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Experiential Learning Theory

Introduction

It is difficult to define learning but I understand from my teachers that it is the acquisition of knowledge and skills from instructions or studies. The teachers have an inclination and desire to help our learners acquire, maintain or develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that they need in the context of their everyday work (Mann 2002). According to Knowles, learning is broadly defined as the occurrence of change in a person with regards to behaviour, skills, knowledge and attitude. (Knowles 2005).

Description of a case from my teaching

This was an intra-operative training for a Core Medical Trainee doctor (CT Doctor) in the reconstruction of tissue defect using a local skin flap. The trainee had never done this procedure before independently but had seen similar procedures being done and is regularly seeing the postoperative results of cases operated by me and other colleagues in the out patient follow up clinics.

The aim of this teaching was a one to one surgical skill teaching of how to do a rhomboid flap, which is a transposition flap to reconstruct the defect following excision of a lesion. Though it was a teaching of an operative technique, it involved three stages namely pre-operative planning, per-operative practical procedure and post-operative documentation and reflection on the performance.

The student usually is required to have preliminary prior knowledge about the skin anatomy including the components of flaps, blood circulation and different types of flap configurations based on the design (transposition, rotation and advancement flaps). The student is taught about the preparation on the operating table, draping the operation site, observing all aseptic precautions, removal of the skin lesion (this part is done me in this teaching session), planning of the flap, raising the flap, insetting the flap to fill the defect, suturing the flap and donor site, applying the dressing, documentation of operation notes, reflection on the performance and agreeing on what changes needed to improve the performance next time.

Learning theory applicable to my teaching case

Experiential Learning Theory (Kolb)

The experiential learning theory was developed by Kolb emphasizing the importance of experience in the learning process and based his theory on the work of Dewey, Lewin and Piaget (Kolb 1984).

Kolb offers a working definition of learning as “a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” and emphasizes the importance of adaptation, as knowledge is not static but changing, as we learn and relearn through the process of ongoing experience which changes the practice.

Kolb built this upon six propositions (Kolb 1984):

Learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of outcomes

Learning is a continuous process grounded in experience

The process of learning requires the resolution of conflicts between dialectically opposed modes of adaptation to the world

Learning is an holistic process of adaptation to the world

Learning results from synergistic transactions between the person and the environment

Learning is a process of creating knowledge

Principles of Experiential Learning:

Learning occurs best when people learn through their own experiences and from the reflections of their own experiences rather than through lectures and theories to generate knowledge and skills.
In learning what the learners do is more important rather than what they know
Experiential learning makes the learners’ behaviour and attitudes explicit so that they can be assessed to construct it better for the future experiences.
It is not just sufficient to teach the learner what to do but they need to be actually shown how to do and also how to improve it. The cyclical learning offers the learners continuous improvement by repeating the learning wheel over and over. Continuous use of the experiential learning cycle guides individuals and groups or teams towards improved performance and high quality outcomes.
Experiential learning is not just about acquiring knowledge and skills but generating experience in the learner to discover what it is like, how it made them feel and what it meant to them, which in turn is the key to generating greater skills. The new experiences not only generate new ideas but also dispose of or modify the old ones.
Experiential learning gives importance to the key aspect of learning which is to achieve change in behaviour and attitude by the holistic approach of addressing cognitive, emotional and the physical aspect of the learner.
Many learners feel experiential learning process gives a sense of satisfaction, reward or gift because of it’s value is appreciated by the learner as a vital learning tool

Kolb developed a cyclical learning process consisting of four stages (abilities):

Concrete experience (abilities) – “Doing something”
Reflective observation (abilities) – “Observing and reflecting on the action”
Abstract conceptualization (abilities) – “Thinking and finding where the action fits in with theory”
Active experimentation (abilities) – “Planning to implement the idea to solve actual problems

The learning can begin at any of the four stages (Kolb & Fry 1975) but needs to go through all four stages to complete and progress further for learning to continue. Kolb and Fry developed four types of learning styles people use and they can be placed between concrete experience and abstract conceptualization; and active experimentation and reflective observation as shown below:

Four Stages of Kolb’s Learning Cycle

Concrete experience:

The learner performs an activity and gains experience. The activity can be a demonstration, a case study or learning a skill such as assisting an operation or performing an operation under supervision.

The learner links this awareness or experience with his prior knowledge or experience resulting in a new experience or knowledge and this forms a basis for future experience.

Reflective observation:

The learner reflects upon the performance as a self-reflection, with that of the observer who is usually the teacher or from a small group in the form of discussion or constructive criticism. This is very important for the learner to link in with his prior knowledge and experience and move forward.

Abstract conceptualization:

The learner develops a concept or theory from the knowledge gained through this experience and makes some plans to alter or change his future practice.

Active experimentation:

At this stage the learner puts into practice of the lessons learnt from this experience to experiment the solutions to improve the new experiential cycle.

Four Types of Learning Styles (Kolb, 1976)

Assimilators

(Abstract conceptualisation & reflective observation): This group has a strong ability to learn better when provided with sound logical theories to practice and reflect. They are concerned with abstract concepts than people.

Convergers

(Abstract conceptualisation & active experimentation): This group learn better when exposed to practical applications of concepts and theories. They are focussed on solving specific problems by reasoning.

Accommodators

(Concrete experience & active experimentation): Their greatest strength is doing things and learn better when given opportunity to have “hands-on” experiences. They perform well when required to react to immediate circumstances

Divergers

(Concrete experience & reflective observation): This group is strong in imaginative ability and are good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives. They are interested in people.

Though there are different predominant styles of learning in each learner, there is considerable overlap and mixture of different situations that is likely to complement the learning. Kolb’s model provides an invaluable practical framework for designing experiential learning for adults.

Relevance of KOLB Learning theorY TO MY CASE

Concrete Experience:

The CT doctor started from the stage of concrete experience when the flap procedure was planned. He has seen me doing the flap procedure before and he has also assisted me to perform this procedure before. We had discussion pre-operatively, which triggered his pre-existing knowledge about the flap and his prior knowledge of anatomy, technique of flap elevation, insetting, and suturing in place. This is followed by the operative procedure done by him and I assisted him. This practical experience imparted new level of understanding to him and assimilated with his prior knowledge.

Reflection:

After the completion of the operation and documentation, we had time to reflect on this new experience and consolidate the experience with the prior knowledge to form a new knowledge. During the discussion, I have acknowledged the good points and both have agreed the importance of tissue handling, suture placements in relation to tissue planes and the need to trim off the excess bulky tissues in the flap to fill the defect better.

Abstract Conceptualisation:

As a result of above discussion and feedback, we have identified areas for improvement as mentioned above for the transposition flap. We have agreed that I will assist him again in another similar case when he can apply those principles during the procedure. I also introduced the concept of rotation flap and advancement flap as in some cases, after removal of lesion and creating the defect, it is not always possible to perform transposition flap. The learner has some prior theoretical knowledge about the configuration and surgical technique of rotation and advancement flaps. I gave further guidance regarding reading materials – flap books and specific articles. This fine-tuning has helped in preparing the learner for active experimentation in a new cycle.

Active Experimentation:

After two weeks, the learner developed further reading related to the new concepts following the above discussion and attended my skin cancer clinics. We selected two cases needing operation to remove the lesion and reconstruction using local flaps. We applied his knowledge and prior experience to formulate the new treatment plan to carry out very soon. This has prepared him for the new encounter of active experimentation stage described by Kolb.

Some Practical Difficulties and Potential Improvements

I have come across problems and difficulties during the flap teaching sessions and I have enumerated them with the possible solutions, which I hope will improve my future teaching and make it more beneficial to the trainee and safer to the patients.

Reflection of the learners with that of teachers’ observation is an important part of this learning cycle.

Problem: The operative technique teaching of the flap to cover a tissue defect is mostly done under local anaesthesia with the patient awake. It is not always easy to talk all the aspects explicitly during the procedure.

How to overcome it: One of the options would be to plan the first cycle of operative learning in patient who wanted the procedure under general anaesthesia.

Problem: In some instances we have missed out this session of reflection due to lack of time, busy operating list and the learner had to attend ward patients or dressing clinic patients.

How to overcome it: I need to plan this teaching session when the learner has a protected time to attend my appropriate theatre session. In cases of unforeseen circumstances causing this, I instruct the learner to write down his thoughts of reflection of the session and send it by email which will enable me give my impressions to him personally at a mutually agreeable time to move forward with an agreed plan for future experiences. The other option is to hand over the further continuity of learning to another colleague.

Problem: Quite often Core Trainees in Plastic Surgery do not attend the Dressing Clinic to see the post-operative results when the patient returns for the suture removal and they also miss the opportunity when the patient returns to out patient clinic subsequently for pathology results. Reviewing the patients on these two occasions is equally important to complete the learning process.

How to overcome it: I have started including in the post-operative instruction to call that particular Trainee doctor (for specific cases) when the patient returns for suture removal. Another option is to book the patient into my dressing clinic session and encourage the learner to attend. I also inform the trainee that the assessment form will be completed after he has seen the patients’ post-operative result. This is an incentive for them to attend the clinic.

Problem: Kolb cycle may be difficult to apply to all trainees and there are some cultural differences the way the trainees are trained, for example trainees from Indian subcontinent or from Europe.

How to overcome it: I will use spiral method of learning proposed by Dewey in this type of surgical technique teaching so that the learner follows it through the spirals to modify and improve the quality of outcome performance. I would also incorporate four-stage process of teaching in theatre (Walker & Peyton, 1998) as part of the Kolb cycle depending on the pre-existing experience of the learner. Stage I involves my demonstration of the normal procedure at normal speed. In stage II, I will carry out the procedure again with full explanation and trainee is encouraged to ask questions. I perform the procedure for a third time during the III stage with trainee describing the steps, being questioned on key issues and providing any necessary correction. This stage continues until I am satisfied that the trainee fully understands the procedure. Now we move on to the final stage when the trainee carries out the procedure under close supervision, describing each step before it is undertaken. Thus this drilling of four-stage surgical skill development is followed by repetition to increase the confidence and further practicing of the skills to master it to apply in different situations. I will employ flexibility as to where to start the training depending on the individual trainees’ abilities and their prior knowledge and experience.

Here is a framework I plan to use for the future flap teaching sessions:

References

Mann K V. (2002) Thinking about learning: Implications for Principle-Based Professional Education, The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 22: 69-76

Knowles M S, Holton E F, Swanson R A. (2005) What is Learning, The Adult Learner, Elsevier, Burlington, MA

Kolb D A. (1984) Experiential Learning, Experience as the source of Learning and Development, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Kolb D A. (1976) The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual, Boston, Ma.: McBer.

Kolb D A. (1981) ‘Learning styles and disciplinary differences’. in A. W. Chickering (ed.) The Modern American College, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kolb D A, Fry R. (1975) ‘Toward an applied theory of experiential learning;, in C. Cooper (ed.) Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.

Walker M, Peyton R. (1998) Teaching in the Theatre, Teaching and learning in medical practice, Manticore Europe, Pages 171-180

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Verify if learning management systems would really help the students to deliver better results or not.

ABSTRACT

Education is the essence of life and to grasp the things quickly is more important. Learning management systems is one such tool which are adopted by a number of institutions and organizations to train their students and employees to grasp the knowledge as and when it is required rather than to wait for the trainer. Online education is the latest buzzword and schools like MIT, WAYNE and others have already implemented various online educational degree programs for their students, which ensure they can learn even from the remote corner of the world. The growth of these online educational programs has given raise to a number of tools and it is very important for us to understand which tool delivers us better results. Tools like Blackboard and WebTV, which are a huge success, is a costly affair. So, an alternative method should be identified to reduce the cost and still provide the same level of quality education, which these tools provide.

In this dissertation, I’ll try to compare all the alternatives of Blackboard like MOODLE, ATUTOR and CLAROLINE and will detail my decision-making and testing process capabilities to come up which would be a better alternative solution. Also, to get the better results, I’ll also compare the user output and user satisfaction results and will calculate how the user experience is.

CHAPTER 1.0 INTRODUCTION

A number of learning management system tools have come into market today. Almost all the technologies provide same features with their own user interface. With so many learning management systems around in the market today, it is very important to understand which learning management system should one go for and what would be the reasons for choosing that LMS technique. Factors like user interface, ease of functioning, the number of additional features available in the systems, ability to easily understand are some important factors which I would like to discuss as a part of this research. A number of comparative studies about blackboard and other learning management systems are already available in the market but there are very few which actually compared the technical features of both the systems. Also, the learning effectiveness of the systems was never compared and thus, I’ll take these two points as my main agenda along with providing the user experience results as well. Before jumping into the dissertation and the study, let us in the next section understand as to what has been effectively achieved so far. The next section helped me to identify what has already been done and I’ve used some of the already existing features to do my study on user experience as well. Overall, combining the existing techniques with the technical review of the learning management systems which I’ve presented, I tried to prepare a comprehensive document to the best of my abilities to list out all the differences and provide an overview to the users

1.1 BACKGROUND

Kathy Munoz and Joan Van Dozer from California state university in Humboldt presented a paper in which they provided the survey conducted on a set of students about online courses [1]. For this survey, they selected a group of 35 students from various backgrounds and various fields and gave them an instructional course for online learning modules. The main aim of this survey was to verify if learning management systems would really help the students to deliver better results or not. Though the data provided in this survey was raw, the main objective, which is to identify the user response, was successfully achieved and it was concluded that learning management systems would surely help the students to gain good amount of knowledge as they gain in any classroom sessions. Next the target for the author was to compare different learning management systems and the second part of the survey had a number of questions related to look and feel and the ease of the application. At the end of the survey, there was no clear winner as there were few students who preferred MOODLE and there were few who preferred BLACKBOARD. Also there were many features, which had different answers from the students. Few people who preferred MOODLE were interested in the ease of use and few students who preferred BLACKBOARD were amassed by the amount of courses it had. So, at the end of the survey, though no substantial evidences were made, the support for MOODLE was marginally higher when compared to BLACKBOARD, as this is a free open source product unlike BLACKBOARD

David Bremer and Rueben Bryant [2] have conducted one more survey and provide their presentations in International Open source LMS conference in 2004 that is more or less similar to the first paper. The only different which they had ensured is that this time around the group of students whom they have chosen already had the knowledge of BLACKBOARD and they were working only on MOODLE and the authors wanted to confirm if MOODLE provide all the features which BLACKBOARD provided or not and if this is an effective alternative to MOODLE or not. At the end of the conference, authors concluded the presentation saying that MOODLE functionalities were almost as good as BLACKBOARD if not better and the advantage for this is the open source availability.

From both the papers, we understood that one of the driving features, which are forcing the people to move towards MOODLE, is the open source availability. So, at this point of time, it was not concluded if MOODLE is preferred only because it is open source or will that be preferred when some other open sources will come into account or not. Also, from both the papers, I understood that though MOODLE was preferred, there is no clear winner amongst them. In this dissertation, I’ll try to do a similar research and I’ll provide the users with multiple open source options like CAROLINE, ATUTOR along with MOODLE and will now compare them all using qualitative as well as quantitative analysis.

The main challenge for us in this dissertation is to understand all the learning management systems in this limited span of time and to effectively evaluate them with the features, which it provides and I’ll try to provide the results to the best of my abilities.

1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The aim of this dissertation is to identify the best learning module system which will give a tough fight to blackboard which is more costly when compared to open source systems and provide a brief overview of the entire open source learning management systems which can be used much effectively for less cost. Below are the objectives

1)To evaluate the open source technologies like MOODLE, CAROLINE and ATUTOR and give a brief overview as to which one is better

2)To identify the differences between these learning management systems and which platform has all the sources

3)To identify which application is better suited with the ease of understanding

4)To create a survey and provide our results and compare which one is poised better to help the users to learn the application

5)Which will provide more information amongst all these learning management systems?

6)Which system has better user interface to interact to the users when required?

7)Which system provides all the functionalities, which an online student requires?

8)Which system has the capability to teach everything, which the user is expecting and can, built on the artificial intelligent quotient to make the life of the user easy?

9)Which system the users if given an option will prefer?

If I can find a solution to all these questions by doing qualitative as well as quantitative analysis, I would conclude that the objective of the dissertation is completed.

1.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The overall dissertation will be a combination of both qualitative as well as quantitative analysis. To do qualitative analysis, I’ll install these machines on my system and will start using it and to do quantitative analysis, will prepare questionnaire sessions with the users who actually who worked on it and will collect data from them. To complete the dissertation, a number of analysis features and data calculations with respect to the effectiveness of the application, responsiveness, ease of use, the advantages and disadvantages and many other features were compared amongst all the learning management systems. Once the comparison was done, in the next level, the results were prepared into graphs and graphical results were then verified. With these graphical results, we tried to understand which open source network was the best for using. I’ll follow a descriptive analysis strategy with my inputs from a developer’s point of view to further support my research and this would also be accompanied by content analysis of the survey results

1.4 CHAPTER PREVIEW

The rest of the chapters in this dissertation are self explanatory. In the second chapter, I’ll briefly explain about various learning management systems which I’ll need to understand before comparing and the third chapter will mainly concentrate on comparing blackboard with MOODLE. Once I compare blackboard and MOODLE, the fourth chapter will put the remaining focus on comparing MOODLE with CLAROLINE AND ATUTOR. Thus by the end of the fourth chapter, I’ll get an overall view about various learning management systems. The fifth chapter will be concentrating on gathering the user experience results with the web questionnaire which I’ve presented and this will be followed by the discussion and conclusion to close the dissertation.


CHAPTER 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW

This section will mainly concentrate on different learning management systems, which I’ll be comparing in this dissertation. The first of the lot would be started with MOODLE followed by ATUTOR and CAROLINE. Before concluding, I’ll also briefly explain about Blackboard to which we are trying to compare all these learning management systems.

2.1 MOODLE

This is the first and foremost learning management system, which came as a competitor for BLACKBOARD, and an open source system. Modular Object oriented Dynamic Learning Environment popularly known as MOODLE as said is a free open source software platform which came as a competitor to BLACKBOARD and has almost all the features which BLACKBOARD provides. It is also known as the virtual learning environment (VLE) or Course Management system as students from all over the world can learn virtually sitting in their home and can manage the courses via Internet. A survey conducted by Virtual learning MOODLE organization provided the stats in which they MOODLE already has 49,952 registered users into their account and is serving more than 37 million users with over 4 million courses worldwide [3].

Developed by MARTIN DOUGIAMAS based on Blackboard to create a new environment for the users to learn and share the knowledge for free, the main aim of this application was to interact with other users and share the knowledge and content though internet and pass the information to one and all who wants it without any fuss by a simple means.

MOODLE Pty Ltd is the headquarter for this software application development firm located in Western Australia in Perth and all the development for this application takes from that development centre. Along with this, there is also a MOODLE community which is again an open source blogging network where in more than a million customers through out the world are registered and keep in touch with MOODLE development team constantly wherein they share the new ideas, development blogs, code snippets and useful information for the development of MOODLE. The reason why MOODLE has be developing rapidly is because of the amount of support they are getting from all these users who are part and parcel of MOODLE module development program wherein the developers can add additional modules to the existing system to improve the features of the application. Thus, with the help of these users who are located internationally, though the main branch is rooted in Australia, it was able to develop rapidly with a number of modules and best features.

With its rapid development and ever increasing features, it has a number of features, which are considered to be the core set of requirements for any learning management system. Few features of MOODLE are [5]

1)Assignment Submission functionality through which students can submit the assignments to the concerned tutors

2)Discussion forum in which blogging and discussion topics can be opened and students can share the information and knowledge

3)Files Downloading capability through which we can download all kinds of files which are shared by the tutors as well as the other students based on the permission levels of the module

4)Online training calendar in which you can see all the training courses and also create your own timings and schedule

5)Online news and announcements in which we can keep track of the latest things happening on MOODLE and also any new things to learn

6)Online Quiz programs within the students to improve your learning skills and to bring competitiveness

7)Wiki to provide all the information which the students require

Non-Core developers who work for the development of MOODLE via the community by creating add-on modules have a number of methods in which they can add the functionalities. MOODLE by default accepts a number of different plug-ins which are given below

1)Activities (A number of fun filled activities as plug-ins for word and mathematical number games)

2)Different resource types

3)Different questions like multiple choice questions, descriptive questions, blanks and options can be enabled

4)Graphics module is present to add graphical plug in

5)Users can add data fields to make database related changes

6)Has a built in authentication module to add authentication requirements

7)Has a built in enrolment module to make use of

8)Content filters which is specifically designed for MOODLE and which blackboard doesn’t have [4]

There is a number of Third Party MOODLE Plug-ins, which makes use of all these built in infrastructure for their internal learning management systems [6]. With this, I’ll stop the MOODLE topic and will move to the next topic, which is ATUTOR

2.2 ATUTOR

Like MOODLE, ATUTOR is yet another open source learning management system and is a web-based application. ATUTOR defines itself as a Learning Content Management System and has more or less the same features, which MOODLE provides. ATUTOR is useful in providing courses to various students in management, professional development courses, career development courses, research oriented courses, short-term training and long-term technical training sessions etc. [7]. When compared with MOODLE, ATUTOR stands tall on the accessibility features which it provides as this is one of the few learning management systems which can help the visually impaired and disabled learners as well with its voice recognition system and built in voice module.

The American Society for Training and Development [8] termed ATUTOR as on of the best online Learning Management systems for open source development due to its distinguished concept of helping the visually impaired people and is branded internationally. ATUTOR provides educational courses in 15 different languages internationally and also can support more than 40 additional languages with its built in language toolbar and is also further planning to develop its application to other languages [9]

ATUTOR is deemed as the first learning management system, which follows the World Wide Web consortium 1.0 protocols and has a rating of AA+. It provides access to the users as per the specification of W3C WCAG 1.0 specifications and manages the administrator account with additional security [10]. Its ability to link up and work in co-ordination with XHTML 1.0 will also ensure that ATUTOR can display consistent set of results with any applications and is compatible with any technologies

As described before two features which ATUTOR has and which ensures it is different from other learning module system is its ability to train the visually impaired people with its built in text alternative methods for all the visual elements on the screen and its special features to access the keyboard to all the elements of the program. This will ensure that a blind person can listen to the subject with a screen reader and there is no further requirement of any external devices like mouse to scroll down, as the system would automatically take care of everything. Thus, even devices like PDA’s and TOUCH Pad’s are trying to build ATUTOR as one of its built in module. The next LMS, which I’ll be describing here, is about CAROLINE.

2. 3 CAROLINE

Last but not the least; CAROLINE is another learning management system or otherwise known as the E-learning system which is helpful for the teachers. This learning management system is known as the Teacher for Teachers and is also a web based learning management tool, which follows all the principles of W3C regulations. It’s built in content management system will allow all the administrators to create online courses which can be accessible via the web browsers. Few important operations of CAROLINE are

1)Its ability to allow the users to publish all kinds of documents like HTML, Word, PDF and others

2)Its ability to provide various public as well as private discussion forums for the users based on their level of authentication

3)Its link management system

4)Assigning the users to groups and keeping them as a bunch and also its ability to create groups

5)Its ability to create different exams and exercises online

6)Its ability to schedule the task deadlines and keep a continuous track of the time

7)Online announcements and featured blogs availability

8)Built in assignment module submission

9)Keeping itself updated continuously

Along with the above functionalities, the following features also make CAROLINE one of the most used LMS today

2.3.1 FEATURES OF CLAROLINE
Different approach to other VLE’s. the courses are broken down into component elements, and then published on the site under separate areas (announcements, exercises, chats, resources, links etc)
Students have the full flexibility in the order that they undertake the elements of the course
Whether they are exercises or required reading, discussions, or similar
Categorised links feature for the both students and course administrators to manage relevant URLs
Ability for course administrators to set the exercises and assign completion deadlines
Ability to upload video files for the use of course resources

2.4 BLACKBOARD

A discussion will not be completed unless we understand the concepts of blackboard. This is the first learning management system which was implemented and everything was based on this. So, blackboard simply can take all the credit for introducing new technology to this world. Also known as the WEBCT, blackboard is a virtual learning system which is a commercial application sold to a number of colleges and organizations for providing E-learning capabilities. It is a significant step in the world of learning as this was the first step for a virtual learning environment and is used by more than 10 million people across the world [11]. Developed by the Murray Goldberg from British Columbia University in the year 1995, on his continuous thirst to implement a new web based learning management system to provide better student learning management capabilities and to spread learning across the globe, finally WEBCT was developed in 1996 as a small application which would do this.

A lot of development was carried forward for this there on and added a number of features to it. Few important functionalities of BLACKBOARD are

1)Assignment Submission functionality through which students can submit the assignments to the concerned tutors

2)Discussion forum in which blogging and discussion topics can be opened and students can share the information and knowledge

3)Files Downloading capability through which we can download all kinds of files which are shared by the tutors as well as the other students based on the permission levels of the module

4)Online training calendar in which you can see all the training courses and also create your own timings and schedule

5)Online news and announcements in which we can keep track of the latest things happening on MOODLE and also any new things to learn

6)Its ability to allow the users to publish all kinds of documents like HTML, Word, PDF and others

7)Its ability to provide various public as well as private discussion forums for the users based on their level of authentication

8)Its link management system

9)Assigning the users to groups and keeping them as a bunch and also its ability to create groups

10) Its ability to create different exams and exercises online

11) Its ability to schedule the task deadlines and keep a continuous track of the time

12) Online announcements and featured blogs availability

13) Built in assignment module submission

14) Graphics module is present to add graphical plug in

15) Users can add data fields to make database related changes

16) Has a built in authentication module to add authentication requirements

17) Has a built in enrolment module to make use of

Thus, with all these features, BLACKBOARD has become one of the most cherished online learning management tools. The only problem with this tool is the fact that it is not an open source system and is commercial software. To purchasing the license will surely cost the organizations a certain amount.

With this, I’ll conclude my literature review and in the next chapter, will concentrate on identifying the differences between blackboard and MOODLE as a first part.

CHAPTER 3.0 BLACKBOARD VS MOODLE

Blackboard being the first learning management system created in the market, it can be easily said that the rest of the applications will follow blackboard with some additional features. MOODLE was the first learning management system which actually gave a big fight to blackboard by making learning management system open source software. Being open source system, the development was going on rapidly in this application and as a result of this; there were a number of features implemented in MOODLE which turned out to be better than blackboard. So, in this particular chapter, I’ll concentrate on comparing blackboard with MOODLE on a number of factors.

To give a simple overview before going into the comparison, blackboard is a learning management system which is used by the instructors to upload the information of the course and related materials. All the details related to it and exams can also be uploaded via this application. It allows discussion between students and has the below given features which are the most important

1)Mainly implemented for helping tutors and thus, will be driven by teachers for the content delivery

2)Mainly used for primary and secondary education and for large classroom environments

3)Has a lot of built in courses which would help the students

4)Is not an open source and henceforth, has licensing fee

MOODLE on the other hand is an open source learning management system also used to create an online educational community and to share and improve the learning capabilities of the students or educators across the world. it is an easily downloadable application which will provide links with online community and the main focus of this application is on

1)mainly used to deliver the information of the course and whereabouts

2)used for sharing, group tasks, collaborating, communicating and conducting online quizzes for enhancing the learning capabilities of the students

3)provides the ability to the users to further develop the application

4)is an open source software

Both the LMS systems have some common features and in the next section, I’ll provide the similarities of these two applications

3.1 SIMILARITIES

Both the systems will provide the facility to enrol students into the courses
Has the abilities to restrict the users based on the applications they are registered to
Has the ability to customize and show the contents as per the requirements
Provide facilities to the tutors and students to upload informative documents for sharing like word, PDF etc
Provides the capabilities to link to external web applications for data collection and information
Has a built in discussion forms for discussing about the topics
Has a built in chat messenger to communicate across the world
Has the ability to create quizzes and exams online to improve knowledge
Will provide the course contents to the students as and when required and has the ability to zip and write it on CD as well
Has a built in calendar to keep track of all the activities
Will provide monitoring functions and can copy the contents of the course from semester to semester basis
S.C.R.O.M compliant

3.2 BASIC DIFFERENCES

Now, the above mentioned features are few common features which I’ve observed in both the systems whilst trying to figure them out. In the next section, I’ll try identifying the differences which is the most important part of this dissertation. The most important differences which I’ve identified are bandwidth, learning curve, discussion capabilities, tools, customization facility, and the stats of the users along with cost of the application. Below are the differences which I’ve identified

MOODLE application works on the dial up features whereas blackboard works on the hog of the bandwidth and thus, has a chance to timeout. So, the bandwidth capabilities of MOODLE are better when compared to blackboard
Discussion board threads in MOODLE application are nested and photos can be shared whereas blackboard doesn’t allow nesting of threads. Only one post can be seen at a point of time which makes the life difficult
MOODLE with its open source facilities have a number of tools like blogs, Wiki, workshops, journals, glossary sections whereas on the other end, Blackboard just has a teacher instructed training course like whiteboard.
The customization in MOODLE is far easier and can be done by any student or the user whereas blackboard being a licensed application, this is not possible
MOODLE maintains a built in chart about the details of the users and the number of visits they have made whereas blackboard doesn’t have any feature like that. The only feature which hit has is to identify the amount of time spent by each student on a particular page
Last but not the least; MOODLE is a freeware whereas blackboard is a licensed application.

Below is the picture which shows the differences in a tabular format

FIGURE 1 MOODLE VS BLACKBOARD

Other than these common features, other important difference which I’ve identified between MOODLE and blackboard is the format of the course. In MOODLE, when I initially tried to select a course under the list of courses in my courses section, it took me to a separate homepage with a number of options named topics, weekly and social. On the other hand, when doing the same thing in blackboard, it gave me a fixed format in which the LMS would work. Some set of organizations and sub categories to which we can get into are listed based on the restrictions. This means that MOODLE has a lot more flexibility when compared to Blackboard. The format in MOODLE is totally dependent on the choice of instructor and can be handled via administrator section. Below is the sample default initial interface for both MOODLE and blackboard

FIGURE 2 MOODLE INITIAL INTERFACE

FIGURE 3 BLACKBOARD INITIAL INTERFACE

Though the initial interface can be defined in a number of ways based on the requirements of the administrator, the basic view will be shown as given above

Now that we know what the initial interface looked like, in this section, I’ll explain about various terms and what they refer to from the initial screenshot. For this, we need to understand the screenshots much better. The below screenshot will show the student view of MOODLE application.

FIGURE 4 MOODLE STUDENT INTERFACE

From the above diagram, you could see that the most important parts of the MOODLE interface for the students. Breadcrumb will define the system to which we are connected to and this might be the university login and thus will store the path where the student is currently resided in. To gain access to particular MOODLE environment, the most important thing is the breadcrumb which will also allow the people or the users to keep track of the locations they are in. It is a navigation aid box which will help the user to keep track of the location and the document path where the user is present in.

The second menu to understand is the activities menu. This menu is mainly used to provide quick access to a number of tools and resources which student can use in the MOODLE application. Assignment box, chat messengers, forums, glossaries, quizzes, wikis, workshops, resources and choices are some options which this box provides. The search forum shown in the above given diagram will allow to search all the forums to which the student has access to. The administration box present in the above given diagram is the place where students will actually monitor their performance. This block can be hidden by the administrator if he feels that it is not required. Online users are another block to the right hand bottom corner in the above diagram which will show the list of users who are online in the application and students via this will have an option to communicate with the users. The calendar tool present just above the online users will help us in keeping a note of all the important activities or classes which are coming in the weeks ahead and will provide an outlook options. The main block present in the centre of the screen is the place where the actual course content is shown for the user. Administrator again over here has an option to hide the details of the courses based on the requirement of the person.

Now that I’ve described the overview of MOODLE screen, similarly, I’ll now explain the different sections of blackboard as well. The below given figure will provide us a detailed overview of blackboard

FIGURE 5 BLACKBOARD OVERVIEW

From the above diagram, you could see that a section called course tools is present in the left hand side of the application which will provide the list of tools which blackboard provides to the users. It will have all the web links to which the user has access to, calendar, the chat forum, assessment module, announcement section, discussion board, learning module, and the list of users who are online. So, blackboard basically has clubbed 2-3 different groups of MOODLE in a single entity over here. The next section is the section called My Tools which will show the grades of the users to check their progress in the LMS subjects. Entire course related activities can be tracked via this tool. The last part of blackboard is the main content section which is sorted in chronological order and a number of content folders are present in this. Each folder will have sub folders in it and will list the entire material for the particular coursework which needs to be submitted.

Now that we know how MOODLE and blackboard look like, in the next section, I’ll try to provide the number of differences which MOODLE and Blackboard has in communication tools point of view.

3.3 COMMUNICATION TOOL DIFFERENCES

MOODLE with its chat messaging facility and instant messaging tool will allow us to send messages to the users who are not present online at that time just like in the case of general chat machines. The messages will automatically be emailed if the user is logged out of the application and via these message tools, user of MOODLE can easily communicate with each other. Blackboard on the other hand will send the email across to all the students in the subset of the group which we are put into. Thus, personal messages is a tough feature in it
The instant messages will allow you to chat with the online users and mail the content to the user if he is offline in MOODLE. In blackboard, this tool is only used to send communication to the users if they are offline and if not, it is not used
In MOODLE, there are a total of three different discussion forms available for the user to choose from. MOODLE provides the facility to rate the students. The rating can be provided both by the instructors as well as other students in that particular group. A message posted in a common forum can be automatically emailed to the entire class as well if we wish to do so. Blackboard on the other hand has only one type of discussion forum and the student can only reply to that particular discussion forum. He cannot create any topics on his own and it is the responsibility of the administrator to monitor and create new topics if required
Blackboard has a special whiteboard tool through which the students will be able to share images and drawings in real time. MOODLE doesn’t have any such tool.

Below given picture will list out all the differences in a tabular format

FIGURE 6 COMMUNICATION TOOL DIFFERENCES

After the communication tool differences, the next difference between MOODLE and blackboard is its ability to add grades and scales for the students who are using it.

3.4 GRADE AND SCALE DIFFERENCES

There is a tool called Scale in MOODLE which will allow creating our own pool of grading. Tutors will have the ability to create a pool of ratings for the students who are taking exams like Good, Outstanding, Poor, Fail etc and can assign the scale to the students based on their performance. Blackboard has no such functionality to create
MOODLE will allow us to provide grade to the students whilst creating an offline activity and we can supply comments to the grades as well. Blackboard will have no such facility and for doing these activities, all the details must be entered in a new column in the student activities

Below given picture will list out all the differences in a tabular format

FIGURE 7 GRADES AND SCALES

3.5 OTHER IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

Some other important differences between MOODLE and blackboard are present in tracking capabilities of the student, announcements, assignments, and wikis, lessons, choice and hiding capabilities. Below are the differences listed between these applications?

In MOODLE, you can track the status of the students and can get a lot of details like the days students accessed the content, number of times the content was accessed, IP address from where the content was accessed for all the tools like discussion forums, assignments and assessment modules. A report can also be generated for the number of attempts taken by the students to complete the task. Thus, with the help of this the performance of the student can easily be monitored and reported as requested. Blackboard will also provide most of these functionalities and has the facility to share this information with the students as well
In MOODLE, if any new activities like QUIZZES or assignments are added with a particular date to the set of students in a forum, their calendar will be automatically updated with the time and date when the action should be taken. BLACKBOARD has no such functionality.
MOODLE has a built in Wiki on which the students can work and develop the application further along with adding new web pages and content information which will be useful for the students accessing the pages. It also has the facility to restore all the web pages in its repository. Blackboard has no such tool in its domain
The structure of Lessons in MOODLE is interactive and will present a number of facts and questions to the students to improve their learning capabilities along with testing their levels of concentration. Blackboard has no such tool to check the student knowledge at the end of each section
MOODLE provides the facility to post multiple choice questions and thus, will also allow the students to vote on the particular question. This is not present in blackboard
MOODLE provides the facility to hide and reveal a single file in the course or in the lecture whereas blackboard doesn’t have this facility. It only allows you to hide entire content in the module unlike in MOODLE
Blackboard will provide support on different browsers like IE6, IE7, safari and Chrome but has some issues when opening the application from Firefox. MOODLE along with all the browsers which blackboard is accessible on, will also provide proper support for Fire fox.
When the usability factor comes into question, GUI is too polluted in blackboard with its L shaped menu often confusing the users. MOODLE on the other hand provide customization and thus, user can have his own menu as per his requirements
Blackboard on the whole has three different home pages for each user. They are the system home page, the homepage of the institution and the home page for the courses which the user is handling. MOODLE only has two home pages which is the system home page and course home page
There is a separate section on blackboard named HOME which if clicked will take the student to blackboard website and often confuses the student. MOODLE system homepage only has the list of courses and this again can be modified as per the requirements of the student.
Blackboard has the facility to provide mobile support and we can access the application via touch phones. MOODLE as of now doesn’t have any feature like this

Keeping all these points in view, from the above discussion, it is clearly understood that MOODLE has a number of additional features which Blackboard doesn’t provide at current point and thus, is MOODLE as per my comparison is a better option. A number of universities are already implementing this and have successfully migrated to MOODLE. University of DUBUGUE after migrating from blackboard to MOODLE, gave the below statement [12]

“Blackboard and MOODLE seem to match up pretty much across the board in terms of features. MOODLE is the big winner in the ease of use category, IMO and based on feedback from faculty and students.”

Similarly, LUTHER College staff after moving from MOODLE to Blackboard has given the below statement [13]

“All and all we are finding MOODLE a refreshing and remarkable change from our four years with Blackboard.”

Athabasca university after moving from Blackboard from MOODLE has given the below statement

“(MOODLE’S) appealing visual design, the ease and intuitive feel with which online activities can be added, the online help and support provided by the documentation and user groups make this a superior and user-friendly LMS.”

Thus, clubbing the feedback of the users from throughout the world along with the differences which I’ve identified, in this particular chapter, I would like to conclude that MOODLE is a better option when compared to blackboard.

CHAPTER 4.0 MOODLE VS OTHERS

In the previous chapter, I’ve tried to compare MOODLE with Blackboard and have identified a number of differences between them from both technical and functional point of view as a developer and come up with the conclusion that MOODLE will be a better option to use when compared to Blackboard with the number of additional functionalities which it provides.

The main aim of my dissertation is to also provide a comprehensive overview of ATUTOR and CLAROLINE with MOODLE and compare which is better. So, in this particular chapter, I’ll try to compare ATUTOR and CLAROLINE with MOODLE again from a developer’s point of view.

As I’ve already described the features of MOODLE in the previous chapter, in this section will not elaborate about the features of MOODLE again and will directly start the brief overview of both CLAROLINE AND ATUTOR

4.1 CLAROLINE

Created by a group of people from French university as one more alternative to Blackboard, even this was started an open source and thus is a good competitor not only to blackboard but also to MOODLE. As suggested above, CLAROLINE was implemented by a group of French people and henceforth, most of the instructions for installing the applications were more or less defined in French language. So, whilst installing the application, it created a number of files and database tables which had a valid meaning in French language but was really difficult to understand for any other users. Also, the help package which generally comes along with the installation was also in French language making the process much tougher to understand a non French user. So, the first experience for me whilst installing the application was pretty tough and was really time consuming.

4.1.1 FEATURES OF CLAROLINE
CLAROLINE tried to bring in its own visual learning environment by adopting a different approach wherein the courses are broken into a number of components. This was never the case with MOODLE and blackboard
Students logged into the application were provided the options to handle the elements individually for each course before completing the entire course. They can handle the exercises or assignments or any module of the course if the manner they want to
Special feature called categorised links are provided to the students and tutors through which they can manage the required links which are relevant to the course for future references
Implemented a new feature called agenda which provides authors some special abilities to set deadlines for the projects, assignments and give announcements when required
Has a layout configuration style in which the authors or administrators can see and control the elements to be there on the page with the help of admin module
A built in chat facility between the users
Very easy simple text interface system to type and deal the details
Has an ability to do peer review. With this feature, students have the ability to upload their papers and do a self assessment of it
Has automatic as well as manual registration process
Has the ability to grow the size of the course and its content based on the requirements and strength of the students
Has statistic features in course content which will help the author to keep track of the records as to which course is more popular
Application provides an interface to upload videos as well to explain the course works making it a unique system which has the capabilities to handle videos.

Now that I’ve explained about some technical features of CLAROLINE, in the next section I’ll similarly explain about all the features of ATUTOR

4.2 ATUTOR

ATUTOR defines itself as a Learning Content Management System and has more or less the same features, which MOODLE provides. ATUTOR is useful in providing courses to various students in management, professional development courses, career development courses, research oriented courses, short-term training and long-term technical training sessions etc. [7]. When compared with MOODLE, ATUTOR stands tall on the accessibility features which it provides as this is one of the few learning management systems which can help the visually impaired and disabled learners as well with its voice recognition system and built in voice module.

