Here are some ways to apply what you've learned ...

In the Classroom


Application Notes: Constructivism

Having your students do a freewrite exercise where they write down all they know about a subject is one way to find out how prepared they are for upcoming, new material. This exercise informs you and them of their readiness, and it serves to put needed information fresh in their minds. In classrooms where the self expression and writing skills of your students may be varied, giving a non-graded quiz can serve the same purpose. Focus questions on the fundamental knowledge needed to support learning the new material. If a majority of the students show a lack of required knowledge, be prepared to do some scaffolding work. Going back and teaching some of the basics to bring your students up to an appropriate level may take extra time, but it will help them master the new material. If only some students are unprepared, be ready to hand them additional materials or to give them guidance on where they can find the information they need to know. The important point is to ensure your students have the knowledge needed to move forward.

Methods available to promote social construction revolve around group discussion and team activities. Break your class up into teams of three or four and have each team create a chart showing the relationships between the new material and the old. In a literature class, students can show the similarities and differences between one genre of writing and another in terms of organization, vocabulary, and syntax. Charts can be in any form, from flows to outline to Venn style. After the charting session, a team representative explains each groupís work. In other circumstances, such as the introduction of tort law, have students read a case study and either find for the plaintiff or defendant. Have each student supply their reasoning. Working in teams helps your students express their ideas and methods and exposes them to the ideas and methods of others.


Application Notes: Behaviorism

In developing programmed learning in a module on electrical circuit analysis you would begin with how to measure values for individual components and then ask a simple question about that topic. When students answer the question correctly, they are given a response that may be as simple as"Good Work!" They are moved onto the next step where basic components are arranged in a simple circuit. After information on testing the circuit is presented, another question is given. With each step the material increases in complexity, but the questions are always clearly focused on the material given in that step. Material developed this way can be used to teach very complex subjects in disciplines ranging from engineering to business to language arts.

In establishing student behaviors in the classroom, you may want to generate more student participation in class discussions. Instead of punishing students who do not participate, there is a greater chance students will respond better to rewarding those who speak out. To reward your students, give them something they find of value. By being active in the classroom discussion your students may be illustrating their understanding of the material. This showing of their knowledge might be enough to excuse them from taking an end of class quiz and will allow them to leave class early while those who choose not to join the discussion have the opportunity to show their knowledge through a written assessment.

In working with any classroom situation, always focus on rewarding good behavior and be consistent in doing so. Short term punishments such as having to leave the room might be necessary for specific things like disrupting the class but in the long term, positive rewards will develop student behaviors that support your teaching and help your students find greater rewards in their achievements.


Application Notes: Andragogy

At the beginning of your course, start with a discussion of how the course material fits within the daily activities of your students. In some cases, such as English composition, the connection of good writing to success in the workplace is rather straight forward, but still worthy of conversation. In other disciplines the connection may be a bit more difficult, but for those that teach them this connection should not be an impossible task. As the discussion moves about the room, ideas for application will come from your students. Encourage this kind of interaction and sharing. Whenever possible, discuss different ways to cover the material and give your students an opportunity to express how they would like the process to happen. This requires you to be flexible and have a variety of media forms that support your topics. Adults want to have a voice in their learning. Also involve your students in sharing their perspective and experience in what you are teaching. Be ready to acknowledge that it is quite possible, no matter what your topic, someone in your classroom may actually know more about it than you. Use what students know to support your teaching and help others.

Deliver your course material in a context that has meaning to your students. If you are teaching about bookkeeping, do so within the context of a companyís finance department. Show how ledger entries relate to the actual operation of a business. If you are teaching history, show how events were shaped by the political, social, and economic environments of the time and show how the outcomes affected the present. Make everything you teach relevant to the lives of your students today. If you are teaching fire fighting skills, tell your students when and where, as well as why, they would use specific techniques and equipment. Give examples from real life whenever possible. Adults focus keenly on things they find to be of value and tend to ignore those things lacking value. As teachers, we need to clearly express the value of our courses with our students to help them benefit from what we are trying share with them and to accommodate as wide a range of delivery methods as we can. In the final analysis it is all about them!