Free Response Questions - Learning & Instruction
(1) In "How People Learn", it is aserted that "Experts’ knowledge is connected and organized around important concepts; it is “conditionalized” to specify the contexts in which it is applicable; it supports understanding and transfer (to other contexts) rather than only the ability to remember." Beginning teachers may have difficulty identifying "important concepts". Select a field of study and identify some important concepts and explain WHY they are important, and how an expert learner might use them to organize new knowledge.
(2) What is metacognition? Describe three metacongitive strategies specific to one of the following fields: science (chemistry, biology, physics, geoscience), English, Social Science, mathematics.
(3) Research shows that “usable knowledge” is not the same as a mere list of disconnected facts. Experts’ knowledge is connected and organized around important concepts. An earth and space science teacher may organize the geoscience curriculm around "powers of ten", while the biology teacher may organize the curriculm around levels of organization (cell, tissue, organ etc.). These structures help students connect new information with existing information and create "usable knowledge". Identify an organizing framework for a field of study of your choice. Explain the logic of the organization and its value in helping students organize new concepts.
(4) Critics claims that that professional development programs frequently:
- Are not learner centered. Rather than ask teachers where they need help, they are simply expected to attend prearranged workshops.
- Are not knowledge centered. Teachers may simply be introduced to a new technique (like cooperative learning) without being given the opportunity to understand why, when, where, and how it might be valuable to them. Especially important is the need to integrate the structure of activities with the content of the curriculum that is taught.
- Are not assessment centered. In order for teachers to change their practices, they need opportunities to try things out in their classrooms and then receive feedback. Most professional development opportunities do not provide such feedback. Moreover, they tend to focus on change in teaching practice as the goal, but they neglect to develop in teachers the capacity to judge successful transfer of the technique to the classroom or its effects on student achievement.
- Are not community centered. Many professional development opportunities are conducted in isolation. Opportunities for continued contact and support as teachers incorporate new ideas into their teaching are limited, yet the rapid spread of Internet access provides a ready means of maintaining such contact if appropriately designed tools and services are available.
Describe and explain how experts may enlist one or more new or emerging technologies to address one or more of these issues to develop more effective professional development experiences.
(5) Bransford suggests that "Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge. Superficial coverage of all topics in a subject area must be replaced with in-depth coverage of fewer topics that allows key concepts in that discipline to be understood." Explain Bransford's reasoning and give an example of what this might look like in a subject of your choice.
(6) In 1987, the Harvard-Smitsonian Center for Astrophysics released A Private Universe, a short video on students's preconceptions and misconceptions about some basic concepts in astronomy. When asked what causes seasons, graduating Harvard seniors asserted that eccentricity in Earth's orbit made Earth warmer when it was closest to the sun. They also stated that the phases of the moon were caused by Earth's shadow. The same misconceptions were common among ninth graders in a nearby school. Both secondary and college students often return to their "private universes" after direct instruction on the subject matter. Give an example of this phenomenon in a field other than the sciences. Give specific strategies a teacher could use to help students see the errors in their reasoning and understand the concept correctly.
(7) Expert learner's’ knowledge is “conditionalized” to specify the contexts in which it is applicable. Explain what this means and why this is advantageous for the learner. Give an example from a discipline of your choice.
(8) Describe three or more metaconitive strategies that can be taught. Explain the potential benefit of each in accelearting the learning process.
(9) What is "technological pedagogical content knowledge (TCPK)"? Give two content-based examples that clearly illustrate TCPK.
(10) Research shows that students who think that intelligence is a fixed entity are more likely to be performance oriented than learning oriented—they want to look good rather than risk making mistakes while learning. What factors in schooling influence students to become more "performance oriented"? What factors in schooling influence students to become more "learning oriented"?
(11) What is scaffolding? Give a clear example of effective scaffolding in a field of your choice.
(12) Cowie & Bell describe formative assessment as the bidirectional process between teacher and student to enhance, recognize and respond to the learning.[(1999), A model of formative assessment in science education, Assessment in Education, 6: 101-116]. Explain the "bidirectional" nature of formative assessment and provide a clear example in a field of your choice in which technology is used to improve formative assessment and enhance student learning.
(13) Experts recognize features and patterns that are not noticed by novices. When viewing instructional texts, slides, and videotapes, for example, the information noticed by novices can be quite different from what is noticed by experts. Give a clear example of this in a subject of your choice. Explain how a teacher could help students develop better pattern recognition skills in this subject.