-designed rubric which was modeled from the very low knowledge level response to the highest level which utilized a judgment and evaluation in the explanation. The two researchers rated the surveys individually and then met and re-evaluated each. The ratings of the two researchers were very close. When there was an evaluation not in agreement, the two discussed and came to a consensus. Using the criteria there was 90% agreement thus, establishing inter-rater reliability. Results/Findings: For the purpose of the findings to the question ?
What is learning?? , only one student, a teacher candidate, 1 of 51 responded at the lowest level. None of the graduate student responses were evaluated as a level one response, meaning they only repeated the word learning and did not give an evaluation or an answer to define learning. Fourteen of 51, (27%) teacher candidates responses, were at level two, as did 11 of 53, (21%) of graduate students. By a level two response, they were considered to have given an answer to what is learning, but they did not apply or evaluate learning as apart of the response.
Twenty-three of 51 teacher candidates (45%) of the responses were a level Three. A detailed definition was provided, but there was no application indicated in the response. While 20 of 53 graduate students (38%) responses were rated as a level three. 735 Thirteen of 51, (26%) teacher candidates‘ responses were a level four. They gained the information and provided a complex definition which included application. Seventeen of 53, (32%) teacher candidates‘ responses were rated as level four. While 5 of 53 graduate students (9%) had a level 5 response. There were no level 5 responses from the teacher candidates.
Level 5 is the highest of levels and most difficult to achieve. To be rated a level 5 response the answer to ? What is learning?? , encompassed the lower levels of knowledge, application, and added the element of evaluation, the responder could document the ? learning? results. See Table 1 below for these findings. Teacher Graduate Candidates Students Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 0 13 23 14 1 5 17 20 11 0 Table 1 Number of responses at each level Figure 2 represents a graph comparing the teacher candidates and graduate students at each level of the rubric.
See the Figure below. 736 25 20 15 Teacher Candidates Graduate Students 10 5 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Figure 2 A comparison of teacher candidates and graduate students at each level Implications Do we as educators need to change the language of the education community? The answer is a definite yes if we are going to document a number which can and does open and close doors for students? Students are allowed in programs where they really do not have the background knowledge or even need in those particular programs.
By the same token, students are refused entrance into programs as they did not empress certain adults who are making the call, yet if given a measurable instrument, these students prove to be very proficient in the topic. Further, as Educators we need to define, ? what is learning?? so that teachers and principals can focus upon the importance of the learning in the classroom. A new term needs to be coined that can describe to the world of education and to the larger community, what is implied when it is said that, one has learned. Did they master the concept, will they remember the learning six months or five years from now?
Or, did the student only learn to pass a test and then forget the information to go on to a new ? learning. ‘ The new term needs to be 737 one that is measurable, can be documented, described and explained, have a common meaning so that everyone, including all ethnic groups, will have a fair chance when it is used. If learning is a process rather than a test as suggested by Popham, then clarity is required when the use of the term is applied. Curricular aims need to be determined. Sub-skills leading to learning should be identified and our own beliefs about learning must be clear. (Popham, 2008, Lambert, 2002, Schlecty, 2002).
Teacher‘s cognitive development when explored by Ammon (1984) in a study of a two-year teacher education program with an emphasis on teaching teachers about child development (Piagetian theory) found that teachers as they studied Piagetian and related developmental theory, their personal conceptions of students, learning, and teaching changed. The participating teachers progressed from simplistic to more complex, interactive explanations of student‘s behaviors, development, and learning. These teachers moved from ? showing and telling,? to designing a learning environment that fostered the construction of knowledge for learning.
The teachers‘ views on learning shifted from passive receptions to active construction of learning. A young teacher is described by C. Yarema as she moves conceptually into understanding a mathematical concept that she herself had never grasp, until reflecting with her learning community (Yarema, Smith, and Hutto under-review). The teacher learning example is a problem for the 5th -6th grade research lesson in mathematics which was stated as follows: ? A new season of sports has started and programs are being designed for printing. Certain companies purchased spaces on your 8? nch by 11 inch rectangular advertisement page to be seen in the next program. Given the ad pieces, your group must design an advertisement page for the program. You will notice that ads are in three categories: entertainment, apparel and food. What fraction of the page is covered by entertainment ads?? A teacher volunteered with the rest of her group observing and gathering data on student learning. The principal, an education faculty member, evaluator of the project, university mathematics faculty, and teachers in the 7th-8th grade group were invited to join the 5th– 6th grade group in this phase of their lesson study. 38 Students were introduced to advertising by perusing sports programs, then the teacher posed the problem and gave each group of students materials for designing an ad page using 8 separate ads with different areas. Out of the 8 ad pieces, three fell into the category of entertainment. After some difficulty with designing an ad page, all groups stated the answer to the problem as 3/8. Although this answer was anticipated by the teacher‘s lesson study group, she became disturbed that all students ? got the wrong answer.?
Instead of following the suggested interventions recorded in the group‘s Plan to Guide Learning, apart of the Lesson Study Process, the teacher chose to focus students‘ attention on her. From the front of the room, she then directed students through a paper folding exercise, folding the advertisement page into halves, fourths, and eighths. At that point, she asked students to place the 3 entertainment ads on the page. Following this set of instructions, students saw that 3/8 of the page was not covered, and some changed their answer accordingly to (3? )/8.
Although this answer is technically correct, the teacher did not see this as a possible answer and instructed students to fold the paper again into sixteenths, thus leading all students through the same solution process to the answer 7/16. During the post lesson discussion with the observers, the teacher learning was identified; the teacher spoke first. She elaborated on the decision made as an individual teacher. Then the group moderator called on various people to ask the Teacher questions. A teacher colleague asked her how she thought her students would have responded if she had focused them on the whole to the fraction in the problem.