The American Society for Training and Development [8] termed ATUTOR as on of the best online Learning Management systems for open source development due to its distinguished concept of helping the visually impaired people and is branded internationally. ATUTOR provides educational courses in 15 different languages internationally and also can support more than 40 additional languages with its built in language toolbar and is also further planning to develop its application to other languages [9]. Some important features of ATUTOR are listed below

4.2.1 FEATURES OF ATUTOR
It has built in themes section through which the users can change the look and feel of the application
Easy administration module to handle all the courses
Courses are further broken down into a number of content pages to handle them effectively
Has the ability to export the courses and has a link to export the courses and thus with the help of this feature, the content transfer between multiple systems is possible
It has an inbox feature through which a link is developed between course administrators and the users for them to communicate between themselves
Has a multi send option in which the course content can be sent to multiple students with a click of button
Has slide by slide built in contact form for courses
It’s pretty simple to navigate between the content pages but the authors of this application are required to have HTML skills to explore the functionalities properly.
Has a built in glossary functions which will define all the acronyms and provide links to various external sources and databases through which wide range of material can be downloaded.
The documentation present in its help manual is considered to be the best to help users to navigate across to different modules
Have integrated WYSIWYG editor which helped them to create content without HTML language skills

Now that we know the 2 important Learning management systems, in the next section, I’ll try to compare these applications

4.3 COMPARISON

Whilst trying to work out the differences between MOODLE, ATUTOR and CLAROLINE, I found that ATUTOR and CLAROLINE mostly had the same features. So, I’ve tried to compare these two applications with MOODLE and find the differences in particular. The differences were segregated again into various sections like communication tool differences, productivity tool differences, Administration differences, course delivery tool differences, content development tool differences and hardware and software difference. Below are the main differences which I’ve identified between MOODLE and other applications

4.3.1 HARDWARE & SOFTWARE DIFFERENCES

MOODLE supports different databases like ORACLE, SQL SERVER, and MYSQL and also supports POSTGRESQL on top of all these things. ATUROR and CLAROLINE on the other end support only MYSQL. Both the applications however has both UNIX as well as windows version of the application and thus, can be useful for all the systems without any restrictions

4.3.2 COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Users can enable or disable the discussion form messages coming into their email boxes in MOODLE or have an option of selecting a daily digest functionality which would send all the messages in a single mail. The same is not available for ATUTOR or CLAROLINE. Also, MOODLE has the facility to subscribe to RSS Feeds which ATUTOR or CLAROLINE doesn’t provide
MOODLE has a QYSIWIG editor whereas ATUTOR and CLAROLINE has WYSIWYG editors
In MOODLE, the course administrators and instructors can allow students of the course to create new groups and instructors or students can act as moderators for these courses and peer reviewed before actually being posted. ATUROR and CLAROLINE on the other end will allow sharing the discussions created by the moderator across the different courses and students here has limited abilities.
In MOODLE, the statistical review process is present which will give the stats for the courses completed, attended and accessed by the students which is not present in the other applications
File exchange facilities in MOODLE can be done via simple dropdown boxes and can thus submit all their course works easily. ATUTOR and CLAROLINE along with this facility, also allow the students to share their personal folders and has active directory enabling which will allow the administrators to give user specific rights
The internal email features of both the learning management systems more or less look similar the only difference being MOODLE has extra space for Online journals and Notes which others doesn’t have
MOODLE supports limited number of chat rooms in its real time chat functionality whereas ATUTOR doesn’t have any restrictions on the number of rooms it supports. The built in PHP application chat functionality has easily achieved these features
MOODLE supports third part add-on like DIM-DIM and ELLUMINATE which ATUROR or CLAROLINE doesn’t support

Thus, the above mentioned are the major differences between the three applications. In the next section, I’ll similarly identify the differences in productivity tools

4.3.3 PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS
MOODLE has built in calendar and progress review features through which the entire course calendar can be maintained and all the important activities can be measured. The list of courses and important dates to submit the assignments, attend the classes and others can be maintained via this. ATUTOR and CLAROLINE will support this feature via a third party add on application
MOODLE has a tool through which the search operations can be performed in all the discussion threads, chat boxes and also virtual classroom sessions in which live recordings happen. In ATUTOR, students can only search in discussion threads
MOODLE provides a number of online tutorials which it can make use of to learn and understand the application along with the help tool. ATUTOR and CLAROLINE along with what MOODLE provides, will also provide multimedia documentation
In MOODLE, students have the ability to self select the groups in which they want to be in which is not there in other VLE.
Community networking is possible in MOODLE and has a number of features like creating clubs and joining those clubs. Though community networking is present in ATUTOR and CLAROLINE, it is not totally explored so far.
MOODLE provides Single sign on facility to enhance the security which CLAROINE doesn’t provide

After identifying the differences in productivity tools, in the next section, I tried to identify the differences between the systems in administration process

4.3.4 ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS
Built in authentication process where in administrators have the ability to define the access levels of the users is defined in MOODLE as well as ATUTOR and CLAROLINE but the main difference is that in MOODLE can authenticate the system against external LDAP server as well as Kerberos whereas ATUTOR and CLAROLINE can only do it for LDAP server
MOODLE application has built in registration integration functionality through which the student information can be altered bi directionally. The information of the student can be transferred between the system and SIS using tab delimited files or IMS Enterprise specification web services files. This functionality is not present in ATUTOR or CLAROLINE
Administrator in MOODLE is provided with a number of online marking tools through which instructors can rate and comment on the performance of the student which is not possible in other applications

Other than these, there are also other differences between MOODLE and ATUTOR, CLAROLINE which are mainly trivial and henceforth, I’ll ignore them in this dissertation. After analysing all the differences, below is the conclusion which I could make out of the differences

4.4 CONCLUSIONS

So far, I’ve compared each of the applications with a number of features and differences. From the list of features, it is clearly understood that each application has its own set of features which will define it and thus, the applications have its own advantages as well as disadvantages. One biggest disadvantage which I’ve observed in both ATUTOR and CLAROLINE is the fact that it is not fully compatible with Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) to ensure the sharing capabilities between different visual learning environments which MOODLE is trying to maintain. Also, ATUTOR and XML CLAROLINE don’t use XML metadata for providing E-learning content though ATUTOR is trying to implement these features to better its standards. MOODLE on the other hand implements these features already. A number of different what you see is what you get editors enabled the users to directly write the content on the pages rather than to get the knowledge of the systems and one positive feature is to make the application really simple for the users. One point in which ATUTOR scores over the other is in providing the internal communication facility which other learning environments don’t provide.

So, keeping all these things and various advantages and disadvantages of each application in mind, it is really tough to comedown to one learning environment but from observations, I would go for MOODLE due to its ability to provide SCORM support and have the ability to provide sophisticated applications created with a blend of creativity and usability. Also, the installation procedure for MOODLE was far easy and can be done in simple steps when compared to ATUTOR and CLAROLINE. Also, creating the first course was done very easily with the online help as well as the extensive support features provided in MOODLE. The Print compiler facility which MOODLE has provided is one of the best features in it which will help the students to keep track of all the notes whilst going through the class and can finally print the required documentation easily.

On the whole, the overall time taken to learn and the time taken to install MOODLE were far less when compared to ATUTOR or CLAROLINE and this, I would conclude saying that MOODLE is the best alternate learning management system when compared to ATUTOR and CLAROLINE due to its ability to continuously built upon the process and the kind of work and support which it provides to all the users from the team of developers.

Henceforth, I would conclude this chapter by saying that MOODLE amongst all the learning management systems is the best alternative which I’ve found and though this is a complete discussion only from my point of view and the overall features and the answers may differ when someone else do a similar analysis.

Now that I’ve defined MOODLE as the best alternative from Technical and developer’s point of view, in the next section, I’ll try to discuss the same from the user satisfaction point of view. To do this, a number of questionnaire sessions are prepared and the answers to all the questions were analyzed. Based on the answers which I’ve received, I tried to conclude which is a better application from user’s point of view.


CHAPTER 5.0 USER EXPERIENCE

After identifying all the technical differences between the set of applications, the next target for me was to compare the learning management systems from a user’s point of view. To do this, a set of questions were framed and I tried to identify the way users rated each of the modules with the help of those questions. A set of 7 users were chosen to do this test. To ensure the application is checked from a novice point of view, I ensured that 2 users don’t know how to work on learning management systems. After this, to find differences between Blackboard and other modules, I’ve selected the remaining 5 users in such a way that they have worked on one of the learning management systems.

Below are the set of questions which I’ve framed to get the user satisfaction level. The exact questionnaire is provided in the Appendix section of the dissertation

1)Please identify your level of experience with the LMS applications mentioned below

2)As an Administrator, how easy was it to install the applications

3)As an administrator of a course, how easy was it to learn to use the below LMS Systems

4)As a student of the course, How easy was it to adopt to the below LMS systems

5)As a Tutor, How easy was it to share the applications and courses with Students

6)How difficult was it for the student to adopt to the system or the courses

7)How satisfied are you with the number of features which the VLE has offered.

8)How good is the support or the help for you to enable self learning capabilities

9)Do you really think these applications will help the students to learn properlyIf so, what features do you think are the best

10) If you don’t have any LMS used so far, are you planning to use any and if so which LMS will you be preferring

11) What are the reasons for preferring the LMS mentioned in the above question

12) What do you think as possible threats to each of these LMS systems

13) What are the interesting reasons which you have found in these LMS systems

14) The LMS applications offer a number of modules listed below, please rate each module separately

15) Which applications do you think will help you further down the line

16) Any other thoughts you would like to share about the application?

Thus from these set of questions, I tried to understand the nerve of the user from both Administrator as well as tutors point of view. Below is the output of my research and analysis which I was able to do base on the survey.

5.1 ANALYSIS

The first question was mainly put to understand the level of knowledge users have on Learning Management systems and this was to get a general overview of whether they have used the applications or not. Below is the bar graph which I’ve received from the 7 users I’ve surveyed upon

FIGURE 8 COUNT OF USERS

From the output, I’ve understood that there are 2 persons who doesn’t have any knowledge of learning management systems and 1 user who knows what learning management system is all about but doesn’t know in depth about it. The remaining 4 users have a good knowledge about the applications. After this, in the next part, I’ve tried to check from an administrator’s point of view as to how easy is it to install the learning management systems and below is the bar graph which I’ve received for it.

FIGURE 9 INSTALLATION COMPLEXITY

From the above graph, I clearly understood that the complexity to install CLAROLINE due to its French installation process was turning out to be tough for the users and of the lot; MOODLE was the easiest for all the administrators. Thus, as far as Installation goes, it can be easily concluded from this bar graph that MOODLE has the easiest installation process followed by Blackboard, ATUTOR and then CLAROLINE

After understanding which LMS was easy to install, in the next section, I tried to understand as to how easy was it to learn courses and below is the bar graph which I’ve received for the same.

FIGURE 10 LEARNING LMS

From the above graph, again it is interesting to identify that most of the users have clearly mentioned learning MOODLE was really easy followed by Blackboard. Interesting aspect which I’ve observed here is that the people who said installing CLAROLINE was tough really didn’t want to go forward with learning that system and they directly said CLAROLINE was tough to learn as well. Another fact which I’ve observed here is that few users who already had knowledge of Blackboard gave comments saying that MOODLE was way far easy to learn when compared to Blackboard. Also, A Tutor scored good points in this part. The results said that MOODLE was the best followed by both blackboard and ATUTOR and then CLAROLINE.

In the next question, I tried to gather the nerve of the student and tried to understand if they are able to adapt to the system easily or not. Below is the graph which I’ve received for the same.

FIGURE 11 ADAPTABILITY

From the above graph, I’ve again understood that MOODLE and Blackboard are the two most used systems and most of the users were finding it really easy due to the way they can adapt to this. Also, the comments passed by the users say that the ease of navigation in MOODLE and BLACKBOARD are the best followed by CLAROLINE. So, on the whole, the adaptability factor of MOODLE has grown continuously.

A number of other questions where present in the questionnaire session wherein I tried to understand what the students are trying to think about the application. Few comments which I’ve received as a part of this questionnaire session are given below

“The overall MOODLE process is really simple. Not only MOODLE but Blackboard as well but the way MOODLE was able to build its content pages made the life really easy. Wherever and whenever I was not able to understand that system, all I had to do is to play around with it for a while and I finally understood as to what needs to be done”.

Another student writing about Blackboard said the below things.

“The best part of the system is the ability to chat with other students about my course works and share the knowledge with everyone”

After this analysis and the answers which I’ve received about various questions, I clearly understood that most of the users were more or less preferring MOODLE followed by Blackboard and ATUTOR and then CLAROLINE. The only reason for CLAROLINE to go back into the priority list was the fact that most of the installation process and help process was in French language rather than in English and henceforth, it was turning out to be tough to understand the system.

From a developer’s point of view, after analysing various technical and functional differences in the third and fourth chapters, I’ve clearly mentioned that MOODLE with its open source ability and its extended functionalities is far better when compared to Blackboard, ATUTOR and CLAROLINE.

Thus, both from Users point of view and from the analysis which I’ve made from the questionnaire section, I can confirm that MOODLE by far is the best open source learning management system which will give tough competition to Blackboard and other open source learning management systems as well.

CHAPTER 6.0 CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORKS

When the virtual learning environments were created, Blackboard turned out to be a revelation and slowly it began to grow. Observing the growth in virtual learning environments, slowly other applications also started to adapt this system. It is very clear that online learning today is very important as it is tough for people to move across to places. Also, a cost effective way of learning and gaining knowledge is achieved by online learning systems. Blackboard started to implement this and gave a new look and feel to the world of learning. Though it is commercial software, this turned out to be the best application available and was widely used. After the growth of open source software’s started, there was a new boom coming in E-learning systems. The idea of an Open source E-learning system came into existence and a potential user of the learning management system gave the below statement

“I have been impressed but my head is sceptical . . . [it] reasons that a system such as MOODLE costing nothing cannot be up to the job” when most schools invest thousands in the same type of software” (NICKLENEY, 2003).

However, today, we can confidently say that a number of applications like MOODLE, ATUTOR and CLAROLINE are an answer to the initial doubt which was created. These applications today are available for free of cost and are connecting people through out the world to share knowledge. These applications will work for students, tutors as well as the administrators to check the status and thus, a new world of learning was effectively created with free of cost.

When so many alternatives are available, the biggest question now is to understand as to why technology should be used and what the various factors to go for that technique are. In this dissertation, my main aim was to differentiate all 4 learning management systems and bring the differences between them from both developers point of view as well as from the user’s preferred choice.

To understand the difference from developer’s point of view, I compare all the applications based on the productivity tools, installation times, ease of navigation, additional applications available and various other options. Chapter 3 and chapter 4 of the dissertation will concentrate on this and I was at the end of the able to provide differences in which I concluded MOODLE was the best possible learning management system.

After this, I tried to understand what the nerve of the student is and thus, create a questionnaire through which I wanted to identify what which learning management system according to the users is the best. From the survey results, I understood that most of the users were interested in MOODLE followed by blackboard, ATUTOR and then finally CLAROLINE. Thus, from all the three chapters, I successfully confirmed that MOODLE out of the available options, is the best open source learning management system which will give a tough competition to Blackboard as well as the other learning management systems.

One thing which must be understood is that this is totally derived from my observations and users may have different opinions and this should only work as a yardstick to check the differences.

Though I was able to compare the technical differences as well as differences from user satisfaction level, one thing which I would still like to improve in the dissertation is the data analysis part. At this point of time, due to lack or resources and time, I only chose 7 users for the data analysis. The real outcome would be available if more than 100 to 200 users actually answer the questionnaire and then finally get the results out of that. So, this is one point which I would still like to improve as a part of my dissertation future works.

From a student’s perspective, course management systems are a step above a classroom website. Information sharing is no longer static; these systems utilize tools that allow both synchronous (different place but same time) and asynchronous (different place, different time) interaction. They have the most important task: addressing the needs of the ultimate end user – the learner. Each course management system available currently has key features that allow students to be actively involved in their courses, including downloading and uploading files, participating in chat and discussion boards, taking assessments, viewing grades, and contacting teachers and classmates.

When choosing a CMS for an educational institution, the usability of the system is the key to the effectiveness and efficiency of the online courses that are to be implemented. One of the most important aspects of an effective CMS is the usability for both instructors and learners. The effectiveness of the course will help the learners achieve the specific goals of the course. The ease of navigation through the course will help the learners achieve their goals. If the course is not effective or efficient, then it will affect the students’ learning. The goal of this study was to report the results of a comparative usability study conducted in 2008-2009 on two different course management systems, BlackBoard and Moodle. It can be concluded from this study that in almost every module or function comparison that was made, Moodle was favored by course participants over BlackBoard with the exception of the Discussion Board module where scores were not significantly different. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that use of Moodle in online courses can be a suitable alternative to the current CMS system (BlackBoard). In fact, now that the pilot has showed that Moodle is as effective as BlackBoard, the researchers have already shared their experiences with other faculty members and expanded their investigations by involving numerous other online courses, instructors, and students, because the product showed significant potential for further examination. This study adds to the growing body of studies that are carried out as the initial attempt to research to see if an open source CMS (Moodle) warrants consideration as an alternative to the institution’s current course management system. In addition to comparing the students’ feedback quantitatively, this study also tried to explain in detail what specific component / function of each CMS students found useful or better than the other. Rather than focusing only on student satisfaction scores, this study further investigated what aspect of each module for each CMS course participants particularly liked or disliked. This study is an example of a pilot study on students’ first time experiences with Moodle during their Introduction to Educational Technology Course and reports the results of a comparative usability (field) test. This study can be used as a guide to be easily replicated to help educators to test their own findings, at their own institutions by exploring additional concepts, implementing supplementary models to the conceptual framework, expanding the population of interest, analyzing additional educational settings, and using other research designs. Even though the focus of this study was to investigate and compare the usability of two course management systems to see if an open source course management system (Moodle) warrants a consideration as an alternative to the institution’s current course management system (BlackBoard), there are other factors that can influence such decision. Operational factors include reliability, external support, flexibility in design and functions, and features of the CMS, stability and security and strategic factors include ease of adaptation, stability of the platform.

The total cost of ownership is another important factor to consider. It is a fact that commercial systems require high fees, which may be prohibitive for educators and institutions working with limited budgets. Some universities and colleges are beginning to be able to afford only the basic versions of these commercial systems and that can threaten to diminish the educational experiences of students. This is forcing smaller universities to consider cheaper CMS alternatives, especially during times of such a volatile economy and shrinking budgets. This study has certain limitations. The study has small sample size, includes only one course, and focuses only on students’ perspectives of use of Moodle. Further studies are recommended for educators to conduct their own tests of the alternatives or other studies focusing on pedagogical value, financial concerns, support issues, assessment criteria for accreditation, integration with the information technology services, and long-term viability are recommended.

REFERENCES

1) Hall, J. (2003), “Assessing learning management systems”, Oracle University. Retrieved December 1, 2006 from http://www.clomedia.com/content/templates/clo_article.aspArticle id=91&zoneid=29

2)O’Hara, T. “Blackboard’s WebCT Deal Spurs Antitrust Questioning.”,Washingtonpost.com. November 26, 2005. Retrieved December 16, 2006 from

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501193.html

3) “Standard Moodle Packages”. Moodle.org

4) “E-Learning Features”. http://www.cpce-polyu.edu.hk/itu/new/: Information Technology Unit (itu). Retrieved 2011-03-01. “Moodle serves as an online e-learning platform to facilitate the communications between teachers and students. Some typical features provided by Moodle are listed below.”

5)Weller, M. (2006). VLE 2.0 and future directions in learning environments. Proceedings of the first LAMS Conference, Sydney

6)Sclater, Neil (2008). A Large-scale Open Source eLearning Systems at the Open University. Educase

7)a b c “Technical Evaluation Report 37. Assistive Software for Disabled Learners”. Retrieved 2007-08-06.The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Vol 5, No 3 (2004), ISSN: 1492-3831

8)For details on the WCAG specification, see: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.

9) Looi, Chee-Kit (2005). Artificial Intelligence in Education Supporting Learning Through Intelligent and Socially Informed Technology. IOS Press. ISBN 1586035304.

10) Williams, Roy (2003). 2nd European Conference on E-Learning Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, 6–7 November 2003. Academic Conferences Limited. ISBN 0954457749.

11) UBC Computer Scientist Wins $100,000 Award for Popular Course Software, University of British Columbia News & Events, September 29, 2004 http://www.it.ubc.ca/main.html

12) Blackboard vs. Moodle, Dr. Kathy Munoz and Joan Van Duzer http://www.humboldt.edu/~jdv1/moodle/all.htm

13) EduTools. (2006). CMS: Product Comparison System. http://www.edutools.info/compare.jsp?pj=8&i=358,386

14) Blackboard Launches More Open, Flexible Learning Platform Emphasizing Greater Engagement for Students. (2009). PRNewswire-First call. Retrieved from http://www.blackboard.com/Company/Media-Center/Press.Release.aspx?released=1248604

15) Croy, Marvin, Smelser, Ron in consultation with McAlpin, Valorie. (2009). Report to the Provost from the learning management system evaluation committee. University of North Carolina at Charlotte.Retrieved from: mseval.uncc.edu/index.php?options=com_domain&task=doc_download&/gid=39

16) Feldstein, Michael. (2010). Moodle vs. Blackboard Mobile Learn: Web app vs. native. E-Literate Retrieved from http://mfeldstein. Com/moodle-mobile-vs-blackboard-mobile-learn-web-app-vsnative

17) Final Report and Recommendations. (2008). Learning Management systems review. University of Canterbury. Retrieved from http://ustl.canterbury.ac.nz/moodle/ms-review-process

18) Machado, Michael, Tao, Eric. (2007). Blackboard vs. moodle: Comparing user experience of learning management systems. School of Information Technology and Communication Design, California

19) State University, Monterey Bay. Retrieved from: http://fie-confeence.org/fie Moodle. (2010). Source forge. Retrieved from: http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=30935

20) MoodleDoes Roadmap Docs. (2010). Moodle.org. Retrieved from http:// docs.moodle.org/en/roadmaps

21) Nagel, David. (2008). CSU system adopts moodle adopts lms services. Campus Technology.Retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/articles 2008/11/csu-system-adopts-moodle-lmsservices.aspx

22) Nagel, David. (February 20 2009). Google collaborates on Moodle integration. Campus Technology Retrieved from: http://computertechnology.com/articles/2009/02/20/google-collaborates-onmoodle-integration.aspx

23) Nagel, David. (May 6 2009). Blackboard to buy out Angel learning. Campus Technology. Retrieved from http://computertechnology.com/articles/2009/05/06/Blackboard-To-Buy-OutAngel-Learning.aspx

24) NYU Blackboard.(2010). New York University Information Technology Sources. Retrieved from: http://nyu.edu/its/blackboard

25) Open Source Collaboration: Moodle Assessment Report Executive Summary. (2009). North Carolina Community College System. Retrieved from http://oscmoodlereport.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/nccs-andblackboard-report-october-2009.pdf

26) Trotter, Andrew. (2008). Blackboard vs. Moodle: Competition in course-management market grows.Education Week. Retrieved from: http://edweek.org/dd/toc/2008/06/09/indes.html

27) What We Do. (2010). Blackboard, Inc.Retrieved from: http://blackboard.com/company/What -We-Do.aspx

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Strategic and Organisational Learning

Definition of strategy:

“A strategy is a way through a difficulty, an approach to overcoming an obstacle, a response to a challenge.”(Rumelt, 2011)

Meaning of strategy:

Strategy is basically a plan that is formulated by businesses and mostly top level managers that sets limitations and boundaries which organisations comply with in order to reach a particular goal. Strategy directly or indirectly is a means to achieving an organisations goals more effectively. It includes every organisational and managerial function such as planning, organising, goal setting, organisational structuring and adaptation to the everchanging environments. Therfore strategy is a vital part of every organisation and without a basic strategy or plan of action, every organisation will fail to survive in the ever competitive present business environment.

Strategy is a very general term. There are many kinds of strategies that deal with every minor detail of organisational functioning. One of the more refined forms of strategy is a fairly new concept known as strategy as practice. Strategy as practice is a more practical managerial science that describes strategy as something that is practised within the organisation and functions that managers perform. Functions like strategy formulating and also the carrying out of these strategies .The definition below will help us have a better understanding of this subject.

Definition of strategy as practice

“Strategy a situated, socially accomplished activity…strategizing comprises those actions interactions and negotiations of multiple actors and the situated practices they draw on in accomplishing that activity” (Jarzabkowski, 2007)

Strategy as practice

“For many years now the dominant academic perspective on strategic management has looked at strategy as something that organisations have. The strategy as practice perspective, on the other hand, looks at strategy as something people do. It is concerned with the practice of strategising, encompassing both the formulation of strategy and how strategies are put into action to deliver strategic renewal and change. It therefore asks questions such as: what do people do to develop strategies in organisations; how do they translate their strategies into strategic action and change in organisations; what competences are required for this; how do they actually use the concepts and tools that are advocated for strategic management; what is good practice in managing strategy?”(www.lums.lanc.ac.uk)

As the statement above mentions that strategy as practice is a relatively new branch of strategic management, and is therefore still growing as a management science that people and organisations are slowly looking to for better solutions for strategising. This is because strategy has a direct effect on the performance of the organisation. Strategic concepts change as time passes and the business environment constantly changes, therefore strategy as practice is a new concept that holds new promises for the business world.

“Strategy as practice is a new measure to revitalise strategic theory and bring about change from the conventional strategic thinking to addressing various important questions on the functioning of an organisation and how the functioning differs from organisation to organisation. However strategy as practice is a more cautious approach as there are already a number of approaches to strategic thinking for every minute detail of firm positioning and managerial cognition.It is widely believed that there is more to learn from the day to day practices of the firm than the formulation of theories and principles that govern conventional strategy. Observations made on the functioning of the firm help us relate between different theories.” (Jarzabkowski, 2002)

According to Jarzabkowski strategy as practice has 3 core elements. They are Recursiveness, Adaptation and Strategy practice –in use.

Recursiveness

These theories are better explained by Jarzabkowski with the theories of structuration. Where the external environment which is a macro factor is used as a structure in which a lot of actors(managers) perform their day to day functions. And the interaction on a daily basis of actors with their environment on a daily basis as a practise is described as recursiveness of practice. Recursiveness is nothing but the daily routine of tasks and functions performed by managers. Recursiveness only occurs for tasks that are repetitive in nature i.e. tasks that have to be done repeatedly in order to gain recursiveness. Recursiveness is present at 3 levels- the actor, the organisation and the social institution. (Jarzabkowski, 2002)

Adaptation

Adaptation is a measure that has to be taken up by every organisation in order to adapt perfectly with its current environments in order to survive the constant changes of the environments in which the organisations function. Adaptation is a very important measure of strategic excellence. It show s to what extent an organisation or its manager are willing to go to keep the organisation afloat in the ever-changing macro environment.

Adaptation is not only seen at a macro level but even at a micro level of the firm. Adaptive organisational structures, adaptive managerial tasks, adaptive functioning to the changing needs of a firm etc are also considered adaptation. .(Jarzabkowski, 2002)

Strategy as practice in use

Managers or professionals who are strategic practitioners are said to be knowledgeable, purposive and reflexive in nature. Therefore when they practice they have the ample knowledge to go about their functions, they are full of intent which helps them adhere to the strategic principles of goal seeking. Strategic actors who practice strategy are the ones who usually take the recursive and adaptive route to strategy and succeed in doing it the right way. Strategy as practice as they say is the correct way of looking at strategic theory cause its a more practical hands on approach that could save the organisations from strategizing wrongly. .(Jarzabkowski, 2002)

Wrong strategies could lead to disasters

Wrong strategies could lead to disasters. This statement is very valid one once we ve seen how many firms fail in the present market conditions. They fail because they are not able to keep in tune with the market requirements and adapt constantly. All this may only occur when a firm has its priorities wrong. Every company has its own strategies and these strategies are formulated and followed up in order to reach the firm’s long term and short term goals. When the strategy fails to take into consideration one of the vital elements from both the micro and macro factors , the firm may have a troubled future. Strategies should be formulated in such a way that they are flexible to change through time, they should be simplistic and goal oriented and should be for the better functioning of the firm and not to compete with other firms. As Michael porter has said “ Bad strategy often stems from the way managers think about competition. Many companies set out to be the best in their industry, and then the best in every aspect of business, from marketing to supply chain to product development. The problem with that way of thinking is there is no best company in any industry.” ( Porter, 2006). Porter called this sort of competition “destructive competition”.

It is when companies and managers try to outshine other companies through cut throat competition and instead of trying to increase the performance and better functioning standards of their firm they instead work on putting other companies down. This is because such managers believe that there is only one best company amongst several. But as porter has pointed out that there is no one best company. It depends on people s perspectives, choices, different situations, budgets, and needs. Therefore he says concentrating on strategies that increase the performance and output and organisational integrity of a firm may actually help instead of opting for the former. ( Porter, 2006).

Although for this sort of strategizing. Managers have to look into their own firms and their own human resources and the strengths and weaknesses of the “‘Strategy is a word that gets used in so many ways with so many meanings that it can end up being meaningless. Often corporate executives will confuse strategy with aspiration.” (Porter ,2006). He also says that managers and firms confuse their strategies with the firm’s visions and firm’s missions, which quite frankly is the wrong approach to motivating their workers. When you confuse the company’s visions and strategies you are bound to end up no where. Because Strategising necessarily doesn’t involve motivationg and envisioning. It simply just helps the firm find a pathway to success if anything.

Product, pricing and geographical focus

It is also said that strategies should help a firm decide on what products and services its going to sell in the market, what pricing its going to adopt, who it is going to compete with and most importantly its geographical area of focus for business is to be determined. All these minor details play a major role in organisational success. The art of doing all this together is what porter says, leads to successful strategizing. Doing several of these key functions simultaneously is very important to larger firms.(Porter,2006)

Bad strategies and its problems

“Bad strategy abounds”, says UCLA management professor Richard Rumelt. “Senior executives who can spot it stand a much better chance of creating good strategies.”(Rumelt,2011).

Bad strategies are something that are very common. Managers think they have a strategy that will succeed but infact they don’t. They just make functioning a very difficult task for the firms due to listing down of some very demanding strategies that take more from the firm than they give. These strategies create a negative effect on the functioning of the firm. Because the goals seem very demanding and the managers and workforce are too stressed out to carry out the tasks asked of them.These strategies fail to solve the problem that the firms are actually facing. It is not based on realistic problems but based more on forecasted problems which could be wrong. A firm,s strategies should always be such that it helps solve the problems of the present as well as the future. Assuring an overall smooth ride. But not all strategies are like this. The one’s that fail miserably are coined as a bad strategy. These bad strategies can be a big negative effect on the firm. (Rumelt, 2011)

There are strategies that mistake goals for strategies whereas the strategies themselves are only a means of achieving those very goals. Some strategies also have an absence of thought. They put in very sophisticated fancy words but lack any sense of thought or motive for the strategy basically making those strategies soul less. These are all bad strategies. While this may sound bad enough, there are strategies with no clear objectives or mission. These strategies as mentioned before have their priorites wrong. They are unsuccessful strategies from the very beginning.

Conclusion

Strategy as practice is a fairly new practice. Hence organisations and managers still don’t trust this method of strategising all that much. Many organisations still use the conventional method of goal-setting strategizing. Which basically is a prescribed way of going about various functions in order to reach its goals. While this may still be in fashion in most parts of the world and most of the organisations. The ever changing conditions of the market environments are asking for a change in the way organisations do business. For now it may be called the unconventional method of strategizing. But in a few years on, when its success catches on, businesses will see this as an option they may most certainly have to choose. This is because this method is a very flexible one, it keeps in mind both macro and micro influencing factors, It is also adaptive in nature and adapts to every situation that the organisation may be put in. As this strategy is not only set but is practised at the same time, it is easy for managers to make corrections along the way and not have problems in the strategy being too rigid and unchangeable.

Even if the organisations are choosing the conventional methods of strategising, they must always keep in mind the objectives and goals set for the firm which must be achieved through its strategies and also to make sure that they keep the strategies simple and easy to understand and not to confuse it with its goals and visions. When the strategies are void of any of these commonalities is when we can say that we have a near perfect strategy.

References

Websites

1)http://www.lums.lancs.ac.uk/research/centres/strategy/strategy-as-practice/,(www.lums.lancs.ac.uk) accessed on 18th may 2011

2) http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1594 porter, Michael.” Why do Good Managers set Bad Strategies”. Nov 1st 2006, accessed on 18th May 2011

3) http://cosmic.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/webcat/hwwa/edok03/f10201g/RP0212.pdf Jarzabkowski, Paula.Strategy as Practice Recursiveness, Adaptation and Strategic Practices-in-use”. July 2002

http://ehis.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.liv.ac.uk/eds/detail?vid=3&hid=102&sid=b40003d9-0cad-412c-b5cb-89cd40fea720%40sessionmgr110&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=buh&AN=58572247. Rumelt, Richard, McKinsey Quarterly,”The perils of bad strategy”, 2011 Issue 1. Accessed from business source premier on the 19th May 2011

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Personal Development Group Learning Journal Summary

Introduction

The Personal development group I believe is to learn about yourself and be able to discuss with others and share ideas and advice; for me, i guess the assumption of individuality point out really many important concepts, which has made me indentify many issues within myself. I now realise that many experiences, which I had been through in life have been important in shaping my character. The exercises to increase myself awareness have extremely challenged the way I feel, think and respond to others; for example where I may not have given someone a chance previously due to the way they present themselves, I have now learned not to judge based on first impressionsto the extent that for my personal development to grow I needed to gain further insight of myself to understand my responses.

Communication plays an important part in a learning experience. I believe we can communicate through words and body language. Within the group sometimes i felt and sense hostility in a level where, at times when I felt like some comment weren’t appropriate or misunderstood I felt powerless to speak my mind.

Robinson et al (2005) states that “status can cause distress within the team; in the group, members have different skills, experience and opinions, which we were always expected to respect”.

From the start of the PD group, I didn’t feel that my arguments were listened to by some of the group members. I felt like people were inconsiderate and difficult in their responses and feedbacks however, my stubbornness and persistence in the group strengthened me and enabling my involvement in the group to grow considerable in the topic discussed regardless as the weeks went by. Also my listening skills and the use of silence improved because these were the counseling skills areas that I was finding difficult to use.

I have learn to open myself to others and allowed them to give me feedbacks which mean I did put myself sometimes in a vulnerable position.To illustrate this I felt betrayed by a friend in a personal issue during this course. My immediate reaction would have been for that person not to be part of my study life but due to skills I’ve learned from this course such as active listening, reflecting, self challenge of my behaviours and responses this did not happen. This means that because I allowed someone to show me my blind self, my unknown self became smaller. I accepted the person’s criticisms about me but do not feel responsible for that person’s behaviour.

What I have learnt during this course alongside further reading is a more competent understanding of the signals. I now feel more secure in my interpretations and acknowledgment of my body language. I feel these skills that I’ve learned and body language are beneficial to the extent that I can keep myself safe by noticing my own intimacy and interpretating it for what it shows.

Due to my initial difficulties settling into the first personal development group, I used meditation often for relaxation prior to attending the group; a benefiting skill l have acquired during the course of my studies which has helped me in continuing and focusing on this course. My approach to teaching meditation to prisoners was to treatthese men the way l personally would like to be treated regardless of my crime that is, to regard them first as human beings and individual, then as clients which l tried to share with the group. One reasonfor this success is based on my approach to backgrounds.

When communicating within the group I have learnt over the period to rephrase my sentences and asked questions to make better understanding of what have been said. I felt taking turns when giving feedback was beneficial and it had prepared me for my placement practice in improved communication. I have gain better understanding of my experience in my group; I have not only recalled my experience but made decision on what I am going to do to improve my interprofessional skills.

During my time in the group, I have gain better understanding of what group work is about. Through my experience, I feel that I have learned how to relate better to other members and how to respond in a professional manner.

I now feel that the facilitator was attentive and easy to communicate with. She was quite observant of what was happening in the group. I am happier as I believe the group has moved forward and I have learnt so much. As being from African ethnicity fluent in French language rather than English, I have since living the UK, grown in an environment where people are treated differently. The PD group as I saw it was a diverse group; we all come from different backgrounds with different beliefs and values; I have over the years and in the course of my studies experience different types of treatment and discrimination to say the least. I have always been fully aware of people’s individuality and treated it with respect as I know how this feels.

Throughout this course I have challenged my behaviour and responses in professional and personal relationships and I have raised myself awareness and will continue with this learning process. These skills I have gained will be the roots of further learning in any other counselling courses I embark on and also in life as whole.

RESPONSE TO PEER APPRAISAL OF KATHRYN AND LISA

Kathryn mentioned in her peer appraisal that I don’t take feedback; I disagree. I have always been able to take constructive feedback not feedback based on my person but on my contributions in the group regardless of my limitations. I might appear to take my feedback wrongly; this is due to lack of clarification and misunderstanding in communication from me and the group. Everyone in the group had noticed and mentioned changes and improvement in me. It is a pity that there was a personality conflict within the group, but this If I may allow myself to believe, has brought some positive changes within each and every one of us in this group.

References
Robinson M. and Cottrell D. (2005) Health professionals in multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams: changing professional practice. Journal of Interprofessional Care. Vol 19(6) p547-560

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Online learning as a tools into the form of education and training

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Definition of Online Learning

Online learning is a kind of powerful tools into the form of education and training that lets people to obtain knowledge and assistances through network technologies (Clarke 2008). Online learning usually boils down to learning that maintained by Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Based on the survey in figure (A), 29 respondents identified about online learning that it is a type of learning where people can develop their education through the Internet (Personal Survey 2011).

Figure (A) Do you know anything about online learning?

1.2 History of Online Learning

During the year of 1800s, learning was transported through the electronic mails. However, in the year of 1990s, most of the learning was transported through CD-ROM, radio, Internet and television (Proctor et.al (ed) 2004). People start to learn through the Internet which is also called as online learning as the technology is improving.

2.0 Categories of Online Learning

2.1 Synchronous Learning

Synchronous learning is a kind of learning that people online can interactwith one another through the videoconferencing and also through the window messenger for chatting (Types of Online Learning n.d). Students not only can have their discussion with their friends or instructors, but also can have their coursework or assignments throughout their studies on the Internet. Students may become more active and motivated in their studies on socialising through the videoconferencing and chatting while they are having discussion (Types of Online Learning n.d).

2.2 Asynchronous Learning

Students do not need their instructors to be available beside them at the same time because they can send the messages to their respective instructors through the electronic mails if they have any problems or they need help from their instructors (Clarke 2008). Students may become more convenient when they enable to log on to their learning environment at anywhere for their studies (Types of Online Learning n.d).

2.3 Blended Learning

Blended learning is a kind of learning with combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. Students can complete their coursework or assignments by themselves with the way of blended learning and this will make their thinking skills and experiences increase. Besides that, they can take some useful information from the Internet to do their coursework or assignments instead of attending classes in campuses (Types of Online Learning n.d).

3.0 Online Learning is an effective tool in learning
Figure (B) Online Learning is an effective tool in learning

(Personal Survey 2011)

3.1 Useful and comfortable

Online learning is an effective tool in learning which online paths are useful and comfortable. Based on the survey in figure (A), 75% of the respondents approved that online learning is useful (Personal Survey 2011). Students can spend their lecture times to study where they are available on their own timetables. People enable to learn at a comfortable place by their own decision by selecting some venues where they would like to study through online at their houses, cyber cafes and coffee shops such as Old Town White Coffee where they enable to access through the Internet (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

3.2 Meet new and interesting people

Online paths help to meet interesting and new people is one of the effective tools in learning. Based on the survey in figure (B), 5% of the respondents approved that online paths help to meet new friends (Personal Survey 2011). Most of the students would feel very shy when they are in their classes or groups to meet up with their new friends. This is the reason that the online paths give an opportunity to everyone gets to know each another through their personal Facebook and Twitter. This is a method of interaction between one another to improve their friendships in their classes or groups (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

3.3 Learn to become discipline people

Online paths clarify to be self-disciplined is also one of the effective tools in learning. Based on the survey in figure (B), 8% of the respondents agreed that online courses teach to be self-discipline (Personal Survey 2011). A large numbers of people like to finish their works in the eleventh hours. It is the worst method to learn. So, people who are online can take their responsibility for their studies into a personally learning and they will become successful people in the future (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

3.4 Encourage long-term learning

Online learning is an effective tool which encourages long-term learning. Based on the survey in figure (B), 12% of the respondents agreed that online courses promote life-long learning (Personal Survey 2011). Most of the students will slowly forget what they have learnt in their campuses or schools within few days. To help them to solve this problem, students enable to online at any time to search for their information so that they will not forget what they have learnt in their campuses or schools (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

4.0 Online Learning is not an effective tool in learning
Figure (C) Online Learning is not an effective tool in learning

(Personal Survey 2011)

4.1 Need additional period on-campus lessons

Online paths need additional period on-campus lessons is one of the not effective tools in learning. According to the survey in figure (C), 10% of the respondents approved that online paths need additional period on-campus lessons (Personal Survey 2011). Students will always spend more time studying or searching information for their coursework or assignments through the Internet than studying in their campuses or schools (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

4.2 Lead to lack of interaction

One of the not effective tools in learning is online paths lead to lack of interaction. According to the survey in figure (C), 90% of the respondents approved that online courses lead to lack of interactions (Personal Survey 2011). Although students only study through the Internet, they will miss all the fun of learning activities in their classes. This causes they have fewer opportunities to mix around with their friends and their mentors because they usually stay at home to access the Internet and will make their lives too boring (The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d).

4.0 Conclusion
Figure (D) Is Online Learning an effective tool in learning?

(Personal Survey 2011)

In conclusion, online learning truly is an effective tool in learning because it carries benefits to people who wish to learn more things from the Internet. According to the survey in figure (D), 77.8% of the respondents approved that online learning is an effective tool in learning (Personal Survey 2011). This will increase their knowledge and experiences through the way of the online learning. Online learning brings a lot of advantages to people such as meets up with new friends, encourages long-term learning, learns to become self-disciplined person and also is very useful. Therefore, online learning is an effective tool in learning in this society as the benefits of online learning outweigh the harms.

Reference List

Internet Articles

The Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning n.d., viewed February 23, 2011,

Types of Online Learning n.d., viewed February 23, 2011,

Journal Articles

White, MMA 2007, History of E-Learning – A Brief History of E-Learning and Distance Education, viewed February 23, 2011,

Book

Clarke, A 2008, E-Learning Skills, 2 edn, Palgrave Macmillan, New York

Personal Survey

Personal Survey 2011

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Free Essays

In addition to the variety of development, the study of child development has been carried out from a number of perspectives, which offer signposts to different routes to understanding children. Compare and contrast the theories of Vygotsky, and Piaget in relation to thinking and learning.

