Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Higher Learning



There were only two rows, so I sat in the front. I'm lazy like that.

Butchers' paper featured early, but it was token. The textas were all spartan black, and it was all over in a few minutes.

The rest of it was quite interesting. It was 'bolshie' and 'po-mo', as the wingnuts say, without appearing to be, perhaps without even being aware of it. People said things like: "pfft, essays! Essays are just sacred cows! And don't be drawn into jumping on the exam bandwagon!" There was also an interesting, rather grudging admission to the effect that Anatomy students need to learn the names of body parts so they can communicate with other health profesisonals. I kept thinking how much Kevin Donnelly would hate it, especially the section which had to do with student-centred learning and learning outcomes (all day.) When one of the teachers began to give examples based around approaches to teaching Othello I knew I had found my Frank Devine baitin', Australian editorial eye-rollin' people.

Here's a sample. (I thought this was very apt and useful and will be keeping it in mind whenever I have control, in future, over what my teaching duties comprise.) There are three basic learning approaches which students adopt in response to how they perceive the circumstances they're in, particularly, what they perceive to be demanded by the course assessment. Deep, Surface, Achieving. Deep learning is good, Surface learning generally not so good, though sometimes they have to do the surface learning (learn the names of things) before they can move on to the deep learning. There is also Achieving, which is a floating supplementary sort of thing and can attach to either Deep or Surface, it is the type of behaviour that drives students to keep really tidy detailed noted or look up every item on the reading list for example, or to memorise quotations for exams, etc. The idea is to set assessments that encourage deep learning not superficial, and to keep your assessments in mind while you work out what you're going to try to get across with every piece of teaching.

More godless pomo relativist diversity-embracing educational theory tomorrow, for me if not for you.

5 comments:

mark bahnisch said...

Sounds good, Laura, a lot better than the one I went to.

I forgot to mention that my colleague and I got into an argument over what postmodernism really meant with some folks from the Academy of the Arts (one of whom was wearing a suede jacket with leather patches on the elbows).

I don't think Dr Donnelly would have approved of that either.

I'd have loved to have gone to his Doctoral seminar, incidentally.

Bruce said...

Arrrggghhhh... I can go nowhere without hearing about Dr Donnelly! Or Big Kev as I've decided to call him from now on (it's a title passed on down a line of people who sell crap..)

I may stick around this blog for a bit to see what happens though... Does Big Kev get much coverage here?

Cheers

Bruce

PS. No, I'm not that excited.

elsewhere said...

But what about _The Old Man and the Sea_? (Having to write an essay on that in year 10 has left a deep mark on my life.)

What you say about assessment tying into what you teach makes a lot of sense (tho seems terribly commonsense at the same time). We do block-teaching here and I've come to the grudging awareness that it's best to make assessment reflect directly what you were trying to teach during the week-long block and make it due pretty soon afterwards, if you want the students to deliver.

Anonymous said...

My (unpublished) letter to the Oz on the weekend: Will someone please appoint Kevin Donnelly to a government board so he’ll stop cluttering the opinion pages with job applications?

Boris

Lucy Tartan said...

Good one, Boris. You knew they wouldn't publish that though, right?

I think this is actually the first time I've mentioned Kevin. A new low.