Approx time: 2 hours - Before you start these activities please have a look at the what is reflection page

Purpose: The purpose of this activity is for you to gather sufficient information about some theories of teaching and learning to give you useful vocabulary and understanding to talk confidently about those theories. As the first step towards understanding the theories you will encounter some key ideas. To assist with the integration of these ideas you will be directed to make journal entries.Journals

PART A 15mins

Click to logon to your journalJournal Entries
To get you going on this activity, could you try thinking about these questions and noting your reactions and thoughts in your journal?
As you provide responses to the questions below, reflect on what you have already learned in previous activities.

PART B 1.5hr

We will investigate the following terms and explore their meanings.


  1. Constructivism
  2. Cognitivism
  3. Behaviourism
  4. Learning approaches & theories
  5. Reflective practice

Click to logon to your journalJournal Entries
Please record in your journal
the answers to the following questions and how you feel about your findings. Your opinions will be most valuable. Feel free to also include any other relevant information in your entries.Journals

1. Constructivism:

(i) What is the teacher's role in the constructivist classroom? (Video)
After looking at the video can describe what the role of the teacher was? What was she mostly doing? What were the students doing"
Click to logon to your journalWrite your reaction to this way of working, in your journal.

(ii) What is the student's role in the constructivist classroom?
What is the responsibility of the student - what do they have to do? What about the teacher? As a teacher, how do you feel about working this way?
Click to logon to your journal
Write in your journal about how you see the student's role in the constructivist learning environment.

(iii) Vygotsky and Social Cognition
Can you describe Vygotsky's main idea? How important is language in learning? What is the role of discussion? What would stop you incorporating a lot of student discussion in your classroom?
Click to logon to your journal Make comment about these aspects of Vygotsky's theory of social cognition in your journal.

2. Cognitivism Opens a new window to your Weblog

(i) What types of learning are best explained by this theory?
Click to logon to your journal Write in your journal about the learning types that are best explained by cognitivism.

(ii) Jean Piaget was a central figure in the study of cognitive development. What were the main ideas of Piaget's theory of cognitive development?
Click to logon to your journal Write about the key ideas of cognitve development in your journal.

(iii) What are the key assumptions and implications of Cognitive Learning Theory
Click to logon to your journalComment in your journal on what you think about cognitive learning theory.


3. Behaviourism Opens a new window to your Weblog

(i) What does behaviorist teaching involve?
Click to logon to your journalComment on behaviourism in your journal.

4. Learning approaches Opens a new window to your Weblog

(i) What are the key ideas of the three main learning approaches?

Student learning approaches
Deep/Surface Approaches To Learning: An Introduction
Deep approach | Surface approach | Strategic approach

Click to logon to your journalJournal Entry Please write in your journal commenting on the three main learning approaches (Surface, Strategic and Deep approches).

Could also comment on how these learning approaches influence your teaching.


5. Reflective practice Opens a new window to your Weblog
Click to logon to your journalJournal Entry Read the following and visit the links and make an entry in your journal considering the benefits of reflective practice in teaching.

Reflection & Personal Development

Developing reflective practice in the education of university teachers is based on the theory of reflective practice (Schon, 1983; 1987). Reflective practice is a continual process of critically exploring our beliefs and our actions within our professional practice in order to improve our teaching and ensure it has a sound theoretical base. Reflective practice is not just a matter of thinking about our actions. Rather it is a professional development process of reconstructing experience and challenging our assumptions - which leads to the identification and exploration of alternative actions. Hence Schon's description of his own reflective practice as "a dialogue of thinking and doing through which I become more skilled" (Schon, 1987: 31).
Professionals reflect in two key ways.

1. Reflection-in-action - thinking on our feet, seeking continuous feedback and making decisions to act on that feedback in the immediate situation. For example, you are giving a lecture and the students begin to look very blank. You decide that instead of moving on to the next key point you will give them a quick true/false hands up quiz to see if they are getting the point.

2. Reflection-on-action - reflecting on what happened. For example, after the lecture you ask some of the students how the lecture went. They say that the anecdotes you told were really helpful in showing them how the theory worked in practice. You think about this and decide to use anecdotes in your next lecture, see how that works, and then consider whether too regularly use anecdotes as a teaching technique.

Literature states that tutors should engage in reflective practice (Dahlin, 1994; Moallem, 1997). Reflective practice involves a tutor examining "the relationship between what they know and what they do" (Dahlin, 1994, p. 57). This enhances the initial process of learning to teach and the professional growth of the tutor (Moallem, 1997). The EDU course encouraged tutors to engage in reflective practice by assessing their own performance each week.

Learning theories
Cognitive apprenticeships
Click to logon to your journal

NB: Use Google or another preferred search engine to continue your search.

THE NEXT ACTIVITY - If you are going to analyse your teaching for improvement you must know something about the process you currently employ. So our next activity will investigate ways in which to gather data about your own teaching. To do this we will be giving our students a mid-semester review questionnaire to gather student opinions of the learning experience they are having in your class.
NB: This site does not attempt to appraise your teaching or certify your teaching ability in any way.

Now move on to Activity 3

Journals anytime!

Back | Top^