Take care how you listen (Part 2)

As I reflect on ways that students are hearing I turn to student evaluations, individual conversations with students, and published materials on learning for data to base my evaluation.  I think that a central topic is student attitudes.  Attitudes are reflections of the heart.  And attitudes can be very influential in our behaviors.  Below are some “student types” described by Mann.
Mann’s Student Type and Characteristics
Compliant: teacher-dependent; highly task-oriented; in class to understand material; comfortable with status quo; once student feels accepted by instructor –> independence begins to develop
Anxious-dependent: grade-focused; “trust teachers and assume that the grades they receive are justified”; “they feel angry about having less power in the educational setting than they would like.”; “low opinions of their own ability”; prefer simple right-wrong content
Discouraged Workers: demonstrate depressed and fatalistic attitudes; grade centered; low morale
Independent Students: Learning centered; independent; actively engaged; “apparent independence can be a cloak for rebellion”
Heroes: wants teacher to notice their work; “erratic, optimistic, underachievers”; “some underlying hostility toward authority figures or inability to maintain their commitment to a goal prevents them from playing this role to the end.”; “love discussion, can be annoyingly argumentative, never admitting that they have lost a debate.”; “fear that they might not be able to live up to their heroic ideal even if they try their best.”; impulsive temperament; I’m special attitude
– Snipers: hostile, cynical, habitual rebels, feelings of guilt and fear about their hostility lead to quick retreats when queried about their behavior; “can be respectful however, hostility stems from discomfort with authority figures and protects them from close contact with them”
– Attention Seekers: highly social; enjoy discussions and collaborative work
– Silent: silence is response to fear of not being accepted by instructor; typically desired for instructor to know them
Mann’s Student Type and Positive Instructor Responses
Compliant: help learners with self-efficacy and development of independence
Anxious-dependent: patience, acceptance, facilitate, affirm legitimacy of question
Discouraged workers: help lift their spirit in face-to-face conversation/small talk,  recognize student type; openly acknowledge recognition of discouragement
Independent: acknowledge independence of learner;challenge learner to stretch beyond expectations; low student productivity determining factor if independence is rebellious
Heroes: encourage this student type to put energies into structured course requirements versus giving “special assignments”
Snipers: form positive relationship; patience; ignoring behaviors does not generally work; respond focusing on positive in comments not negative; recognize the value of the student to the class; engage in short conversations outside class
Attention seeking: give attention but focus on academic work and reduce over time; draw into intellectual skills
Silent: don’t ignore; make it a point to go through roster regularly to note students; engage
It is interesting to note that in each description, the instructor is encouraged to use relationship to dissuade classroom incivility and improve student performance. The author notes also that this could represent stages of learner development which might imply that learners at different stages might be equipped differently to hear effectively.
Reference:
Mastering the techniques of teaching.  Joseph Lowman. 2nd edition. (C) 1995. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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First things first

Much of education today seems to focus on knowledge and content.  However, there continues to be growing demands for abilities outcomes as the end result of an education, ie. ability to use knowledge.  In a discussion with a colleague of mine, Phil Schanely from the Cedarville University Center for Teaching and Learning, he mentioned David Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction.  First principles are the irreducible minimum for teaching.  These are the elements that all educational theories seem to have in common.  He suggests that all of these elements be connected to a real-world problem or task in order for learning to be efficient and effective.

1. Activation: leveraging previous experiences, new experiences, and structure

2. Demonstration: this refers to guided practice; show the learner how to solve the problem

3. Application: let the learner solve more problems with increasing complexity and continued feedback

4. Integration: the learner begins to own the new knowledge and “make it their own” by using it in everyday life.

In looking at many different types of teaching theories and strategies, I think you will see most of these elements.  Which of these elements do you find the most challenging to incorporate?  Do you incorporate all of these in your teaching?  Test it out.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

In previous posts, I mentioned that feedback and practice are essential.  Here are two quotes from Merrill’s article:

“Gardner (1999) and Perkins and Unger (1999) both emphasized the necessity of many opportunities for performance.”

“Feedback has long been recognized as the most important form of learner guidance.”

Merrill MD.  First Principles of Instruction.  ETR&D. 2002; 50(3);: 43-59.   (He also recently published a book that you can find on Amazon.)