Let the Learners Choose Their Approach

Home Forums Understanding Learners and Learning (Week 2) TEL One: Approaches to learning Let the Learners Choose Their Approach

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  aditya_vadali 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #17065

    Gary Vear



    Definately taken a different approach to this topic, as always thoughts and comments (for or against) are appreciated



  • #17199


    Good response I feel that you have presented your facts well and have a balanced conclusion.

  • #17523

    guy saward

    Respect Gary for being, as usual, someone who posts a thought out contribution early – and interested to see its all strategically driven by the badges 😉

    I am only just starting to grapple with reflecting on the deep vs surface vs strategic (as cop out “half way house” as Diana talked about it) with my own students.

    While it is quite pessimistic to hear your views on superficial learning in UK primary, secondary and tertiary education, there is something to the view that we don’t (can’t/shouldn’t?) do anything to encourage deep learning by the time students hit college. That said, I would hope that with “good”* learning design, students may be encouraged to move from a shallow (which we can all agree is bad?) to strategic/deep approach.

    *As to what makes good learning design, I guess this is the point in debate! Does good = student centred / with a context that has the dimensions to promote this (based on this week’s podcast) / flexible / …



    • #17948

      Gary Vear

      Thanks Guy

      AS pessimistic as it seems, it is unfortunately the reality of our education system. It is by no means the fault of the teachers, who i’m sure would love to try and inspire their students through deeper learning techniques.

      I suppose the flip side to the argument is this…would having the learners pass their assessments with improved results make for a ‘good’ learning design? If we are ultimately aiming for results and we achieve them, it is hard to argue that the learning design is a bad one!?

    • #18297

      I agree to a certain extend that the type of learning that should happen in school, FE or HE is often driven my certain “mantras”. In school it is about designing learning and teaching to cater for each students’ learning style (VARK), while rote learning and memorization is what is driven by the increasingly exam only GCSEs and A-levels. In HE it is more about deep learning versus surface learning with student engagement (or lack thereof) driving the introduction of flipped classroom approaches.

      I think the reality is much more complex and in fact should be. While children tend to have learning style preferences they also acquire skills to learn in whatever circumstances they learn in – hence most learners become multimodal learners certainly once they enter FE or HE (I regularly run the VARK questionnaire (http://www.vark-learn.com/english/index.asp) with my students and discuss it with them – confirming the acquisition of learning strategies). Thus while we should design our teaching so we cater for different learning preferences, students also have to acquire the skills to deal with different learning situations – that’s what they will need in employment, being a lifelong learner.

      Deep, surface and strategic learning – you can design for deep learning but students are very strategic. Like on this MOOC there will be participants strategically engaging to achieve a badge while others will explore all the extensive resources they find. It is about what is most relevant, the quickest way to achieve an outcome and sometimes it is about an inquiry – it really depends on the learner’s situation and motivation.

      I teach on a distance learning PGCert Learning and Teaching in HE which is a compulsory probation element for new academic staff at my institution. The attitude and engagement with the course differs widely from – ‘I don’t really need this course I have enough experience so I just sign-up and submit the assignment at the end (because I need the piece of paper)’ to ‘ this course made a big difference in my teaching and was really valuable’  or ‘ I could not have done the PGCert without the flexibility the online course provided’. The most interesting finding was that the fast majority passed the course and in their assignments (patchwork text) there was clear evidence of how participants had taken the learning on the course, applied it to their context and reflected on it (deep learning). Many achieved deep learning with only engaging in the content and not in the actual learning activities (online discussions, etc.). So when you get down to it, I think the distinction of surface and deep learning are problematic as most students are strategic learners because they have to be.

  • #18519


    Great post as usual. A lot of very good points re HE/FE and the national curriculum etc. A very interesting conclusion too about letting people choose their own approach – whilst I would say that some things can be done to encourage people to achieve Deep learning, ultimately as you say its up to the individual.

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