Sunday, February 21, 2010

Instructional Design Models: Social Learning v. Project Based

1) How are the two models of instructional design similar to one another?
Both Social Learning Theory (Bandura) and Project Based Learning (Kilpatrick) focus on how education can shape the individual. Both seem to share a similar assumption that nurture is stronger than nature when it comes to developing young minds and they are both constructivist approaches in that they both value the problem solving capabilities of the individual and place value on independent learning. Both value the applicability of classroom learning to “real world situations” and encourage learners to pursue lines of questioning as opposed to searching for static answers.
2) How do the two models of instructional design differ from one another?
Social Learning Theory requires the instructor to model cognitive processes as well as behaviors in order for the student to repeat the model. It is a psychology based model that focuses on social models of behavior, such as aggression, but is also applicable as a pedagogical model in terms of modeling types of thinking in the classroom and asking students to apply those learned behaviors in real world situations. In the Project Method, learners create their own problems in order to feel a sense of “purpose” while solving them and rely less on the teacher to create the problems and model the behaviors.
3) Define the process for starting the design phase for a specific lesson you can use in your own curriculum. You should describe your potential audience (general characteristics, prior knowledge, demographics, and motivations). List any societal factors that may affect your lesson as well.
Social Learning Theory: When I teach literary analysis in ENG 102, I like to begin with poetry, because they are compact texts that don’t tend to overwhelm students as they begin to learn the new cognitive processes that are required to do literary analysis. In using this model, I would first demonstrate the type of thinking that is required to do a literary analysis, by modeling the process myself. I could do this by placing a poem underneath the document camera and showing how I go through the steps of analysis: Annotating and questioning, making observations about the text, finding places of confusion or places that seem contradictory, trying to resolve those contradictions, drafting a thesis statement and gathering evidence. It is these first steps, before the drafting of the essay even begins, that cause students the most trouble when they first begin analyzing literary texts. To further use the social learning theory method, I would need to find a “real world” situation that would utilize the same cognitive processes as analyzing a piece of literature. Sometimes I model the type of thinking as a type of problem solving similar to a riddle or a puzzle, however, I always emphasize that those often have a “right” answer, where that is not really the case with a poem. Perhaps a better analogy would be a legal or ethical question, which could also be used to model the analytical thought process.
Project Based Learning: I have always been a big believer in project-based learning because I really value interdisciplinarity as a way of getting students to see connections between the classroom and other classrooms and future workplaces. I also think that when students work on something long term, they really gain a sense of ownership of the work. For the research assignment in ENG 101, most of my students are unfamiliar with the research process at the beginning. I usually require them to choose topics that they feel some sort of personal connection to, such as a community that they belong to. This is one of the most difficult steps in the assignment for them, because often they feel hesitant to deeply explore their own societies. Eventually, however, they can relate to their subject, often on a deeply personal level, and they tend to feel a greater sense of purpose throughout their research project. I also ask them to do a number of tasks, over a period of time that build up to the final product, the paper. I suppose to truly fit the Project Based model, we would really need to do the same project over the course of the entire semester (much like the Service Learning project that we do in class). I always encourage students to continue asking questions throughout their projects and to feel a sense of ownership and expertise because of the experience that they have lived in regards to their topic. This often makes them feel more confident in pursuing the topic when they can relate it to their own life.

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