First and Situational Principles of Instruction

Chapter 3-4 Reflection from the book:

Reigeluth, C. M., & Carr-Chellman, A. A. (2009). Instructional-design theories and models: Building a common knowledge base (Vol. III).

“Merely remembering concepts, terminology, principles, and facts for recall on a multiple choice test in a testing center is not motivating.  However, being able to do something they they [students] could not do before is very motivating” (p. 55).  I am going to get on my soap box for a moment – the chapter about first principles is must read material for all who are involved in creating educational policy.  There is so much more to education than handing out some worksheets and having the students fill them out.  There is so much more power in being reflective than just writing down what you learned.  In this era of scripted classroom lessons, it is refreshing to see that their is so much more power in setting down some of these first principles and allowing the education to occur naturally rather than forcing each square peg into its perfectly round hole.

Teachers as well sometimes forget that there are several interrelated steps in the educational process and using all of them together, the learning can be so much stronger.  I know that I sometimes fell into the world of activation and demonstration only – remembering how to do this basic step leads us to demonstrating a new math problem, rinse and repeat, then it was on to the task centered work – could the students work some of these problems on their own….It took careful thought and planning on my part to pull myself out of this loop and use application and integration.  I sometimes wonder, in this world of high stakes testing – are we stuck in activation and demonstration?

I also see my research interest (gamification) all through this chapter – think about the process a game takes you through as you are playing it for the first time.  It does all of these things that were mentioned:

  1. When games for first started, the demonstrate new knowledge.
  2. Each game has mechanics that are unique, the game applies the new learning inside the game framework.
  3. Players have tasks to accomplish that require the use the new learning.
  4. Once a player has moved far enough into a game, prior knowledge is activated when learning new things.
  5. As the player gains more understanding of the game environment they easily integrate what they are learning into game play.

Two things stood out to me in the chapter on situational principles – viewing education through a heuristic lens the difference of learning outcomes versus learning approaches.

I had not considered viewing education heuristically, but this makes perfect sense.  Each day a teacher teaches, yet there is no one single check list that allows for each unique situation that a teacher could face.  The example of the psychologist working with different patients, how each one needs to be treated in a different way, yet all need to be helped.  Teaching is like this – each day each class needs to be handled differently.  Yet at the ed of the day, teachers need to help students learn using a variety of different means.

In my classroom I often thought, how do I get my students from A to B.  In that process of lesson creation and student learning – I used a variety of approaches to help students comprehend complex mathematical problems.  I did not spend a lot of time on the outcomes per se.  I used Bloom in the back of my mind, as in, “I want my students to be able to get to the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy with this Calculus concept.”  Only over the last five years did I make a conscious effort on this aspect of my teaching.  When I started to combine my ends with my means, I feel that my teaching was better and the student learning was stronger.

It comes down to comfort and habits – what have I been doing over and over and am so comfortable with that I am missing the holes in my practice?  What needs to be re-evaluated and improved, or thrown out, or changed?


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