Introduction

The manner in which children develop cognitively, is essential in expanding their overall learning and thinking capabilities. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) and Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) are among the most significant researchers in the discipline of cognitive development. Both Piaget and Vygotsky contributed information of great magnitude to studies of the learning and thinking abilities of children, however they offered different hypotheses in order to reach their research conclusions.

Piaget posed that human thinking begins with motor capacity growth. Consequently, infants acquire early knowledge through awareness, behaviour and the resulting changes that their actions impose on their environment (Dubuc 2002). During his lifetime, as Dubuc continues, Piaget linked brain development and behaviour, thus leading the way in the research field of genetic epistemology. By studying young children, he was able to observe their thoughts, and how such thoughts are formed; leading him to conclude that cognitive development is a result of complex connections between the maturation of the nervous system and language. This in turn posed the theory that such maturation is dependent on the way in which children interact physically and socially with their environment. Language and literacy assessments are a useful too for investigating brain development in young children. Exposure to sounds from early infancy has an important influence on auditory neurons and how these neurons differentiate and perform. This would support Piaget’s idea that the immersion of a child in a learning environment is how they develop – what they hear, see, and feel (Mustard 2006).

Through his research, Piaget developed his stage theory. He posed that the thinking and reasoning abilities of a child develop at different rates across different stages throughout their life. In relation to brain development, Piaget’s stages of intellectual development can be correlated with some of the foremost periods of brain growth in young children (Child Development Institute 2010). Human brains do not reach total maturity until at least the adolescent period, and it is important to ensure that expectations of a developing child are realistic for any given age. Piaget’s sensorimotor stage, for example, is based on children from birth to approximately two years. Their development and learning is sequential, commencing with learning to undertake small repetitive actions, such as grasping, through to having the ability to stand, and eventually walk.

The theories of Piaget have, however, faced much criticism. Russian-born Lev Vygotsky is one of the most famous psychologists to challenge Piaget’s ideas. Although he also saw the child as an “active constructor of knowledge and understanding” (Smith et al 2003 p 493), his notions differ because of an emphasis on the way in which social interactions by more knowledgeable peers aided the child’s learning journey. The Vygotskian approach also believes that children’s growth proceeds in a more continuous manner than a maturationally determined stage theory such as Piagets. While this perception highlights the beneficial contributions of biological and environmental factors, greater emphasis is placed on predetermined progression path through rigid developmental sequences (Kessenich & Morrison 2011). Vygotsky’s way posed the notion of a more gradual developmental process which was equally influenced by brain maturation and stimuli within the environment.
Vygotsky formulated the Zone of Proximal Development, which can be defined as the difference between a child’s current level of knowledge, and subsequently, their possible capabilities with correct and proper guidance. He posited that instruction always preceded learning, and quotes “learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function” (1978, p. 90). He theorised that a child’s social or external speech, develops into egocentric or inner speech, prior to total internalisation as an adult. This can be defined as the manner in which children describe or narrate their actions aloud prior to developing the ability to think to themselves. In contrast, the Piagetian approach viewed egocentric speech as a mere an auxiliary to behaviour, which subsequently disappeared as the child matured. (Ginsbury and Opper 1979).

As Smith et al state, Vygotsky placed a higher importance on language in learning than Piaget, however he also emphasised that the learning process must take into consideration a child’s culture, and the interactions with significant people within the culture and immediate environment. Whereas Piaget focussed on the notion that learning occurs through interactions with objects and subsequently creates a foundation on which develop further, Vygotsky believed learning is achieved through cooperating with peers, parents, and teachers, for example, and also through the culture in which the child is immersed – the language, play and beliefs. Some years after Vygotsky’s death, his works were translated into English and although, as Smith et al have discovered, he had failed to give intricate detail of how an adult may “lend consciousness to the child who did not already have it” (p 502). This led to Jerome Bruner (1915-) and colleagues developing the notion of scaffolding, which is interactional support, mainly by way of adult-child discourse that is structured to increase the child’s intrapsychological performance. Eventually adult support will be withdrawn gradually as the child masters a given task. This idea is still the subject of much research in present day, and Bruner has ensured that the Vygotskian way is still very much present in the education and childcare system

According to Piaget, two major notions direct brain and biological maturation: adapting and organising (Bhattacharya & Han 2001). In order to survive in any situation, children should adapt to physical and mental stimuli. As Bhattacharya and Han continue, Piaget theorised that assimilation and accommodation are integral to the process of adapting. He believed that humans have the ability to assimilate new information and subsequently adjust this data to fit into their existing mental structures. These mental structures accommodate, or adjust to constant changes that are faced within the external environment.

Further research on child development attempted to describe how genetics underpinned learning processes and abilities. Piaget’s developmental theory was also referred to as genetic epistemology, owing to his interest in human knowledge development. The scientific explanation of genetic epistemology is the study of knowledge and intellect advancement, throughout a person’s life. Although Piaget studies such intellectual growth, his stage theory failed to cover beyond adolescence. In contrast, Vygotsky’s theory saw that human knowledge is constantly evolving, throughout many more ages and stages in life. Knowledge of genetic structures and operations convinced some psychologists to consider that psychological characteristics could have been inherited. While they believed in the prominence of genetic factors in child development, others theorists, such as Vygotsky, argued that other issues also had a bearing on the development of the human mind (Child Development Blog 2008). Whilst he recognised that genetics do play a role in development, he believed that it is the transmission of cognitive abilities because of social interactions, as opposed to transmission of genetic traits (Rathus 2007) which develops the mind.

The theories of Swiss-born Piaget and Russian Vygotsky can be related to the ongoing nature versus nurture deliberation, which has been in existence for many generations. “Nature” focuses on set genetic traits much like the theory of Piaget. However, “nurture” considers learning through social and environmental experiences, which is how Vygotsky saw the learning process.

REFERENCES:

Bhattacharya, K. & Han, S. (2001). Piaget and cognitive development. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Available http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/. Last accessed 31st Mar 2011,

Child Development Blog. (2008). Child Growth and Development. Available: http://childdevelopmentblog.info/influence-of-genes-and-environment-on-child-development/. Last accessed 4th April 2008.

Child Development Institute. (2010). Stages of Intellectual Development in Children and Teenagers. Available: http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/piaget.shtml. Last accessed 2nd Apr 2011.

Dubuc, B. (2002). PIAGET’S MODEL OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT. Available: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_09/i_09_p/i_09_p_dev/i_09_p_dev.html. Last accessed 31st Mar 2011.

Ginsbury, H. Opper, S. (1979). Piaget‘s Theory of Intellectual Development. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, Inc

Kessenich, M., Morrison, F. (2011). Developmental Theory – Cognitive and Information Processing, Evolutionary Approach, Vygotskian Theory – HISTORICAL OVERVIEW. Available: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1913/Developmental-Theory.html. Last accessed 3rd Apr 2011.

Mustard, JF (MD). (2006). Experience-based brain development: Scientific underpinnings of the importance of early child development in a global world. Paediatric Child Health. 11 (9), p 571-572.

Rathus, S (2007). Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development. 3rd ed. Andover: Cengage Learning. p 581.

Smith, P.K., Cowie, C., and Blades, M., (2003) Understanding Children’s Development. Oxford: Blackwell.

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Free Essays

Can E-learning Ever be a More effective teaching tool than traditional learning?

1.0 Introduction

E-learning is an up to date education idea by using the internet technology. It consigns the digital detail, offers a learner-orient condition for the tutors and pupils. The e-learning facilitates the construction of life-long learning opinions and learning community (Introduction of e-learning n.d.). Traditional learning is a learning which takes place in a classroom at a campus. The learning method involves professor to give instruction to student (Concordia Online Learning vs Traditional Learning FAQ n.d.).

Electronic learning is started in around identical period that a computer has developed practices for individual use. In fact leads the concept of computer domain after nearly a century. In 1840, there was stenography courses provided through correspondence courses by post in England. Advancements to the mail, this way of distance prevalent in the early stage of last century. This guided to a vast number of type in education. The computers only made electronic learning simple and better (A Brief History of E-learning and Distance learning 2010).The policies in e-learning are policies in the course syllabus, policies in student privacy, policies in e-mail, policies in discussion, policies in software standards, policies in assignment, policies in student code of conduct and policies in intellectual property rights (Waterhouse & Rogers 2004). Therefore, this research aims to investigate the effectiveness of e-learning to the learners.

2.0 Effectiveness of e-learning
2.1 Benefits of e-learning

2.1.1 Self-instructed and self-paced

One of the main advantages of e-learning is the self-instruct of students. Students can manage themselves the amount of time they wanted to spend on the particular topic. This permits students to spend extra time on tough parts before moving on or to skip through topic they already comprehend. This “individualized” way usually permits students to conclude their studies faster than the traditional courses (Benefits of E-learning n.d.).

2.1.2 Flexibility

E-learning also gives student lots of flexibility. Learning can take place at home, on the road, in a shopping centre or virtually anywhere, as long as there is a computer and internet connection. The logistics and cost of face-to-face studies can be highly restricted when learners are separated by distance. E-learning also permits physically or other challenged learners to more fully take part in (Baker 2009).

2.1.3 Significant cost savings

E-learning also benefits the learners by saving their cost of study. Using e-learning as the method of learning can exclude the need for travel and its accompanying expenses for both trainers and learners. A research report in Training Magazine revealed that institutions save 50-70% on instruction costs when they exercise e-learning programs instead of classroom courses (Benefits of e-Learning 2011).

2.1.4 Student centered

Student oriented is also one of the benefits of e-learning. The student is the key point of the e-learning system. The teaching materials and activities are planned with the needs and interests of the student in brain. Learners put on control of their learning knowledge and use it to satisfy their personal particular needs (Benefits of E-learning n.d.).

2.1.5 Wide range of degree programs to choose from

E-learning also benefits students by providing a variety of degree courses. Most colleges and universities render all sorts of online degree programs that will give the learners an advantage in their career. Online colleges and universities render associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorate degrees in addition to all sorts of non-credit and certificate programs. Some online universities offer PhDs in courses such as Health Services, Education and Psychology (Baker 2009).

3.0 Findings

Personal survey 2011

Figure 1

Personal survey 2011

Figure 2

From the surveys above, we know that there are 85% of respondents use a computer every day and 67% of them use a computer for study purpose. This shows that e-learning is actually suitable for Malaysian and there will not be a technological problem for them as they are now well use of computer in studying.

Personal survey 2011

Figure 3

Personal survey 2==011

Figure 4

rom figure 3 seem shows that 55% of respondents had chosen online viewing as their main way of learning. Although there were still a lot as 45% of respondents chose to have handouts when they study, but they had told that there were also may be printed out the handouts when they study by an e-learning way. This evidence was showed in figure 4. There were 80% of respondents had chosen e-learning as their way of learning. This showed that the people would like to study by using internet technology rather than study in the classrooms.

Personal survey 2011

Figure 5

In figure 5 shows that, 45% of respondents felt that school fees was very important when they choose an institute. This may cause a respondent to choose e-learning as their learning method. This is because e-learning learners can exclude the need for travel and the learning fee is also cheaper than classroom learning. There were 24% of respondents felt the transportation and location of school will change their decision in choosing an institute. In this case, the respondents can choose e-learning as their study way. This is because e-learning would not cause any transportation problem for the learners.

4.0 Conclusion

Based on all the information and the result from the research, it can be said that e-learning is more effective than traditional learning. Nowadays the cost of study had paid close attention by the people. Therefore, e-learning may be the most suitable way of learning as its cost for learning will not be as high as traditional learning. E-learning will also give flexibility to the student as they can study in any place, any time. Students can manage themselves the amount of time they wanted to spend on the particular topic. This will increase their interest in learning. Other than that, people need not worry the limitation of course in e-learning. This is because there is a variety of course for the students to choose. The internet technology had been improved so choosing e-learning as a way of learning will not ever be a problem in the future.

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Free Essays

What does your analysis of the video animations, created using the xtra-normal website, tell us about the approaches to learning adopted by students at University?

Introduction

The relative effectiveness of the methods by which students learn and what these methods are comprised of, particularly in the context of higher education, depends on a number of factors which will all be explored in this essay. Through the creation and qualitative analysis of videos about learning and teaching, we were able to gain knowledge on what these factors were, from the point of view of students. An emergent coding system was used due to our imperfect foresight of the themes which later became apparent in the wealth of data collected. Each video’s content was analysed, and sentences were grouped into categories which were created if a given theme was found to be present more than twice in one video. Thus, by the end of the analysis a collection of themes had been assembled for further discussion and analysis.

The first of these, the difference and, in some cases, shift between deep and surface learning is very much apparent in the videos created by students in higher education themselves. Biggs (1978) coined these terms as descriptions of different types of learners, and they merit further examination. A surface learner will make little effort to gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic being studied, but rather learn information for the purpose of completing the task successfully. Thus, this information is more likely to be rote learned, the learner employing only the minimum effort required to achieve their desired grades. Studies have shown that surface learners are rarely willing to ask questions of their teachers and, when they do, they “refer to more basic, factual or procedural information” (Brown & Chin, 2000). Conversely, deep learners display a desire to engage more deeply in their academic task, by establishing links between the work they are doing across all their courses, therefore making it easier for them to understand the larger concepts which the information they are learning might be trying to demonstrate. In the videos, it is clearly demonstrated that they do this by reading widely around their subject and going beyond the simple demands of their course or assignment.

Moreover, it was shown in many of the videos that the deep learners took more time over their work and study, attributing less importance to the social aspects of university, since their main aim in attending university was often to further their knowledge and writing or study skills, as well as to achieve a good degree qualification. Their aims were not limited to doing well in assignments, but rather they wanted to understand more deeply for their own benefit, achieving good grades being almost incidental, but still an important factor.

When assessing this distinction in relation to the videos, however, it is important to note that the learning styles will have been shown in a way that is perhaps exaggerated, given that the videos are not the most accurate representations of real academic settings. For a theory that has already been criticised for being reductively simplistic, it is interesting to examine this further, in order to ascertain how far we can see aspects of the two types of learning overlapping. For example, whilst rote learning was earlier mentioned as one of the characteristics of surface learning, it could be argued that this technique is used by nearly all students to learn facts such as multiplication tables or spellings, and this does not necessarily mean that it is not an effective way of committing this knowledge to long term memory, and understand the topic. The only time where rote learning can be less effective is when “it is used instead of those higher-order learning strategies…aimed at acquiring an understanding of the material” (Lublin, 2003). Consequently, there is an apparent danger in creating a false dichotomy between the two types of learners when, in fact, parts of both strategies can be beneficial.

Upon examination, a marked gender difference was found between the deep and surface learners portrayed in these videos. In most cases the males were shown to be the surface learners, while the females displayed a deeper approach to their acquisition of knowledge. This provides support for research conducted by Marks et al. (2000) who found that, as a general rule, females were more “engaged” than males not only in the pursuit of academic achievement but also in attaining a deeper understanding of their subject and that which surrounded it. Further research by Suitor et al. (2004) concluded that academic success had become an “acceptable route to visibility” amongst their classmates, whereas this was slightly less true of males, whose performance in sports, physical attributes, and capacity to be sociable were more highly regarded by their peers. If this is true, then it makes sense that girls should become deep learners more often than boys. This may go some way to explaining the gender difference in the videos, as it might still be true to some extent in a university environment.

The fact that there exist different types of learners and strategies for learning has obvious implications on both peer support and the role of the teacher, and these may both be other factors influencing learning. The understanding gleaned from deep learning may permit students to be of help to their ‘surface learner’ classmates, as their explanations will be comprised of associations, showing implicit criticism and creative thinking. Peer support of this sort was seen in the videos in the form of group work or tutoring. Harden and Crosby’s article (2000) about the twelve roles of the teacher, and the fact that a teacher should be “more than just a lecturer” helps us understand how teachers can also adapt to different learning styles of their pupils, across age ranges. The third role highlighted in the paper is that of the “facilitator”, or the teacher as the person who initiates learning of a given topic, but then guides and supports the student into furthering their own knowledge of it, so. Thus the student are building upon the basic knowledge that they have been given. In this way, they may continuously add to their knowledge structures, to create more complicated ones, leading to a deeper understanding. They become the “builders” of their own knowledge, with the teacher there to give confidence and to lead them in the correct direction. This concept, known as a constructivist approach to learning, is derived from the early work of the developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, who argued that children possessed the ability to think scientifically, and overwrite or add to existing knowledge as they grew up and discovered more of the world. Though there were few examples of teaching in the videos as it was most often dialogues between students, it can be discerned that this may be a way in which both deep and surface learners could learn material in their courses in higher education. Whilst during lectures, the lecturer most often exhibits a transmission method of teaching (they transmit and impart their own knowledge to their class with little interactivity or input from the students), they can provide reading materials, or make themselves available to students to help them construct their learning and understanding, and gain wider knowledge. Usually, teachers in higher education do both of these things, so that both the constructivism model and the transmission model are seen in effect.

Closely linked with the above theory is the suggestion of metacognition and motivation. Deep learners, who are most often self-regulated (taking a proactive approach to their own learning) need to have an understanding of their own cognition, and the way in which they learn best, known as metacognition (Zimmerman, 1986). Surface learners perhaps take less of an interest in evaluating this. The videos show deep learners taking more of a control of certain factors, which they are aware will influence their completion of the task, such as disturbances from fellow classmates. In this way, they are displaying good metacognitive abilities, self-control and self-regulation.

One could argue that the better a students’ metacognitive abilities and understanding of the task, the higher their motivation, given the fact that they will most probably achieve better grades than another student with a poorer understanding of what is required of them and how to achieve it. Some of the videos showed such learners, who lacked motivation on account of a lack of understanding of both the topic studied, and of their own most effective way of learning. This very lack of motivation could be explained the expectancy theory of motivation, proposed by Wigfield and Eccles. If a student does not understand something, they are likely to have a low expectancy belief about the extent to which they will be successful in completing a task. This, in turn, may value the value of the task, as there will be no valid reason for doing it, in their minds, if they find it too difficult. This was seen in a few of the videos with statements such as ‘I won’t be able to do it…’. Conversely though, if a student has had a positive experience in the completion of a task, in the past, such as positive feedback from a teacher, or a good grade, they may well feel more motivated to keep on working well at other tasks, and maybe also more confident in explaining the topic to a peer. This ties in with the notion of self-efficacy, or self-perception of how successful we will be at certain tasks. Those with high expectancy beliefs will have higher motivation, but also perhaps higher self-efficacy from the outset, as they are confident in their ability. Though this was not often seen in the videos, it is possible to argue that the more control and active participation a teacher encourages a student to take in their own work, the higher their motivation will be, as their expectancy beliefs and judgements of the value of the task will become more positive. If students begin to take this approach, as a result of encouragement, they are also likely to become self-regulated learners.

However, there are issues of contention within the construct of motivation which are worthy of mention, since we saw some demonstration of motivation in the videos. The concept has been theorised about by many different theorists, and all come up with slightly different definitions. It has been argued by behaviourists such as B.F. Skinner that any action which receives positive reinforcement will elicit motivation to repeat a similar action. This is perhaps the theory most applicable to the educational environment, as another theory known as “drive-reduction” theory involve negative reinforcement which is rarely seen in classrooms or higher education. As well as Wigfield and Eccles’ theory, Weiner (1992), suggested that it is our desire to master and understand the world which motivates us to take action. This may also be seen in an educational context, and in the videos, as those students with a desire to learn, understand and have a firm grasp on their course material were motivated to put in the effort needed to do so. It is obvious, therefore, that there are differing explanations of such a complex concept as motivation, so it is difficult to use only one to explain the few instances apparent in the videos, but there are some more appropriate than others.

Conclusively, the videos went some way towards showing the approaches towards and strategies employed in learning in higher education. The data only represented students from one university, so although it was useful in highlighting many concepts, it may be important to see whether these are consistent across other universities. It has been a valuable endeavour to research the methods of learning, and subsequent implications on teaching, and provided support for the work done by the researchers mentioned in the paper.

REFERENCES

Biggs, J B (1979). Individual differences in study processes and the quality of learning outcomes. Higher Education, 8: 381-394.

Chin, C. and Brown, D. E. (2000), Learning in Science: A Comparison of Deep and Surface Approaches. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37: 109–138

Lublin, J. (2003) Deep, Surface and Strategic Approaches to Learning, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Good Practice in Teaching and Learning, from: http://www.otq.qut.edu.au/development/curriculumde/RES_Deep-Surface-Learning.pdf
retrieved 14/03/11

Zimmerman, B. (1986). Becoming a self-regulated learner: Which are the key subprocesses. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 11: 307-313.

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Free Essays

The Role of Play in Early Years Learning: is Structured Play the Best Option?

Abstract

A literature review concerned with the role of play in early years learning. Two contrasting views, and a third which lies midway between the two, are discussed. A number of articles, books and government documents are considered critically.The arguments for structured play are considered first. Although this is the received orthodoxy for current UK government guidelines, the view has some flaws. The opposed view, that play should be free, holistic or unstructured, is also discussed. Finally, views which attempt to combine the two extreme positions are considered.

1. Introduction

The following looks at the role of play in early learning. Can play help children become educated in a way which is pleasurable for them The rationale for this piece comes both from my own experience and a study of recent debate. I have observed children learning and playing, and it seems obvious to me that play is something that is natural to them, and that they enjoy thoroughly. It seems to follow that if learning can somehow be based on play, then it will be an activity that children want to engage with. However, while the importance of play is acknowledged by writers (Stroh et al 2008), I am also aware that there is a big debate about the best way to incorporate this complex phenomenon into learning, which seems to me to undermine the current national guidelines which emphasise one particular way to incorporate play into education.

This essay therefore explores the ongoing debate about which type of play is most appropriate for incorporating into early years learning. The debate involves two broadly opposing approaches to play, and these different approaches will be discussed in detail in the following. On the one hand, there is a strong argument that structured play (play which is guided or led by an adult facilitator and through which the child is directed towards certain educational ends) is best for learning. This view has even been incorporated into current orthodoxy for government and national guidelines. However, an opposing view is that structured play is stifling for children, and that free or holistic play offers them the best opportunities for learning. The following takes the form of a literature review, incorporating prominent theories on both sides, examining current national guidelines, and looking at a number of research papers which have collected empirical evidence in the field. The main arguments are brought out, and a critical perspective is adopted, highlighting both problems and benefits of different theoretical positions.

2. Arguments for Structured Play

This section considers key government documents which incorporate structured play, a theoretical underpinning for the notion, and a research paper.

Structured play (also called ‘extended’ play) sees the teacher or other adult taking an active role in the child’s play, structuring it in content and form and directing the child towards goals. The adult can manage the tools of play, or direct the way the child plays, moving him or her towards different goals, often with learning outcomes in mind.

Current government guidelines, first instantiated in the early years of the 21st century, suggest that structured play is the best approach to early learning.Currently, play is seen as a key way of facilitating learning during the foundation stage (children aged 3 to 5 years old) (DfEE 2000). The received opinion is that play can be a means of learning, and that play should be structured and planned. Planned play, with the involvement of the teacher or other adult, can ensure that the environment is challenging for the child. It is also seen as a way of enhancing learning by building upon spontaneous play, and is thought to aid language development (QCA 2000).The link with spontaneous play is emphasised in a later document (2001): teachers should encourage play which is challenging to the child, through using appropriate equipment for role-play and similar.The later (2008) guidelines from the Department for Children, Schools and Families also reiterate this view of the importance of structured play: they state

“through play, in a secure but challenging environment with effective adult support, children can: explore, develop and represent learning experiences that help them make sense of the world; practice and build up ideas, concepts and skills; learn how to understand the need for rules; take risks and make mistakes; think creatively and imaginatively; communicate with others as they investigate or solve problems” (DCSF 2008)

Play, therefore, is structured in two ways: through environmental means (including toys and other devices for interaction) and through adult support. It is clear from the above that structured play is felt to have a huge impact upon learning how to function in the adult world. Adults have a role not only in structuring play but also to watch and reflect upon play activity and feed the results of this observation into future structuring. The guidelines also emphasise that structured play should be rooted in free play, with a balance between child-initiated and adult-led activities.

This emphasis upon structured play seems, on the face of it, worthwhile. However, it raises a number of questions. The documents discussed above ignore the existence of any critique of the notion of structured play.It also ignores the extent to which play is thought to have different functions. Our concept of what play is has changed over time, and different theories include play as relaxation, as a way of using up excess energy, as a means of personal development and as a preparation for adult life (Saracho and Spodek 1998). Play has also been thought of as a way of working through unconscious fears (Santer et al 2007). However, government documents seem not to acknowledge this variety of perspectives on what play is, suggesting rather that it is an activity primarily looking at learning.There are other issues which can be raised about the received opinion from government.For example, it could be asked to what extent structured play is a function of a system which seems increasingly to value tests as a way of assessing child progress It might be seen as a way of drawing children into a system obsessed with targets and attainments at an even earlier age (see, for example, Santer et al 2007). It also assumes that all children play in a similar way, and get the same benefits from structured play. Finally, there is no discussion in these documents about the evidence base for structured play, nor of the key theoretical issues which support them.

Although current policy documents do not investigate the theoretical basis for structured play, there is in fact a strong base for the idea. Vygotsky’s notion of ‘laddering’, ideas by Piaget and Bruner’s discussions all suggest that play can be usefully supported by adults as a way of learning (Tassoni 2006). Vygotsky’s ideas are particularly interesting, as he seems to suggest that learning takes place through adult interacting with a child, and supporting him or her (as with a ladder) to further development.Vygotsky’s idea of the role of social interaction in child development suggests that the adult plays an important part in structuring child learning.He emphasizes the social and cultural contexts in which children develop, and states that a great deal of learning for children takes place through social interaction with an adult (Vygotsky 1978). The interventions made by the adult can include modeling behaviour or giving verbal instructions, what Vygotsky calls ‘collaborative dialogue’, through which the child tries to understand then internalizes the adults instructions and actions. Vygotsky calls the adult the ‘more knowledgeable other’, as he or she possesses extra information or ability compared with the child.For Vygotsky, there exists a ‘zone of proximal development’, which covers the difference between what the child can do alone and what he or she can do through help from a more skilled adult. This zone can be explored through play as a means to learning (Lloyd 2007). Vygotsky believed play can help learning in several ways. Primarily, play comes into the picture in the role of proximal development, as a way of children being supported to take on new abilities with adults support. He also thought it enables children to develop concepts of abstract thought, and become aware that meanings can be used independently of objects.Finally, Vygotsky thought play could act as a way of trying out new knowledge learnt during scaffolding with an adult (Vygotsky 1978). Vygotsky’s ideas have been very influential, and seem to have influenced current government guidelines about the value of structured play. However, there are some criticisms which can be raised about these ideas. For example, by focusing so strongly upon individual learning, does Vygotsky play down the role of wider cultural issuesHe seems to assume that all learning takes place in an identical manner, across cultures. Additionally, he seems to prioritise formal learning within schools through play, and downplay the importance of non-formal learning situations (Moore 2000). To what extent does he assume that play without adult intervention is of no importance in developing learningFinally, some suggest that there is a lack of empirical evidence for many of Vygotsky’s ideas (Langford 2005). However, this has been contested for example by Oakley (2004) who suggests that the body empirical research for concepts such as the scaffolding process is growing.

In summary, UK government guidelines embrace a notion of play that is primarily a structured play. Although their policy documents do not acknowledge the source of this idea, nor consider alternative approaches, there is a respected history of discussion in this area, and Vygotsky has produced a convincing description of how adults can structure learning through play. However, there are criticisms of his idea, for example that it ignores cultural factors.

3. Arguments for Free Play

It is also necessary to consider that structured play might even be damaging for children. This idea, and others, shape the alternative viewpoint, that of holistic or free play. Bruce, for example, is critical of adult involvement in children’s games, holding that it does not take account of the child’s point of view (Bruce 1999). Steiner was an important advocate for free, or self-directed play, holding it to be central to a child’s education. He went on to found schools based on these principles which are still in existence today (Masters 2008). Another proponent of free play is Susan Isaacs.Isaacs was influenced by psycho-analysis and philosophy, by Froebel’s active learning and Dewey’s social interactionism (Graham 2009). She felt that early years learning was a particularly important stage in education, and that adults had an important role to play in allowing children free exploration of their environment. They were there to facilitate the means whereby children explore their feelings about things and people through enriching the environment and setting boundaries through showing, not punishment (Smith 1985). For Isaacs, play was an important part of the process of self-exploration and expression, and allows a child to explore fears and wishes (Isaacs 1930; 1971) (here, Isaacs psychoanalytical influences are clear). However, she thought play should be something children explored alone. Adults should give them time to explore whatever direction they wanted to go in, with free play, especially that where the child played alone, particularly valuable (Isaacs 1971).There are a number of later writers who support this view, for example Rawson and Rose (2002), who suggest that free play is vital to the health of body and mind.

Pellegrini (2008) also tries to provide evidence for the value of free play in learning. His study looks at the role of recess (or ‘break’) for learning. He suggests that recess is “under attack” in schools, fuelled by an idea that it reduces time available for learning, and that it facilitates bullying and violence in the playground.He argues that both these ideas are flawed, and hence that free time in defined breaks is valuable for children. His arguments rely upon recent research into cognitive development, for example work by Bjorklund and Green (1992) which seems to suggest that younger children process information in a different way to older ones, and that they need time away from the formal learning environment. This science-led approach is different to the approach of Vygotsky, with a greater emphasis upon empirical evidence.

While this paper seems to provide evidence for the value of free play, there are a couple of issues to consider. First, Pellegrini’s study is concerned with older children in the classroom, rather than the foundation stage. It is possible that older children derive different benefits from free play, perhaps because their structured learning is more restrictive, or because they play in a different way. Further studies would need to examine the role of recess in terms of younger children. Second, Pellegrini looks at a formal ‘recess’, rather than at the ways in which free play itself can be a learning experience. He considers recess as a contrast to school work, which allows children to assimilate learning better, rather than the learning processes which actually go on in the sort of free play which might occur during recess.Finally, the empirical evidence he sites for the value of recess includes work carried out by himself, which might raise questions of lack of impartiality.

However, while the paper does not completely fit the concerns of this essay, some of his ideas are transferable. Some of the attacks on recess time which he considers (that children could just as easily ‘let off steam’ in structured physical education) also apply to holistic or free play for younger children. As he points out, physical education fails to confer the benefits of totally unstructured leisure time for children. Additionally, if free play is to be replaced by a structure which is designed for child assessment, tests have been shown to be unreliable for children, and hence should not be the only approach to assessing the child (Pellegrini 2008).

4. A ‘Middle Way’ between Structured and Free Play?

On the evidence, there seems to be an argument for free play, rather than tightly structuring all aspects of young children’s learning experiences.But it is also possible to explore a midway between the two extremes: embracing adult intervention in play, but doing this in a way which is more sensitive to the child.Tarman and Tarman (2011) try to do this. They point out that over-structured intervention in play by teachers can lead to loss of control and disruption for the children’s experience. They suggests that Smilansky (1971) provides a model for play based upon techniques incorporating theatre and fantasy or ‘social dramatic play training’. Teachers take on an imaginative, dramatic role in their interactions with children. Tarman and Tarman also take some insights from Vygotsky, but emphasise that play needs to have a large element of freedom. They discuss a case study which seems to show that play training by teachers helps children develop symbolic play, that teachers should be led by what the child wants in play, and that environment is very important to facilitate dramatic play.

One disadvantage of their piece is that is consists of a literature review and case study only. It would be useful to have more extensive research gathering information from a wider number of children in order to test the hypothesis that a particular kind of sensitively structured teacher intervention is more useful than either fully structured or unstructured play. Including sample sizes of 30 or more would mean that results are more likely to be statistically significant. As it is, while the case study is interesting it could always be argued that other case studies would yield different results.Additionally, following the child’s lead as Tarman and Tarman suggest (by arranging field trips around play themes, for example) might simply be impossible practically, given the large numbers of children in any one class, and given limited funds. Also, their emphasis on observation before intervention might be less effective with children who have behavioural problems, for example bullying or attacking other children.Finally, they do not really discuss the extent to which their play training is different in kind to Isaacs’ free play, for example.

Others take a different approach to this issue. Strandell (1997) suggests that views of play have been polarised unnecessarily. Her article offers a new way to understand play, drawing upon constructivism and ethnographical approaches.On the one hand play is often seen as a “highly differentiated and separate activity” (Strandell 1977, p.446 ) which banishes children from the world inhabited by adults. On the other, adults see play as a way for children to learn activities they will need in adulthood, “play is treated as a supervised and curricularized activity” (p. 446). Strandell uses an ethnographic and relativist approach to overturn these polarities, arguing that reality is shaped through language which is in turn an expression of a shared social reality.Narrative plays a key part in her ideas. She also examines three case studies from day-care centres in Finland, suggesting that play as actually observed overturns the idea that it occurs in a world separate from the one experienced by adults, and which needs to be shaped by careful intervention. She believes this idea has been based upon observation rather than trying to understand how children play and what they want from it. Play is more often about social interaction than learning about the world, she suggests. Children use play as a tool to deal with social interactions and group identity. By rejecting the idea that the child’s world is radically different to the adults, it is possible to see a third approach to play in learning, one which looks at play activities with sensitivity to what is actually going on, rather than leading the play in order to develop adult skills in the children. Her article can be seen as a theoretical justification for the approach taken by Tarman and Tarman above.However, there are some issues with her papers. They are based upon case studies in Finland, so there is little evidence that her observations hold elsewhere in the world. The fragmentation upon which she bases here conclusions might be a contingency of the nurseries she visited, rather than typical of play in general Parker Rees and Willan suggest that many of her conclusions are to do with the specificities of education in Finland (Parker-Rees and Willan 2006). Additionally, she seems to overlook the extent to which play is, at times, an activity which is radically different from the world of adults, and the extent to which previous theorists have based their conclusions on observation of what actually happens in play. Despite these issues, Strandell seems to offer an important way to overcome the restrictions of thinking play should be wholely free or wholely structured, through offering insights int

5. Conclusion

The above has examined the different ways in which play, in relationship to learning, has been theorised. The view that adults can structure play and through this help a child learn has not only been embraced by the government in the UK over the last 10 years, it also has a solid theoretical backing in terms of work by Vygotsky and others. This view can be contrasted with the idea that play should be free, without adult intervention.This view also has a backing in theory, but has fallen from favour in terms of current policy. However, structured play is in danger of over-determining children’s activities in an attempt to prepare them for a future over-concerned with testing and assessment. A third approach, underpinned by ethnographic and constructivist approaches such as that put forward by Strandell (1997), offers a way for adults to engage with children’s play in a more sensitive and creative way which embraces fantasy and dramatisation (Tarman and Tarman 2011)

1. References

Bjorklund, D F and Green, B L (1992) ’The adaptive nature of cognitive immaturity’,

American Psychologist, 47,46–54.

Bruce, T (1999) Time to play in early childhood education, Hodder and Stoughton, London

Department for Children Schools and Families (2008) The Early Years Foundation Stage: Setting the Standards for Learning, Development and Care for children from birth to five’, HMSO, London

Freund, L (1990) ‘Maternal regulation of children’s problem-solving behavior and its impact on children’s performance’, Child Development, 61, 113-126.

Graham, J (2009) Susan Isaacs: A Life Freeing the Minds of Children, Karnac Books.

Isaacs, S (1930) Intellectual Growth in Young Children, Routledge, London

Isaacs, S (1933) Social Development in Young Children, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London

Isaacs, S. (1951) Social Development in Young Children, Routledge, London

Isaacs, S (1952) The Educational Value of the Nursery School, Headly Brothers Ltd, London

Isaacs, S. (1971) The Nursery Years: The mind of the child from birth to sixth years, Routledge, London

Langford, P E (2005) Vygotsky’s Developmental And Educational Psychology, Psychology Press, UK

Masters, B (2008) Steiner Education And Social Issues: How Waldorf Schooling Addresses the Problems of Society, Rudolf Steiner Press, USA

McLeod, S A (2007) ‘Vygotsky’, [online] (cited 20th April 2012) available from http://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html

Moore, A (2000) Teaching and Learning: Pedagogy, Curriculum and Culture, Routledge, London

Pellegrini, A (2008) ‘The recess debate: A disjunction between educational policy and scientific research’, American Journal of Play, 1, 2, 181–91.

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2000/Department for Education and Employment (2000). ‘Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage’, HMSO, London

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2000/Department for Education and Skills (2001). ‘Planning for learning in the foundation stage’, HMSO, London

Rawson, M and Rose, M (2002) Ready to Learn: From Birth to School Readiness, Hawthorn Press, Stroud

Santer, J and Griffiths, C (2007) ‘Free Play in Early Childhood: a literature review’, Play England, UK

Smilansky, S (1971) ‘Can adults facilitate play in childrenTheoretical and Practical Consideration’, Proceeding of a conference, Play: The Child Strives toward self-realization, p. 39-50. Washington, DC.

Smith, L A H (1985) To Understand and to Help: the Life and Work of Susan Isaacs(1885-1948), Associated University press, USA

Strandell, H (1997) ‘Doing reality with play: Play as a Children’s resource in organizing everyday life in daycare centres’, Childhood, 4, 445-464.

Stroh, K, Robinson, T and Proctor, A (2008) Every Child Can Learn: Using Learning Tools and Play to Help Children With Developmental Delay, SAGE Publications Ltd, Thousand Oaks, CA

Tarman, B and Tarman, I (2011) ‘Teachers’ Involvement in Children’s Play and Social Interaction’, Elementary Education Online, 10:1, 325-337

Tassoni, P (2006) Btec National Early Years Student Book (2nd edn.), Heinemann, London.

Vygotsky, L S (1978) Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

Winnicott, D W (1971) Playing and Reality, Tavistock, London

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Free Essays

A critique and comparison of relevant literature in relation to organizational learning and knowledge management

1. INTRODUCTION

Fiol and Lyles (1985) describe organizational learning, as being the process wherein organizations being cognitive enterprises, have the capability to accumulate information regarding their own actions, understand the effects against those of alternatives, then adopt the most relevant action in relation to future decisions. Therefore improvements within organization is based on how well they can understand past actions and external information, disseminate and reflect on them with the aim of making better future decisions (Anand et al, 1998).

Studies on organisational learning are diverse, and a number of theorists have proposed several methods of understanding and applying relevant them within organizations. The most notable of these are the single and double loop learning styles proposed by Argyris and Schon (1978); the five disciplines proposed by Senge (1990); and the four learning constructs of Huber (1991). The aim of this literature critique is to consider each of these theories in line with development of knowledge management systems within organizations. The following chapters describe each theory, critically analyses their viewpoint, and then ascertains their relevance to knowledge management system development.

2. ARGYRIS AND SCHON DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING

Argyris and Schon identify two major forms of learning that occur at the organizational level, described as single and double loop learning. These processes occur at different capacities and usually determine the extent to which innovation and new ideas surface (Sun and Scott, 2003). According to these theories, all individuals, groups or organizations have their preconceived notions about particular processes (Argyris, 1994). These preconceived notions might often contradict with the general process of doing things.

In the single loop learning model, these preconceived notions would be adjusted to fit in with the general process of doing things. The individuals, group or organization would react based on what they believe to be the most convenient method, which is usually to follow suit on the general process of having things done (Sun and Scott, 2003). The deeply held assumptions or beliefs do not resurface and become buried under the auspice of following suit on the general trend. This according to Argyris and Schon is described as single loop learning, wherein one entity influences the other. In the double loop learning method, individual, group or organizational beliefs, begin to surface (Argyris, 1995). They are considered in line with the general belief, and these beliefs are questioned or even modified in the event that they are deemed unsuitable for the organization.

This theory was developed using Action workshops, wherein individuals were requested to write their preconceived notions and their eventual actions in line with new information. If they conducted their actions based on information provided, then single loop learning was recorded, while double loop learning occurred if they adjusted their actions in line with their individual beliefs. This theory has however been criticised broadly. Sun and Scott (2003) argue that organizational policies, processes and routines act as “defense mechanism” against the prevalence of double loop learning. These policies may restrict the ability of individuals or groups to freely challenge generally accepted principles, which could have otherwise led to double loop learning.

The action research method through which this experiment was first conducted has been criticised by Nonaka (1994) who states that asking individuals to outline their preconceived thoughts and subsequent actions on two separate notes do not accurately depict how an organization would react to single and double loop learning situations, except if a probability sample was utilized in the study. Robey et al (2000) also brings up the scenario wherein individuals with different backgrounds are brought in on a project, each with a different preconceived notion about the project. These individuals are usually advised to act in line with generally accepted practices in a bid to deter conflict in the decision making process, thereby alienating double loop learning processes. Schultz (2001) therefore states that the most ideal learning process, being double loop learning, would be most ideal in environments that actively promote creativity and innovation, as they are the backbone through which individuals can actively express their ideas and through that, change generally accepted practices.

3.SENGE’S FIVE DISCIPLINES

Senge (1990) outlines “personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning and systems thinking” as ideal methods for organizations to learn from their previous actions and environmental changes. Senge’s disciplines address the major shortcomings in Argyris and Schon’s model as it identifies effective methods through which organisations can promote double loop learning processes within the company. Mental models and team learning, especially in informal environments, can promote the transition of learning from single to double loop, as it gives individuals and groups the opportunities to share information and ideas across all tiers of the organisation (Robey et al, 2000).

Sun and Scott (2003) note that it is through the creation of social relationships that individuals can engage in dialogues that actively promote reflective conversations and inquiry. However, Wang (1999) criticises this approach as it does not thoroughly promote double loop learning. He states that learning may occur, but it does not lead to change in preconceived notions. The other three disciplines however have a more profound effect on organisational learning. Senge depicts that personal mastery aids individual development; shared vision engages all individuals within the organization towards a common vision and objective, while systems thinking aligns all the different disciplines in a method that promotes active learning.

