First steps in Instructional Design!
Although I was an English language teacher for 6 years, Learning Theories and Instruction was my first in-depth look into the subject of how people really learn. Before this class, I knew that people had certain personal learning styles and preferences, and of course people had certain natural talents and abilities for certain subjects. What I didn’t know, until focusing more on the chapters from Armstrong’s Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom is that people can truly influence their learning by applying themselves to developing their strengths as well as their weaknesses. There is room for development in every area for most people “to an adequate level of competency” (Armstrong, 2000, p. 15). It was also interesting to read about theories such as Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Connectivism, and Adult Learning Theory, and to be able to reflect retrospectively on these in relationship to my own teaching and previous learning experiences. I came to understand why behaviorist methods worked better in my beginner level ESL classes, and why in my more advanced level classes, the more student-centered approaches such as Cognitivism and Constructivism seemed to resonate more with my students. In the past, I just knew that the methods worked, but because of this class I now know why they worked. Another area of focus that was fascinating to study was the relatively new theory of Connectivism. This is extremely relevant to online learning and Instructional Design. I had not yet considered the impact that the internet has had on information and how this will continue to affect online learning and learning in general.
Making connections between the subjects we covered this semester serves an important role. For example, understanding the idea of cognitive overload and how the adult learner values material that is able to be immediately applied to their personal or professional lives, will remind me of the importance to design curriculum that is always relevant to the subject and doesn’t stray off topic (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003). This idea then directly relates to the concept of motivation in adult learning. An adult will more likely stay motivated to learn if the material is relevant and readily applicable to their lives.
Another important thing I take away from this class is that although there are many theories, there is no one perfect fit for learners. Related to this topic, I especially identified with the article by David Glenn that suggested instead of trying to develop materials based upon each learners individual learning style, develop materials according to the content of the material I am teaching (Glenn, 2009). This seems a practical and also effective way to approach classroom instruction and also curriculum design.
As I move forward, I am excited to continue making connections between the subject matter we study and how the information we are learning will benefit future students.
Armstrong, T. (2000). Multiple intelligences in the classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning
Glenn, D. (2009, December 15). Matching teaching styles to learning style may not help students. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retreived from http://chronicle.com/article/Matching-Teaching-Style-to/49497/