Category Archives: Learning Theories

#reflection of Cognitive Load of Novice Learners

What did I learn today? That asking novice learners to analyse their cognitive load may be over ambitious.
How was it useful? I am trying to measure how much mental effort students have to put into my screencasts.
What thoughts came up ? When they are looking at my screencasts, how much thought will they put into cognitive load? or mental effort? This is not normally reflected on by novice learners (Martin 2014) , why should I expect them to remember?
What did I learn? That every aspect of research has two views – The view of the Researcher, and the view of the subject, those two are not (or are usually not) the same. Why should we expect the subjects to analyse themselves??
What will I do with the information i.e. what next? Measure in a different way? Is that possible? Or highlight the issue to research subjects? Will that create an “observer effect?” – This needs more research….

Martin, S. (2014). Measuring cognitive load and cognition: metrics for technology-enhanced learning. Educational Research and Evaluation,20, 592-621.


#reflection on Progamme Focussed Assessment

What did I learn today? About PFA – Programme Focussed Assessment, here
How was it useful? It talks about assessing “across” a programme and not keeping all modules completely separate, in other words, show the students the rationale behind the modules that are being taught to them.
What thoughts came up ? I like the idea and on our courses we always try to do cross-modular assessment but I think we should do more as it would help the students and help us.
What did I learn? Despite our best efforts to co-ordinate assesments during semester there is always a rush at the end, the worst time really as it is coming up to exam time also.
What will I do with the information i.e. what next? raise it at the next programme board meeting and see if we can agree some CMA’s for the coming academic year.

#reflection on Learning and Context

What did I reflect on today? Putting information in context and trying to preface information with some stimulating questions. It’s a technique mentioned by Tyler Griffin here

How was it useful? I always leave a space aftera number of slides for students to ask questions, using this technique I could insert some slides BEFORE the material with questions students need to ask themselves.

What do I think? It could work well but requires a bit of editing of lots of slides, however, if it improves engagement and retention then the payoff will be worth it.

What did you learn? There are so many ways to stimulate thinking and to get students engaged, this one might help, it’s not a magic bullet but is very simple and worth a try, even in one or two classes.

What will you do with the information i.e. what next? Change some slides for the next week or so and see if it works or if I notice any difference (this might be quite subjective) and try work out what are the questions that will make most sense to students?

#reflection on Constructivist approaches and Schema

What was covered in the session today? I was teaching about the differences between different equipment types and I asked students to do some research and put it in their own words.
How was it useful? My goal was to get them to start learning about the differences in different pieces of network equipment so they would understand how each device worked and how it handled traffic. I also asked them how they would explain it to a non-technical user, but I found a lot of their explanations were still quite technical and I could’t tell if they understood or were just parroting back what they had found on the web.
What thoughts came up during the session? I was trying to figure how to confirm that they were understanding what they were reading and trying to get them to use non-computing analogies, in other words draw from their existing knowledge and relate it to this new knowledge.
What did you learn? Having debated the question with quite a few groups I came up with a “third person” who they had to use for their explanation – their Mothers!, this is also probably drawing on the idea of pesonas which we used in instructional design.
What will you do with the information i.e. what next? I might use the Mother/persona idea again to help them construct their knowledge from existing models, it was a very useful exercise and did “force” them to think a lot more about what they were reading..

#reflection on Cognitive Schemas

What was covered in the session today? Introduced students to physical equipment which they will be working with over the coming semester. I gave them very little information and asked them to research and document the pieces of equipment they got.
How was it useful? It should help me get an idea of the level they are at to start with. Also, as I will be using a simulation package with them I wanted them to have actual devices to relate to. I also encouraged them to post their work in the online forums for others to see.
What thoughts came up during the session? Students were getting more information than I expected and most them were able to find the purpose of each device quite easily. I was impressed with their research skills.
What did you learn? That group work definitely increases the output, i.e. the output of a group of four is greater than the sum of four individuals. There is a big difference between their abilities at the start of semester one and semester two which will help me with material preparation going forward. It also confirmed that people prefer to see the equipment as early as possible and it should make my references to the devices in lectures easier to relate to.
What will you do with the information i.e. what next? Continue to use the equipment for reference and make sure that they get to do at least one lab where they connect all the devices to each other and troubleshoot the networks.

#reflection on Student Partnerships

What did I learn today today? Read a good paper on students as partners here
How was it useful? It made me think more about involving students in creating assessments and in creating marking schemes.
What feelings came up during the session? I felt very uncomfortable about letting students have some control over my teaching but the more I thought about it and read on it the more I realised it is letting them have some control over their learning.
What did you learn? There is an unwritten learning contract between student and teacher, and we can renegotiate the terms so that everybody benefits more.
What will you do with the information i.e. what next? If I’m going to try this out, I’m going to start with the third years as I feel they are the best to work with. They can appreciate value of the partnership and are more likely to be mature about it.

#reflection of Pre-Class Resources

What I learn today? Found a paper on pre-class resources by Donnelly & Seery (2012)
How was it useful? It could help reduce the cognitive load on students before and during class. If they have some familiarity with what will be coming up, even terminology, it could help with classes
What thoughts came up? This will tie in nicely with feedback I got from International students last semester on the amount of information they are trying to process in class and through my notes
What did you learn? That there is lots of work out there that I can draw on to help prepare for my classes/courses
What will you do with the information i.e. what next? Contact the authors and also examine whether or not this would be a suitable method/model for helping to flip the classroom.

Reference : Seery, M. K. and Donnelly, R. (2012), The implementation of pre-lecture resources to reduce in-class cognitive load: A case study for higher education chemistry. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43: 667–67

#reflection e-Portfolios

What was covered in the session today? We presented our e-portfolios to each other but we also explained the rational behind design choices and content choices. How was it useful? It showed where everyone is in their work but it also generated a lot of ideas that could be incorporated into our own work. It was great to see the different ways to present, organise and most importantly what to include. What thoughts came up during the session? At the moment there is an obvious divide between the content and the presentation with different people falling on different sides of the fence. There is a great opportunity to help each other with our strengths and weaknesses. What did you learn? The portfolio is an important academic and personal resource, I thought if it purely as a piece of coursework but have now come to regard it as a very important personal resource which I need to develop further. What will you do with the information i.e. what next? Schedule in some regular time every week to work on the e-portfolio and look at ways of getting students to construct something similar for themselves. It could also be assessed as part of their web design course.

#reflection on Exams

Just putting finishing touches to end of semester exams, and looked at the multiple choice questions again. I usually have them as the first question on the first and second year papers. They are a good way of covering parts from the entire course.
However, having read some articles on peerwise, I think I might get students to write some questions and add them to the pool for future exams. That way they will have been written by the people taking the exam who know what they know and what they don’t know…