These fives disciplines have been corroborated by several other theorists as it actively brings in all forms of learning at the individual, group and organizational level (Sun and Scott, 2003). These stages have been viewed as logical and coherent for an organization aiming to transform its learning processes. However, this study fails to account for barriers that may exist between different stages of learning (Robey et al, 2000). The five disciplines highlights how individuals, groups and organizations can learn, but it does not identify how individual learning can be transformed to groups, and groups into organizations. Wang (1999) also states that little information is provided on how these different learning stages apply in the realm of knowledge management systems and how it differs according to different structures within organizations. According to Sun and Scott, these models just like that of Argyris and Schon, fails to account for the main determining factors influencing organizational learning.

4.HUBER’S FOUR CONSTRUCTS

Amongst all the organizational learning theories highlighted in this critique, Huber was the first to highlight the relevant process for organizational learning and also identify how it could be utilized in a knowledge management and sharing environment. Huber (1991) identifies four major constructs that are crucial to organizational learning and these are: Information acquisition, information distribution, information interpretation and organizational memory.

Crossan and Hulland (1996) identify information acquisition as a unique addition to the organizational learning theory, as it is one major facilitator determining how organizations learn in the first place: by first acquiring information. Schultz (2001) also highlights the importance of information acquisition; particularly in terms of the effect external information has on organizational competitiveness. He found a positive correlation between external information acquisition and competitive advantage. Stein and Zwass (1995) also found significant relationship between external information acquisition and organizational performance.

Information distribution highlights methods through which the organization shares information across all departments, while information interpretation depicts the methodology through which individuals and groups interpret information and utilize them in decision making. These constructs highlight important factors that previous theories of Argyris and Schon; and Senge have failed to identify especially in the realm of acquiring information and sharing it. Argyris and Schon only focused on methods through which individuals, groups and organizations accept and interpret data; while Senge focused mostly on the social aspect of organizational learning. Huber in contrast identifies the major logical sequences through which an organization can truly acquire data, share it, store it and learn from it.

However, Garvin (1993) depicts that Huber’s theory fails to account for social factors already identified by Senge. It fails to account for human factors that are actually meant to be the major parties in organizational learning. Nonaka and Tekeuchi (1995) also assert that though Huber accounts for explicit knowledge that are externally available, it fails to account for tacit knowledge that is truly beneficial for competitiveness. Sun and Scott (2001) also identified difficulties inherent in transferring information across all constructs, as learning transfer between entities, just like the other theories criticized, have not been considered.

5.CONCLUSION

In relation to the main critique question, which is on the organizational learning theory that accurately discusses the importance of knowledge management systems in learning organizations, Argyris and Schon (1978) and Senge (1990) failed to account for relevant methods, while Huber (1991) was the only to identify the major sequences through which information could be shared across an organization, and also applied in knowledge management system development. However, further research is required on how to utilize knowledge management systems in engaging individuals to criticise generally accepted principles, and promote sharing through social interaction.

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6.REFERENCES

Anand, V., Manz, C.C., and Glick, W.H. (1998) An organizational memory approach to information management. Academy of Management Review, Vol. 23 (4), pp. 796–809

Argyris, C. (1994) Unrecognized defenses of scholars: impact on theory and research. Organization Science, Vol. 7 (1), pp 79–87

Argyris, C. and Schon, D.A. (1978) Organizational learning, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Crossan, M., and Hulland, J. (1996) Measuring organizational learning, Paper presented to the Academy of Management..

Fiol, C.M. and Lyles, M.A., 1985. Organizational learning, Academy of Management Review Vol. 10 (4), pp. 803–813

Garvin, D.A. (1993), Building a learning organization, Harvard Business Review, pp.78-91.

Huber, G.P. (1991) Organizational learning: the contributing processes and the literatures. Organization Science, Vol. 2, pp. 88–115

Nonaka, I., 1994. A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation, Organization Science, Vol. 5 (1), pp. 14–37

Nonaka, I., Takeuchi, H. (1995), The Knowledge-Creating Company, Oxford University Press Inc., New York, NY

Robey, D., Boudreau, M., and Rose, G. (2000) Information technology and organisational learning: a review and assessment of research, Accounting, Management and Information Technologies, Vol. 10 (2), pp 125 – 155

Schultz, M. (2001), The uncertain relevance of newness: organizational learning and knowledge flows, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 44 (4), pp. 661-81

Senge, P. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, Doubleday/Currency, New York, NY

Stein, E.W. and Zwass, V., 1995. Actualizing organizational memory with information systems, Information Systems Research, Vol. 6 (2), pp. 85–117.

Sun, P. and Scott, J. (2003) Exploring the divide – organizational learning and learning organizations, The Learning Organization, Vol. 10 (4), pp 202 – 215

Wang, S., 1999. Organizational memory information systems: a domain analysis in the object-oriented paradigm. Information Resources Management Journal, Vol. 12 (2), pp. 26–34.

Categories
Free Essays

Evaluate the extent to which authentic materials are useful in teaching English in accordance with a competency based learning outcome.

Abstract

To determine the extent to which authentic materials should be used in material design for English teaching one must start by being mindful of the expected outcomes of learning. To this extent there are two broad competing theories: Competency versus Knowledge-base. The practice and mission of TESOL supports a theory of competence rather than having a strong theoretical base, as the course is generally aimed at adult, non-native English speakers. As such, interaction with authentic materials is absolutely vital. That being said, this is not without disadvantage. There are significant disadvantages to making use of these materials, however with the proper management by the educators involved, these can be minimized and ultimately will become a non-issue. Through examination of the benefits and disadvantages, it is concluded that in order to properly effect a competency based educational outcome, the correct inclusion of these materials is necessary subject to the level of the learner involved and the related cultural sensitivities.

Introduction

In the past few decades there has been a shift in the introduction of authentic teaching materials in material in English teaching. There are a number of factors that may have influenced this shift, however notably due to the necessity of competent English skills there has been a global shift in adult education in the language sector. This has led to a change in approach as to the learning outcomes of teaching English. No longer is the outcome of language education knowledge based, rather it is outcome or competency based. This however is not a universal shift in language education approach and one must distinguish between adult education and young learner education on one hand, and native and non-native speakers on the other. For young learners, regardless of whether English is their native language a knowledge based approach will most likely be used as there is sufficient time and no immediate need for competent English practice. For adult learners however there is generally a specific requirement for competent English practice, therefore necessitating this need for a fast track of English learning. It focuses more on what the learner can do with the language, rather than the knowledge they have about it (Docking, 1994). The introduction of authentic materials in English teaching supports this idea of competency based outcomes. It is based on the idea that authentic materials introduce real use of the language produced by native speakers for real purpose rather than for the purpose of language development that may be in line with knowledge based curriculum outcomes. The central thesis of this paper will evaluate the extent to which authentic materials are useful in teaching English in accordance with a competency based learning outcome.

Authentic Materials Generally

Authentic materials generally have been described as those materials that are ‘real’ and were not designed for language students, in other words they are real materials that use everyday language to communicate to native language users (Harmer, 1991). Examples of authentic materials would include newspaper articles, signage, theatre, television, songs or magazines. Non-authentic materials are those which are specifically designed for language students concentrating on the language that one wishes to teach. Teachers of language need to be mindful of this distinction as selection of inappropriate authentic material may be difficult to understand and the obvious benefit of inclusion of these materials will be handicapped if they teach students bad or narrow use of the language. Therefore, the selection of these materials for material design in taught English must take account of all the various advantages and disadvantage in the extent to which is may be used.

Competency and Authentic Materials

One cannot evaluate the use of authentic materials in isolation and the broader context of teaching outcomes must be evaluated. If one has a clear understanding of the outcome expected, one can determine the most effective way of achieving that outcome. Therefore it is relevant to ask the question: What are we trying to achieve?

Knowledge-based learning outcomes involve a certain level of abstraction, conceptualization and organization (Richards & Rodgers, 1987). This will teach students a set of skills that can be used to approach the language with methods and techniques therefore making their knowledge of language universally transferable and not contextually dependant. Competency on the other hand “refers to a standard of performance either implicitly or explicitly, the term closely parallels definitions of mastery or criterion levels of performance” (Wong, 2008). This involves a broader inclusion of social, cognitive and communicative skills to allow for effective use of language. Simply stated, competency based outcomes are concentrated on allowing for actual communication in the way that native speakers would use the language, whilst not being overly concerned with the theoretical knowledge that the students have.

The essential difference between the two approaches to teaching can be summarized as different emphasis on ‘real’ English in teaching and this will significantly affect the outcome of the learner’s language skills. Advocates of the use of authentic materials argue that the use enables learners to have a more real grasp of the language as it is used by native speakers and without these materials, the gap between what is learnt and how one must use the language will leave learners unable to communicate in the ‘real world.’ Conversely, opponents will argue that these give a subjective knowledge of the language that will be ultimately harmful to the learners use. It clear however that the use of these materials is generally accepted as beneficial, the debate it seems about the type of material and context in which it is used. By and large there seems to be general consensus favoring competency based educational outcomes.

The mission of TESOL is “[t]o advance professional expertise in English language teaching and learning for speakers of other languages worldwide” (TESOL, 2007). TESOL generally can be said to be aimed at adult learners that are non-native English speakers. It is aimed at professionally equipping this demographic with competent English skills. Bearing this in mind, it is clear that there is a large element of competency based educational outcomes in TESOL teaching. It is against this framework, that one must evaluate the extent to which authentic materials must be included in material design.

Benefits of Using Authentic Materials

Exposure to Real Language

Very importantly, one must bear in mind that knowledge-based educational approaches teach learners to use proper, full sentences and engage with the language on that level. As all speakers of a native language know, this is generally not the way that people communicate. The difference between taught and spoken language is generally vastly different in terms of vocabulary and grammar, therefore there is some argument to be made that the use of ‘real’ materials in teaching conforms to the expected outcomes of TESOL as it engages learners with the language in the way that will benefit these individuals professionally.

For example, a simple greeting conversation has many intricacies and social nuances. It involves more than being able to enquire how a person is and respond accordingly. Teaching by way of authentic materials in this way will allow students to interact with social convention that will give contextual meaning to conversations that simple grammar based teaching will not. One can see that exposure to real language is a product of a competency educational outcome expectation as one is trying to promote competency in everyday discourse rather than teaching the theoretical basis for these interactions which will prove to be unhelpful in these situations.

Positive Effect on Learner Motivation

The use of authentic materials in teaching exposes learners to ‘real’ language, which has the effect of motivating them, because there is the opportunity for the students to see their progress tangibly (Hastings & Murphy, 2002). Psychologically, this is an important aspect as it increases the confidence of the students. A student that is able to read a newspaper article in a learning environment is far more likely to attempt to read further articles outside of the classroom. Having exposure to reading these articles will also improve the chance that they will understand these articles as they will be familiar to a certain extent with the grammar and vocabulary used. This is a kind of knock-on effect of using authentic materials in teaching with vast benefit for listening and speaking language skills of the learners. A key example of this is using television in material design. By exposing students to television that they can understand, it is more likely that they will seek out further programming in English, because they will be confident that they will be able to understand it to a certain extent and as these programs are meant for native English speakers, the vocabulary and grammar used will be varied and therefore challenging, increasing the learning potential. It is therefore highly beneficial to learner motivation and confidence to use authentic materials.

Provision of Authentic Cultural Information

“The great advantage of natural, idiomatic texts over artificial ‘methods’ or ‘series’ is that they do justice to every feature of the language” (Sweet, 1899, p177). This is particularly evident with authentic materials in teaching as they encompass a broad range of cultural idiosyncrasies. By their very nature, authentic materials have intrinsic educational value as they are often linked to current and global events – this is part of the general responsibility of teachers i.e. an educational motive (Sanderson, 1999). They also expose students to particular cultural information about the place in which they study. For example, there is a particular way that British English is practiced by locals and this is reflected in the media produced in terms of subject matter, colloquialisms and informal language or slang that are culturally specific (e.g. football, monarchy news, local politics, the upcoming Olympic Games). The inclusion of this material breaks down the language barrier as it will allow communication effectively between native and non-native English speakers. In other words, it tailors the language for use in a specific cultural context.

Relation to Learners ‘Needs’

Often with TESOL students there is a NEED to learn English as opposed to the desire to do so. In other words, while there may be a personal desire to learn the language, more often than not it is necessitated by employment opportunities, work environment or living circumstances. It is impossible to communicate effectively in an English speaking country without a working knowledge of the language. Authentic material use in English teaching is therefore more attune with the general needs of the learners (Martinez, 2002). By providing cultural context and real use of the language, these students will be able to interact in English speaking society faster and more authentically. An example of this is the average non-English speaking businessperson. It is important for these people to be able to conduct their business affairs in English and to be able to liaise with English stakeholders without disadvantage. It is however not necessary for these people to be able to produce a grammatically correct literary work. This is an illustration of the shift towards a competency based outcome system, where knowledge base becomes less important depending on the context of the learning environment. Therefore, teaching of real language use through authentic materials will be more beneficial than traditional theoretical language knowledge.

Disadvantages of Using Authentic Materials

Language Complications

A major disadvantage of the use of authentic materials in material design is that they often use difficult language, unneeded vocabulary and complex sentence structure (Richards, 2001). This creates potentially unnecessary burdens on teachers (Kilickaya, 2004). For lower level students this may be a burden; however it may also be a useful advantage for teaching more advanced students. It will allow for more variety and flair in language use that will accompany native-English speaker’s language use generally. An example of this can be seen in the presentation of an article containing satyr or jest. Much of what constitutes sarcasm or satyr in English language has to do with a specific contextual knowledge of either special circumstances surrounding the article or particular concepts of language. A good example of such writing can be seen in local newspapers such as The Guardian or The Telegraph raging on about whether the British Prime Minister is a reptile (Brooker, 2011). A student faced with such an article, advanced or novice, would be hard pressed to understand such material as it requires a fairly in-depth knowledge of the language. The vocabulary itself is exceptionally verbose and is written with a great deal of satyr, therefore to understand this one would need special knowledge of the circumstances surrounding it. The sentence structure is unconventional, as traditional journalism tends to be and when presented with such an article, there is a definite expectation that the student would end up entirely confused. It is therefore clear that despite the stated advantages of use of authentic materials in material design, there is a fair amount of discretion that needs to be exercised by teachers in these situations. Without proper filtering of materials, these will inhibit learning outcomes rather than helping and one can see by way of such an example that not all authentic materials are useful in teaching English.

Cultural Bias

This further presents the problem of cultural bias (Martinez, 2002). “Authentic materials may be too culturally biased or too difficult to understand outside the language community thereby making them inaccessible to beginners or elementary learners” (Berado, 2006 p64). Berado explains further by way of example that to this extent she often experienced students asking for translations of song lyrics or newspaper articles after having looked up every word in a dictionary, not able to understand a word. Martinez describes this as lower-level problems with decoding texts. The general consensus however is the control of authentic materials that is used in material design and like facing issues of complex language structure, a discretion must be used to ensure that the materials are appropriate for the level of learner using them.

Improper Structure & ‘Bad Habits’

It is fairly evident that exposure to authentic materials may cause the development of improper language use or ‘bad habits.’ General exposure through informal literature, especially on television can lead to improper language use. Examples of these bad habits are the addition of certain words or phrases to everyday language by native English speakers. Through repetition and exposure, non-native English speakers will add these phrases to their vocabulary thinking that the addition is correct, albeit colloquial. Examples of these phrases are the words ‘like’ and ‘you know.’ TESOL aims to equip learners professionally in their use of the language and it would not be effective or professional to have these colloquial terms included through exposure to authentic materials.

Recommendations

Use of Authentic Materials at all levels of learning

“Authentic materials… offer a much richer source of input for learners and have the potential to be exploited in different ways and on different levels to develop learners’ communicative competence” (Gilmore, 2007 p100). The truth of this statement cannot be denied, however there are clearly great disadvantages to using authentic materials in material design of English teaching. The recommendation of some is that these materials only be included at a certain level of teaching. For Guriento & Morley, this inclusion is to happen at the post-intermediate phase of teaching (Guriento & Morley, 2001). Kilickaya seems to support this view by explaining that this due to the advanced vocabulary and structure understanding that these students will have. There is clearly a point to be made here as there is also the time constraints on teachers in preparing these lessons and finding suitable material for beginner learners may prove to be challenging and time consuming. To this extent, a study was conducted which found that learners enjoyed interacting with authentic materials as it provided real interaction with the language which was found to be a motivating factor (Chavez, 1988). The recommendation therefore is that authentic materials should be used to some extent at all levels of learning, whether basic, intermediate or advanced. It is to the discretion of the teacher in this circumstance to ensure that the material is appropriate for the level of learner. The probative value of the use of authentic materials in material design, in these circumstances, clearly outweighs any potential disadvantages posed by their use. These disadvantages can be mitigated by exercising careful discretion over the type of materials used.

Inclusion of Cultural Content

Kilickaya advocates that despite the danger of inclusion of cultural content, it is an integral part of language learning, a view which is supported by most authors on the subject (Kilickaya, 2004; Guest, 2002; McKay, 2000). To this extent, the inclusion of cultural content is also believed to foster motivation and interaction with the language. The correct inclusion of this cultural content however is the essential consideration, as it is vitally important that there be cultural discourse in a learning environment that will facilitate interaction between the learners’ culture, international culture and the target market culture (McKay, 2000). In this way students are not exposed to cultural extremes and are able to see an interaction between the various cultures at play in language use. This will prevent assimilation into one culture and promote mutual cultural respect (Kilickaya, 2004). An example of this discourse can be seen in Arabic culture –which to a large extent is present in the use of language. Therefore, to learn English as a native-Arabic speaker, there will need to be the transference of culture in language. Whilst different societies such as those in Arabic speaking nations have varying degrees of gender, age and religious cultural tradition, these are not necessarily present in English language therefore it is vitally important that there be a facilitated interaction to ensure language neutrality promoting mutual respect. It is evident therefore that the variety in cultural background of persons learning English necessitates cultural inclusion in authentic materials used in material design for English teaching. Language is inherently tied to culture and is not just a compilation of words and without the inclusion of this, there are bound to be misunderstandings, which for the professional aims of TESOL could be disastrous. In line with a competency based outcome, cultural understanding is absolutely vital. Therefore, the potential for cultural bias can be mitigated by educational engagement with this subject matter, making the potential disadvantage of inclusion of these materials significantly less threatening.

Conclusion:

The logical conclusion with regards to the extent to which authentic materials should be included in material design in English teaching is that it is highly beneficial at all levels of learning. Despite the disadvantages that it may provide, there is a strong case to be made for inclusion despite these. Practically, it presents difficulties to educators as it will require a fair amount of preparation for lessons and in certain cases, such as learners at a beginners level, this may prove to be highly challenging. The motivating factor that the inclusion presents is undeniably more important however and this shift to a more competency focused outline is heavily supported by the inclusion of these materials. Whilst knowledge-based outcomes are still highly favorable, for the purposes of TESOL English teaching, it is generally agreed that competency is the goal and to this extent educators must be wary of their inclusion of these materials, however academia would prove that this inclusion is necessary and favored. There is a general support of competency based educational outcomes and to this extent it is evident that authentic material inclusion significantly improves the potential achievement of this outcome. The extent to which they should be included will depend on the level of the learners involved and the particular resource itself. With a competency based approach to English teaching, this inclusion will be immensely beneficial for the listening and reading skills of the learners whilst educators must simply be mindful of the potential dangers of authentic material inclusion to ensure that these are used in the most effective manner for the greatest advantage to the student in professional discourse.

Bibliography
Alejandro Martinez, 2002. Authentic Materials: An Overview Karen’s Linguistics Issues [ejournal] Available at: http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/authenticmaterials.html [Accessed 17 May 2012]
Alex Gilmore, 2007. Authentic materials and authenticity in foreign language learning Language Teaching Cambridge University Press, pp 97 – 118
Ashley Hastings and Brenda Murphy, 2002. Thoughts on the Use of Authentic Materials [ejournals] Available at http://www.focalskills.info/articles/authentic.html [Accessed 17 May 2012]
Charlie Brooker, 2011. Everyone knows David Cameron is a lizard. So why does the Telegraph continue to deny the truthguardian.co.uk 16 Oct.
Chavez, M., 1988. Learner’s perspectives on Authenticity International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 36(4)
Cook, Vivian, 1981. Using Authentic Materials in the Classroom MET, 9(14)
Docking, R, 1994. Competency-Based Curricula-the Big Picture Prospect, 9(2), pp 8-17
Ferit Kilickaya, 2004. Authentic Materials and Cultural Content in EFL Classrooms The Internet TESL Journal, X(7)
Elsa Roberts Auerbach, 1986. Competency-Based ESL: One Step Forward or Two Steps BackTESL Quaterly, 20(3), pp 411 – 439
Guariento, W. & Morley, J., 2001 Text and task authenticity in the EFL classroom ELT Journal 55(4), pp 347-353.
Guest, M, 2002. A critical ‘checkbook’ for culture teaching and learning ELT Journal, 56(2), pp 154-161
Harmer, J, 1991. The Practice of English Teaching London: Longman
McKay, S. L., 2000. Teaching English as an international language: Implications for cultural materials in the classroom TESOL Journal, 9(4), pp 7-11
Richards, J.C. & T.S. Rodgers, 1987. The nature of approaches and methods in language teaching Reino Unido: Cambridge University Press, pp 14 – 30
Richards, J.C., 2001. Curriculum development in language teaching Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Ruth Ming Har Wong, 2008. Competency-based English Teaching and Learning: Investigating Pre-service teachers of Chinese’s Learning Experience Porta Linguarum, 9, pp 179 – 198
Sanderson, P, 1999. Using Newspapers in the Classroom Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Sacha Anthony Berardo, 2006. The Use of Authentic Materials in the Teaching of Reading The Reading Matrix, 6(2), pp 60 – 69
Sweet, H., 1899. The practical study of languages London: Oxford University Press

TESOL Incorporated [online] (cited on 16 May 2012) accessed on www.tesol.org

Categories
Free Essays

The Concept of Learning Autonomy

Abstract

An exploration of the theoretical aspect of learning or learner autonomy must include a fundamental examination of the underlying theoretical aspects of autonomy generally. This will be evaluated in light of the expected outcomes of teaching and the particular advantages of this strategy towards teaching. Through this examination, it will be analyzed concluding that with proper guidance and the provision of a strong framework in which to learn, the internal and external aspects of learning autonomy can be achieved. Despite there being a large emphasis or reliance on the students to be responsible for their own autonomy, it is shown that this still can be achieved in the absence of conscious learner involvement with the process through carefully selected teaching approaches and methods.

Introduction

The idea of autonomy in teaching language is an import from other non-linguistic disciplines such as psychology and education, and is not a traditional theory of teaching (Benson, 2009). It represents a shift away from traditional teaching and learning methods and in a way is more focused on learner output and the value of skills over knowledge. The concept of autonomy is inextricably linked to other advances in the learning environment such as technology and a new move towards adult education and training. It is important to distinguish between learner autonomy in a second language learning environment and autonomy in a native language learning environment. The development of learner autonomy in this sense does not include native language speakers that are autonomous in the sense that they have a solid foundation for the language making it easier to develop their skills, because they know how to do this. It is also important to note that this development will be examined in the context of institutions and not in terms of ‘self-help’ methods. There is a strong interdependence between learners and teachers for the development of learning autonomy, as to this end institutional context is highly relevant as there is a mutual co-operation necessary for the success of these learning strategies. The role of the teacher in learner autonomy is absolutely vital as they represent a motivating factor, making the learner willing to assume more responsibility for their studies, however simultaneous providing them with the capacity to do so. The central thesis of this paper will examine the concept of learning autonomy and the role that both educators and learners play in this development. Furthermore, the potential advantages and pitfalls will be considered in relation to these with recommendations as to the development and implementation of these strategies in a learning environment. It is important to bear in mind the goals or expected educational outcomes in this evaluative process as it is necessary to understand what one is trying to achieve before determining the most effective ways of doing so.

The Concept of Learning Autonomy

The concept of learner autonomy is interrelated to the concepts of personal autonomies and freedoms (Lamb, 2008). The concept of personal autonomy is a general idea that one should have freedom to direct the course of one’s own life. This has internal and external aspects which require a certain freedom from constraint. The internal aspect requires the development of certain psychological characteristics to allow the flow of autonomy, whilst the external refers to the provision of an environment that allows a meaningful opportunity for autonomy. Lamb considers this idea of personal autonomy to be the fundamental basis on which learner autonomy exists (2008; 18). There are two different perspectives on autonomy in teaching, namely the teachers perspective and the learners perspective. The teacher’s perspective embodies the idea of a situational freedom in the learning environment. One could argue that this is the external aspect of personal autonomy, in other words being given the freedom to direct one’s own learning. The learner perspective on the other hand is more focused on the capacity of learners of direct their learning. Therefore, learner autonomy encompasses both empowering learners through knowledge to be able to give them the independence to further their own language skills and allowing them to do so by providing the correct institutional support and guidance. This is the philosophical basis for learner autonomy and through understanding this aims of learner autonomy, one can evaluate it in a broader context based on educational outcome goals.

Learner autonomy seems to lack a specific and uniform definition however has been variously described as being processes which the learner determines through which they acquire knowledge and skills of value (Chene, 1983) or a psychological process whereby learners are able to direct their own studies in a meaningful way (Ponton, 1999). It is clear that there is a general vibe about what constitutes learner autonomy, despite the lack of uniform definition. This encompasses quite clearly the ideas of personal autonomies and freedoms described above. The psychological aspect of learner autonomy seems to be a very relevant consideration as it is emphasized in various literature sources (Macaskill & Taylor, 2010). This psychological aspect of “autonomous learning involves the application of personal initiative in engaging with learning and finding resources and opportunities for learning, persistence in learning and resourcefulness” (2010; 351). This psychological aspect is essential and sufficient to explain self-direct or autonomous learning (Long, 1998). Macaskill & Taylor point out that the majority of literature on the subject has been examining the teacher’s perspective, i.e. the process by which one can provide an autonomous learning environment, rather than the type of learner or learner characteristics required for learner autonomy to be successful (2008; 352). It is clear therefore that the teacher and learner perspective divide is a relevant consideration in the success of any autonomous learning and the presence of both perspectives is necessary for this success. It is also necessary for there to be a healthy balance between both and not let these freedoms be entirely unrestrained, as this will also undermine teaching objectives. The importance of technological advance must also be emphasized as it provides an accessible platform for this kind of autonomous learning. Importantly it provides a usual supply of authentic materials for teaching purposes which has proven benefits relating to learner autonomy and motivation. However, one can also see the disadvantage of this unrestricted access to information as it may confuse learners more than it helps therefore inhibiting autonomy. One can see through this example that there is a strong interdependence between learner and teacher perspectives, this internal and external factoring, in the development of successful learner autonomy. Some authors attribute the successful growth of learner autonomy as a dominant ideology in language teaching to technology innovation generally (Reinders & White, 2011). “Opportunities for interaction, situated learning, and support for learning outside formal contexts, have greatly improved because of technology” (2011; 1).

The Significance of Framework

Providing a useful and relevant framework provides the essential tools for learning autonomy development. Without this framework students are likely to become confused because they lack experiences to build upon. Providing this strong framework, particularly at the very beginning of the learning process is absolutely vital. Lamb et al suggest that this framework must support raising awareness of the nature of language, culture and language learning, reflection based learning, learning initiatives and exploration of the target language, relevant choices of learning activities and learning to learn activities (2008; 37). In order to so, it is clear that the stated objective of such institutional learning needs to in some way reflect a move towards learning autonomy, as these are not natural by-products of traditional learning strategies. Providing this framework also has bearing on the skills that a student will acquire such as those allowing them to relate the knowledge that they have to new knowledge given to them, in other words providing them with transferable language skills. The importance of the role of the educator in providing this framework is self-explanatory. If one uses the example of readily available authentic teaching materials, one can see the importance of providing useful guidance in this manner, allowing students to distinguish between sources that are helpful to learning and those that are not. This has a strong relevance for the cultural engagement with the language and in providing this framework students will be able to identify the various elements of the language. This is a useful example of the importance of framework in autonomy development.

Favouring Learner Autonomy in Language Studies

There are three general arguments in favour of learner autonomy in language studies. The first generally relates to the efficiency and efficacy of learners through a reflective learning process. In facilitating a reflective environment, learners are more likely to be engaged with their learning in a way that is more suited to their needs. Therefore, with regards to adult education if business involvement is the key aim of the learning, the students will be more likely to focus on aspects of language learning that suit their needs. Therefore in some aspects, the process of learner autonomy allows a student to receive a more focused education than that which they would receive through traditional learning methods. This again emphasizes the importance of providing a solid framework for the students to learn within, as material and source selection is highly relevant and equipping a student with the tools to correctly select materials based on their learning expectation becomes highly important. The importance of reflection as a tool in autonomous learning goes without saying and has been emphasized as an important aspect of learning autonomy since inception (Holec, 1981).

This idea is linked to the evolution of the need for a more autonomous learning method. With the development over the years of language learning programmes for adult learners, there is a simultaneous need to make these courses flexible as often the learners are employed full time and cannot dedicate as much time to their learning as traditionally students would have been able to (Nowlan, 2008). One could argue therefore that the evolution of and move towards more autonomous learning methods has been born out of need.

The second advantage of a learning autonomy approach is that by definition it solves the problem of learner motivation. Motivation in learning is a key aspect and there will be no success in any form of learning without a proactive engagement by the student in the material they are trying to learn. Because of the reflective skills and attitudinal resources that a learner develops through autonomous learning objectives, whilst there may be times when a learner is not feeling positive about their learning, they can use these skills to overcome motivational lapses (Little, 2004). One can again use the example of authentic material use to demonstrate the accuracy of this advantage, as it has been well documented that the use of these materials improves learner motivation (Hastings & Murphy, 2002). It has been documented further that often in a teaching environment a learner is not focused on the information that is being presented to them (Nunan, 2000). The upshot of learning autonomy therefore is that it presents the learner with the opportunity to form their own learning patterns, therefore increasing motivation levels as they are not dependant entirely on the information which they received in a traditional classroom setting.

Whilst the first two advantages are applicable to learner autonomy in general, the third advantage relates specifically to the use of this strategy in a language learning environment. This advantage relates to the possibility for effective communication over and above that which one would learn through traditional teaching methods. “Effective communication depends on a complex of procedural skills that develop only through use; and if language learning depends crucially on language use, learners who enjoy a high degree of social autonomy in their learning environment should find it easier than otherwise to master the full range of discourse roles on which effective spontaneous communication depends” (Little, 2004). This advantage is strongly related to the idea of reflective learning being central to tailoring language learning to the specific needs of the student. That is to say that they are equipped with skills allowing them to effectively communicate in the way that they will need to in practice, making learning autonomy in a lot of ways more important that the knowledge base which they may gain.

Challenges of Learner Development

The biggest challenge of learner autonomy is that it is entirely dependent on an attitude towards learning from the perspective of the student. In his study on language learning students in Japan, Nunan (2000) identified the characteristics of a successful learner as a diversity of skills, passion and enjoyment for a particular field, a focused and active approach to learning, and finally, pursuit of learning and success despite high probability of failure and public disapproval. However, despite this the vast majority of students do not possess the motivation nor ambition to become autonomous learners (Chan et al, 2002). How then does one instill this idea of autonomous learning in learners that are not naturally predisposed to the skill setLittle argues that this involves the learning of self-awareness and that learners need to become aware of the various techniques available to them for learning coupled with the ability to assess the success of these techniques (Little 1994).

There is some disagreement on the best method of promoting learner autonomy, however a central thesis of this idea is to provide an environment whereby learners can be more autonomous, making learners more autonomous (Little, 1994). Although this seems like a fairly circular argument, there is some truth in the idea that in order to teach learners responsibility, one needs to give them more responsibility. This is based on the connection between social interactive dimensions of the learning process and cognitive dimensions, i.e. giving autonomy will teach autonomy. Dam (1995) suggests the gradual inclusion of techniques into language teaching in order to promote this. Examples of these include a continuous assessment model in the classroom by both learners and peers therefore including an element of self-assessment, a certain level of useful learning techniques and the use of the target language in learning from the beginning, rather than gradual inclusion. These learning techniques include keeping a log or journal of one’s learning activities. This in itself is highly relevant to the development of reflective skills that are required by autonomous learners. These kinds of learning techniques are useful for the capturing of the content of learning, the support of development of speaking and provide a useful focus for assessment. One could argue that the aim or goal of learning autonomy is outcome based and therefore the creation of an autonomous learner is only necessary in so far as the achievement of these broad educational goals. This autonomy may also be effected by allowing students control of their study plans (Stephenson, 1998). By doing so in a focused environment, the teachers are in effect forcing students to reflect and share their reflections with others, as well as meeting their needs for their own personal development. It is imperative in developing autonomy in students that there be a strong presence of educator guidance, as Stephenson (1998) points out that often in autonomous learning environments, students feel more at risk of possible failure due to psychological factors of self-reliance. This relates back to the importance of providing a framework for the autonomous learning environment and this ‘transition crisis’ (Bilorusky & Butler, 1975) can be easily managed, if not altogether avoided through the correct monitoring of these learning techniques. Support from various stakeholders in the institutions can take many various forms such as the educators themselves, tutors, peer-review mechanism and assignment feedback. It is clear from examination of these structures that much of current adult education takes an approach of autonomy creation.

Recommendations & Conclusion

The success of learner autonomy in various learning environments is well documented and there is a plethora of literature in support of its use (Dam, 1996). It is clear therefore that this is a preferred teaching and learning technique in education generally. In particular relation to language teaching of English as a second language to adult learners, it is highly recommended that learner autonomy be used as a strategy for teaching as the advantages of this strategy are aligned with the expected educational competency outcomes. However, its use is not without significant warning to educators. Firstly, there is much documented on the idea of loss of control by educators (Little, 1991). Autonomy does not in any way shift responsibility from the educator to the learner, the importance of the control by the educator goes without saying and if total control was relinquished, there would be a series of very unfortunate consequences. The foundation of learning autonomy is based on guidance from the educators in the system providing the necessary environment to learn these internal capabilities to produce an autonomous learner. Teachers play a fundamental role in both the facilitation of a conducive learning environment for student growth, as well as teaching students to work within this environment therefore providing the internal aspect of autonomy, being capacity. This ranges from the provision of suitable materials, teaching material selection, appropriate language and culture engagement and the provision of suitable learning techniques.

One can see that there is a global trend towards the incorporation of learning autonomy generally in language studies through the Council of Europe’s European Language Portfolio introducing principles and guidelines that incorporates autonomous language teaching methods. It seems that the central thread of the success of these guidelines is the reliance on self-assessment and reflection. The particular tools that a teacher may use are often varied, however with the goals of competence in English language in mind, one can see that with proper facilitation autonomy skills can be learnt to the extent that they achieve the educational outcomes specified. At the end of the day, learners can generally not educate themselves without supervision by educators and in realizing this one can understand the balance between learner autonomy on one hand and teacher intervention on the other. These two concept are necessary in all learning, however with different approaches taken the effectiveness of the approach will be shown. Through careful planning and cooperation between learners and educators, autonomy can be taught to effectively achieve educational outcomes.

Bibliography

Ann Macaskill & Elissa Taylor (2010), ‘The development of a brief measure of learner autonomy in university students’, Studies in Higher Education, 35:3, 351-359
Ashley Hastings and Brenda Murphy, 2002. Thoughts on the Use of Authentic Materials [ejournals] Available at http://www.focalskills.info/articles/authentic.html [Accessed 17 May 2012]
Benson, P., ’Making Sense of Autonomy in Language Learning’ in Pemberton, R., Toogood, S. & Barfield, A. (eds) (2009) Maintaining Control: Autonomy and Language Learning . Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press
Bilorusky & Butler, ‘Beyond contract learning to improvisational learning’, in NR Berts (ed), (1975) Individualizing Education Through Contract Learning, Alabama: University of Alabama.
Chan, V., Spratt, M., and Humphreys, G., (2002). ‘Autonomous Language Learning: Hong Kong Tertiary Students: Attitudes and Behaviours’ Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, 16(1)
Chene, A., 1983. ‘The concept of autonomy in adult education: A philosophical discussion.’ Adult Education Quarterly, 34( 1), pp38–47
Dam, L. (1995). Learner Autonomy 3: From Theory to Classroom Practice. Dublin: Authentik
Dam, L. and L. Legenhausen ‘The acquisition of vocabulary in an autonomous learning environment – the first months of beginning English.’ In R. Pemberton et al. (eds) (1996). Taking Control: Autonomy in Language Learning,Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon
Lamb, T. & Reinders, H. (eds.) (2008) Learner and Teacher Autonomy: Concept, Realities and

Responses. Amsterdam: John Bejamins Publishing Company.

Little, D., (2004), ‘Learner autonomy and second/foreign language learning’ Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies Guide to Good Practice
Little, D. (1991). Learner Autonomy 1: definitions, issues and problems. Dublin: Authentik
Little, D., ‘Autonomy in Learning Language: Some theoretical and practical considerations’ in Ann Swarbrick (ed), (1994) Teaching Modern Languages New York: Routledge
Long, H.B. ‘Theoretical and practical implications of selected paradigms of self-directed learning.’ In H.B. Long & Associates (ed) (1998), Developing paradigms for self-directed learning, Norman, OK: Public Managers Centre, College of Education, University of Oklahoma.
Nowlan, A., (2008),’ Motivation and Learner Autonomy: Activities to Encourage Independent Study’ The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XIV(10)
Nunan, D., (2000). ‘Autonomy in Language Learning’ [online] [cited 25 May 2012] Accessed on http://www.nunan.info/presentations/autonomy_lang_learn.pdf
Ponton, M.K. 1999, ‘The measurement of an adult’s intention to exhibit personal initiative in autonomous learning’ (Doctoral dissertation), George Washington University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 60: 3933.

Stephenson, J ‘Supporting Student Autonomy in Learning’ in Stephenson, J. & Yorke, M. (Eds), 1998. Capability & Quality in Higher Education, Kogan Page

Categories
Free Essays

Using Technology as a Tool to Improve Teaching and Learning Processes

Abstract

A research proposal setting out a planned study concerned with the use of ICT in education, and looking particularly at how ICT can be used to make teaching the classics of English literature more relevant to today’s teenagers. An introduction looks at the background for the study, and its rationale, while subsequent sections set out the proposed methodology in detail.

1. Introduction / Background to Study

This study is motivated by the need to discover the best ways to make English literature relevant to adolescents today. After all, in order to teach dusty, old 19th Century novels or Shakespeare or even modern day novels to groups of children/teenagers that are used to the language of the iPhone and the Xbox represents a challenge to most English teachers. However, it could also be said to represent an opportunity to ensure that these same English texts are brought alive in some way, showing how they continue to be relevant to young people today.Young people are typically large-scale producers of digital communications (Lewis and Moje 2009), and the phenomenon of texting means they are likely to write more than adolescents of 20 years ago. As such, an exploration of classic texts is arguably particularly relevant to their experiences.

The study is also informed by the role currently played by ICT in teaching. The aim of this part of the assignment is to understand how the spread of ICT can benefit education systems worldwide as well as the students being taught. It will also look at whether and how ICT can affect the outcomes of education with a world divided between the digital natives (those who have grown up after the spread of digital technology) and the digital immigrants (those who have had to learn how to use new ICT skills) (Lankshear and Knobel 2007). However, beyond this debate is a related debate: whether there are any benefits to using technology (and specifically ICT) in the classroom. Within the modern schoolroom the division is such that there are times when digital immigrants are teaching the digital natives using latest technologies with which the latter are sometimes more familiar. There is a related question which this brings up: is ICT always be beneficial to students, or can it be relied upon too much.

There are many subjects in which ICT has a definite place. Maths and science-based subjects seem to benefit from the interactivity that ICT can offer especially in terms of how Powerpoint and interactive whiteboards can be used for the benefit of students. Pitler (2009) suggests that the use of technology within the classroom can increase ‘student learning, understanding and achievement’ when applied efficiently (Pitler: 2009: 3). However, some critics note that technology can also be relied upon too much.Part of the challenge that teachers and educationalists face with technology’s use in education is that not enough is known about the technology used within education before it is utilised (Trucano: 2008). Only afterwards are the educational implications actually thought about. With both of these views in mind it could be argued that the teacher is in a position to consider the use of various programs or applications regarding their ‘appropriateness to learning objectives’ (Evans et al: 2009: 183) and whether they really need ICT to augment the learning of their students. There is also a question of whether ICT is appropriate to all subjects. While it is widely accepted within the UK that it has a role in all subjects, allowing pupils to produce well-presented work, for example (Capel 2005), there is perhaps an argument to be made that it should play a smaller role in subjects including English.

Another relevant point is raised by a research by Connolly and Ward (2008) entitled ‘Let them Eat Shakespeare’. In this study, they strove to question the placing of English Literature teaching and its list of prescribed authors in a 21st Century environment filled with ever-advancing technologies and changing ideologies. They point out that there are cultural, social and political forces in play which mean that the National Curriculum reflects a set of decisions made by those in power regarding what should and should not be acceptable to study, and also means that “proscribed authors are a force that acts against both democracy and the development of critical citizenship” (Connolly and Ward 2008, p. 21-22). Should many of the authors currently taught be rejected not because of issues about making them relevant, but because they reflect an unquestioned exercise in power and political control Perhaps, they suggest, a critical attitude towards dominant texts is what should be fostered?

In this context, the current study has been designed to investigate whether, by creative use of new digital technologies, ICT can have a place at the very heart of the English curriculum and help make classic works of literature relevant to students today.It also addresses the question of why such classic works might be relevant to students, and therefore why they should form part of the curriculum.

