EDU654 Addressing problems of learning through technology and pedagogy Assignment 1 Solution & Discussion Spring 2020

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To start using inquiry, teachers must first be familiar with the conceptual frameworks that structure the subjects they teach and the "ground rules," or habits of mind, that are important to particular disciplines. To learn more about these for particular subject areas, see the "Resources" section for some links with ideas on where to start.


Questions, whether self-initiated or posed by others, are at the heart of learning by inquiry. While questions are a part of the traditional classroom, the source, the purpose, and the level of questions are quite different. In the traditional classroom, the teacher is frequently the questioner, and the purpose of questions is often to assess whether or not students have learned and absorbed particular information.


imageWhen the teacher poses questions in an inquiry classroom, the questions are more reflective in nature. Appropriate questioning techniques are important in an inquiry classroom -- especially in the lower grades where guided inquiry serves as a base for later, self-initiated questioning.


Inquiry learning requires being prepared mentally and physically for the process. The mental process might be more of a personal philosophical change about teaching and learning. The physical process has more to do with the preparation of the learning environment.


The teacher's role is critical in inquiry learning, but the role is different from that for which most teachers have been prepared. The teacher becomes the leader of the learning, or the facilitator of the learning process. Modeling is extremely important for younger learners.



Cognitive Theory

Cognitive theory states that humans learn and make decisions based on what is the most logical thing to learn and do. In simpler terms, humans think like computers in such a way that logic is the top mechanism used in learning. It presupposes that the learning process is merely based on intellect, without any emotional factors.


Constructivist Theory

Constructivism, although unique, primarily stems from cognitive theory. If cognitive theory believes that learning is a logical process without any emotion or humanistic factor, constructivism believes that learning is a combination of logic and humanistic approaches. For example, constructivism believes that individuals interpret information on their own, integrating what is learned from others. This means that people learn together by themselves in unison while viewing the habits of other people.

Cognitive Constructivism

Cognitive constructivism refers to the process that combines the logic of cognitive behavior and the personal approach of constructivist behavior. In this process, the individual uses logic to understand things, and couples it with a different learning style that comes from a behavioral and humanistic factor. It also integrates developmental stages into the theory of learning, meaning a person’s age and educational background are taken into account when learning.

Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development has four main ideas related to cognitive theory and constructivist theory: schema, assimilation, accommodation and equilibration. “Schema” refers to the person’s own idea or account of a certain type of information. This includes simple processes, such as using one’s eyes to establish a personal opinion (cognitive). “Assimilation” refers to the concept that schemas often change based on what the person experiences (constructivist), while “accommodation” refers to the impact of the assimilation that occurred, integrating past and present experiences (cognitive constructivism). "Equilibrium" encompasses the balance between assimilation and accommodation.


The instructor’s work of facilitating students’ learning never ends. In order to facilitate learning, one of the fundamental principles instructors employ is understanding students’ prior knowledge. It is well known that students build on what they already know and have come to understand through formal and informal experiences. People develop attitudes and beliefs as they progress through life. For the instructor, it is important to assess such prior knowledge or attitudes and beliefs very early in the semester since the knowledge students possess may either promote or hinder their learning.  It is also important to assess prior knowledge and skills early since such information could be used to help foster student engagement and critical thinking in the course.


Through assessments, the instructor will come to know the extent to which students’ prior knowledge is accurate or inaccurate. In the instances when  prior knowledge is inaccurate, instructors will need to spend some time helping students to come to terms with their misconceptions before they can go on to help the students build new knowledge.  Again, the ease or difficulty of such a task will lie in students’ making a conscious or unconscious decision to hold on to such misconceptions. In such a case, the inadequate and inaccurate prior knowledge will tend to hinder learning.  Therefore, as indicated earlier on, the instructor will benefit from spending some time to determine the extent and nature of students’ prior knowledge and skills.  


In their book “How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smarter Teaching”, These strategies include;


Talk to your colleagues.

Consider talking to your colleagues who teach prerequisite courses that students are expected to complete. You may ask them about the contents that was covered, the type of assignments completed, the assignments students struggled to complete and why, the areas or topics students enjoyed, and so on.  For online instructors, one may consider reviewing the prior online course or the syllabus for the course for information such as list of textbooks, reading materials used, etc. The information gathered should help you know the content that was covered and the depth of coverage, as well as skills that were mastered. This information would help as you design instructional activities for your course.

 Use low-stake assignment or quiz.

To find out what prior knowledge students bring to your class you may consider giving a low-stake assignment or a quiz early in the semester.  Student’s performance on this kind of assessment will be a good indicator of the skills and knowledge they already possess.  Such assessments may include having students write an essay, take a multiple choice quiz, or complete a short answer quiz that examines students understanding of concepts and definition of terminologies that students are expected know.

Self-assessment of prior knowledge.

 Another efficient strategy for assessing students’ prior knowledge is to provide them with the opportunity to assess their own knowledge and skills. Such self-assessments should be low-stake and anonymous to encourage candid responses. The intention is to gain an overall idea of the range of skills and knowledge of your student and not to judge individual student’s performance.  Questions could focus on the prerequisite skills, knowledge and experiences expected of your students as well as the skills and knowledge that student will be expected to leave the course with. Students could be asked to rate themselves on a scale with items such as; 1= I have heard of the term, 2 = I can define the term, 3 = I can explain the term to a colleague, 4= I can use the term to solve a problem. Students’ responses should assist the instructor to plan appropriate instructional activities that could enhance students learning.

The above three examples are very quick and easy ways by which an instructor can assess students’ prior knowledge.


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