The Teacher referred back to a mathematics lesson in a summer professional development that she had attended, and she state, ? that she never thought in terms of the whole to the faction.? Then the Teacher‘s principal complimented her on introducing the paper folding exercise and asked her the reason she chose to continue folding the paper to sixteenths. The Teacher admitted that she did not know what to do when all the students answered 3/8 and that her 739 pedagogical choice of folding the paper into sixteenths took away the opportunity for students to engage in problem solving as it led them all to the same answer of 7/16.
She also stated that she did not know if they understood this answer. Next, the outreach mathematician asked her why she redirected students away from the answer [(3? ) / 8] of the page being covered by entertainment ads. The teacher was unable to respond as other teachers from her school commented about the need to hear students‘ explanations so the group could learn more about what students were thinking. During this discussion, another teacher commented that she finally understood why [(3? ) /8] of the page is a correct answer. The teacher then reiterated what she had learned from the debriefing?
The question evolves again, when has learning occur? Is it incremental, in stages as concepts develop both for students and teachers? Students are held to a different level of accountability for learning. Yet, with the learning, can they move to application and evaluation of the learning? Benjamin Bloom understands the responsibility of the teacher in the classroom for student learning. He states that students, maybe different in the rate that they learn, but not their potential for learning. (Bloom, 1981). Other factors can be identified that effect and influence learning.
One of the primary factors effecting student learning is the effectiveness of the teacher, (Podesta, 2000). Studies have shown that students with teachers who are highly effective out perform other students on standardized tests. The expert teacher work can be very different from that of the novice teacher. The implications for the learning of the student are significant. Learning is required. While there are graduations in teacher content knowledge and pedagogy, there still should remain a sense in all teachers in every classroom, what is learning for that day, for that subject, if students are expected to learn.
John D. Bransford and Nancy J. Vye (1989) cite the variations in knowledge from ? know that,‘ something is true to ? knowing how‘ to think, learn, and solve problems.? p. 193. The stakeholders of today‘s 740 educational society demand to see documented evidence that the students are learning and mastering the required content. Each school, public and private, answers to a higher entity who in turn reports to the State and ultimately the Federal government the level of learning of the students. Reports i. e. , STEM, etc keep the progress or lack of learning in the public eye.
The effectiveness of the schools is closely monitored. The level of learning of the students is monitored by the government, business, parents, and tax payers as they determine whether or not families will choose to move to a town, a neighborhood, or a state. Internationally the educational level of each and every country is compared daily to determine the intellectual capacity of the citizenry. Conclusions If, as a country, we are using high stakes testing to determine if students are learning, then the teacher should be able to state the learning goal and know the scaffolding steps that would lead to the learning goal.
What is learning, when did it happen, or if the student did not learn, then what action did the teacher take to re-teach, re-mediate so that the student did learn. Are there learning progressions-scaffolds and have they been identified, in order for the student to learn the larger concept of the lesson. Deep and important discussion should be a part of the teacher education curriculum that include what is learning, when did learning occur, did the information pass the attention threshold for the student, is it stored in long term memory. How do we encourage student‘s to learn?
As the Nation moves to National Standards for learning, then translating learning goals into real learning and mastery of concepts become crucial for teacher effectiveness in the classroom (Bulter and McMunn, 2006). Each teacher must be able to identify the timeline for that individual student learning has taken place and for her/him and what is learning for that individual lesson, concept, unit, or area of study. While it is impossible to know everything in 741 today‘s society, it is critical that educators understand learning, in order to assure that all students do learn.
Jennifer B. Chauvot, in her article ? Grounding practice in scholarship, grounding scholarship in practice: Knowledge of a mathematics teacher educator-researcher,? speaks to the importance of teacher training, citing that there is limited research focused upon what teacher educators need to know and how they develop that knowledge. There tends to be an assumption that a good teacher will be a good teacher educator, but in reality little attention has been given to the support of teacher educators.
The state of Texas is currently involved in attempting to augment teacher training of teacher educators as end of course assessments are requiring a higher level of teaching at the university so that teacher candidates will be prepared to teach the curriculum in the public schools. Bridging the gaps of current teaching and elevating the practice for teacher education has become a focus of the statewide initiative. The curriculum becomes the knowledge to be learned by the student and taught by the teacher. With State and National curriculum standards serving to focus education, teaching and learning, then a clear expectation of ? earning? is necessary for both the teacher and the learner. Implications for colleges and universities as they change their instruction to assure that the teacher candidates become avid classroom teacher. These teacher candidates will progress from the university classroom to the being the confident and secure classroom teacher. Connecting teacher learning with student learning is the theme of the ten key principles of professional development as outlined by Timperly (2008), whereby experts work with teachers to assist them as expert teachers who teach others content and skills of pedagogy.
Focusing upon student learning whether in the k-12 classroom or the university setting becomes a priority, if all students are going to ? learn.? Additionally, the professional development of teachers to extend and 742 scaffold content knowledge become an important role of school districts and universities as they reach out and build learning communities. Newmann and Wehlage (1995) noted that ? Schools with strong professional communities were better able to offer authentic pedagogy and were more effective in promoting student learning.? p. 3.
The next area for research will be for the students to identify their learning goal for their students and then determine, if learning has occurred. 743 References: Ammon, P. (1984). Human development, teaching and teacher education. The Teacher Education Quarterly, 11 (4), 95-108. Bloom, B. (1981). All Our Children are Learning: A Primer for Parent‘s, Teachers, and other Educators. NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company. Bransford, J. D. ; Vye, N. J. , A Perspective on cognitive research and its implications for instruction in Toward the Thinking Curriculum: Current Cognitive Research. 1989 Yearbook of ASCD. Edited by Laureen R.
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