It is felt that this study can add to the body of knowledge already available. As technological changes occur at a rapid rate, academic research needs to be current in order to keep up-to-date with new types of technology, advances in ICT and new teaching approaches. In this context, it seems clear that more educational research needs to be done. In particular, it seems to be the case that teachers in general have an increasing challenge in enabling their students to learn. This fact seems to be consolidated by findings from Truscano (2008) and NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English) in 2011 which stated that English as a discipline has an ‘additional duty to educate….in the critical study of media and electronic texts’ (NATE: 2011: www.nate.org.uk [onine]). It is interesting to note that NATE (2011) emphasised the word ‘critical’ when discussing teaching students regarding electronic texts. This means that teachers (and especially English teachers) seem to be given the responsibility of enabling students to have the aptitude to think critically about the ICT they use as well as the texts that they read. In addition to the aims outlined above, this study will also address how teachers can help students take a more critical perspective on both the ICT they use and the texts they read.

2. Ethics Checklist

Does your research involve human participantsYES
Does your research involve accessing personal, sensitive or confidential dataYES
Does your research involve ‘relevant material’ as defined by the Human Tissue Act (2004)NO
Does your research involve participants who are 16 years and over who lack capacity to consent and therefore fall under the Mental Capacity Act (2005)NO
Will the study involve NHS patients, staff or premises or Social Services users, staff or premisesNO

3. Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for this study can be expressed as a series of related questions, below. Each inspires further questions and / or answers

Is it necessary to make classics relevant to children today?

Yes: children today write more than before
No:
Debatable: ‘classics’ are determined by wider political and cultural power relationships. Need foster questioning attitude

How can we best make the classics relevant to children today?

What is specific about current situation – IT / Digital Technologies
Use of iPhone / Xbox / texting / personal computing

What is the Current nature of ICT teaching in schools?

Should all subjects embrace ICT equally
What tools are currently used within English classroom
What is current use of film / video technology
Can better / more creative use be made of film / video technology to facilitate student’s engagement with key texts

4. Research Methodology

The study proposed uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative research techniques, with a focus upon qualitative techniques. Qualitative research focuses upon small scale collection of data, looking at one or two particular incidences. It is primarily concerned with textual responses. It contrasts with quantitative studies, which are typically larger scale and collect data in numeric form. Quantitative studies primarily follow a scientific model of reality and knowledge in which a testable hypothesis is generated prior to data collection. Qualitative data, while lacking the statistical vigour of quantitative studies, can offer insight into the richness of experience (Babbie 2010). The researcher has elected to use mixed methods in order to capture the fullness of the area under study. It is a flexible approach that allows the researcher to build upon findings as they emerge, and which can incorporate reliability with detailed studies of participant experiences (Hesse-Biber and Leavy 2010).

The study also uses the approach of triangulation. Essentially, triangulation is used to ensure that the researcher is able to use at least three types of data (hence, triangulation) to either back up, complement or oppose other data that has been gathered. In many ways it is like a three-part jigsaw puzzle where when every piece of it is put in place then the picture is complete. However, Flick (2009) suggests that triangulation does not always have to be used in every context and that there are several questions that need to be asked by the researcher before it is (Flick: 2009: 446-447). These include the usual issues of cost and time as well as suitability to the topic being studied and legal issues (Flick: 2009: 447).Flick (2009) also suggests that the quality of the triangulation being used would need to be questioned and suggested several ways to do this. One of these methods of quality control was to do with the researcher being able to ‘combine’ methods effectively and asking about the ‘relevance’ that each single method had in the research: for example do the methods each address different levels relevant to the subject In other words, the researcher needs to ask him/herself whether the triangulation serves its purpose and how. It was felt that this approach, despite greater time and money costs, was justified in this instance in order to understand all aspects of the situation considered: the ways in which a film / video intervention might be used to make classic works of literature more relevant. The idea behind the use of triangulation of research methods that will be employed within this research project is therefore to establish a relationship between the research methodologies that would be employed and to integrate their results into a cohesive whole. The results of the questionnaires, the data obtained from the interviews as well as the data obtained from observations will be taken together and analysed to see if they support each other, and in what areas (if any) they seem to produce contradictory results.

5. Data Collection Tools

The study will look at two groups of students in year 10. This does raise an issue about sample size. If the sample of people questioned or observed is too large then there is too much evidence for the researcher to deal with and the data becomes too unwieldy to calculate accurately given the limited resources available to the present researcher. However, if the research sample is too small then the researcher does not have enough data to go on (Jacobsen 2011). In this case, the sample used also has to be representative of a larger group of pupils and has to reflect the social reality of the school in which the project is taking place as well as its surrounding area. Therefore, in order for the data to be truly valid it ideally needs to have a cross-section of pupils from all abilities and ethnicities.While these constraints would perhaps dictate a different approach in an ideal situation without constraints of time, access or money, in this situation the researcher was limited to educational groups to which she could easily obtain access.

For this study, the focus will be on two Year 10 English Literature classes who are learning ‘Macbeth’ as part of their GCSE coursework. Two interventions were designed as part of the study. Each of two groups, as part of the project, will be examining the scene where the Witches meet Macbeth and Banquo (Act 1 Scene 3). Firstly, both groups will be given a scene on a handout with questions on it relating to the scene and how it relates to the play as a whole, which they work on in pairs.Different film clips of the scene from different versions of Macbeth will be shown to them on YouTube. The students will then be given the task of answering questions on these clips. The questions will cover a number of areas including camera angles, special effects and character positioning, and how these can add meaning to the play. In another session, the pupils will be using the same act and scene of the play and acting it out in the sports hall.These sessions, and the experiences of being involved in them, will be the subject of the data collected during this study. The reason behind the two different interventions is to ensure that all learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) are catered for over the two groups.

One of the groups (Group 1) will also be given their own laptops and their own wiki with which they can discuss different aspects of the play and this scene in particular while the second group (Group 2) will not be given any additional use of ICT in order to achieve the goal of re-enacting their own version of the scene. Group 2 will therefore function as a control group to assess the extent to which these additional tools facilitate learning.

Three types of method will be used to collect data: questionnaire, face-to-face interview, and ethnographic observation. These will be discussed in greater detail below. For all of these research methodologies there are both advantages and disadvantages in an educational environment especially if the researcher also teaches.

Questionnaires will be given out at the end of the sessions with the pupils and will be given to both groups. The questionnaires will contain a mixture of open, closed and Likert scale questions which will ensure that the results include both quantitative and qualitative data. Open questions are one where the respondent can express their general thoughts on a subject, for example “what did you find good about that experience”. There are no suggested answers, rather respondents should be encouraged to state everything that comes to mind on the topic. By contrast, closed questions offer a set answer list, from which respondents can chose one or more answers.This allows easy analysis of the data, although can limit the depth of the response. Likert scales are a special type of closed question in which answers from a sequential scale, perhaps from “I agree strongly” through “I neither agree nor disagree” to “I disagree strongly” (Bryman and Bell 2007). The design of the questionnaire for this study, including various question types, is intended to elicit a wide range of data, and make the process of triangulation easier, as results can be checked against each other (McNiff and Whitehead: 2009: 179).The questions in the questionnaire will ask students about their perceptions of the technologies used in classrooms, for example the extent to which they felt their learning was improved by individual technologies.A pilot questionnaire will be used to ensure that the questions included are the most appropriate, are easy to ask, and can be easily understood, and can improve the questionnaire in other ways (Cohen et al 2007).

It was felt that questionnaires offer advantages in the environment studied. They are, that is, relatively easy to distribute and, if they are administered correctly, are also unobtrusive. They should also take relatively little time for the participants to fill in. The advantage also with using questionnaires with students is that they can be incorporated into the lesson that they are doing. The teacher is able to hand them out, ensure they are filled in, and collect them without too much difficulty.However, the researcher is aware that there are also disadvantages with questionnaires within the educational environment. The educational researcher has to make sure that the questionnaires are anonymous or students have to at least be given the choice to give their name or not, in order to provide adequate confidentiality. Students might be reluctant to give their thoughts if they feel they are likely to be held accountable for their reactions. Questionnaires are also limited in the types of data that can be gathered. The range of types of questions needs to be varied in order to ensure that there is breadth of data both qualitative and quantitative. In order to ensure that ethical considerations in this research are fulfilled, both the head teacher and the Head of Faculty will be shown the questionnaires and the research proposal so that they are informed exactly what the project is all about. A declaration will also be drafted to accompany the questionnaire, to inform the students who fill it in of the confidentiality of the data they give, of their rights to withdraw from the study at any time, and giving an overview of the purpose of the study.

In addition to the questionnaires, the study will also collect face-to-face interviews with the students, about their perceptions of what they have learned. Again, these interviews would be based around perceptions that Year 10 students have regarding ICT use in the classroom. These interviews would use mostly open questions and would be semi-formal in order to produce a more conducive atmosphere. Face-to-face techniques have some advantages, for example they allow the researcher to help the respondent better understand the question (without leading the respondent in a particular direction), and they can generate fuller responses as the interviewer can make use of techniques of probing (Cohen et al 2007).Semi-structured interviews have advantages when used in an educational environment as they can be used as part of the assignment or lesson. They also offer more scope for the collection of more detailed and richer responses. As Burns (2009) suggests:

The aim of a semi-structured interview is to enable you to make some kind of comparison across your participants’ responses, but also to allow for individual diversity and flexibility (Burns: 2009: 75).

They can also enable the interviewee to be more relaxed and at home with the interviewing process thus enabling more information to flow (Burns 2009).

On the other hand, one disadvantage with the semi-structured interview is the concept of interviewer interference. This is the idea that the person doing the interviewing would hypothetically be in the position of affecting the outcome of the interview by asking leading questions that, either accidentally or intentionally, lead the interviewee into answering the question in a certain way.Bell and Opie (2002) as cited in Bell (2005) state that this can be a way of ‘overweighting’ the research to suit the interviewer’s bias and would therefore distort the figures produced. Bell (2005) goes on to say that researchers need to be ‘wise and vigilant, critical of our interpretation of the data, regularly question our practice and….triangulate’ (Bell: 2005: 167). This kind of reflective practice has its place both for teachers and for researchers.

In addition to the interviews with the students, a further 30 semi-structured, face-to-face interviews will also be carried out amongst teachers, looking at their relationship with the technology they use. These interviews will usually take place within the classroom and will be pre-appointed to cater for their busy daily schedule. Prior approval will also be obtained from the head teacher for these interviews and she will also be interviewed herself on the same topic. Her semi-structured interview may be worded differently as she is directly involved with how ICT is utilised within her school.

Finally the study will also include ethnographic observations of students within their learning environment, to see how they and the teacher interact with ICT (especially compared with ‘digital immigrant’ teachers). The purpose of ethnographic observation is to observe from an insider’s point of view (Bell: 2005: 17). In this case, observations will be carried out over a 2 week period, and the researcher will observe in the classroom situation how pupils from different classes and from different backgrounds interact with the teacher and whatever electronic learning and teaching aids they may use.The researcher will incorporate techniques from action research, such as interacting with the subjects under study (Greenwood 1999), in order to make their presence seem more ‘natural’ and accepted by the students. As well as this, the lessons that will be taught as part of the project will give the researcher the opportunity to observe how the students interact with the technology.

In terms of educational research, this type of approach involves contact with, and close observation of, the pupils that are being observed. It has many advantages: for example it allows the researcher to share perspectives with the people studied, in a way which is not allowed by other means. The researcher is able “to understand better why they act in the way that they do and to see things as those involved see things” (Bell: 2005:17). However, Bell (2005) as well as other critics, also cite a number of disadvantages with ethnographic observation such as time issues. One main challenge with ethnographic observation is the issue of representativeness. That is, to what extent can the findings in small-scale studies of this type be generalised and allow more wide-sweeping conclusionsIn this case, what may be typical of that particular group being studied may not be typical of another group within the school. So the validity of this project might be called into question, because the observed behaviour or views collected may not be typical of the whole school. I aim to overcome this drawback by including other types of research, and by setting the study in the context of the literature review, which will draw upon findings from other studies.

6. Proposed Schedule
JanFebMarAprilMayJuneJuly
Research Design
Planning
Literature Review
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Dissertation Draft
Final Dissertation

Research design – – – – Planning – – – – Literature review – – – – Data collection – – – – – Data analysis – – – – – Dissertation production Draft – – – Final – – – –
7. References

Babbie, E R (2010) The Practice of Social Research (12th edn.), Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA

Bryman, A and Bell, E (2007) Business research methods (2nd edn), Oxford University Press, Oxon.

Burns, A (2009), Doing Action Research in English Language Teaching: A Guide for Practitioners, Routledge, Abingdon

Capel, S A (2005) Learning to teach subjects in the secondary school (4th edn), Taylor and Francis, UK

Cohen, L, Manion, L and Morrison, K (2007) Research methods in education (6h edn.), Routledge, UK

Evans, C, Midgley, A, Rigby, P, Warham, L and Woolnough, P,(2009), Teaching English, SAGE Publications, London

Flick, U (2009), An Introduction to Qualitative Research (4th edn.), SAGE Publications, London

Greenwood, D J (1999) Action research: from practice to writing in an international action research development program, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

Hesse-Biber, S N and Leavy, P (2010) Handbook of Emergent Methods, Guilford Press, USA

Jaconsen, A (2011) Introduction to health research methods: a practical guide, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, MA

Lankshear, C and Knobel, M (2006), New Literacies: Everyday practices and classroom learning, Open University Press, Maidenhead, UK

Lewis, J and Moje, E B (2009) Essential questions in adolescent literacy: teachers and researchers describe what works in classrooms, Guilford Press, USA

Pitler, H (2007), Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, MidContinent Research for Education and Learning, Denver Colorado USA

NATE (2011), ‘ICT and the teaching of English: National Curriculum Review 2011’, [online] available at: NATE, London www.nate.org.uk/index.php?page=62 [accessed 20th January 2012)

Truscano, M (2008), Knowledge Maps: ICTs in Education, Infodev, Washington DC, USA

Ward, S and Connolly, R, (2008), ‘Let them Eat Shakespeare’, The Curriculum Journal, 19:4.

Categories
Free Essays

Six Sigma ought to be a learning process.

Introduction

The impact of six-sigma mechanism on organisational learning has been a matter of substantial debate (Lifvergren et al 2010). It involves the sustainability of improved performance in processes considered by an organization. This paper will discuss how six sigma has contributes to organisational learning with reference to personal experience where applicable. Commencing with a base overview of the concept, this paper will build a foundation upon which to establish evidence. Following this section with an assessment of Six Sigma in the business world will enable a quality illustration of effectiveness. A combination of the first portions will allow for a credible evaluation and determination of the positive or negative feature of the Six Sigma concept.

In the end, this study will have considered past contributions, modern impact and future potential for the Six Sigma concept with the stated goal of determining if it makes a positive impact on Organisational Learning.

What is Six-sigma?

The accepted definition of Six Sigma is defined as a system of reducing mistakes and improving value (Gygl and Williams, 2005). First created in the early 1980’s the company, Motorola utilized the Six- Sigma method to increase production capacity. Every aspect of the business operation is anticipated through the cost of the method (Lifvergren et al 2010). Revenue is impacted with every lost customer, replacement part, having to perform a task again and these factors all combine to produce an impact to the full business income (Gygl et al 2005). With estimates of loss due to these factors into the forty per cent range, there is growing recognition of the critical need to implement a more efficient strategy. Together with Lean manufacturing methods the hybrid practice referred to as Lean Six Sigma has emerged to become a modern tool. Others view Six Sigma approach as little more than a piece meal method made up of already existing theory that will soon fade (Livfergren et al 2010)

Six Sigma has evolved to become a general purpose evaluation method illustrating the means to minimize mistakes and maximize value (Gygl et al 2005). The application of the Six- Sigma system is argued to be oversimplified in many cases (Livfergren et al 2010). This is characterized by an excruciating occasional internal examination of business infrastructure, to illustrate a method to improvement performance, lower costs, increase success and better consumer outreach. Six Sigma operates on two distinct levels, the managerial and the technical. This complex creation component creates constant opportunity for delay (Livfergren et al 2010). The managerial component of the system encompasses the people, technologies, schedules, projects and details that must be managed associated with developing plans and taking direct action. The Six Sigma system must be in managerial balance in order for the technical elements of the method to be effective (Ibid). In my personal experience this shows how clearly demonstrated that lacking a coordinated and rigorous managerial implementation alongside the technical aspects will result in markedly diminished results. In order for the organisational learning element to be enhanced the Six Sigma system must be carefully implemented by leadership in order to smooth application and provide the full range of results (Livfergren et al 2010).

Six sigma as a learning process

The Six Sigma process is best understood by breaking it down into its base elements which are: Improvement of the process, Design or redesign of the process and Process management (Anand, Ward and Tatikonda 2010). Each of these elements is connected to the others, making the capacity to learn and apply that knowledge a vital component of the system (Ibid). The ability to capture explicit knowledge with the research method has the opportunity to offer insights into the process. Improvement of the process refers to the effort to pursue the elimination of the base cause of performance deficiencies that may be present in any organization (Gutierrez, Bustinza and Molina 2012). The Six Sigma approach links the (Gutierrez, Bustinza and Molina 2012). This is an indication of the ability of the firm to take in new information and make it work within the existing infrastructure (Ibid). With a clear benefit related to the capacity to identify and adapt this element is a learning cornerstone (Ibid). In order to balance this area of improvement Six Sigma identifies five fields that must be addressed including the define, or identification stage followed by the measurement phase to gauge the extent of the issue, then an analysis of the issue must be performed based on these initial components(Gygl et al 2005). This analysis will then be subject to improvement, alleviating the root cause, followed by the creation of new controls in order to better maintain integrity (Ibid). Again, personal experience has demonstrated the value of progress built on the capacity to learn and adapt.

The design or redesign phase is often more than a simply tweak to an existing system, commonly requiring a complete reconceptualization of the model (Harmon 2007). Several fundamental business causes are credited with needing this step. An organisation may simply choose to upgrade or completely reinstall a process in order to make progress (Gygl et al 2005). Or, during an on-going improvement process, a discovery making a new process essential is made. Further, a company may see a long term advantage by offering an entirely new product or line, making this step essential (Ibid). There is a five step process to achieving this goal of design or process redesign. This process includes the Define, or identification of goals for the new process, Match, or the development of performance requirements, to Analyse or the analysis using the performance requirements created, Design and implement, refers the creation and subsequent implementation of the developed process followed by the Verify, or testing to make sure that the new process lives up to the specifications of the required research (Gygl et al 2005).

This design stage of the Six Sigma process incorporates the lessons gained from each step by the company to create and then implement a complex goal (Macadam, Antony, Kumar and Hazlet 2012). Yet, the lessons learned from the experience may differ with each team member, making future application difficult (Lifvergren et al 2012). With each application personal experience will impact application and can only be improved through additional experience. With the creation of learning process for the team membership, the capacity for the team to achieve a successful resolution to the process is enhanced (Sony and Naik 2012). Conversely, the overly complex nature of the Six Sigma method can lead to unnecessary delays in development and production (Macadam et al 2012). Personal experience during the implementation of Six Sigma illustrates the very complex methods required to generate the expected results. This overly complex approach has delayed project production by adding in several elements to be considered that were time consuming to attend to. The effort to add organisational learning to this aspect is difficult as the need to incorporate all of the diverse elements is hard to do.

The Process Management section is required in the presence of the need for a fundamental change in the manner in which a business operates (Gygl et al 2005). Often credited with being the most challenging potion of the Six Sigma process, this entails a similar approach as did the first two sections. This process includes the defining stage, or the identifications of key requirements, the measuring of performance phase, the comparison of requirements and current production levels, the analysis stage is need in order to determine the best methods for process refinement and the controlling process performance stage in order to maintain the progress gained through the experience (Ibid).

This step of the Six Sigma process allows for the company to identify their fundamental challenges, learn from the determined shortcomings and achieve success through implementation (Parast 2011). The step by step organisation of goals enables streamlined learning process that allows for a companywide learning component.

Arumugam, Antony and Kumar (2013) illustrate their argument that Six Sigma enhances the learning process in order to produce better results. Incorporating the two organizational elements of Six Sigma resources, technical and the social or team safety factor, their research supports the argument that he Six Sigma project teams are a deliberate extension of the process and promote organizational learning (Ibid). This study demonstrated that the project resources clearly impact the knowing-what and knowing how. Additionally, the team psychological safety factor impacts the knowing how learning mechanism (Ibid).The knowing how balances the influences of the knowing what on overall project success, a clear indication of learning.

Lifvergren et al (2010) credits the Six Sigma learning process as creating a seventy five per cent success rate over the course of twenty two Six Sigma projects. In this case success is defined as the business increasing revenue and enhancing operations (Lifvergren et al 2010). Further, the lessons learned during this period, were then utilized to contribute to other developing projects adding to the fundamental value of the technique (Ibid). Personal experience has taught that The Six Sigma method enables an atmosphere of targeted learning for the team members, which in turn allows for enhanced benefits.

Organisational Theory and Six sigma’s contribution to the learning organisation

Organisational theory describes the interaction between the activities of the business and the world (Jones 2010). Organisations are formed around a group of people working together towards the same goal. Organisational learning is defined as the change in the organisations knowledge base as the entity accrues experience (Argote 2012). This involves both the area of declarative knowledge, or facts, and the procedural knowledge which encompasses the related skills and routines, the concept touches on every level of business. This suggests that as an organisation grows and operates it also learns (Ibid). Others argue that the process of gathering experience is not strictly confined to operational production, but can in fact be made of theoretical and secondary experience (Easterby-Smith and Lyles 2013). Organisational learning directly impacts the quality and performance of the company (Argote 2012). This element has been argued to be a measureable indication of a company’s wellbeing (Ibid). The capacity to read the signs of the world around them enable these forms of company to ‘learn’ from the environment, and by doing so, is able to create a sustainable model. Modern researches have determined that organisational learning within an organization may be measured either by assessing cognitions of the membership (Easterby-Smith and Lyles 2013). Others argue that the behavioural approach is the better method of evaluation with research focus on the practice and routines of the membership and take note of how performance characteristics change (Pepper 2010). In both approaches, it is the membership that is evaluated as well as their response to the environment around them.

Six Sigma contributes to the organisational learning process by laying out a clear set of guidelines, which can lead to a successful resolution (Aboelmaged 2010). With a wide array of both statistical tools and methods, the opportunity to become overly dependent on a single approach can diminish the results (Snee 2010). The wide range of available mechanisms adds depth and adaptability to the Six Sigma process (Pepper 2010). However, the converse argument describes this as an overly convoluted process that will only lead to a dearth of data which will in turn become a detriment to the application (Snee 2010). Six Sigma contributes to the learning process by laying out the process clearly, this allows for a companywide approach that serves to utilize the wide range of experience innately available.

How can six sigma be implemented into the organizational learning mechanism

The Six Sigma process can be implemented through the management phase that provides support for the company (Nair, Malhotra and Ahire 2011). The roles of executive leadership, or the CEO, the Champions or stewards of the Six Sigma implementation, Master Black Belts or in-house coaches and Black Belts as experts on specific elements provide a clear tool for Six Sigma to be implemented into the organisational learning mechanism (Ibid). Others cite these very same elements as being contrary to the organisational learning effort by making it overly complex (Nair et al 2011). Further, the organisational learning effort can be hampered by a lack of qualified leaders, crippling the time frame (Livfergren et al 2010). This system offers advanced training and certification in Six Sigma components in order to alleviate this same issues as well as enhance the opportunities for positive organisational learning experiences (Basu and Wright 2012). Yet, personal experience has illustrated the fact that many of these trained advisors are ill equipped for each unique Six Sigma application experience.

The concept of organisational learning incorporates many of the same mechanisms that the Six Sigma uses (Basu et al 2012). For example the initial step within each of the Six Sigma basic processes consists of the identification and subsequent definition of the issue at hand in order to understand the limits (Ibid). The organisational learning approach utilizes the concepts of experience and inquiry in order to bridge the conceptual gaps found in the business world (Easterby-Smith and Lyles, 2012). The compatibility of goals allows for a Six Sigma approach that closely correlates to the companies need to be progressive (Basu et al 2012). Further, the Measure and Analyse elements of the Six Sigma approach enable a clear benefit to the organisational learning efforts, as the company or issue at hand is scrutinized, measured and considered in detail (Glyn et al 2012). However, personal experience has illustrated that this over attention to detail can create the opportunity for organisational learning that is hampered by the over exposure to diverse theories.

The process of organisational learning is further supported by the Six Sigma’s elements of improve and control (Argote 2012). The recognition and resolution of the issue being researched leads to a more informed membership that will in turn provide improved performance. Others argue that the increased scrutiny only adds to the member’s opportunity to fall prey to delay (Basu et al 2012). In each case the Six Sigma supports the organisational learning process as well as adds to the quality of analysis and provision for resolution.

How can six sigma influence organisational learning?

Six Sigma has several opportunities to enhance organisational learning at every level of operation (Yun and Chua 2002). Others argue that the implementation of the Six Sigma process is a waste of resources (Eng 2011). Innovation and consumer satisfaction by the Six Sigma concept enables a better outreach capacity for the entire organisation, directly enhancing the entities ability to learn (Yun et al 2002). Others cite the elements of the system as being less than innovative or original; in fact, arguing the system is redundant (Argote 2012). However, the complex nature of the Six Sigma mechanism allows for a comprehensive examination of the even the most detailed business, adding to the opportunity to accurate organisational learning.

Over exposure and reliance on the statistical tools related to the Six Sigma system are a common criticism of the system (Corbett 2011). Others cite the availability of wide range of tools an asset during the often exhaustive examination process (Eng 2011). Further, the Six Sigma method has been argued to an extension of the Total Quality Management, or TQI, system, and in no substantial way new or innovative (Corbett 2011). However, others find the nature of method, both reassuring and inclusive (Eng 2011).

Conclusion

The Six Sigma process has become a matter of substantial debate as business turn to emerging theory in order to streamline operations. The evidence produced in this study has illustrated the divide over the systems complexity, yet exposed the industries need for the tool. With the capacity to assess and identify and subsequently improve, the Six Sigma system adds depth to any organisational learning experience. Further, the knowledge gained during this exposure will be available for later use. Utilizing the Six Sigma elements including Black Belts and Master Black Belts, the incorporation into any existing organisational learning model is made possible. Yet, this same issue of complexity has the potential to derail and diminish the return of the Six Sigma experience if the process lacks consideration or balance during implementation.

Eventually, as with any highly refined tool, the Six Sigma has the capacity to become a valuable element of the organisational learning experience. Yet, the success or failure of application will rely on the methods chosen as well as the professionals responsible for the analysis.

References

Aboelmaged, M. G. (2010). Six Sigma quality: a structured review and implications for future research. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 27(3), 268-317.

Anand, G., Ward, P. T., & Tatikonda, M. V. (2010). Role of explicit and tacit knowledge in Six Sigma projects: An empirical examination of differential project success. Journal of Operations Management, 28(4), 303-315.

Argote, L. (2012). Organizational learning. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Arumugam, V., Antony, J. and Kumar, M. (2012). Linking learning and knowledge creation to project success in Six Sigma projects: An empirical investigation. International Journal of Production Economics.

Basu, R. and Wright, J. (2003). Quality beyond Six Sigma. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Corbett, L. (2011). Lean Six Sigma: the contribution to business excellence. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 2 (2), pp. 118–131.

Desai, D. (2010). Six sigma. Mumbai [India]: Himalaya Pub. House.

Easterby-Smith, M., and Lyles, M. A. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of organizational learning and knowledge management. Wiley.com.

Eng, T. Y. (2011). Six Sigma: insights from organizational innovativeness and market orientation. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 28(3), 252-262.

Gutierrez, L. G., Bustinza, O. F., and Molina, V. B. (2012). Six sigma, absorptive capacity and organisational learning orientation. International Journal of Production Research, 50(3), 661-675.

Galganski, C. J., and Thompson, J. M. (2008). Six Sigma: an overview and hospital library experience. Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 8(2), 133-144.

Harmon, P. (2007). Business process change. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Lifvergren, S., Gremyr, I., Hellstrom, A., Chakhunashvili, A., and Bergman, B. (2010). Lessons from Sweden’s first large-scale implementation of Six Sigma in healthcare. Operations management research, 3(3-4), 117-128.

Martin, J. 2007. Lean six sigma for supply chain management. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kumar, M., Antony, J., and Tiwari, M. K. (2011). Six Sigma implementation framework for SMEs–a roadmap to manage and sustain the change. International Journal of Production Research, 49(18), 5449-5467.

Nair, A., Malhotra, M. K., & Ahire, S. L. (2011). Toward a theory of managing context in Six Sigma process-improvement projects: an action research investigation. Journal of Operations Management, 29(5), 529-548.

Parast, M. M. (2011). The effect of Six Sigma projects on innovation and firm performance. International Journal of Project Management, 29(1), 45-55.

Pepper, M. P. J., & Spedding, T. A. (2010). The evolution of lean Six Sigma. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 27(2), 138-155.

Snee, R. D. (2010). Lean Six Sigma–getting better all the time. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 1(1), 9-29.

Sony, M., and Naik, S. (2012). Six Sigma, organizational learning and innovation: An integration and empirical examination. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 29(8), 915-936.

Yun, J. Y., & Chua, R. C. (2002). Samsung uses Six Sigma to change its image. In Six Sigma Forum Magazine, 2(1), 13-16. SQ Quality Press.

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Reflective Essay on Learning Disabilities – Psychological Well-being

Background

The purpose of this reflective essay is to reflect on learning disabilities, focusing on mental health and psychological well-being. It provides a critical investigation of the assessment process; formal and informal assessments; application of legal, ethical, and socio-political factors to the process; and the role and function of the nursing profession to the theory and practice of assessment. The case of Janet, an epileptic patient, is the focus of the assessment in this essay.

1. Process of Assessment

Assessment is the first step to diagnosing mental disorders. A mental health assessment is a multifaceted intellectual activity involving the hypothesis formulation of a certain individual, which serves as the basis for deciding on data to be collected and interpreted, as well as for drawing conclusions. A full clinical assessment goes hand-in-hand with mental health assessment, which involves evaluating and measuring systematically such factors in an individual as psychological, biological, and social to assess a need for a possible psychological treatment (Elder, Evans, and Nizette 2013).

Mental health nursing maintains its keystone in an accurate and methodical biopsychosocial and spiritual assessment. The initial process of assessment ascertains whether the individual has a mental health problem; identifies the problem; the most appropriate treatment; and whether there is coexisting health or social problems requiring attention or treatment. Thus, it is necessary to carry out a comprehensive assessment to determine the person’s diagnosis and develop a suitable treatment plan. According to mental professionals, mental disorders may be classified according to behavioural patterns as well as patterns of thought and emotion. By understanding classification systems, mental health nurses enable professional and effective communication with other health disciplines and contribute to research and in selecting effective interventions (Elder et al. 2013; Basavanthappa 2007).

Assessment is crucial as the client must be assessed holistically, in which a relevant information about his/her life, behaviour, and feelings must become integrated. Attainment of optimum level of health for the client is the focus of such care (Shives 2008). Hopp and Rittenmeyer (2012) emphasised that it is important to do mental notes when doing an assessment since this would provide some clue as to how the person is feeling. Hence, one must look at the appearance, behaviour, speech, emotional state, and thinking of the person being assessed. However, looking into these areas is not enough since misinterpretation or erroneous assumptions may take place. Rather, it is necessary to take into account the context, setting, social norms, and beliefs for the individual being assessed (Pender, Murdaugh, and Parsons 2006). Needs-led assessment will allow the nurse to place more emphasis on finding solutions (Coffey and Hannigan 2003).

2. Risk Assessment

A significant role is played by risk assessment and management in the practice of mental health nurses and multi-disciplinary teams. These risks include threat/danger to others as well as self-harm, amongst others. Despite the presence of risks however, a balance must be considered between the needs of each individual service user (client) and people’s safety and protection. A further emphasis is placed on paucity of information and lack of knowledge about such risks, thereby leading to ‘clinical gambling’ that can further result in mishaps (Cordall 2009). It is necessary to provide focus on improved consistency in applying risk assessment and management strategies, considering their central role in the practice of mental health. Admittedly, risk assessment and management went through certain developments, including the area/s to be understood about risk assessment; its clarity and what must be assessed; strategy developments in nursing risk; proposals; and leaned enquiry-based lessons. Hence, risk language must be standardised and simplified, which requires improving clarity in the vital roles of the concept (Cordall 2009).

When one speaks of risk assessment in mental health services, he/she deals with the broader possibility (risk) of an event or behaviour (outcome). The outcome is the principal area of interest since it is commonly connected to an extent of severity, which could be associated with the indications of dangerousness/illness. Important regard is given to the impact of such severity because both a high outcome risk with low impact and a low outcome risk with high impact can take place (Kettles and Woods 2009).

A useful way to consider the manner through which events take place is much the same as researchers’ predictive ability to test a number of risk assessments, which is also a useful way to evaluate the success of outcomes. Contingency tables allow an examination of correct predictions and error rates, and are hence an excellent means to present these results. On the other hand, the severity of behaviour refers to the level of intensity of risk occurring, and may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe (Kettles and Woods 2009). Clinical practice in a range of settings involves the core feature of violence risk assessment. The focus on risk to others in the mental nursing health practice is that ignoring or failing to acknowledge it can leave medical personnel unprepared and a lack of preparation results in situations where less willingness to work with aggressive and violent patients might be felt by clinical staff. Moreover, as there is a widely-held awareness of the relationship between mental illness and violence, an increasing basis of risk assessments will be taking place in clinical, correctional, and legal settings (Woods, 2009). On the other hand, risk to self, which may include suicidal behaviour, physical and social self-neglect, and vulnerability to risk from others, must also be considered. Worthy of note here are the biologic theories of suicide, which look into the link between physical illness, increased risk, and neuro-biological factors of suicide (Murray and Upshall 2009).

3.Case Study

The Purpose of Assessment and its Potential Impact for Promoting Inclusion

The person who is the focus of this case study is an epileptic patient named Janet. She is 48 years old, very fragile (small and short), and is within the care facility because her medication was not acting on her. She was admitted for her best interest.

Janet was admitted to the mental health hospital due to her episodes of self-harming, which is a risk to herself and to other service users (other patients). Janet is on different psychotic tablets and mood stabilizers; she is unable to sleep despite having been prescribed with sleeping tablets. Her behaviour is very challenging: she bites, screams all day, and is out of control. She came to the hospital to be observed and to allow personnel to research on a suitable drug that could work for her. She came to the ward setting via a referral from both her General Practitioner (GP) and her Psychiatric consultant. In the ward, she was placed on a close observation at Level 3. She was also assessed by the speech and language therapist as well as the behavioural therapist because of her difficulty to swallow. Her mental health is very unstable and she is unable to communicate verbally. However, she uses and understands gestures. She only makes sounds, noises, and screams as a way to communicate. She likes pulling and grabbing, and loves her meal, especially her cups of tea.

Janet came from a low-income British family, never married, and never had children due to her apparent condition. She is second amongst four children and still has both of her parents.

The above narrative shows an investigation of a patient with a mental and learning disability problem, who was admitted to a mental health setting expecting treatment. It is apparent that an assessment was done on the patient before any clinical personnel would have carried out a specific intervention procedure. The above has not only related the nature of the patient’s illness but also presented other information that may be gathered in order to conduct an accurate assessment that will aid a precise diagnosis.

The diagnosis of learning disabilities/mental disorders requires assessment as the initial step, which was evidently carried out on Janet. Mental health assessment is conducted vis-a-vis a full clinical assessment, which is a systematic evaluation of the psychological, biological, and social factor of a person who is presented with a potential psychological disorder. Assessment begins with a process wherein a curative alliance occurs between the client and the mental health personnel, thereby forming the basis of a care plan. Empathy and compassion are necessarily involved in the process in order to support the development of trust between the client and the mental health personnel forming an alliance (Elder et al. 2013; Kettles and Collins 2002). The clinical personnel in charge of Janet were empathetic and compassionate of her condition. The health personnel took extra care to understand the client in crisis, taking into account her associated fear and distress level, especially if her prior service experience had been difficult and/or if she underwent compulsory treatment.

The mental health nurse took the major role in the performance of an accurate and ongoing assessment on Janet. Assessment may be generally described as a complicated process since the diagnosis it performs ascertains the treatment for the client. The client’s needs and strengths are gauged by thorough assessment. It must be noted that assessment seldom includes one function; patients might be assessed to determine who they are, to describe and appraise particular problems of living as well as personal and social resources. All of these are embodied in a global assessment. Through assessment, the mental health nurse was able to obtain some understanding of the significance of Janet’s condition and problems (Elder et al. 2013; Morrison-Valfre 2013).

The mental health nurse engaged in Janet’s condition acknowledged the different systems and levels of care for the person-in-care and ensured that she received treatment with dignity and respect so as to enable her to go back eventually to the highest possible level of self-care (Griffin, 2012). All patients must be treated with dignity and respect, giving careful considerations to the manner of communication with them (Hindle, Coates, and Kingston 2011). Thus, being aware of Janet’s systems and levels of care vis-a-vis her condition allowed the mental health nurse and care specialists to determine her treatment and receive it with respect and dignity.

Types of assessment may be classified as global, focused, and ongoing. Global assessment enables the provision of baseline data, such as the client’s health history and current needs assessment. Focused assessment, on the other hand, has a limited scope in its aim to focus on a specific need or potential risk. Ongoing assessment pertains to systematic monitoring and observation related to certain problems (Elder et al. 2013). The case study adopts a global assessment.

Prior to assessing the service user being referred to in crisis, it is necessary to find out if she experienced mental health services and consulted their crisis plan. It is also important to enquire of her preference for a male or female care professional to carry out the assessment. In this case, Janet’s family specified female care professionals. Moreover, crisis assessment needs to clarify the information and its potential outcomes, addressing the client’s individual needs. Assessment for mental health must involve the client’s relationships, social and economic circumstances, behaviour, symptoms, diagnosis, and current treatment (NHS 2011). It is evident that amongst these concerns, the assessment made on Janet was focused most on her behaviour, symptoms, diagnosis, and current treatment. Her family history, social and economic circumstances, and the like, were also mentioned in the assessment.

It must be recognised that assessments and diagnoses performed must be evidence-based and need the use of accepted methods. Assessments are carried out by suitably qualified staff with training and experience to assess mental health problems, and where possible, in the client’s preferred setting, with respect to the safety of all concerned. Collecting information about the person can be performed by the person himself/herself, or by other people who have prior observation of the person’s behaviour, such as family or carers. In this regard, it was the latter which was applied to Janet due also to her inability to communicate effectively. What the mental health nurse needs to know about the patient determines how he/she gathers the information. Knowing about what the person feels or thinks necessitates asking him directly in order to gather the needed information. Hence, the mental health personnel oftentimes asked Janet about what she thought or felt about certain things, people, or food. If the mental health nurse needed to know the manner in which Janet might behave in certain circumstances, Janet must be asked to reflect on her behaviour, or someone may be asked to observe Janet’s behaviour, or both. Further, it is essential to understand the lived experiences of both Janet and her carers in the assessment. Necessary information for understanding such lived experience involves Janet’s or the carer’s manner of interpreting what is taking place with Janet besides knowledge about her life, including her interests, personality characteristics, social resources, and personal circumstances. Janet’s family was involved in the treatment in the earliest possible way because of their in-depth information about how the symptoms of mental illness have developed, including their knowledge of the social and emotional environments contributing to the flourishing of such symptoms in Janet. Interviews, diaries/personal records, questionnaires, and direct observations are the major assessment methods that can be performed to obtain the needed information for the assessment (Wilkinson and Treas 2011). In Janet’s assessment, relevant information was collected through interviews, direct observations, and a referral from her GP and her psychiatric consultant. Interviews were performed with her family members and carers who observed her behaviour.

Models of Assessment and How They Impact on Inclusive, Responsive and Responsible Practice

The new model of care is exemplified by new care practices whereby best practices as advanced by research evidence present the new model of care (Kleinpell 2013). According to Freeman (2005), a biopsychosocial assessment of the patient is considered in an effective intervention, with a recommendation of a multi-method and multi-modal format. Moreover, these domains of information are used for assessment: biological, affective, behavioural, and cognitive domains, alongside the units of assessment, including the patient, his family, the health care process, and the socio-cultural setting in which the patient exists. The mental health personnel must understand the current status and history of the patient, and the assessment must identify problem areas and consider the patient’s assets and resources. This model can be employed in contemplating the patient’s change of behaviour to improve his quality of life, prevent illness, and promote well-being (Freeman 2005).

The biopsychosocial assessment model also investigates the interrelatedness amongst the physical, psychological, behavioural, environmental, and social aspects of an individual’s life. The biological system focuses on the anatomical state of disease and its effect on the individual’s biological functioning. On the other hand, the effects of psychological factors, including personality and motivation, are emphasised in psychological system as the individual experiences mental illness. Further, the social system looks at the familial and cultural effects of the experience of illness. The causal ordering of biopsychosocial model is intrinsically biomedical, which means that rather than the causes, biochemical abnormalities can affect a person’s social environment. One criticism of this model is that it tends to rule out structural and social factors, but can however be considered as a useful framework for understanding the experience of mental illness (Freeman 2005).

The psychosocial model, on the other hand, is considered a holistic perspective to mental disorders and presents the interdependent areas of biological, psychological, and social factors in the assessment of mental health disorders (Boyd 2008).

It is significant to note that standardised assessment methods promote inclusion in the mental health. The strategy of the European Union (EU) for mental health identifies best practice in the domain and in fostering social inclusion. A holistic approach is required in any effort to recognise best practice in social inclusion rather than to simply emphasise on aspects relating to mental health. Social exclusion cannot be addressed by just looking at the mental health problem of a person since one of the fundamental reasons for social exclusion of people with mental health illnesses is the propensity to take an exclusive emphasis on their medical symptoms rather than resolving the fundamental causes of their problems. Issues needing attention are equality and diversity, access to physical and mental health care and social networks, to name a few (House of Lords, 2007). The relevance of action to promote and improve social inclusion is embodied in mental health policy and is safeguarded in the National Service Framework, which affirms that discrimination against people with mental health problems must be resisted and their social inclusion must be fostered. This signifies that mental health workers must regard the promotion of social inclusion a primary concern.

The Effectiveness of Formal and Informal Assessments as Mechanisms to Develop a Shared Understanding of Need

Either a formal or informal assessment may be carried out by the mental health nurse. A formal assessment involves an ordered interview plan and tools including questionnaires, checklists, etc. to acquire important information to aid the assessment interview. On the other hand, an informal assessment is less structured and the questions raised are those that the interviewer views to be relevant at the time he/she asks them. The formal interview has more benefits than the informal one since it is able to carry out a more or less similar assessment of people through the tools and structured interview plan thus devised. In addition, the individual’s biases and value judgments are less expected to influence the interview, as can take place in an informal assessment. The decision to use either formal or informal assessment methods is ascertained by the person in care as well as the adopted standardised assessment procedures (Pryjmachuk 2011).

A formal assessment is emphasised on some form of structure and is commonly planned and studied with care, i.e. through some research. An informal assessment, on the other hand, involves information gathered through less structured methods. Despite the almost similarity in the appearance of both methods, such similarity is however superficial. In both cases, the care personnel (e.g. nurse) would ask the person-in-care certain questions relating to his condition, noting his replies. However, a formal interview will have the questions carefully prepared earlier and might even be worded in a certain way, whilst the informal interview lacks this feature. Instead, the nurse conducting an informal assessment would ask certain questions she thinks relevant at that time, phrasing them in such manner she considers appropriate. Albeit both kinds of assessment are commonly used in mental health settings, it is important to recognise the significant advantages of any formal system over the less structured ways of investigating the condition of persons-in-care. The guidelines and procedures embodied in a formal system allow various people-in-care to be examined in a relatively the same fashion. This results in reduction, if not total cancellation, of one’s own prejudices. Regardless of who completes the assessment, its outcome must be the same, and such cannot be said of informal methods (Barker 2004). The first point of information must be the patient’s basic demographics and condition/illness. An evaluation of physiological symptoms, history, risk factors, and treatment procedures must be considered vis-a-vis biological targets. His current moods, feelings about the illness/mental problem, support network, amongst others, constitute the patient’s affective targets. Crucial to his comprehensive evaluation is an assessment of his behavioral targets, which include self-care, functional capabilities, and occupational/recreational abilities (Freeman 2005). All of these must be embodied in the assessment made on Janet.

Critical Application of Legal, Ethical and Socio-Political Factors to the Practice of Assessment

The use of assessment and clinical procedures involve some ethical issues. Ethical dilemmas may occur when diagnosis is performed in such situations, whereby diagnosing a person arbitrarily is often entailed. However, health care personnel have the clinical, ethical, and legal obligation to screen patients for life-threatening problems such as bipolar disorder, suicidal depression, and the like. It is necessary to point out that exclusive reliance on standardised treatments for certain problems may invite ethical concerns because of the questionable nature of the reliability and validity of these empirically-based strategies. Along with this is the fact that human change is complex and that measuring beyond a simplistic level is a difficult task, thereby making the change meaningless (Corey 2013). Thorough reflections on ethical considerations relative to health technologies are involved in the assessment for health technologies and value-based decisions. Since methods of retrieving information for effectiveness assessment are not appropriate to retrieving information on ethical issues, it is important to adopt a specific methodological approach (Scholarly Editions 2012). In addition, ethical principles such as autonomy, fidelity, and justice, amongst others, are involved in the provision of mental nursing care. National professional organisations set the standards for professional nurses’ ethical behaviours (Boyd 2008).

Likewise, the healthcare organisation must ascertain its training needs and design structures to enable its healthcare personnel to understand ethical values and principles and hence integrate them into daily practice. With the provision of training, ethical values might not be recognised by several staff personnel whenever they occur, and thus they might impair their ability to recognise a suitable course of action. A formal assessment process is viable in enhancing an ethical framework within the healthcare organisation (Corey 2013).

A point to consider is that the mental health care system faces certain magnified legal issues. The legal aspects of the assessment process in the practice of assessment involve such example where the nurse is held responsible for her judgments as well as the safety and well-being of the person-in-care. Every nurse must be aware of the three legal concepts that might affect their practice of care: negligence, malpractice, and liability (Davies and Janosik, 1991). Negligence occurs when a person (e.g. nurse) has become careless or has failed to act prudently, or has acted in such a way that is contrary to the conduct of a reasonable person. Malpractice takes place when a person commits professional misconduct, or has discharged his professional duties improperly, or fails to meet the standard of care as a professional, thereby resulting in harm to another. Liability, on the other hand, occurs as an obligation for having failed to act on something (Davies and Janosik, 1991).

Mental health care is also influenced by sociopolitical factors, whereby the power of social justice is emphasised in the rectification of socio-cultural insensitivities (James and O’Donohue 2009). Mental health issues necessitate increased understanding of the sociopolitical context. This would include increased emigration in various parts of the world, which presents greater attention to the manner in which mental health issues may be effectively addressed within a broader global context. Studies involving culturally diverse samples would enable researchers to assess the generalisability of the diagnostic classification of mental problems across cultures and would likewise determine culturally specific events that might be influential to prevalence rates. Not being able to recognise the significant cultural differences amongst peoples impliedly promotes the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that is often criticised in the current diagnostic system for mental problems. It has been emphasised that cultural and sociopolitical factors could indeed influence the assessment of certain mental illnesses, thereby enabling mental clinicians to consider cultural issues as necessary aspects of the assessment and diagnostic process (Chang 2012). Culturally able mental health care involves suitable treatments that take into account the client’s culture and social setting. The literature indicates that the primary objectives of mental health are to return to function, contribute to society, and maintain relationships (Markowitz and Weissman 2012).

4. Application to Practice

How the Role and Function of the Nursing Profession Relates to the Theory and Practice of Assessment

All mental health practitioners are responsible for developing certain strategies that allow people to maintain and build relationships, social roles, activities, etc. that are vital to social inclusion (Harrison, Howard and Mitchell 2004). The provision of high-quality mental health disqualifies biases and instead understands these biases at a range of levels, such as practitioner level, community level, and practice programme (Shieves 2008). It is recognised in this work that such biases can lead to social exclusion in the domain, which is not desired.

Pondering on the provision of mental health care would necessitate its interpretation by psychodynamic theories, which looks at interpersonal concepts and examines the development of the mind within a lifetime (Dillion 2007). Behavioural theories provide emphasis on normal behaviour rather than the causes of mental problems/disorders. The objective is to effect behavioural change by means of conditioning, positive reinforcement, and so on (Dillion 2007).

Meanwhile, cognitive theories involve understanding by focusing on behaviour and the individual’s cognition, including the way he processes his thoughts. The value of cognitive theory is seen in patient-therapist collaboration and the client’s active involvement in the occurrence of change (Dillion 2007). This is contrary to the situation where the client has learning disability and hence would find it difficult to pursue all these.

Social Theories, on the other hand, involve socio-cultural perspectives and family dynamics, to name two, and convey that the development of a care plan for the patient necessitates certain socio-cultural aspects (Dillion 2007). This is suggestive of an inclusive care plan (Harrison et al., 2004).

The importance of these theories to practice is that learning disabilities and mental problems as well as their causes can be more increasingly understood through their aid, thereby providing treatment to the patient with a consideration of their behaviour, cognition, socio-cultural context, and so on. These theories also aid in pursuing further the concept of inclusion in health care and in understanding further the relevance of the assessment process.

Through theories that aid practice, mental illness can be more accurately understood using integrative approaches. The conceptual framework of psychiatric domain involves various theoretical perspectives, with the absence of a single best explanatory model explaining mental illness. As this conceptual framework takes its development towards an increasingly integrative viewpoint, more effective and efficient integrative assessments will be the result of an understanding of complex relationships amongst various processes associated with normal human functioning and mental illness (Lake 2007).

The Effectiveness and Efficiency of Assessment Strategies within the Current Practice and Overall Service

The extent of effectiveness and efficiency of assessment within the current practice of the mental health nurse are seen in the impact of assessment as a life-changing experience for many persons-in-care. The rapport that the mental health nurse is able to establish with the client with a learning disability/mental problem as a result of the ‘therapeutic alliance’ provides the client a holistic approach to care. It confirms the need for a multi-disciplinary and team approach to the mental health service provision. Through an assessment, the mental health nurse becomes aware of the need for a supportive environment whilst collecting necessary data. The assessment also enables the mental health nurse to liaise with appropriate professionals, such as in Jane’s case where her GP and psychiatric consultant submitted a referral to the mental health hospital in order to aid in her diagnosis. Various tools, such as Life Skills Questionnaire, are used to gather additional information, which assist in developing a relationship with the service user (Acquah 2012). The mental health nurse pays attention to the person’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviour, which are ways in which humans respond to life problems. If a person experiences increased detachment from one’s surroundings and the people in it, alongside the presence of distorted thought processes, the person can thus become problematic with satisfying to live a meaningful existence. The role of the nurse in this context is to identify how those behavioural changes hold back the person’s ability to pursue his own life and then design a specific care that will aid the person to address them. The utmost goal is certainly to help the person return to his usual normal activities and contribute to society. Through the nurse’s task to identify the effects of behavioural changes on the individual and to carry out a specific plan of care, the nurse thus considers the consequences of the learning difficulty/problem the basis of intervention. Further consideration of the client’s needs and interests is the principal value embodied in the establishment and execution of nursing services. This value must be implied in a nursing approach for the care of patients having been diagnosed for learning disability/mental illness. Along with this claim, the notion of a disease in the mental care must be given up as the center of mental health care and instead look at the patient as a person (Barker, 2004).

In general, information about the nature and the extent of the patient’s problems are considered in a nursing assessment; hence, the nurse finds out the problem of the patient and how big it is. These questions must be asked in the most detailed manner possible, especially if the focus is to evaluate the impact of various forms of care. However, the means through which such information is gathered usually depends on the problem involved, in which even the personality of the person-in-care can even influence such means of information collection. The things that the nurse must consider are accurate information about the biophysical needs of the person needing mental care; the reflection of the need for precision and reliability for the adopted method; and the influence of the attitude or mood of the person conducting the assessment (Barker 2004).

There are similar aims for most assessments; however, the manner in which they are carried out can vary greatly. These differences are very important and can have enormous influences on the value of information being produced. The means through which an assessment is conducted can spell a worthwhile exercise or otherwise. The key differences between methods of assessment convey the way in which information is gathered (Barker 2004).

Upon the assessment process, the nurse explains to the person-in-care such process and its contents, providing feedback for his collaboration with clients and healthcare team members to collect holistic assessments. Such assessments are conducted through interviews, observations, and examinations whilst being aware of confidential issues and relevant legal policies (Videbeck 2011). Additionally, policies and legal issues must be integrated in relation to ensuring the protection of other persons-in-care. Improvements in secondary care teams (e.g. mental health, learning disability, etc.) are necessary to ensure a consistent approach to care (Woods and Kettles 2009).

The Nurse’s Role in the Assessment Process

It must be noted that the mental health nurse takes the role of a coordinator as he/she interacts with other disciplines in the care delivery. A patient always receives a nursing care plan, but other disciplines are necessarily involved in such plan or individualised treatment plan (Boyd 2008). Further, the mental health nurse plays an important role in the assessment process where data are collected and organised, leading to the identification of diagnoses in which data are as well analysed. This would then lead to the planning phase, whereby prioritisation of problems is highlighted, along with identification of goals, selection of nursing intervention, and care plan documentation. The implementation features the nursing orders being carried out whilst documenting the nursing care and client responses. This leads to the evaluation phase, which involves monitoring the client outcomes and resolving, maintaining, and/or revising the current care plan (Timby 2009). Indeed, the mental health nurse demonstrates a range of roles in the entire nursing process, as much as in the assessment practice. His/her performance in the assessment process determines the delivery of the next stage of the nursing process; hence it is required that such assessment is both precise and correct.

For the nurse’s own future learning and development, there are perceived tremendous developments in his role, which are expected to take place within the managed care environment vis-a-vis his professional knowledge, skills, and attitude. Those who have carried out strong assessment and patient teaching abilities would be considered to have the most marketability. The nurse’s role in mental health assessment has radically evolved from merely using the client’s five senses to assessing his overall condition. Today, nurses use communication and physical assessment methods to come up with a clinical judgment relating to the client’s mental state. Additionally, technological advancements have developed the role of assessment, which correspondingly allowed managed care to develop the need for assessment skills (Weber and Kelley 2009). For example, the most broadly functioning measures used for people with learning disability/ mental problems are the Global Assessment Scale (GAS) and the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF), which is a modification of the GAS. The GAS is aimed for clinicians to decide on mental health along a single dimension on a scale of 100 points. The lowest functioning level of the individual during the previous week is the basis of GAS ratings (Thornicroft and Tansella, 2010).

Furthermore, assessment helps the mental health nurse to decide the extent that the patient can do independently alongside the extent of help they need and the type of intervention necessary. A patient with a mental health problem for example, may need more encouragement for their hygiene needs, which means that their therapeutic care plan may include this aspect (Spouse, Cook and Cox 2008). This can be further considered in Jane’s case.

Reflecting on Policy on Mental Health Capacity

Implementation of mental health policy is an intricate process, including a number of different financial, technical, and political issues. Teaching programmes for mental health policy usually intend to develop the knowledge of the public on health professionals and other people playing a significant role in the development of mental health policy. Some programmes are specifically focused on issues of policy and service development; in particular, tackling the needs of those who are directly involved in the accomplishment of mental health policy, as well as in the development of research capacity (Patel, Minas, Cohen et al. 2013).

Recommendations

Recommendations for the nurse’s speciality include the following:

Provide specialist skills and special therapeutic orientation to mental health nurses. This will train them to deliver research-based care and treatment to service users with learning disability/mental problems.
Identify the need for the mental health nurse to develop skills in psychotherapy, which is resonant to interpersonal relations perspective to mental health nursing. This will highlight the nurse’s central role in mental health, which is his personal relationship with the patient (Norman and Ryrie 2013).
Develop electronic health record systems for assessment. This will prepare professionals of health information management assess their situation in a more realistic manner. These record systems are necessary because of their use in storing patient data over time, such as test result data, diagnoses, problem lists, and so on. The client’s clinical information is necessarily retrieved by practitioners through their work station. Standard coding systems defining data consistently are suggested, specifying the capacity to pursue the outcomes of the health care process (Harman, 2001).

How the Nurse Can Contribute to Best Practice and Actively Justify and Promote Quality Care

The nurse can contribute to best practice by establishing an active participation in the mental health process via the integration of appropriate technology that can speed up the assessment process. Through evidence-based and person-centred intervention, the nurse will be able to help tackle several mental health needs, which can benefit clients like Jane. Evidence-based practice is now a current adoption in mental health care, which involves selecting the best interventions with a specific client and promoting specific interventions for definite problems/illness based on treatments that are supported empirically. Such evidence-based practice includes a consideration of the patient’s characteristics, preferences, and culture (Corey 2013), which the mental health nurse must take account of. These aspects had been mentioned in Jane’s case but needed further highlights to become more viable to the assessment process.

The concept of social inclusion in mental health presents best practice to the mental health nurse, who has the primary role in conducting an inclusive assessment process. With the promotion of social inclusion, the mental health nurse becomes culturally competent in providing a service that harmonises with the client’s cultural and social background and value system. This is an area of best practice for the mental health nurse’s task in the assessment process.

Further, looking at the cultural and social context of the patient needing care rather than merely focusing on his demographics as well as the historical development of the mental illness provide evidence-based considerations for future practice. Racial and ethnic differences in mental health care had been documented to demonstrate this point. Such factors as gaps in access, disputed diagnostic procedures, and limited specifications of competent treatments are reflective of what needs to be further emphasised in mental health care.

In conclusion, the assessment process within the mental health care for patients with learning disabilities and mental problems needs procedures and strategies that are aligned to social inclusion and considers ethical, social, and political aspects of the process. Hence, a specialist assessment may be carried out in order to evaluate the patient’s strengths and difficulties alongside their current distress and potential replicable support.

References

Acquah, F. (2012) Utilising Untouched Mental Health Nursing Skills in Private Practice. Australian College of Mental Health Nurses: Mental Health Nursing in Primary Care: Putting the Pieces Together. Canberra.

Barker, P. J. (2004) Assessment in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing: In Search of the Whole Person. Second Edition. UK: Nelson Thornes Ltd.

Basavanthappa, B. T. (2007) Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. India: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers (P) Ltd.

Boyd, A. (2008) Psychiatric Nursing: Contemporary Practice. PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Chang, E. C. (2012) Handbook of Adult Psychopathology in Asians: Theory, Diagnosis, and Treatment. London: Oxford University Press.

Coffey, M. and Hannigan, B. (2003) The Handbook of Community Mental Health Nursing. First Edition. Oxon: Routledge.

Cordall, J. (2009) ‘Risk Assessment and Management’. In Risk Assessment and Management in Mental Health Nursing. ed. by Woods, P. And Kettles, A. M. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Corey, G. (2013) Theory and Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Ninth Edition. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Davies, J. L. and Janosik, E. H. (1991) Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing: A Caring Approach. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Dillion, P. M. (2007) Nursing Health Assessment: A Critical Thinking, Case Studies Approach. PA: F.A. Davis Company.

Elder, R., Evans, K., and Nizette, D. (2013) Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. Third Edition. NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Freeman, A. (2005) Encyclopedia of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. NY: Springer Science.

Griffin, D. J. (2012) Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work. London: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Harman, L. B. (2001) Ethical Challenges in the Management of Health Information. London: Aspen Publishers Inc.

Harrison, M., Howard, D., and Mitchell, D. (2004) Acute Mental Health Nursing: From Acute Concerns to the Capable Practitioner. First Edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hindle, A., Coates, A., and Kingston, P. (2011) Nursing Care of Older People. London: Oxford University Press.

House of Lords (2007) Improving the Mental Health of the Population: Can the European Union HelpVolume II: Evidence. London: The Stationery Office.

Hopp, L. and Rittenmeyer, L. (2012) Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice: A Practical Guide for Nursing. PA: E.A. Davis Company.

James, L. C. and O’Donohue, W. T. (2009) The Primary Care Toolkit: Practical Resources for the Integrated Behavioral Care Provider. New York: Springer.

Kettles, A. M. and Collins, M. (2002) Therapeutic Interventions for Forensic Mental Health Nurses. England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Kettles, A. M. and Woods, P. (2009) ‘The Theory of Risk’. In Risk Assessment and Management in Mental Health Nursing. ed. by Woods, P. And Kettles, A. M. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Kleinpell, R. M. (2013) Outcome Assessment in Advanced Practice Nursing. Third Edition. New York: Springer Publishing Company LLC.

Lake, J. (2007) ‘Integrative Mental Health Care: From Theory to Practice, Part 1’. Alternative Therapy of Health & Medicine, 13 (6), 50-56.

Markowitz, J.C. and Weissman, M. M. (2012) Casebook of Interpersonal Psychotherapy. London: Oxford University Press.

Morrison-Valfre, M. (2013) Foundations of Mental Health Care. Fifth Edition. London: Mosby, Inc.

Murray, B. L. and Upshall, E. (2009) ‘Risk to Self’. In Risk Assessment and Management in Mental Health Nursing. ed. by Woods, P. And Kettles, A. M. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

[NHS] National Health Service (2011) Service User Experience in Adult Mental Health: Improving the Experience of Care for People Using Adult NHS Mental Health Services. Retrieved on November 7, 2013 from http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/live/13629/57534/57534.pdf

Norman, I. J. and Ryrie, I. (2013) The Art and Science of Mental Health Nursing: Principles and Practice. England: Open University Press.

Patel, V., Minas, H., Cohen, A., and Prince, M. J. (2013) Global Mental Health: Principles and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pender, N. J., Murdaugh, C. L., and Parsons, M. A. (2006) Health Promotion in Nursing Practice. PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Pryjmachuk, S. (2011) Mental Health Nursing: An Evidence Based Introduction. First Edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Scholarly Editions (2012) Issues in Healthcare Technology and Design. Atlanta, Georgia: Scholarly Editions.

Shieves, R. (2008) Basic Concepts of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. Seventh Edition. PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Spouse, J., Cook, M. J., and Cox, C. (2008) Common Foundation Studies in Nursing. Fourth Edition. London: Churchill Livingstone.

Thornicroft, G. and Tansella, M. (2010) Mental Health Outcome Measures. Third Edition. London: The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Timby, B. K. (2009) Fundamental Nursing Skills and Concepts. Ninth Edition. London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Videbeck, S. L. (2011) Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Weber, J. and Kelley, J. (2009) Health Assessment in Nursing. London: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Wilkinson, J. M. and Treas, L. S. (2011) Fundamentals of Nursing – Volume 1: Theory, Concepts, and Applications. US: F. A. Davis Company.

Woods, P. (2009) ‘Risk to Others’. In Risk Assessment and Management in Mental Health Nursing. ed. by Woods, P. And Kettles, A. M. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Woods, P. and Kettles, A. M. (2009) Risk Assessment and Management in Mental Health Nursing. London: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Free Essays

Entrepreneurial Business Plan: Learning Disability Service

Introduction

There are those who seek out opportunities from the very situations where others fear chaos or are lost in confusion. These individuals often act as catalysts to bring about a change that reshapes a market place. They are thought of as Olympic athletes who constantly challenge themselves to surpass barriers, or long distance runners who are undeterred in bearing the agony of running miles, or symphony orchestra conductors who are experts in balancing the skills and sounds of people and instruments respectively in a cohesive unit, or top-gun pilots who endlessly challenge the limits of speeds and daring. From a psychological perspective, these individuals are driven by their quest to achieve or obtain something. They experiment and take risks to accomplish something and often resent authorities of others over them. To economists, these individuals gather resources, people, materials, information and other assets to create a value greater than before. The academia has come to recognize them as ‘entrepreneurs’ and their entrepreneurial activities as ‘entrepreneurship’. Entrepreneurs are important segment of any economy as they often spearhead innovations; many of which turn out to be seedlings of future large corporations. Keeping the importance of entrepreneurship in view, this essay focuses on deliberating an entrepreneurial proposal, with an aim to realize the rigors of formulating a business plan from an idea that creates value in general.

Entrepreneurship

According to Hisrich (2001) “Entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new with value by devoting the necessary time and effort, assuming the accompanying financial, psychic and social risks, and receiving the resulting rewards of monetary, personal satisfaction and independence.” Nafziger (1997 and 2006) states that entrepreneurship is comprised of basic features; coordination of production factors such as land, labor, and capital, decision making under uncertain conditions innovation and creative solutions to problems and fulfillment of a market gap with an input completer. The entrepreneurial business plan proposed in this essay will try to adhere to these definitions and incorporate the aforementioned features.

Business Plan

The business plan is to create an online service for people with learning disabilities. This plan is both entrepreneurial and socially driven and therefore it can be termed as social entrepreneurship. The distinction between business entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs is that the latter are driven by a social mission while the former is more focused towards wealth generation (Dees and Emerson, 2001).

The online service titled as “LDS”, will allow users to find out what’s going on in their communities, and provide information for the nearest and cheapest available social care support options for them to seek. LDS service would be designed like the “ebay of social care for people with learning disabilities,” It will assist care providers in knowing what services support and funds they are entitled to. Moreover, it will help care providers in planning their budget for a personalized social care support. It will also allow socialization among users in terms of forming communities, organizing events and activities and share information; all with an overall social care agenda.

Business Model

The prevailing business environment is manifested by rapid innovation and diffusion of new internet based information technologies (Bruin and Dupuis, 2003). These technologies create many new windows of entrepreneurial opportunities. The pervasiveness of the internet, which is a “communication medium that allows, for the first time, the communication of many to many, in a chosen time on a global scale”(Castells, 2001, p.2 in Bruin and Dupuis, 2003), presents new ways of working and entrepreneurial opportunities. The LDS is another such entrepreneurial endeavor made possible by the internet based information and communication technologies. It is a complete e-business initiative.

As a social and commercial enterprise, LDS will operate as a commercial entity. It will generate its revenue from the advertisement fees charged to the service providers, individual carers, and product stores who are likely to post their products and services over LDS. It will also generate revenue from a small one time registration fee charged to the users.

LDS will operate partly on a wiki principle. A wiki is a website which is partly user generated i.e. its users are allowed to create and manipulate its content via web browser. Wikis are usually run by wiki software and are typically operated collaboratively by several users. Through its wiki principle, the LDS website will allow users to provide their input; making this service a knowledge sharing portal dedicated towards caring people with learning disabilities. Moreover, it will serve as a portal for users to organize communities of users and clients. In order to monitor the activities of users to maintain focus and direction of the website, level of access will be enforced upon users.

The LDS will be created as an eMarketplace which would help people take charge of their own support. LDS will provide products and services for the social care sector through four interrelated modules. These modules are designed keeping the needs of the different users in mind. They are;

Individuals
Service Providers
Budget Managers and
Community
Macro Anslysis

More than 1.5 million people in the United Kingdom have a learning disability making it one of the most common forms of disability in the UK. Learning disabilities the most overlooked and least understood disabilities. Thus there is a dire need to spread awareness regarding learning disabilities and its support (LDC, 2012).

In 2004, the government of UK established the commission for social care inspection (CSCI) which has been publishing reports on the state of social care England annually since 2005. According to the data of 2006-07, the councils in UK had spent ?14.24 billion on social services. This is the gross amount spent on social services. As much as 60% of this amount was used in financing services for older people whereas people with learning disabilities received the second largest share which is 22% of total spending amounting to ?3.12billion (LDC, 2012).

The coalition government in UK government brought a major policy shift by reducing social spending in national budgets. The Emergency Budget in June 2010 enforced a reduction worth ?6.2 billion, including cuts in money given to Local Governments by ?1.165 billion. The Emergency Budget also initiated other big changes to the welfare system and Disability Living Allowance. For instance, it was followed by the Comprehensive Spending Review and the settlement for local councils. The Comprehensive Spending Review recognized the persistent underfunding of social care, which resulted in an influx of extra ?2 billion per year for social care services by promised by the government. However, this amount is not enough to cater the increase in the numbers of people requiring support (LDC, 2012).

In response to the aforementioned changes, Learning Disability Coalition, an independent organization, got engaged in supporting people with different learning disabilities. It carried out a survey of local authorities to assess the effects of changes introduced through the ‘Emergency Budget’ and ‘Comprehensive Spending Review’. A similar survey of over 350 disabled people, their families and care providers was carried out to ask them how the policy changes had affected them. It concluded that 90% of local authorities had less funding than before and 84% termed their funding conditions as “difficult”. Out of these, 20% were planning to cut services. As for the individuals with learning disabilities, 20% complained about a reduction in hours of care provided while 19% were faced with reduction support fund. About one third of the disabled people and their care providers had been contacted by their respective councils regarding a change to eligibility criteria (LDC, 2012).

Considering the issues discussed above, it is viewed that LDS will provide an innovative solution to all these stakeholders in utilizing their resources more effectively; thus creating a value for the society and an opportunity for the business person.

Stakeholders

The LDS is an open marketplace that can be accessed and used by anyone. It can be:

Individuals,
They comprise of people having learning physical or other mental disabilities, as well as older people.
Local Authorities,
They can range from urban metropolitan authorities to County Councils, all having different structures and strategies, and being at different stages in their move towards personalisation.
Service providers,
They can include national providers, smaller regional providers and local micro-providers.
Broker Organizations, and
Voluntary Sector Organisations.

It is vital to understand that these stakeholders vary in their interests and requirements; therefore an all-around approach will be adopted in order to successfully position LDS, which would help in engaging with each of these target audiences. LDS will engage Local Authorities on a regional basis through the ‘Joint Improvement Partnerships’ (JIPs) as well as ‘Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships’ (RIEPs). Direct engagement will also be targeted. LDS will engage service providers mainly through Local Authorities, which will be effective in utilizing their existing networks and relationships. Proactive service providers would be sought directly.

Market Position

LDS will serve as a platform for numerous service and products related to social care. They could be offered by any stores and service providers – all gathered in one marketplace.

The attraction of LDS to its customers is that it will meet the requirements of each individual customer group i.e. individuals, local authorities, service providers and broker organizations through its multi-facet software system, whilst providing them with a common platform to collaborate in providing/seeking social services. The LDS will be positioned within the social care industry to provide some of the following services leading to various benefits to its stakeholders:

ServicesBenifits
IndividualsAccess to a best value, high quality marketplace;

Ordering and payment process for services;

Tool to manage personalized budget.

Tool to enable employment of personal assistants.Easy setup and planning of budgets;

Reduced administration costs;

Access to best value catalogues;

Easy reporting to funding bodies.
Local AuthoritiesLow cost marketing channel for service providers;

Ability to setup an online retail store & catalogue;

Automated purchase to pay process;Low cost sales & marketing channel;

Easy management of online store;

Automated billing process;

Budget ManagersTool for brokers and/or LAs to setup and manage personal budgets;

Tool for LAs to review and audit support plans and outcomes

Management of budgets and support plans for many clients;

Administration of clients orders and invoices;

Reporting on funding, spend and outcomes.

Easy integration & reporting with existing systems.Macro / micro manage details of multiple clients;

Reduced personal budget administration costs for individual and LA;

Automated financial processes;

Report on funding, spend & outcomes.

Fewer administrative review visits required.

More time available for value added activities.

CommunityUser friendly information tool for individuals;

Content rich marketing channel for providers (beyond being a list);

Easy administration of catalogue for LA;

Reporting on utilisation and trends.

Efficient & effective way to find services & events which form part of support plan;

Free marketing for providers

Low cost admin and maintenance for LA;

Useful information for LA as a market manager.

Marketing Mix

In order to promote LDS and widen its clientele, collaborative relationships will be established with Social Care service providers. Some of the organizations that LDS will be looking forward to collaborate with include;

Association for Real Change (ARC)
BILD (British Institute of Learning Disabilities)
Downs Syndrome Association
Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Mencap
National Autistic Society
National Family Carer Network
People First
Real Life Options
Sense
The Hesley Group
The National Forum for People with Learning Difficulties
Turning Point
United Response
Voyage

Furthermore, LDS will create a promotional calendar to engage with individual and general population. LDS will also carry out promotion activities at relevant national and regional events. Moreover, LDS will make various other marketing materials which would be made readily available to reinforce the brand. These materials will include: electronic newsletters, standardized fliers, presentations, mugs, and key-rings etc. LDS will also try to get media coverage and contribute in several national publications.

Monitoring and Evaluation
YearObjectives
Year 1Launch initial pilot program for users

Continued marketing

By the third quarter of the first year, launch a complete version of the program

Bring along atleat 100 different service providers

Engagement with at least 5 Local Authorities

Launch a whole scale application that could be run on a Partner’s website
Year 2Engagement with at least 10 Local Authorities

Achieve target for ?50m spend by service users over LDS by the end of second year
Year 3Engagement with at least 15 Local Authorities

Achieve target for ?200m spend by service users over LDS by the end of second year

Expansion to overseas market

References

Bruin, A. and Dupuis, A (2003). Entrepreneurship: New Perspectives in a Global Age. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Dees, J. G., Emerson, J. & Economy, P. (2001) Enterprising Non-profits: A Toolkit for Social Entrepreneurs. New York: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Hisrich, R.D (2011) Entrepreneurship. Tata McGraw-Hill Education

LDC, (2012) Learning Disability Coalition. {online} www.learningdisabilitycoalition.org.uk

Nafziger, E. Wayne (1997), The Economics of Developing Countries, Third Edition, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey

Nafziger, E. Wayne (2006), Economic Development, 4th edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

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Free Essays

Explore the extent to which personality traits explain student preferences for specific learning approaches and teaching modalities

Review of the Literature

1.1 Introduction

To learn more about education and to be able to improve the system to best provide for the individual needs of its learners, this study aims to investigate the link between an individual’s personality and their preferred learning style and teaching modality.

There is a shortage of current research on how a student’s personality influences their learning style and preferred teaching modality. There is however, a large body of research that analyses the relationship between personality and learning.

Curry (1983) describes learning as a future focused process that involves adaptation of constructs to bring about a change in an individual’s cognitive, practical, affective, social or moral skills which can be observable as a change in behaviour. The learning approach of an individual reflects the way in which they go about the process of learning with regard to their chosen setting, their internal goals, treatment of information, and desire to succeed. Understanding the motives for these individual differences in ways of learning and how this may apply to disparities in achievement has always been a concern for those studying educational practice.

Teaching modalities refer to the way in which information is delivered to the student, and the learning environment that is created by the teacher. Higher Education employs several teaching modalities, including traditional lectures, small tutorial groups and one-to-one mentoring. Teaching modalities can vary as a product of the subject being taught, assessment criteria, and the individual preferences of lecturers, who may emphasise more theoretical or more practical approaches, or a combination of the two (Chamorro-Premuzic, Furnham & Lewis, 2007; Chamorro-Premuzic, Furnam, Dissout & Heaven, 2005). Despite this large scope for variability, there is little research into students’ preferences for different teaching modalities, especially into what factors contribute to these preferences.

Fielder (1993) suggested that for the most effective teaching, a variety of approaches to teaching should be recruited in order to appeal to the different learning styles and personalities of the students. This hypothesis is supported by a study showing that a variety of teaching modalities was beneficial in engaging more individual learning styles (Dunn & Dunn, 1979). Whilst there has been debate surrounding whether there is a scientific basis for learning styles (Curry, 1983; Pashler et al., 2009), this evidence appears to highlight their relevance to teaching.

The large variation in teaching style, learning approach and academic performance poses several questions. Does student personality and their preferred learning approach account for preference of certain teaching modalitiesWhat is the relationship between personality and an individual’s learning approachIt is therefore important to ask, are certain learning approaches suited to specific teaching modalities?

The following hypotheses will be tested to investigate the relationship between student personality, preferred learning approach and preferred teaching modality

(a) There is a significant relationship between certain personality characteristics and learning approaches. OR Is there a relationship between student personality traits and preferred learning approach?

(b) There is a significant relationship between student personality traits and their preferred teaching modality. OR Is there a relationship between student personality traits and their preferred teaching modality?

(c) There is a significant relationship between students’ preferred learning approaches and their preferences for teaching modalities OR Is there a relationship between students’ preferred learning approaches and their preferred teaching modality?

1.2 Learning Approaches

Recent research has emphasised the important contribution of students’ learning approaches as determinants of how much knowledge they acquire, and how this translates into academic performance (Duff, 2003; Duff, Boyle, & Dunleavy, 2004). In a series of investigations, Biggs (1987, 1992) conceptualised three major learning approaches to classify the way students approach their learning. These were classified as ‘deep’ surface’ and ‘achieving’. A deep approach to learning is characterised by intrinsic motivation, engagement with subject matter, and the desire to learn more detail and thoroughly understand the subject. Deep learners will aim to make the content of a lesson meaningful and develop a thorough understanding. Conversely, students who adopt a surface approach to learning show less interest in the task, avoid any challenging activities, and aim to pass exams rather than enhance their understanding. These students tend to receive information superficially and memorise isolated and unrelated facts (Biggs & Tang, 2007). The achieving approach to learning is characterised by goal-oriented study strategies; based on competition between other students and ego enhancement. This approach lends to students that are motivated by the desire to achieve the top grades regardless of whether they find interest in the task at hand (Biggs, 1987; 1988). Biggs (1987) further divided each of the ‘deep’, ‘surface’ and ‘achieving’ approaches into ‘motive ‘ and ‘strategy’ as student goals may differ from the ways that these students go about achieving them.

Previous research shows support for a direct relationship between student personality characteristics and student’s learning approaches (Zhang, 2003; Disth, 2003;). Zhang (2003) indicated that there are positive relationships between extraversion and surface learning, and between agreeableness and surface learning. This finding is supported in a study by Duff et al. (2004), who demonstrated a positive relationship between extraversion and a deep learning approach. Additionally, individuals with conscientious and open personalities have been shown desire to develop deep learning strategies (Zhang, 2003) and those showing strong openness to experience have shown less propensity to being surface learners.

Literature has examined several models of learning styles and proposed criticisms of such tools that purport to measure learning styles. One such tool is the Kolb Experiential Learning Model (ELM) (Kolb, 1976). Kolb’s ELM has received criticism that it is neither valid nor reliable, which has detrimental implications for education that could be if employed (Bergsteiner, Avery & Neumann, 2010; Geiger, Boyle & Pinto, 1993). However, an alternative model, the Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) (Honey & Mumford, 1992) has shown good test-retest reliability. Critics have suggested limitations to the LSQ, suggesting that the tool is useful for those students already interested in a particular career choice and would not be reliable enough for students attending non-vocational courses (Reynolds, 1997).

Although there has been a debate as to the scientific basis of learning styles (Curry, 1983, Pashler et al., 2009), studies in the literature have provided irrefutable evidence that learning approaches and personality traits are strongly related. It may also be possible to infer that learning approaches have a distinctive value in explaining human behaviour, as learning is such a pervasive feature of being. This is supported by research from Busato, Prins, Elshout and Hamaker (2000), who assert that a learning styles inventory has a diagnostic value for identifying both strengths and weaknesses in the individual study behaviour of students.

The present study will explore the extent to which personality and learning styles influence preferred teaching modalities.

1.3 Personality

The discovery of the “big five personality traits” can be interpreted as one of the major accomplishments of psychology in the twentieth century. These traits are agreeableness, conscientiousness, culture, emotional stability (versus neuroticism) and extraversion (Goldberg, 1990). Tokar (1995) proposed that the five-factor model is the one of the most “prominent and heuristic models of personality structure”. Several studies support Tokar’s view finding that the personality traits of the big five model accounts for a large amount of the variability in personality (Goldberg, 1993; Taylor & McDonald, 1999).

McCrae and Costa (1995a) acknowledge that personality has many other dimensions, proposing their ‘Model of Person,’ which uses the term ‘characteristic adaptation’ to explain personality traits that are not fundamental characteristics described by the big factor five. These characteristics adaptations are proposed to develop over time and are influenced by environment and experience, yet mediated by personality traits. These include characteristics such as habits and attitudes.

The learning approach construct may well be one of such characteristic adaptation. This has been emphasised by a large research base into personality and how it is influences by a variety of variables. These include intellectual satisfaction, student self-esteem, teachers’ perceptions of their control over their students, teaching effectiveness and course type (Lieberman, Stroup-Bernham, & Peel, 1998; McCaffrey, 1996; Parker, 1997; Rimmer, 1997). Additionally the role and influence of thinking styles has been addressed (Zhang & Huang, 2001; Zhang, 2000a; Zhang 2000b). This emphasises the many possible influences that may be at work on the development of one’s learning approach.

The work of Costa & McCrae (1985-1992) has been successful in accommodating the big five personality constructs already assessed by Biggs (1987) and Eysenck (1975). They investigated the NEO Five-Factor Inventory and found that it was able to reliably assess the five personality dimensions. Other research into this inventory showed that it provided both good internal validity (Holden; 1994; Furnham 1996) and external validity using Holland’s (1994) Self Directed Search (Tokar & Swanson, 1995; Fuller, Holland & Johnson, 1999). This is all suggestive that these five predominant characteristics are reliable, replicable and representative of distinct traits.

Neuroticism (N) at the extreme end of the scale may be characterised by anxiety nervousness and emotional lability. Individuals high on the N scale tend to have a pessimistic outlook and experience negative feelings that include emotional instability, guilt, embarrassment, and low self-esteem. The extraversion (E) subscale tends to be associated with the sociable and assertive individuals who prefer to work in a team with other people. Openness to Experience (O) is characterised by preference for variety, openness to change and variety, active imagination and independence of judgement. Additionally, people who score high on the O scale tend to be less conservative and traditional, however they also value and respect other people’s beliefs and conventions. Individuals scoring high on the culture (C) scale are characterised as being strong-willed, responsive and trustworthy with a strong sense of purpose. They also tend to be focused on task and goal outcome and are achievement oriented (Goldberg, 1990).

Murray-Harvey (1994) observed that some descriptions of learning approaches are best formulated in terms of individual personality. For example, Shabolt (1978) demonstrated that those showing introverted or neurotic personality traits performed in conditions of structured teaching than when exposed to unstructured teaching methods. Eysenck (1978) also noted that personality and learning are closely linked, finding that extroverts tend to socialise during learning periods, are easily distracted from academic work and find concentration more difficult. Eysenck (1978) also postulated that those showing the neuroticism trait tend to let nerves interfere with their work. Furnham (1992) expanded this work, using the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975; 1991) and the Learning Styles Questionnaire (Honey & Mumford, 1992). Findings revealed that all elements of learning style were related to at least one of the elements of the personality traits, suggesting an inextricable link between the two. Furthering this hypothesis, Jackson and Lawtey-Jones (1996) found evidence for a reversal of the relationship, finding that whilst learning styles could be fully explained by personality scales, additionally, all learning styles correlated significantly with at least one personality trait. Furnham (1992) however, suggested that an individual’s learning approach may be interpreted as a derivative of personality rather than a separate entity.

Findings from Zhang (2003) strongly suggest reason for further research into the field of personality and learning, finding that the two are related, but are individual constructs (reporting a quarter overlap), whereas Duff et. al. (2004) report an even greater relationship between learning approaches and personality traits. Duff (2004) and Zhang (2003) reported similar associations between openness and a deep approach to learning and neuroticism and surface approach. Extroverts were proposed to adopt a surface approach (Zhang, 2003), however Duff et al. (2004) found that agreeableness purported a surface approach.

Furthering this, one may deduce that learning approaches act as indirect influences of personality traits on learning success. This may be highlighted by some personality traits being more strongly related to some learning approaches than others. These mediating factors may be identified through the consideration of how an individual may adapt their behaviour to suit their personality. For example, the surface approach, which accounts for a potential of failure and comparison with others, is related to neuroticism, and openness, which is associated with curiosity, imagination, and intellectual values, is related to the deep approach. Again, the personality trait of conscientiousness is reflected in the thorough nature of the deep approach. Other research highlights that it is a variety of personality traits that are associated with each learning approach and that there is not a single distinct contributing trait per approach (Diseth, 2003).

There are arguments to suggest a dubious link between personality traits and learning approaches, with belief that it cannot be modelled (Zhang & Sternberg, 2006) due to the dubious nature of learning approaches. Despite this resistance, others authors have found evidence and argument that the learning approach concept is associated strongly with personality (Furnham, 1992; Gelade 2002; Jackson and Lawty-Jones, 1996). Messick (1994) proposed that learning approaches, when in conjunction with other influence and constructs can be seen to provide a metaphorical bridge between cognition and personality. This implies that learning approaches can act as mediators in bringing learning material to the individual and making it relevant. The connection between personality and learning approach has been under investigation for many years (Jung 1921; Myers & Briggs, 1962), which highlights the importance that has been placed on the understanding of this construct.

Information on the relationship between personality and learning approaches allows for insight into the motivations and strategies that may be used by individuals when learning from a very young age. This will be especially useful for those personality traits that show persist throughout life, and will enable tailoring of education and learning advice appropriately. Additionally, it is important to know if personality and learning approaches are distinct psychological constructs and if so whether these can account for students’ teaching preferences. This is important as teaching methods are a strong influence on students’ learning and, in turn, their academic performance.

Teaching Modalities

Fischer & Fischer (1979) define teaching style as a “pervasive way of approaching learners that might be consistent with several methods of teaching”. Conversely, Conti (1989) argued that teaching style is less pervasive, suggesting that it a construct of the personal characteristics and qualities of the teacher and remains consistent in various situations. Knowles (1970) emphasised the importance of teaching style on the learning experience, asserting that “the behaviour of the teacher influences the character of the learning climate more than any other single factor”.

Teaching itself has been suggested to consist of an instructor’s personal behaviour and the media used to transmit or retrieve data to or from the learner (Gregorc, 1982). The success of teaching style and the accomplishment this data transmission and retrieval may depend largely on matching. Matching is defined in terms of a compatibility of the environment and the interactive effects of the person (Hunt 1979).

Early studies carried in the US such as that by Simon (1987) aimed to determine the relationship between students’ preferred learning approaches and their preferred teaching styles of college tutors. He administered the Cranfield Learning styles inventory to 4,000 students. His studies revealed that students indicated a preference for fewer lectures and a more hands on experience. Students showed preference for less faculty directed learning and more student independence, also preferring peer and instructor affiliation. Implications from this study were that instructors should decrease the number of lectures in favour for an increase direct experience where students become more involved in the course and programme direction.

One of the strongest measures of learning success is academic achievement (Zimmerman, 1990), therefore the success of learning approaches and teaching modalities may be assessed through individual performance. Personality type has been shown to be a predictor of academic performance, with those with conscientious personality types achieving academic success across a range of subjects (Busato et al. 2000). Additionally, Lieberman, Stroup-Benham and Peel (1998) found that conscientiousness, agreeableness and extraversion correlated with intellectual satisfaction at medical school. When considering this relationship, it is important to consider the influences that personality type has on learning approach and how much this may contribute to the outcome of academic success. There have been many further studies relating to personality and academic achievement, which as discussed above is likely mediated through learning style, however there is an absence of research investigating the influence of teaching modalities.

Current studies pertaining to academic achievement, learning approaches and teaching modalities found that students whose preferred learning approaches matched with their teacher’s preferred teaching modality received higher grades than those whose did not match (Mathews 1995; Rains, 1978; Hunter 1979). This highlights the importance of matching and concordance between student and teacher. This is supported by research suggesting that teaching modalities and students’ learning approaches interact to affect student learning (Saracho, 1990; Saracho & Spodek, 1994; Taylor, 1994; Wentura, 1985). The current research base would be greatly improved by further investigation into the relationship between learning approaches and students’ preferred teaching styles, especially how these are both mediated by the individual student’s personality.

Recent research carried out by Furnham (1996) begins to explore this avenue. 221 students took the Neo Five-Factor Personality Inventory, were assessed on their learning approaches and also their preferred teaching modalities. Personality trait correlated with learning approach, and both of these individually had an effect on preference for certain teaching modalities. The study employed Marton and Saljo’s (1976) strategy to assess teaching modalities and covered students’ approaches, styles, motivations and study methods (Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983; Entwistle, 1997). Conclusions were that emotional stability, agreeableness, and deep learning approaches were associated with preference for interactive teaching and lessons. These personality traits were also negatively related learning via a surface approach. Findings showed that those with a preference for interactive teaching were likely to have a personality which combined emotional stability and agreeableness, and these students would prefer a deep learning approach.

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Mentorship through Maslow’s Self-actualisation: Teaching, Learning and Assessment Theories

Introduction

The past decades has seen the rise in mentorship programmes targeting individuals and groups. Interest in mentoring programmes has been fuelled in part by the increased recognition that mentorship results into positive relationships between the mentored and the adult mentors, which have been noted to promote resilience among youths (Wilson and Peterson, 2006). In other words, mentoring is a critical aspect of human growth with the ability to transform an individual’s hidden ability into an elite performer. However, it should never be assumed that the essential features of the natural association between an adult mentor and a young mentee is enough to influence the process of mentorship leading to satisfactory results. Moreover, most research studies have mainly focused on mentee benefits, while ignoring their motivation and interests.

Because of its multidisciplinary nature, mentorship requires a multidimensional approach to issues. As such, various theories have been proposed to enhance mentorship programme’s effectiveness. Maslow’s humanistic theory is based on the notion that experience is the basic phenomenon in the study and understanding of human learning behaviour (Kenrick, 2010). Maslow emphasises on the importance of choice, creativity, values and self-actualisation as distinctive human qualities, indicating that meaningfulness and subjectivity are more significant than objectivity. In other words, Maslow rejects the behaviourism and psychoanalysis because of the belief that it leads to over-reliance on human frailty at the expense of human strengths. This paper expounds on how a mentor can use Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation to facilitate mentorship success, through the theories of teaching, learning and assessments.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

It’s prudent to highlight the Maslow’s five hierarchy of needs and what these needs stand for, before delving into how the last need, self-actualisation, is essential for a successful mentorship programme. Maslow developed hierarchy of needs, which is based on the study of psychology focusing on the subjective experiences and freewill. In other words, human needs do change through a person’s lifespan (Kenrick, et al., 2010). Maslow, thus, ranks the human needs from most basic physical needs to the most advanced self-actualisation. These ranks, which are often referred to as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are: psychological needs, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualisation. While physiological needs include essential things like food, air, water and any other factor that contribute to the human survival, the need for safety include issues to do with environmental security, job security, resource availability, healthcare and property ownership among others. In many instances, the loss for safety is experienced during economic crisis or a country experiencing a disaster.

The sense of belonging, as another need, includes love, sense of friendship, intimacy, and family belonging among other needs. Belongingness is thus established after safety and physiological needs have been assured. But there is exception to this rule particularly where peer pressure is involved, which may lead an individual to solicit for belongingness to satisfy a societal standards. Then there esteem, a need that include issues such as confidence, self-esteem, and respect among others. This level of need builds on the need for interpersonal elements of need such as love and belonging through the elements of being accepted and valued. It may lead to a close interaction between a mentor and a mentee, which often results to development of strong interpersonal and communication skills to the latter (Lunsford, 2011).

Lastly is the self-actualisation, which includes factors such as moral behaviour, creative thinking, and problem solving abilities. Self-actualisation, considered the most significant of all needs, is the driver of every other aspect of human need (McGuire, 2011).

The theory of teaching, learning and assessment

In order to facilitate the impact of mentorship, a mentor may use various approaches of teaching, learning and assessment. Individuals have their own specific way of learning and to recognise that everyone does not learn the same way. As such, the contemporary concept of learning views it as a process of active engagement (Craig, 2013; Wilson and Peterson, 2006). A mentor influences a mentee through provision of appropriate structure, expression of positive expectation, advocating and explaining, administering challenges to learners, provision of vision that is able to sustain the interests of the learners. According to Feeney (2007), for mentorship to be effective, mentees must be guided on a journey at the end of which the mentee develops into a different and become more accomplished.

In the perspective of Maslow’s theory, a mentee is more likely to develop better career path if their interactions with their mentors is holistic. That is, mentees’ specific needs may directly influence their relationships with their mentors. For a mentorship programme to success, a mentor can focus on giving greater consideration in mentoring practice.

Mentorship as processes of active engagement

One of the most critical aspects of education and learning over the past few decades is the move away from the concept that “learner is a sponge” toward an image of “learner as active constructor of meaning” (Israel et al., 2014: 954). The contemporary theory of learning focuses on behaviour. In this aspect a particular behaviour will lead to another and that when a mentor act in a certain way, the mentee will also act in a certain way as well.

The reasons why modern teaching, learning and assessment theories go hand-in-hand with Maslow’s theory, is that teachers hardly have control over the students’ ability to learn. This may also be replicated in mentoring, with a form of teaching that encourages mentors to facilitate learning process both within and outside their scope of control. Some of the things a mentor needs to observe is whether the mentee is motivated, comfortable with the learning methods employed, interested, and whether the learning environment encourages interactions. These requirements are all contained in the Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation.

Holistic learning theory provides the basic premise of mentorship as it gives individual personality, which is comprised of elements such as intellect, emotions, desire, intuition and imagination (Lunsford, 2011). For learning to take place and be effective, all these elements must be activated. This is in line with Maslow’s theory that is based on the perspective that a person’s drive to learn is intrinsic, and is purposefully meant to achieve self-actualisation. In essence, the goal of a mentor should include the process of helping the mentee to achieve the desired self-actualisation of a mentee. In order to achieve the desired outcomes, it is necessary for mentors to establish relationships between mentors and mentees, which encourage patterns of regular contact over a significant period of time.

Mentorship as a social phenomenon: the social theory of learning

Another significant shift in the mentorship field is the growing awareness among mentorship theorists is that learners and mentees need social environment to facilitate learning and enhance the full benefit of mentorship. While previous learning theorists put more emphasis on individual learning, the current work places more emphasis on the critical role of social groups in the development of understanding and enhancement of mentorship success. Even though solitude and silent background provide good opportunities that are likely to favour learning process, the social occasions involved in various discussions, conversations, debate and partnership or group working equally play a critical role in the learning outcome. For example, small children may refer to everything with four legs as “dog”, but learn to separate a dog from a cat with time as they pronounce the names publicly and an adult gently amend their pronunciation. This kind of approach to learning sometimes is referred to as ‘activity theory’, which can be traced psychologist Vygotsky, 1981 (cited in Lunsford, 2011: 479), who theorised that social world has a strong influence on individual’s development.

Self-actualisation, as one of Maslow’s five hierarchies of needs, deals with the idea of setting a sense of problem solving. A mentor can use the social interaction to enhance their mentees develop more problem- solving skills. The common concept about self-actualisation is that knowledge and practice is inseparable, because humans learn or know by doing (McGuire, 2011; Wilkes, 2006). This means that a mentor can look at mentees as they are doing something meaningful, such as solving an authentic problem, in case they want to understand what the mentees’ level of understanding.

Learner difference as a resource

Another significant shift that people have adopted is the value placed on individual and group differences. Quinn and Hughes (2007) observe that one of the self-evident truths of schooling is that learners come with varied experiences, capabilities, understandings, and backgrounds. As a person seeks mentorship to achieve high-quality of what they value most in their lives, the differences between individuals continue to widen. For example, as school environments become more democratic, teachers/ mentors are forced to learn to deal with the inherent differences that exist between the students/mentees. While in the traditional model of teaching, teachers often used the “deficit model” of students to draw and plan the learning process, modern teaching, based on mentorship, emphasises that the difference between mentees should be treated as a resource.

This approach is in line with Maslow’s self-actualisation, which embraces the difference between individuals’ growth, which is treated as personal and fulfillment of one’s own potentials. A mentor, using this perspective, will focus on the difference between individual mentees as strength rather than a weakness, by focusing on each mentee’s own volition of success. In essence, a mentor should not use a standardised approach to building individual mentee’s personality. According to Maslow (1987, cited in Kenrick, 2010, p.4), a self-actualised person has a great sense of awareness, which allow them to maintain a near constant enjoyment of life. They often engage in activities that facilitate the feeling of unity with possible meaningful outcome. They also tend to develop some degree of acceptance for all that seem unchangeable as well as level of spontaneous and stamina to work on what is changeable (Kenrick, 2010). In essence, a self-actualised individual has developed a complete and coherent personality that enables them to dictate their life’s direction. A mentor can use this approach by applying theories of learning to help them:

Utilise and provide value to the contribution that a mentee brings to the table during the assessment process;
Undertake, facilitate and act upon feedback from a mentee with regard to effectiveness of the learning environment;
Allow the mentee to have some personal time for reflection of their personal as well as professional development;
Provide value-oriented and timely feedback and evaluation of individual mentee’s level of proficiency (Gopee, 2011).
The Theory of teaching for understanding

The other shift that mentors have redirect their concern is based on assumptions that knowledge is based on what a mentee is to learn. Nicklin and Kenworthy (eds) (2003) state that this theory is no longer based on what mentees quietly master or learn, but is based on the contemporary educational reform that demands that students possess more flexible comprehension of issues in a broader concept. In other words, learners must not only know the basics but also how to use those basic skills to identify and solve non-traditional problems. Alternatively, the use of critical thinking is meant to emphasise teaching for understanding. This theory has specific underlying assumptions that to be considered competent in a specific field, one must master core ideas, concepts and facts, and more importantly, its processes of inquiry and arguments.

Conclusion

Although critics of Maslow’s self-actualisation believe that this approach of teaching and learning oversimplifies complicated ideas, it may not be right to suggest that ideas about learning, learners, and knowing are either mutually exclusive or monolithic. If anything, the compatibility of these ideas is one of the reasons for their popularity in the last three decades. The idea of developing skills needs to be holistic, and mentors need to adopt methods that would embrace the contemporary theories of teaching, learning and assessments to increase the effectiveness of mentorship.

A mentor’s role in practice placement is critical helping a mentee go through successful learning and assessment process. Although the relationship that may develop between a mentor and a mentee is quite complicated, it is essential to establish certain form of association that allows a mentor to provide support while at the same time remain objective and analytical as well. From the perspective of a mentee, a good mentor is teacher who nurtures, while at the same time remains a ‘knowledgeable friend’ (Wikes, 2006). Maslow’s self- actualisation need can guide a mentor through identification of essential factors that would lead to a mentee becoming self-actualised. A mentor can facilitate the success of a mentorship process by jointly defining realistic expectations of their relationship with a mentee, to increase opportunities for understanding and trust.

References

Craig, C.A., Allen, M.W., Reid, M.F. Riemenschneider, C.K., and Armstrong, D.J. (2013) The impact of career mentoring and psychological mentoring on affective organisational commitment, job involvement, and turnover intention. Administration & Society, 45 (8): 949-973.

Feeney, M.K. (2007) Toward a useful theory of mentoring: a conceptual analysis and critique. Administration & Society, 39 (6): 719-739.

Gopee, N. (2011) Mentoring and Supervision in Healthcare. London: SAGE.

Israel, M., Kamman, M.L., McCray, E.D., and Sindelar, P.T. (2014). Mentoring in action: The interplay among professional assistance, emotional support, and evaluation. Exceptional Children, 81 (1): 45-63.

Kenrick, D. (2010) Rebuilding Maslow’s pyramid on an evolutionary foundation. Psychologytoday: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a therapist. Retrieved July 16, 2010 from http:/www.psycologytoday.com/blog/sec-murder-and-the-meaning-life/201005/rebuilding maslow-s-pyramid-evolutionary-foundation.

Kenrick, D.T., GrisKevicius, v., Neuburg, S.L., and Schaller, M. (2010). Renovating the pyramidof needs: Contemporary extensions built upon ancient foundations. Perspectives onPsychological Science, from http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/144040.pdf.

Lunsford, L.G. (2011). Psychology of mentoring: The case of talented college students. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22 (3): 474-498.

McGuire, K.J. (2011). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Munich, GRIN Publishing GmbH. ISBN 978-3656-23495-1.

Nicklin, N. and Kenworthy, N. (eds) (2003) Teaching and assessing in Nursing Practice: An Experimental Approach. London: Bailliere Tindall.

Quinn, F.M. and Hughes, S.J. (2007) Quinn’s principles and Practice of Nurse Education (5th edition). Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Wilkes, Z (2006) The Student-Mentor relationship: a review of the literature. Nursing Standard. 20 (37). 42-47.

Wilson, S., and Peterson, P.L. (2006) Theories of learning and teaching: what do they mean for educatorsWorking Paper. Available: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED495823.pdf [Accessed 12/12/2014].

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Facilitating Learning And Assessment In Practice

Introduction

I am a registered nurse based in a ward that manages spinal and orthopaedic conditions among patients. Currently, I am finalising my training as a qualified mentor. This paper presents a reflective account of my experiences in facilitating, teaching, and assessing student learning during their learning practice. It also highlights the learning outcomes drawn from the experience. Due to ethical considerations of any academic publication, which demands confidentiality, and anonymity of the persons that were actively involved in my encounter, this paper omitted names or used pseudonyms in the development of the account (Polit & Beck, 2008).

Practice-based learning provides the students with needed experience, which is an essential aspect of skill development that enhances their ability to effectively interact with clients as well as their families by developing the student’s communication, interpersonal, psychomotor, and technical skills (Myall et al., 2008). Practice-based learning is also an effective opportunity that allows the learners to link theory and practice, which are vital in the learner’s professional development (Zachary, 2011). Furthermore, practice-based learning is essential in a nursing career due to its vocational nature as well as its role in determining the learner’s clinical competency and hence protecting the public from instances of incompetency in nursing practice (NMC, 2008). Through demanding and instilling high standards of professionalism during assessments, practice-based learning makes sure that nursing students are able to effectively practice before they are registered as nurses (Myall et al., 2008).

This demonstration of my eligibility to assess and supervise nursing students in practice coupled with successful completion of this training will allow me to be an effective mentor in nursing (Price, 2007). Therefore, I will be able to actively participate in the development of future nurses that will meet the needs of patients, which are increasing in diversity and complexity (Polit & Beck, 2008).

Nursing Standards

In order to promote adherence to specific attributes that support assessment and learning in practice, the nursing standards offers specific guidelines that must be met by teachers, practice teachers and mentors (NMC, 2008). Specifically, the fixed requirements cover standards, frameworks, and information on the approaches for assessment in nursing practice. There standards are defined by eight domains including: leadership, evidence-based practice, context of practice, creating a learning environment, learning evaluation, assessment and accountability, learning facilitation, and establishment of valuable working relationships (NMC, 2009).

Linking these domains to my own practice, I hold high regard for leadership and formation of useful working relationships. Establishment of good working relationships is essential in nursing as a nurse works together with the patients family in ensuring the best nursing care is provided for the patient (Polit & Beck, 2008; Appendix 1) enhancing the standards of care. Good working relationship is also important in minimizing the negative student experiences building on the student’s competency in practice (NMC, 2008). Consideration of the imperativeness of family-centred approach to nursing care and the promotion of good working relationships demands effective leadership. To be specific, leadership in my case involves influencing others, improving nursing care, and role modelling (NMC, 2009). This demands application of a situational approach to leadership when handling different leadership situations at work. In my work setting, leadership is broad ranging from handling the patient’s family issues, which requires participative leadership, or directing a practicing student, which demands assertiveness. However, it is imperative for a nurse to act in the best interest of the patient (Price, 2007) which can best be achieved through autocratic approach to leadership. Consequently, establishment of effective leadership and relationships require knowledge, skill, and experience and are vital in the provision of high-quality nursing care (Myall et al., 2008).

There are several professional challenges that I encountered during the assessment which emanated from the complexities related to staffing levels and hastiness in the ward that negatively influence the quality of practice assessment (Polit & Beck, 2008). The sustained pressure from clinical commitments and the limited time availability affects the process of student supervision and assessment during practice-based learning (NMC, 2009). More so, there may be inconsistency in achievement, which affects the process of student assessment with regard to their fitness to practice (NMC, 2008). In other cases, some students in practice-based learning do not conform to the existing support systems for instances of failure limiting their learning and effectiveness of the assessment. In addition, the supervisor may be reluctant to fail an incompetent learner due to perception that he process is too complex or general poor assessment, this also posed a challenge in my practice.

The existing nursing standards that guide learning and assessment of students in practice offer frameworks for nursing mentors. However, the document is limited, as it does not consider all competence assessment aspects (Myall et al., 2008). Therefore, some forms of assessment are subjective as much as the framework for assessment is provided due to the intrinsic nature of the nursing profession and the variations in nursing skill-set to be assessed. It is challenging to establish a comprehensive assessment of competency especially due to learners’ spontaneous action to utilise their skills, knowledge, and attitude from an emotional intelligence perspective (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). These issues are enhanced in situations where a mentor fails to fail instances of incompetency among learners (Myall et al., 2008). These problems are resolved through the use of sign-off mentors that offer final evaluation of the students before being accredited to be effective to service as professional nurses at the end of nursing training program (NMC, 2009). Consequently, more support to the nursing standards is needed to promote effectiveness of learning assessment for practice-based learning. This support is provided various nursing documents such as nursing guides, which offer strategies and support for practitioners in the nursing profession.

Facilitating Learning and Assessment

This is an important approach for assessing skills, knowledge and attitudes among nursing students (Price, 2007) and is complex in nature with the focus of promoting objectivity in the assessments (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). The ensure the diversity of the nursing settings are accommodated during the assessments, there are several assessment approaches that can be used in student mentorship programs including mini clinical assessment exercise, direct observation, case-based discussion, and mini peer assessments (Myall et al., 2008). Mini clinical assessment exercise offers an overview of student performance of key clinical skills. This assessment approach works both in routine patient encounter as well as ward environment. Direct observation of procedural skills involves observing a nursing student which conducting a clinical procedure where the observer provides necessary feedback at the end of the procedure. A good example of a clinical procedure that can be observed is preparation of a dressing trolley by a student. Case-based discussion, on the other hand, involves an interview aimed at exploring judgment and behaviour such as asking the student to list what he/she observed during a specific patient care program. Finally, mini peer assessments encompass a team of qualified professionals that offer feedback on the performance of an individual.

The process of selecting the method of assessment should consider its cost effectiveness, educational impact, acceptability, validity, and reliability (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). Assessing a student’s craft knowledge helps the student to reflect and develop based on experiential learning (NMC, 2009). Effective assessment should focus on developing insights into a student’s craft and formal knowledge in order to understand the student’s ability to assess risks and utilise learned knowledge in meeting practice requirements (Price, 2007). There are four vital areas that cover student assessment, namely motivation, performance, skill, and knowledge.

Even though continuous assessment is known to promote effective positioning of a student’s performance, it has limitations with regard to reliability and validity. Therefore, successful implementation of student assessment require coordination between service providers and educators to ensure the assessment approach is appropriate in terms of its summative and formative perspectives which are imperative in promoting a working linkage between theory and practice (Myall et al, 2008). Mentorship program in clinical setting is complex due to the pressure emanating from the need of sustained student assessment in front of the patients and their family as well as other professionals, which may raise anxiety among the students as well as assessors, which may negatively impact on the assessment process (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). Anxiety may be caused by a variety of reasons including curriculum changes, which may undermine the assessor’s competency, the student’s readiness during assessment, and the assessors feeling of competency with regard to the assessment process.

This portfolio outlines an assessment of the competency of a nursing student with regard to the appropriate use of pain assessment tools. I considered this to be vital in the profession of nursing due to the importance of pain assessment skills in nursing care as it is classified as the fifth vital sign in nursing (Murray et al., 2008). Considering the requirement that nursing students should actively participate in vital signs, developing this competency is vital for patient safety (Price, 2007). Further, I considered this assessment to be a direct observation of a procedural skill where I was available during the whole process while offering feedbacks and assessments on the process (NMC, 2009). To ensure the assessment was a success, I developed a plan that included a criterion for implementing the process as well as questions that were used for testing the levels of understanding exhibited by the learner. Furthermore, the assessment plan was developed with the consideration for the student’s level of practical and theoretical learning (Myall et al., 2008). The questioned used in the assessment were open-ended to allow the student to offer the rationale behind their action path. This was important in developing deeper insight into the leaner’s competency, as well as promotes appreciation of diverse approaches to skills application (Murray et al., 2008).

The assessment was initiated after ensuring the ward was quiet enough to minimise the effects of a noisy setting on the assessment program. The process commenced with an official introduction between me and the student as an approach to familiarization between me and the student to minimise instances of anxiety (Price, 2007). After that, I proceeded by informing the student my expectations, the timeline, and offered my reassurance that the process was not formal as I was just interested in observing the process and offering my feedback at the end of the process (Murray et al., 2008). As much as I managed to develop effective background information needed to establish an effective assessment void of anxiety, I did not inquire about the learner’s previous experience, which could have assisted in the assessment process. As much as I had previous encounter with the student, lack of enough background information hampered my effective participation in the growth of the student during the practice-based learning. Furthermore, I did not clearly identify the outcomes of the assessment at the beginning of the assessment. As much as appropriate information was provided and the environment was conducive, developing a summary of discussion could have enhanced the levels of student conceptualization of the expectations as well as minimize anxiety and confusion (NMC, 2009).

When the student completed the first process, I asked the student several questions. These questions were established to evaluate the student’s communication skills, their understanding of the problem at hand, and general nursing skills (Murray et al., 2008). From the assessment, I observed that the student effectively communicated with the patient as well as the patient’s family a clear illustration of practical application of family-centred approach to nursing (Price, 2007). The student also effectively addressed the nursing situation at hand, as he utilised Wong-Baker pain rating to stabling the pain situation by the patient (Wong et al., 2001). After the student had gained an appropriate pain score, I asked the student a question regarding the appropriate frequency for observing pain, in which the response of the student was appropriate (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). From the case, it was evident that I had a problem with my communication skills as I had to repeat myself severally before the student could understand what I was addressing. Lowering my communication speed is necessary to enhance the student’s ability to comprehend the information given to them during assessment and minimise on instances where students are overwhelmed by information that is faster than their processing rates.

I offered the student a feedback session with the aim of promoting proactive learning relation with the student (Murray et al., 2008). This feedback included active involvement of the student in the development of an action plan for dealing with the identified inconsistencies during the assessment. Considering that the student demonstrated competency in the skill that I was assessing, the action plan was centered on increasing the number of alternative approaches that can be used in applying the skill with the focus on increasing the student’s reflexive skill and hence a holistic competency (Zachary, 2011). The process of provision of the feedback considered developing a positive and constructive impact on the student to assist the student in building self-esteem, cultivating a positive working relationship as well as a supportive learning environment which are important aspects that reduces anxiety during nursing practice (Myall et al, 2008). Research has demonstrated that student-mentor relationship influences the student’s learning experience (Price, 2007) and therefore, effective communication between the mentor and the learner can illicit competency concerns at early stages to minimise instances of failure (Zachary, 2011). Even though the student and the mentor may feel sad due to a failed assessment, it is vital for the mentor to appreciate failure as avoiding to report of failure may have an adverse effect on the progression of the student (Bradshaw & Merriman, 2008). This feedback was provided immediately after the assessment session as an approach to providing the student with prompt support and offer immediate corrective measure for any unpleasant conduct exhibited by the student during the session (Zachary, 2011).

Based on the assessment and my individual reflections on the outcomes, I identified various areas of my practice that require improvement. Specifically, my feedback on the assessment was limited and did not offer the student a wider scope on improvement. Furthermore, my speaking speeds need to be slowed to ensure effective communication. I also need to focus on developing in-depth background information about the student before the assessment as well as offering the student the expected outcomes of the assessment. In addition, asking the patient about the service will also enhance the determination of the performance of the student as well as development of an effective feedback.

Reflective Commentary

Mentorship is an important leadership characteristic (Zachary, 2011). Transformational leadership is founded on the ability of an individual to influence others through affecting their thinking. Adoption of this approach of leadership in nursing promotes autonomy as well as enabling the students to realise their full potential. It is also central to encouraging the development of excellent Interprofessional rapport (Myall et al., 2008). By becoming a role model at work through formulating solutions to problems that exist within nursing mentorship, I will be able to benefit myself as well as the student. This influence can also be transferred to other situations in the nursing environment, which will culminate to a better outcome in my nursing practice (Price, 2007). Common obstacles to mentorship such as staffing issues, hectic hospital environment, and clinical commitments influence my ability to perform as a mentor and hence the development of an effective relation with the student is essential (Price, 2007; Appendix 2).

Due to the hectic nature of the nursing environment it is challenging to get time for developing a written feedback for the student however to enhance by mentorship capability I need to establish relationship with other mentors that is founded on sharing evaluation feedback as an approach to building my scope with regard to student evaluation. Being able to share with other mentors about feedback can also expand my evaluation to the benefit of the student. As much as this approach is effective in enhancing a student mentorship program in hospital settings, it is challenging especially in cases where other mentors are not interested in sharing their experiences and work limiting its usability. Promoting teamwork in mentorship can be an effective approach to overcoming this obstacle. Dealing with the problem of anxiety requires innate understanding of the student, which implies discussing with the student the most appropriate way for implementing the assessment. This is effective as it encourages the student to be actively engaged in the assessment program and also creating a better relationship between the mentor and the student (Zachary, 2011).

Conclusion

The process of student assessment is only successful if it is administered objectively and fairly. As much as this approach may result to some emotional distresses by both the assessor and the student, it is imperative for the success of a mentorship program and prevention of negative implications on the student’s advancement. It is also necessary for ensuring approved nurses are competent enough to guarantee patient safety. Therefore, I am determined to ensure that students that I mentor, assess and approve and fit and competent to service as nurses in their respective fields. To achieve this, I will focus on developing a closer working relationship with the students to ensure all competency issues are identified and addressed timely. This is important in ensuring the students that I encounter do not face surprises later during their summative assessment or even when practicing as registered nurses. Furthermore, involvement of the patients and their families in the assessment of my students will be a major trademark of my mentorship and assessment program as I regard inputs by the patient vital to determining the competency of the student nurse.

Consequently, as much as the practice of assessment and mentorship is challenging and compound in nature, I believe that effective application of relevant knowledge and skills while focusing on the expected outcomes, it is possible to deliver efficiently in this function. This reflection process has enriched my understanding on the concept of mentorship and its significance in the nursing profession. It has also enhanced my perception of the concept of professional and personal development. I believe that if I eliminate the few areas of weakness that I have identified in the reflection, I will be able to offer effective mentorship and assessment for nursing students in clinical practice.

References

Bradshaw, A., & Merriman, C. (2008). ‘Nursing competence 10 years on: fit for practice and purpose yet?’ Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(10): 1263-1269.

Murray, C., Grant, MJ., Howarth, ML., & Leigh, J. (2008). ‘The use of simulation as a teaching and learning approach to support practice learning.’ Nurse Education in Practice, 8(1): 5-8.

Myall, M., Levett?Jones, T., & Lathlean, J. (2008). ‘Mentorship in contemporary practice: the experiences of nursing students and practice mentors.’ Journal of clinical nursing, 17(14): 1834-1842.

Nursing and Midwifery Council, NMC. (2009). Additional information to support implementation of NMC Standards to support learning and assessment in practice. London, UK : Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Nursing and Midwifery Council, NMC. (2008). The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. London: NMC. Retrieved from http://www.nmc-uk.org/aArticle.Aspx

Price B. (2007). ‘Practice-based assessment: strategies for mentors.’ Nursing Standard, 21 (36), pp. 49-56.

Polit, DF., & Beck, CT. (2008). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Zachary, LJ. (2011). The mentor’s guide: Facilitating effective learning relationships. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Critical thinking competency standards

Source: http://www.drake.edu/media/collegesschools/soe/images/msld/competency_model.png

Appendix 2: Essential competencies for an effective mentor

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Contribution of the EYFS to young children’s development and learning

Introduction

Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS) setting is an important surrounding for young children’s development. Positive relationships are built at this stage, where children learn through respectful and caring interactions. Practitioners are also able to give priorities to main person, and respectfully react to children and their parents’ respective opinions. The enabling environment at EYFS provides children with the needed time, space and materials to express themselves through plays, investigations and explorations of new ideas (Wood and Attfield, 2005). The practitioner is able to observe, organise and plan the flow of activities. Significantly, it is at this stage where a practitioner is able to identify the difference among children in terms of unique capabilities. In essence, developmental rates for children differ, with varied interests mostly influenced by the different socio-cultural and family backgrounds.
Positive interactions
Young children often rely on adult educators to stimulate and sustain their learning (Broadhead, Howard and Wood, 2010). One of the key goals of the EYFS is to create the ideal condition for learning to take place. EYFS also allows children to know the practitioners, thus enhancing trust and rely upon the adults for support. Studies show that “young children have their own ideas about what they wish and want to do” (Broadhead, 2010, p.29). Given freewill to choose what they want, they would passionately pursue their chosen career over those preferred by family members.
Bringing children together in the EYFS programmes also provide them with the opportunity to share individual knowledge with each other. Through group plays, individual child is able to initiate their destiny, take the lead, make choices, and develop individual thinking capacity as well as new ideas. They are also keen to draw sense from things in their surroundings.
The positive interaction is also observed in the manner in which children adapt play as a form of learning. Play is recognised as an important aspect of well-being and development of children. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (1989) states that play should be a fundamental commitment within the EYFS. Although the relationship between play and learning is not straightforward, research evidence suggests that different types of play “help children to learn and to become confident learners in their future lives” (Wood and Attfield, 2005, p.113). Other researches also indicate that children’s learning is enhanced when they interact with skilled adult in certain ways, thus promoting their good progress (Miller and Almon, 2009).
The benefits of playful approaches to learning can never be overstated in the effective development of young children. EYFS settings are made with certain guidelines that focus on both short term and long term success. The best outcomes of children’s learning is often found in places where learners are exposed to a myriad activities, including initiatives spearheaded by children themselves and supported by skillful adults.
The interaction between young children and skilled adults at EYFS has the ability to increase adult support. Studies have indicated that too little adult interaction and support can limit a child’s learning process (Miller and Almon, 2009). Similarly, play with adults although can be rich and be full of purpose, may be full of chaos and repetitive to an extent that it limits learning and exploration among the young children. The interaction is a critical aspect that will ensure the young children get professional support even as they grow and learn.

Opportunity to listen to children

EYFS allows practitioners to listen to young children and understand what they should be taught. At the same time, practitioners are able to set new challenges within the context that the young children can recognise.
When the children are brought together through EYFS, the practitioners are able to acknowledge individual child’s ability and be fully aware of what they can learn, thus allow them to plan and provide for every stage in the learning process (Broadhead, Howard and Wood, 2010).
When relationship has been developed between young children and adult practitioners, the latter knows the right thing to engage them during play, through the use of sounds, gesture, movements or objects (QCA, 2005). The practitioner is able to judge the extent of their engagement with the children during play, and when they are ready for the introduction of new skills.
Practitioners, as skillful adults, use the EYFS to support and enhance young children’s learning by selecting from pool of strategies available and matching them according to the specific needs of the children. In the EYFS setting, decisions such as what to give children and what best ways to help them learn are made several times each day. A skillful practitioner is able to learn the children’s needs through listening to them in an EYFS setting, where they can also learn the nature of play and playfulness each child possess.
Increase effective teaching
Children often cherish moments when they are in control and periods when they acquire the feelings that they are autonomous in their daily learning. Neuroscience studies have shown that children are well motivated and intelligent learners who explore everything around them (Lancaster and Broadbent, 2003). Thus, when children are brought together in an EYFS, the teaching becomes more effective because the practitioners are able to build the right conditions for learning. Adults are also able to manage the pace of activities and ensure they learn through stimulating opportunities.
When balance between spontaneous plays is established, the practitioner is able to evaluate the children’s choices and achievements and provide a guiding principle of learning to increase effectiveness. It is established that “too much directed activity often deprives children of the opportunity to engage actively when learning” (Broadhead et al., 2010). EYFS practitioner can increase effective teaching by arranging time, space and activities within the daily routine programme to reflect the overall combination which significantly support wellbeing of children.
A combination of child-initiated plays and adult-led playful activities allows professionals to choose the right approach that will not only enhance the developmental stage of the children but also provide individual and group support as a form of effective teaching (Miller and Almon, 2009). For example, a particular day can be set to allow free play between children without any adult’s involvement. This approach provides children with the needed space, independence and relaxation. At the other end of the scale are days when short sessions are carefully planned and structured with activities that are useful when teaching specific skills.
At the EYFS setting, skillful practitioners are able to impact young children positively by teaching them how to build positive identities through collaboration. Young children are also able to develop caring relationships with other people, manage and take risks, experience success, develop resilience, cope with failures, and develop ‘can-do’ attitude that is critical in the modern world’s increasing competitive environment. The high-quality provisions at EYFS are essential for children in their attempts to develop positive dispositions, which is the foundation for long-term learning success.

Unique Child’s opportunity to learn

Children often have different development rates, varied interests, different cultural backgrounds and unique families that define their early life experience (Rogers and Evans, 2008). EYFS themes allow them to explore these abilities, and design what fits each child according to their background.
At the EYFS setting, practitioners are able to plan and structure activities that can be essential in the teaching of specific skills. This stage of teaching can benefit children with recognised special educational needs. Young children are also able to build their vocabulary and demonstrate to them how to use specific tools and equipments. Neuroscience studies show that human brains develop and function in an exploratory setting (Tovey, 2007), which is essentially offered at EYFS. The freedom to combine resources at the EYFS in many varied ways is important because of the flexibility of the cognitive development process. Unique children are able “to build pathways for thinking and learning, and to make connections across areas of experience in the process” (Miller and Almon, 2009).
Theories of learning and development agree with the perspectives developed in brain research that learning is both individual and social, and that young children, particularly the ones with unique abilities, are not passive learners (Miller and Almon, 2009). These children drive their learning and development through selective choices on what they like, individual interests they make in these activities, the knowledge they acquire, and their motivation to do things with competence. Broadhead, Howard, and Wood (2010) observe that choices and interests of unique children are the driving forces that build knowledge, skills and understanding. For example, the children are constantly learning about themselves as well as their socio-cultural worlds when they play with other children and skillful adults

Conclusion

Young children learn in several ways as they grow up. First, it is recognised that children learn through play, both amongst themselves and with adults. It’s through play that children are able to explore, investigate and develop ideas. Young children also learn at the presence of other people, which allows them to develop emotional security and social skills. Through EYFS, children are able to meet these needs by being active and talking to themselves. They are also shown how to do things and how to meet physical and mental challenges, thus helping them develop lifelong learning habit.

References

Broadhead, P., Howard, J. and Wood E. (2010). Play and Learning in Early Childhood settings Theory and Practice, Sage, London.
Lancaster, Y.P. and Broadbent, V. (2003). Listening to Young Children, Open University Press, Maidenhead.
Miller, E. and Almon, J. (2009). Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School, College Part, MD, Alliance for Children.
QCA (2005). Continuing the Learning Journey: INSET Package, QCA, London (ref. QCA/05/1590).
Rogers, S. and Evans, J. (2008). Inside Role-Play in Early Childhood: Education, Researching Young Children’s Perspectives. Routledge: London.
Tovey, H. (2007). Playing Outdoor: Spaces and Places, Risk and Challenge. Open University Press: Maidenhead.
Wood, E. and Attfield, J. (2005). Play, Learning and the Early Children Curriculum. Paul Chapman: London.

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Reflection Report of Dissertation on mpact of information system on student learning experience

Abstract

This essay reflects the lessons and obstacles that I faced during the course of writing my dissertation. Utilizing the Gibbs Reflective Cycle in order to illustrate the process, this essay reflects upon different stages of the dissertation process and thus serves to assist me in developing a further understanding of the opportunities for carrying out better research in the future.

1 Introduction

The process of writing my dissertation began with the drive to expand my current capabilities and broaden my educational experience. Throughout this reflective essay I have use the Gibbs Reflective Cycle, which includes elements such as a basic description, my reactions, an evaluation of the experience, analysis, specific and general conclusions and my personal plan for action (Timmons et al, 2013).

2 Gibbs Reflective Cycle

2.1 Description

In order to accurately illustrate the scenario, a basic description enables me to envision the entire process dispassionately (Hegarty, 2011). My starting point for the research was the idea that increased technology has an impact on the learning process. This area presented a well-researched topic in the private sector, yet, I felt there was little material available on this subject, upon which to base quality evaluation for public facilities such as schools. In the beginning there was considerable stress before there was a single word written. As the study began to form, I began to feel more at ease with the needs of the project. Yet, many times there was the perception of very hard to find literature and material for me that made this research difficult from the outset. Taken together with my father’s ill health, I had considerably mixed feelings as to my ability to take this on.

2.2 Feelings

My emotional approach to this project was very striking and seemed to influence the results I obtained (Jasper, 2006). The very beginning of this project found me apprehensive and concerned that my skills were not sufficient for the task. Further, my father was sick during this period adding to my perception of the need to do function under pressure. There was significant stress at the outset that I felt diminished as I grew more familiar with the project. . I found the scope of this entire process was a little daunting. Perhaps my most unique feelings during this study came as I evaluated the students; I found a need to connect with the interviewees causing me considerable worry and the question of if I was approaching them in the best manner possible. Sometimes I had to set aside personal bias in order to accurately reflect the results (Pearson, 2013). As the project began to come to a close, I found considerable pride in the fact that I learned a great deal about process and method.

2.3 Evaluation

It is important to assess the positive and negative aspects of the project (Oelofsen, 2012). Most positive was my expectation I could achieve the goals of this work. Leading the negative aspects was my lack of confidence in my skill. A negative that turned into a positive was the manner that I interacted with the students and lecturers, initially I felt I was weak at this, but as I learned I became better. Overall, this was a good experience that I definitely learned from.

2.4 Analysis

There is a need to take stock of the situation in order to evaluate the experience (Pearson, 2013). My overall goal was to make sense of the impact of technology on the students. Through the research process, I feel I have expanded my own research abilities through trial and error, and am now more equipped to carry out research in the future. I have found others have had similar research experiences which has made me feel that I am part of a community and can gain from other’s knowledge. This appreciation of experience is a key factor that will enhance each following research project.

2.5 Conclusion

The conclusions from this reflection lend depth to my learning experience (Park et al, 2011). Overall I felt that I learned that the research problem often carries more than the one possible outcome, which in turn means that I must be willing to accommodate unexpected elements. Specifically, I learned that I should be more assertive during the interview process, yet open to each person’s interpretations of the questions. I also gained the ability to research and write at a higher level, thereby aiding my future efforts.
2.6 Personal Action Plan
Each of these considerations has provided me with lessons for future research (Forrest, 2008). Next project, I will not be hesitant to engage with the material. I will remain confident in my research strategy and take steps to not second guess my approach in order to strengthen my research and stay on track. Most importantly, I will have the experience to begin and accomplish any research project.

3 References

Forrest, M. (2008). On becoming a critically reflective practitioner. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 25(3), pp.229–232.

Jasper, M. (2006). Professional development, reflection and decision-making. 1st ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hegarty, B. (2011). Is reflective writing an enigmaCan preparing evidence for an electronic portfolio develop skills for reflective practice?. 2011(1), pp.580–593.

Oelofsen, N. (2012). Developing reflective practice. 1st ed. Banbury: Lantern.

Park, J. and Son, J. (2011). Expression and connection: the integration of the reflective learning process and the writing process into social network sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(1), pp.170–178.

Pearson, J. (2012). HCAs: developing skills in reflective writing. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 6(3), p.140.

Timmins, F., Murphy, M., Howe, R. and Dennehy, C. (2013). “I Hate Gibb’s Reflective Cycle 1998”(Facebookcopyright 2009): Registered Nurses’ Experiences of Supporting Nursing Students’ Reflective

Practice in the Context of Student’s Public Commentary. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 93, pp.1371–1375.

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How to engage in a conversation with clients that would lead to sales?

Part A: Lesson Plan

The specific group of learners

For this study the specific group of learners included the sales and marketing attaches attached to sales agent who deals with automobiles.

The training needs

The training meets the needs of knowledge how to pitch their sales to the potential customers as it was always difficult to pitch sales to potential automobile customers. Unlike in other markets where there was only one product in the automobile market there were different types of products that met various needs of the customers. Therefore it was necessary to train the new employees how to understand the customers during the initial conversation. It was important to train the trainees how to learn the needs of the customers and meet those needs by helping the customer to select a car that would meet their potential needs. The other need was to create confidence among the trainees to face client and to ask tough questions.

The overall aim of the whole learning

The overall aim of the learning was to equip the trainees with the sales knowledge on how to engage a conversation with clients that would lead to sales. The aim was to help the trainees to understand the potential client’s needs without first asking the price and the money that the customer has. The specific aims were to teach how to ask questions that lead to sales and how to keep from discussing price and discuss the value of automobile.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are improved understanding of the sales concepts such as asking question and having discussion that make the customer understand the value of the automobiles that he or she is going to purchase.

Overall timeline of the session including the content heading and content

Table 1: Session and content

SessionContent
IntroductionDefine pitching as the ability to convince the client by having appropriate words and information concerning the products. It is convincing the clients that the product has the capacity to meet the customer needs and wants.
LecturesTeach clients about asking questions, pitching and asking client questions that will lead to closure of the sale.

Role playsOrganise trainees into pairs where one of them acts as a salesman and the other as client

Table 2:Mini lesson plan

Time durationLearning and development methodTrainer activityLearner participationAids and resources

0-1st minuteIntroductionDefine pitching as the ability to convince the client by having appropriate words and information concerning the products. It is convincing the clients that the product has the capacity to meet the customer needs and wants.Take notesPower point

1-5th minuteLecturesTeach clients about asking questions, pitching and asking client questions that will lead to closure of the sale.

Taking notesPower point

6-10th minuteRole play to identify of learningOrganise trainees into pairs where one of them acts as a salesman and the other as clientThe student will act as a salesman while the other students will act as the purchase with a certain budget and is looking for a car model that can fit within that model. Each student will have to act as a salesmen and a client. This will be done by organisation the students in groups of two. The student will act in front of the class.A classroom

11-12th minuteBrainstorm on potential questions to ask clientsAsk students the best type of questions to ask clients provide two questions they would ask a potential customer that would make them know the customer and the need that the customer has.The student to provide tow questions that they would ask potential automobile client.A handout with open ended questions that the sales man should ask clients
13 – 15th minute

Question and answersEvaluate students on their ability to ask questions that make the customers to explain their needs. They will also be valued on the basis of the answers and personal obtained from the client such as budget and the car model the client is looking for or the functionalities that the client is looking for in car.Students to fill in a form indicating what roles they have played and the questions they have formulated as well as comment what was interesting and what they have learned about the lesson.A notebook

The lesson will considered to be effective based on the students understanding of the sales concepts such as asking questions and having discussion that make the customer understand the value of the automobiles that he or she is going to purchase.

Task B: Personal Reflection

Introduction

This is a reflection on how I planned the lesson and the activities that were undertaken to teach students about executing good auto sales. Various knowledge and theories about theory of learning were employed in this research to ensure that the lesson was effective and it attained the research objectives of making the student understand how to execute good auto sales. The first part is the introductory section. The second part of this reflection reflects on the lesson plan and takes into the consideration the theory that was used in planning the lesson and the learning activities. The third section measured the effectiveness of the lesson. The fourth section reflects on what happened in the practice aspect of the lesson and what has been learnt from this experience.

Plan for the lesson and the theory taken into consideration

In planning for this lesson, I was aware of three learning theories which were the behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. The behaviourism holds that teaching should be behaviour oriented and it should make the learners to respond in a particular way through stimuli-response (Salsbury and Melinda, 2008). This means that the teachers should provide stimuli and condition the learners to respond to the stimuli in particular way. This means for instance hearing a door bell rising should lead to the response of opening the door (Fink, 2005). However this theory is mostly applicable in social and in behavioural training such as training soldiers and members of the discipline forces which was not the case for this lesson. Learning is assessed through drills and real life experiences.

The other learning theory that could be applied in learning is the cognitive theory. This theory holds that information can be retained in memory through deliberate cognitive activities such as memorising and doing mental exercises. The exercise should be enhanced through internal processing of information. The cognitive learning theory holds that learning is student based and should be examined through individual assessments.

The other learning theory that could be used in designing the lesson plan is the constructivism which holds that learning is based on the individual’s interpretation of the information and knowledge. It holds that there is no single way of interpreting and applying knowledge as each person has their own viewpoints and experiences that shape their world view (Mccrea, 2015). Therefore every individual is expected to act differently and to understand the provided knowledge distinctly from the other person. When using this theory the most applicable teaching methods included brainstorming, case studies, simulations or role playing, and problem based learning.

In my lesson the constructivism was used to impart knowledge to the students. The theory was preferred because the lesson focused on the sales training which was based on experiences of greatest salesmen. There was no given way of doing sales as different people had done it differently depending with the customers and the types of products and service that they were selling (Serdyukov and Ryan, 2008). Sales was also dependent on the types of customers as each type of customer had varying needs when purchasing an automobile as some wanted automobiles that were luxurious others wanted performance such as speed and acceleration. Other customers wanted low costs automobiles such hence price was the most significant consideration. Others wanted to conserve the environment and wanted vehicles that were environmentally friendly such as the hybrid vehicles. This meant for one to be a great salesmen they had first to understand the individual customer and then apply the knowledge that they have on selling on the individual customer (Salsbury and Melinda, 2008). Therefore constructivist approach was the most appropriate learning approach that could be employed in teaching the learners about good auto sales. When using this theory the learning activities included role playing and simulation activities that included simulating sales scenario and the type of conversations that occur between the potential customers and the salesmen (Salsbury and Melinda, 2008).

How the success of the lesson was assessed

The first way of assessing the effectiveness of the lesson was ensuring that the learning objectives were met. The learning objectives for this study were met. The first objective of this lesson was to ensure that the students understood how to ask questions that led to sales. The second objective was to ensure that the students learned how to discuss the value of the automobile rather than the price of the automobiles. The other way that the effectiveness of the lesson was identified was through participation of the students in the lesson activities (Zimmerman, 2015). All the students that were involved in the lessons activities retained more knowledge than those who were not involved. For instance one of the ways of ensuring that the students understood the lesson was asking them to participate in role playing where they will act as a salesman and client. Those who managed to ask the open ended questions that made the client to talk about themselves and the need that was to be met by the automobile were considered to have understood the lesson or the content for that learning. Also the students who discussed the value of the car more than the price were considered to have met the objective of the lesson. However, assessing the effectiveness of the lesson was difficult especially because the time allocated for the lesson was not adequate for all the students to participate in the role play. However, it ensured that each individual understood and learned to apply the selling techniques on their own individuals’ capacity based on the clients’ needs.

Activities during the practice and what I got from the practice

One of the things that happened during the practice is that the students were excited about the lesson activities. The students wanted to participate in formulating the appropriate questions that they should ask potential automobile clients. The activity was the most interesting part and each student participated in formulating questions that they would ask a potential customers. However some of the students who were not confident did not participate.

The other aspect that was interesting to the students was that of role playing. The students played according to social groups which made it interesting. Some of the client were tough and made the lesson exactly like what would happen to a car salesman. However those who were shy did not perform well in the role playing because they asked direct questions that could be answered fast (Skowron, 2010). On assessing the students based on their participants in role playing most of the confident students who were outgoing had better performance than the shy students. In the written test most of the student had better scores indicating that the information was highly retained by the students after the role play and simulation of a sales scenario (Zuiker, et al., 2016). The students were also happy and excited because they were actively involved in the lesson.

Based on this experience the most important thing I have learnt is that the students have the capacity to learn on their own with minimal guidance. I noted that to be effective the teacher should incorporate more doing activities in the lesson because they helped the student to apply knowledge in real life situation other than having theoretical knowledge only. However, the time allocated for the lesson was not enough to include more activities in the lesson plan.

Conclusion

The reflection has echoed the learning that has been accrued during the preparation of the lesson plans. The exercise has helped me to put into use theories of learning employed in teaching. I have noted that each theory applies in different scenario based on the subject being taught. I have noted that involvement of the student in real life activities through role playing and simulation was effective especially in teaching studies that required application of knowledge in strict life situation like selling to customers who are different and need differing products.

References

Fink, D. L. (2005) Integrated course design. Manhattan, KS: The IDEA Center.

Mccrea, P. (2015) Lean Lesson Planning: A practical approach to doing less and achieving more in the classroom. Brighton: Teacherly.

Salsbury, E. and Melinda, S. (2008) Lesson Planning: A Research-Based Model for K-12 Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall.

Serdyukov, P. and Ryan, M. (2008) Writing Effective Lesson Plans: The 5-Star Approach. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Skowron, J. (2010) Powerful Lesson Planning: Every Teachers Guide to Effective Instruction. 10th edn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Zimmerman, B. (2015) ‘Self-Regulated Learning: Theories, Measures, and Outcomes’, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, pp. 541-546.

Zuiker, S., Anderson, K., Jordan, M. and Stewart, O. (2016) ‘Complementary lenses: Using theories of situativity and complexity to understand collaborative learning as systems-level social activity’, Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 9(11), pp. 80-94

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Models for Learning and Development

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Abstract

This essay critically appraises the validity of the 70, 20, 10 formula used for giving due recognition to different types of management learning. Using a wide variety of resources, the discussion assesses the current method, future potential and possible shortcomings. The research shows that the process of aiding employees to develop, any form of additional education on the job adds to the natural way people develop, aiding both the person and the company. Yet, in many cases the method is found to be outdated in the face of developing technology. This study will be of interest to those researching developing trends in relation to long standing practices

1 Introduction

This essay critically appraises the validity of the 70: 20: 10 formula used for giving due recognition to different types of management learning. Burgess (2017) describes the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development as a learning model that seeks to improve overall performance through targeted efforts. Jennings et al., (2010) illustrates the formula in the following manner:

Seventy per cent assignments
Twenty per cent from relationships
Ten per cent from training

Watkins et al., (1992) argues that learning begins with motivation, leading to action.. Whilst this seems to be a simple form of beginning, this start could come in various forms that leave many things in question. For example, a mistake which is a very common beginning point, builds experience, leading to a learning experience. Yet, Pollock et al., (2015) describes the system as outdated . With many others critical of this approach including Blackman et al., (2016), the following discussion illustrates the pros and cons of the method.

2 The 70: 20:10 Models

Rentroia-Bonito et al., (2015) argue that the 70:20:10 model helps people to extend their focus beyond the norm in order to build more resilient workforces thereby serving to create cultures that feature continuous learning. Critical of this Blackman et al., (2016) says that the 70:20:10 isn’t a simple rule as it only outlines the process of learning as it naturally occurs, only then offering a process to support that learning process. Furthermore, as part of the daily workflow the method helps in the effort to improve working as well as the art of and sharing with colleagues, empowering the entire company or effort to move forward. This seems to generate considerable questions regarding the meaning of the numbers and how this has been defined throughout its term of operation.

The 70:20:10 models, although considered a change agent by most, is described by Watkins et al., (1992) as a consistently useful reminder that learning can also be found in the workplace and not just in the a educational format. Yet, Pollock et al., (2015) are critical of assigning any single meaning to the model, showing that learning is continually dependent on the person, the environment and the motivation. This seems to indicate that learning is a very personal based experience that can be successful for nearly anyone once the correct combination of method and motivation is found. Furthermore, this is a real indication that the influx of numbers cannot be considered a mantra, more of a guideline leading to a potential change. Blackman et al., (2016) supports the contention that many of the past years have continued to illustrate the condition that workplace learning is on the increase with more and more people are using the possibility of learning in organisations. Yet, Jennings et al., (2010) continue to be critical of such an assumption, arguing that alongside each new learning development is an advance in the science of education, which in turn is associated with increasing the ability for organisations to effectively reach their target employees. This seems to be a strong argument for the condition of consistent learning in every situation aiding the person in the entirely. Furthermore, this framework aids the understanding of learning within organisations that is widely considered a step towards more effective know-how learning (Rentroia-Bonito et al., 2015). Yet, every writer continues to agree that the elements of the method of completely interdependent, with each one impacting the other. This is best scene in examples that illustrate that mentoring and courses seem to be better when they support on-the-job development, leading to a consistent motivation.

Blackman et al., (2016) describe the 70:20:10 formulas as an argument that is made when an organisation tries to innovate and prosper based on the abilities held by the employees. Yet, choosing to add to that description, Jennings et al., (2010) illustrates the method as a model designed to support individual, as well as any form of organisational learning. This seems to be indicative of a desire by this process to integrate each of the three types of learning: experiential, social and formal. Critical of accepting the method on initial value Marsick et al., (2006) argues that organisations assume more responsibility for any organisation’s learning, as a means of improving the entire company whether that education come from formal or informal conditions. Pollock et al., (2015) chooses to believe that the process is of value as a general guideline only, leading to many areas of for improving the effectiveness of learning. Yet, Rentroia-Bonito et al., (2015) is critical of this assessment, being quick to point out that the model is used heavily by organisations around the world.

2.1 Meaning of the Numbers

Each of the percentages associated with the 70:20:10 methods are associated with specific elements of the learning process (Jennings et al., 2010). This is an indication that there are areas that deserve more attention to and broader funding, leading to the development of priorities. Watkins et al., (1992) argues that the 70 per cent becomes the most beneficial for employees due to the possibility of for these persons to discover and further develop their skills, which in turn leads to better decision making and better performance in the face of ongoing day to day challenges. Although Blackman et al., (2016) argues that the key element of this portion of the program is the fact that the individuals receive immediate feedback on their performance and are able to quickly use this information on the job. According to this method, persons learn 20 per cent from areas of social learning, collaborative learning and of interaction with co-workers.

Pollock et al., (2015:124) uses the following illustration to demonstrate the range of interpretations:

A multinational company

70% comes from constant on-the job
Encouragement and stimulation such as delegation and job rotation.
20%from daily contact with colleagues and management.

A professional services firm

70% on the job such as stretch, projects, problems solving, client interaction, and rotation assignments.
20% undertaken through others such as social networking, performance conversations; work shadowing, communities of practice and social activities.
10% formal or prescribed.
10% from formal methods such as e-learning, the classroom, external courses.

A distribution organisation

70% from work experiences such as stretch assignments, projects and overseas exposure.
20% others such as mentoring and learning from seniors and peers.
10% formal and informal channels.

An Australian government body

70% is experiential.
20% is relationship based.
10% is formal.

A not-for-profit organisation

70% on the job.
20% coaching and mentoring.
10% formal courses.

A large multinational organisation

70% from on-the-job training, projects.
20% from exposure to teachers and other educators.
10% from learning material including online resources, books and external resources.

The Pollock et al., (2015) approach outlined here only seems content that ten per cent of any class of trainees working to be a professional will complete the course and development optimally. This condition will result from the combination of the formal instruction alongside the contribution of outside offerings.

2.2 Is the 70:20:10 still relevant?

Jennings et al., (2010) argues that the internet, alongside developing communications technology has altered the training industry’s views of the 70:20:10 models, making some elements more meaningful, whilst reducing others. Perhaps the fastest and loudest growing criticism of the model is the fact that the old model does not reflect the current market’s fast-growing emphasis any type of learning. This seems to indicate that as technology continues to develop, so too do the opportunities for people to learn anywhere, seemingly lending support for the argument that the model needs to be updated for the modern world. Another observation that is commonly touted to the negative in relation to this model is the fact that the ratios do not reflect the many opportunities emerging, instead seemingly limiting the effectiveness of the tool (Pollock et al., 2015). Yet, Watkins et al., (1992) argues that no matter what may come in the markets the model will continue to be as a valuable guideline.

Blackman et al., (2015) argues that the relevance of the method remains in the ability for the model to assist the transition from the formal learning to on the job application. This is best achieved using specific methods such as step by step instructions or allowing a person to instruct themselves leading to potential opportunities during training. However, Watkins et al., (1992) insists that any attempt to use the model in today’s markets rests on the ability for the course content to remain short in order to tackle a wider variety of concepts. Furthermore, this seems to indicate that any attempt at using the model will increasingly use methods such as micro learning, leading to innovation and development. Yet, Blackman et al., (2015) shows that if a model is not carried out correctly, the learnings will begin to occupy more time than the 10%, leading to a skewed attempt. This element seems to support the contention that the model is highly dependent on management style and ease of any programs use. Jennings et al., (2010) asserts that job aids aid to provide possible learners with much of the supplementary materials that is needed in to succeed, leading to better skills for the person in the long run. Yet, Blackman et al., (2015) again asserts that the most valuable element of the program is the introduction of the peer learning component that allow employees to find methods of success outside of the norm, again, leading to innovation and possible development in the work place. The relevance of the model has further increased with Jennings et al., (2010) that the addition of mobile content adds a tremendous extension of any learning efforts. This seems to indicate that there is a real potential in this model to extend formal learnings and help in the persons personal efforts to establish a proper educational path. Yet, in every case Blackman et al., (2015) asserts that the most important element, and remaining relevance of this model is the self-assessment that helps each person to learn and apply their knowledge.

2.3 Potential

Pascale (2017) asserts that learning programs provide potential as they are addressing employees as well as providing experience and the benefit of increased confidence. This seems to indicate that Pascale (2017) sees the method as learning that can be attributed to any single person’s capacities which in turn assist the person’s entire workforce. Yet, Jennings et al., (2010) cautions against this form of over optimism, stating that these skills are the employees, and the person may choose to use these emerging skills elsewhere or in a different manner than the company may have anticipated. Jennings et al., (2010:20) says that the system has the potential to “forces us into a mind-set of extending learning solutions beyond classes and courses and out into the workflow. It creates great opportunities to leverage work for learning and to bring learning closer to work. As the workflow is where the majority of learning happens, re-focusing there is not only a sensible approach, but it’s an effective one as well.” This seems plausible with a real opportunity for persons to learn through practice and establishing as well as learning through the day to day employee conversations. Yet, Watkins (1992) assert that the best possible element of the program rests in the element of reflective practice that both enhances the organisational learning as well as adding to any form of personal educational experience. This seems to indicate that there is support for a system that helps a person becomes the best form of themselves that they can be, which in turn seems to require a little more flexibility than a rigid model. Burgess (2017) describes this art of reflection as a link across any activities that assist to assess a person’s success or failure, which in turn adds to the likelihood of success in a new challenge. Furthermore, extending this principle shows that reflecting on improvement, alongside practice and is a natural and practical way for a person to improve their potential for growth. With intuitive elements already a large part of every person’s life in the form of teachers, coaches and mentors with endless sessions of practice in any number of educational efforts, the method provides a framework that adds to the potential for anyone to succeed (Watkins et al., 1992). However, this is not the same attitude evinced by the later studies such as Burgess (2017) citing the need for more flexibility in order to provide the proper potential for growth and innovation.

2.4 Challenges

Jennings et al., (2017) argue that the biggest challenge of using the 70:20:10 frameworks is how to do it correctly in any environment. Yet, Pascale (2017) cites the largest challenge as matching the various levels of understanding among the persons being educated. Whilst Pollock et al., (2015) argues that the largest challenge going forward is going to be the nature of the process and the inability of method to effectively integrate technology. Although, this contention is debated among many professionals with Jennings et al., (2017) making arguments clearly in favour of using innovative technology to aid in both reaching employees and the manner in which they would understand their material. This all seems to sustain the contention that although there seems to be a solid structure to the system overall, the lack of a solid step by step system that can be applied in nearly any circumstance is a drawback. Furthermore, it would seem as if the area of technology remains a key weakness that needs to be developed.

Pascale (2017) cites the fact that leaders are actively seeking out new ways to train employees, that there is a need for more innovation and development. With nearly seventy per cent of hands on training, considered to take too long, the mistakes made by employees only serve to reduce effectiveness and potential revenue. Furthermore, Watkins et al., (1992) notes this same condition, with the companies that using temporary workers hit hardest. This seems to support the arguments that technology has brought on training that provides a focused way for people to speed up learning whilst keeping overall cost low.

3 Conclusion

This essay critically appraised the validity of the 70: 20: 10 formula used for giving due recognition to different types of management learning, with the understanding that the learning model seeks to improve overall performance through targeted efforts. With considerable debate on the subject, the central area of challenges to the system was the assertion that it was becoming outdated and that the seventy per cent assignments, twenty per cent from relationships and ten per cent from training were not effective in the modern market, making the entire method questionable. Yet, support for the method centred largely on the ability for the educational material to provide a source of growth and reflection for the employee that would in turn aid them in learning in a natural manner that would easily integrate into their professional lives. This seems to support the Watkins et al., (1992) argument that learning begins with motivation, leading to action. This motivation is built upon the desire to better them through education, and the method does seem to provide a valid and practical process for attaining that goal. However, the critics of this process are a quick to point out that any mistake will build a faulty knowledge base that should be better controlled to ensure quality. However, with time being a key element of any business community, it does not seem practical for employees to expect to receive any long term education that many received in the past in formal educational settings.

The material in this study seems to support the contention that when seeking to determine how long someone needs to train, it remains vital to look at the method and manner of training. There are many choices for each unique person, making some critics of the system point out that the need for flexibility is a real and lasting component of any system.. This works to build confidence in the assessment that a person’s learning program will help to build better overall working practices that will in turn benefit the company or organisation that the persons is associated with. Furthermore, the material clearly shows that there is more to learn than how to make the connection in the classroom, that there must be deeper elements that serve to encourage and develop the innovative nature of the person, whilst not relying on a single model for universal education. The research shows that the process of aiding employees to develop, any form of additional education on the job adds to the natural way people develop, aiding both the person and the company. Yet, in many cases the method is found to be outdated in the face of developing technology. This study will be of interest to those researching developing trends in relation to long standing practices.

This study shows that formal training and development serve only a portion of a person, or employees learning and educational development, with valuable sources of education and knowledge coming from practice, reflection and the proximity and mentorship of experienced professionals in the field. The research illustrates that by aiding people, employees and leaders to work and develop educational process whilst on the job, the ability to naturally integrate this knowledge into their professional lives grows. This growth not only seems to aid the person on many levels, but aids the efforts of the companies associated with the person, supporting the contention that the 70:20:10 model is not only relevant but needed in the modern community. This continues to show that people develop on the job and in order to companies to remain or become successful education must be a cornerstone of that process.

References

Blackman, D. and Johnson, S. (2016). The 70:20:10 model for learning and development: an effective model for capability development?. International Journal of Engineering and Technology, 2(1), pp.112-116.

Burgess, J. (2017). Is a Blended Learning Approach Suitable for Mature, Part-Time Finance Students?.. [online] Eric.ed.gov. Available at: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1098715 [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Cotton, J. and Rechtschaffen, A. (1958). Replication report: Two- and three-choice verbal-conditioning phenomena. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 56(1), pp.96-96.

Gardner, R. (1957). Probability-Learning with Two and Three Choices. The American Journal of Psychology, 70(2), p.174.

Jennings, C. and Wargnier, J. (2010). Experiential learning – a way to develop agile minds in the knowledge economy?. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, 24(3), pp.14-16.

Jennings, C., Jennings, C. and profile, V. (2017). 70:20:10 Primer. [online] Charles-jennings.blogspot.com. Available at: http://charles-jennings.blogspot.com/2015/08/702010-primer.html [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

KMI Learning. (2017). 70-20-10 Training – A New Approach | KMI Learning. [online] Available at: https://www.kmilearning.com/70-20-10-training/ [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Pascale, C. (2017). 70:20:10 Guide: Provide Structure to the 70%. [online] Docebo. Available at: https://www.docebo.com/2015/04/16/informal-training-70-20-10/ [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Pollock, R., Jefferson, A., Wick, C. and Wick, C. (2015). The six disciplines of breakthrough learning. 1st ed.

Rentroia-Bonito, M., Goncalves, D. and Jorge, J. (2015). Clustering Students Based on Motivation to Learn:. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 7(3), pp.18-39.

Td.org. (2017). 70:20:10: Where Is the Evidence?. [online] Available at: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Science-of-Learning-Blog/2014/07/70-20-10-Where-Is-the-Evidence [Accessed 17 Mar. 2017].

Td.org. (2017). 70:20:10: Where Is the Evidence?. [online] Available at: https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Science-of-Learning-Blog/2014/07/70-20-10-Where-Is-the-Evidence [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Training Magazine. (2017). Fear Not the 70-20-10. [online] Available at: https://trainingmag.com/content/fear-not-70-20-10 [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Trainingindustry.com. (2017). The 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development | Training Industry. [online] Available at: https://www.trainingindustry.com/wiki/entries/the-702010-model-for-learning-and-development.aspx [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Watkins, K. and Marsick, V. (1992). Towards a theory of informal and incidental learning in organizations?. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 11(4), pp.287-300.

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Establish a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment

Unit 1 Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector Theory assessment level 4 Question 1 Review what your role, responsibilities and boundaries as a teacher would be in terms of the teaching/training cycle. The role, responsibilities and boundaries of a teacher are ever changing a teacher can inspire greatness in a learner. It is however, possible to teach without the learner actually learning anything, a teacher can have a great in-depth knowledge of their subject yet if they can not inspire or engage the learner their knowledge may not be passed on.

I believe for myself, as an instructor it will be key in my job role to be a facilitator and establish an atmosphere in which the learners feel comfortable, where they are not threatened by external factors, this humanistic approach is mainly based around the theory of facilitative learning by Rogers (1983). Carl Rogers theory argues that people have a natural eagerness to learn and that through learning people change their perception of themselves. The theory recognises that the facilitator should focus on the relationship between teacher and learner not merely the teaching.

Open discussion with students should be encouraged to prevent conflict, as it is recognised that resistance can be common in learning as the student in some cases is giving up what they previously thought to be true. The main aspect of this theory is that the most important part if learning is the change in the learners concept of self. Gravells (2008) describes teaching as a cycle, which can start at any point. The teacher’s roles, responsibilities and boundaries in terms of the teacher/training cycle are made up of 5 points Identify needs and planning, designing, facilitating/deliver, assessing, and evaluating.

A teacher can start at any point of the cycle, it is however argued that for learning to be effective the cycle must be complete. The 5 stages are further discussed below. Identify needs As an instructor my role would be to refer to my company’s goals ensuring I am aware of what the learner is required to gain from being in my class. I will be teaching NVQ level 2 in electrical and mechanical maintenance so it is key that the needs of the learner are met to the required governing body EMTA standards.

A criticism of this is there are boundaries set by EMTA which I can not deviate from; there is a strict learning practice and syllabus that must be adhered to. Within my role I will also be required to consider the learners learning styles, it is extremely important to be aware of each learners learning style to ensure they can learn effectively. Fleming (1987) describes 3 main learning styles, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. It is recognised that most people will have a preferred learning style, however most people learn through more than only one style.

For all the syllabus is set it is my responsibility to ensure the lessons are engaging and suitable for the learners depending upon their learning styles. Some aspects of the syllabus are required to be taught in a specific way, however this does not prevent me from including additional teaching. Such an example of this will be having to practically demonstrate a wiring process, alongside this set out aspect of the session I could design handouts and hold group discussions about safety aspects.

Including varied teaching methods will hopefully help to engage all learners regardless of their preferred learning styles. The teaching style can also be approached from different angles, I can change my teaching style be it pedagogical, andragogical or didactic depending upon the lesson content. The style I will commonly be required to use, most certainly at the beginning of the course, will be andragogical as there are health and safety issues and laws and legislations to adhere to. Another important factor I must consider when identifying the needs of my earners is their learning process. A commonly used theory of learning process is that of Kolb (1984) who describes 4 different stages of the learning process. Concrete experience, observation and reflection, abstract conceptualisation, and finally active experimentation, once again just like the teaching cycle, the learning cycle can start at any stage and is continuous. This theory particularly emphasises the importance of varied teaching methods and teaching the same concept but through different means to ensure learners have a full understanding. Plan and design

Planning and design of the lesson will require myself to study the set learning criteria set by EMTA and from that create lesson plans to and engage the group of learners and keep the group interested and wanting to learn more. Once again I must adhere to the laws and legislation whilst doing this as the lesson been carried out involves the learners actually doing the work themselves which is andragogical teaching method. Further more as the class is hands on I must make sure that the equipment needed for the course is available, and there is an internal verifier to sign off the work completed during the course.

Deliver Once I have identified the needs of the learners and planned and designed my course I can now deliver my course the first thing I would do is to complete an ice breaker, maybe have a game of human bingo. This would allow myself to get to know the learners and allow the learners to get to know each other, making a more relaxed environment. Then from there I can go about setting ground rules, the group will be aged from 16 to 21 so I wouldn’t want to patronise them, I would negotiate the rules with the group, but some rules would be set in stone specifically laws and regulations for their own safety.

To deliver the course my teaching style would be mainly andragogical as been an apprentice is a hand’s on role, this will allow the learner to carry out the task therefore learning the theory and learning how to carry out the task for them selves. In terms of learning styles I would try deliver all 3 styles visual, audio and kinaesthetic I would deliver the theory, view videos and show practical examples and give the learner the opportunity to carry out the task themselves. Assess

Assessments are carried out over the course of the syllabus this would make sure the learner is actually learning and gaining the required knowledge from the course. These are non-negotiable assessment which would be carried out in their NVQ portfolios which involves practical and theory assessments. At the end of each class I would also aim to have a quick questions session, allowing myself to ask the learners questions relating to the lesson plan, thus ensuring all aspects which I intended to teach have been understood.

This process would also allow me to identify any areas which are not understood, allowing me to recap or teaching differently in a future session. Evaluate In terms of evaluating teacher training cycle at the end of every course unit I would have one to one interview with my learners and discuss if objectives were meet not only to help the learner but also to help me with my teaching so I can always endeavour to improve. Another method to evaluate how the course went would be to ask the learners to complete a questionnaire allowing for more truthful responses as these could be filled in independently and without the learners name.

Evaluation is a hugely important part of the process specifically for myself as this would allow me to identify any weakness and help me improve for the following modules. For all I will be asking for the course to be formally evaluated at the end of each module, I would make my learners feel confident that if there is any improvements they think I could make within the duration of the course they can approach me and make suggestions. Evaluation should be constant during the teaching process to ensure I am teaching to the best of my ability and the learners are learning to the best of theirs.

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Philosophies of Learning Theory

INTRODUCTION What is theory? A theory is a way of thinking and a model of how things work, how principles are related, and what causes things to work together. Learning theories address key questions, for example, how does learning happen? How does motivation occur? What influences students’ development? A theory is not just an idea. It’s an idea that is a coherent explanation of a set of relationships that has been tested with lots of research. If the idea survives rigorous testing, that theory is said to have empirical grounding. A theory is developed from practical experience as well as research.

Any given theory is usually about one aspect of the learning process. Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during learning. Learning brings together cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences and experiences for acquiring, enhancing, or making changes in one’s knowledge, skills, values, and world views. There are three main categories of learning theory: behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Behaviorism focuses only on the objectively observable aspects of learning.

Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning. And constructivism views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts. Philosophies of teaching and learning, numerous philosophers have studied what the meaning of to teach and learn, and have come up with various explanations of the process of becoming educated. Their begin to refine their own beliefs and understandings of what it means to know through examining numerous theories of knowledge and making sense of the processes of teaching and learning in their own minds.

An few philosophies and examples of individuals who exemplify the concepts are worth exploring: Existentialism (Maxine Greene, Jean-Paul Sartre, Soren Kierkegaard, Simone de Beauvoir), Critical Theory (Karl Marx, Henry Geroux, Michael Apple, Paulo Friere), Behaviorism (B. F. Skinner), Cognitivism / Developmentalism (Maria Montessori, A. S. Neill, John Dewey, Knowles, Waldorf Schools, Reggio Emilia Schools), Social Constructivism (John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, Montessori, Reggio Emilia and Waldorf Schools). 1. 0 LEARNING THEORIES

In psychology and education, learning theories are attempts to describe how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning. There are three main categories (philosophical frameworks) under which learning theories fall: behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism. 1. 1 Behaviorism Behaviorism focuses only on the objectively observable aspects of learning and discounts the internal processing that might be associated with the activity. Learning is the acquisition of new behavior through conditioning. There are two types of possible conditioning: ) Classical conditioning, where the behavior becomes a reflex response to stimulus as in the case of Pavlov’s Dogs. 2) Operant conditioning where there is reinforcement of the behavior by a reward or a punishment. The theory of operant conditioning was developed by B. F. Skinner and is known as Radical Behaviorism. The word ‘operant’ refers to the way in which behavior ‘operates on the environment’. Briefly, a behavior may result either in reinforcement, which increases the likelihood of the behavior recurring, or punishment, which decreases the likelihood of the behavior recurring.

It is important to note that, a punisher is not considered to be punishment if it does not result in the reduction of the behavior, and so the terms punishment and reinforcement are determined as a result of the actions. Within this framework, behaviorists are particularly interested in measurable changes in behavior. 1. 2. Cognitivism Since the Cognitive Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, learning theory has undergone a great deal of change. Much of the empirical framework of Behaviorism was retained even though a new paradigm was begun. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning.

Cognitivists consider how human memory works to promote learning. So for example how the natural physiological processes of encoding information into short term memory and long term memory become important to educators. Once memory theories like the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model and Baddeley’s Working memory model were established as a theoretical framework in Cognitive Psychology, new cognitive frameworks of learning began to emerge during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Today researchers are concentrating on topics like Cognitive load and Information Processing Theory.

These theories of learning are very useful as they guide the Instructional design. 1. 3. Constructivism Constructivism views learning as a process in which the learner actively constructs or builds new ideas or concepts based upon current and past knowledge. In other words, “learning involves constructing one’s own knowledge from one’s own experiences. ” Constructivist learning, therefore, is a very personal endeavor, whereby internalized concepts, rules, and general principles may consequently be applied in a practical real-world context. 1. 4. Informal and Post-Modern Theories

Informal theories of education deal with more practical breakdown of the learning process. One of these deals with whether learning should take place as a building of concepts toward an overall idea, or the understanding of the overall idea with the details filled in later. Modern thinkers favor the latter, though without any basis in real world research. Critics believe that trying to teach an overall idea without details (facts) is like trying to build a masonry structure without bricks. Other concerns are the origins of the drive for learning.

To this end, many have split off from the mainstream holding that learning is a primarily self taught thing, and that the ideal learning situation is one that is self taught. According to this dogma, learning at its basic level is all self taught, and class rooms should be eliminated since they do not fit the perfect model of self learning. However, real world results indicate that isolated students fail. Social support seems crucial for sustained learning. Informal learning theory also concerns itself with book vs real-world experience learning. Many consider most schools severely lacking in the second.

Newly emerging hybrid instructional models combining traditional classroom and computer enhanced instruction promise the best of both worlds. 2. 0 PHILOSOPHY ON LEARNING THEORIES. People have been trying to understand learning for over 2000 years. Learning theorists have carried out a debate on how people learn that began at least as far back as the Greek philosophers, Socrates (469 –399 B. C. ), Plato (427 – 347 B. C. ), and Aristotle(384 – 322 B. C). The debates that have occurred through the ages reoccur today in a variety of viewpoints about the purposes of education and about how to encourage learning.

To a substantial extent, the most effective strategies for learning depend on what kind of learning is desired and toward what ends. Plato and one of his students, Aristotle, were early entrants into the debate about how people learn. They asked, “Is truth and knowledge to be found within us (rationalism) or is it to be found outside of ourselves by using our senses (empiricism)? ” Plato, as a rationalist, developed the belief that knowledge and truth can be discovered by self-reflection. Aristotle, the empiricist, used his senses to look for truth and knowledge in the world outside of him.

From his empirical base Aristotle developed a scientific method of gathering data to study the world around him. Socrates developed the dialectic method of discovering truth through conversations with fellow citizens (Monroe, 1925). Inquiry methods owe much of their genesis to the thinking of Aristotle and others who followed this line of thinking. Strategies that call for discourse and reflection as tools for developing thinking owe much to Socrates and Plato. The Romans differed from the Greeks in their concept of education.

The meaning of life did not intrigue them as much as developing a citizenry that could contribute to society in a practical way, for building roads and aqueducts. The Romans emphasized education as the vocational training rather than as the training of the mind for the discovery of truth. Modern vocational education and apprenticeship methods are reminiscent of the Roman approach to education. As we will see, however, strategies to encourage cognitive apprenticeships combine the modeling inherent in learning by guided doing with the discourse, reflection, and inquiry that the Greeks suggested to train the mind.

When the Roman Catholic Church became a strong force in European daily life (500 A. D. to 1500 A. D. ), learning took place through the church, through monasteries, and through their school system, which included the universities (12th century) the Church built throughout Europe. Knowledge was transmitted from the priest to the people (Monroe, 1925). Much learning was the memorization and recitation of scripture by rote and the learning of trades by apprenticeship. The primary conception of the purpose of education was transmission-based.

Many classrooms today continue a transmission-based conception of learning as the passing on of information from the teacher to the student, with little interest in transforming it or using it for novel purposes. The Renaissance (15th to the 17th centuries) revived the Greek concept of liberal education, which stressed education as an exploration of the arts and humanities. Renaissance philosophers fought for freedom of thought, and thus Humanism, a study of human values that are not religion-based, was born.

By the sixteenth century the control of the Catholic Church was being challenged on a number of fronts, from Copernicus (1473 – 1543) who suggested that the sun rather than the earth was the center of the Solar System, to Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) who sought to secularize education (Monroe,1925). The notions of individual inquiry and discovery as bases for learning were reinforced in the Renaissance. In a sense the recurring ideological debates over education for “basic” skills – the reproduction of facts and rudimentary skills – vs. ducation for thinking – the effort to understand ideas and use knowledge for broader purposes – replay the medieval vs. Renaissance conceptions of the purposes of education. Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) revived the Platonic concept of innate knowledge. Descartes believed that ideas existed within human beings prior to experience and that God was an example of an innate idea. He recognized that the body could be appreciated and studied as a zoological machine, while the mind was separate and free from the body.

He was one of the first to define precisely the ability of the environment and the mind to influence and initiate behavior. He also described how the body could produce unintended behaviors. Descartes’ first description of reflex action was influential in psychology for over 300 years (Hergenhahn, 1976). While these findings supported the work of behavioral psychologists seeking to understand the genesis of behaviors, his focus on the mind also supported the work of later cognitive scientists who sought to understand the thinking process itself.

John Locke (1632 – 1704) revived Aristotle’s empiricism with the concept that the child’s mind is a blank tablet (tabula rasa) that gets s haped and formed by his/her own experiences. He believed the mind becomes what it experiences from the outside world. “Let us suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas: How comes it to be furnished? … Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? … from experience” (Locke, quoted in Hilgard and Bower 1975).

The mind gathers data through the senses and creates simple ideas from experience; these simple ideas combine to develop complex ideas. Locke believed that education should structure experiences for students and that one essential learning was the kind of discipline that could be developed through the study of mathematics (Hergenhahn, 1976). The idea that different disciplines provide qualitatively different mental experiences and means of training the mind undergirds the basis of the discipline-based liberal arts education.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) was one of the first philosophers to suggest that education should be shaped to the child. He celebrated the concept of childhood and felt that children should be allowed to develop naturally. “The only habit which the child should be allowed to form is to contract no habit whatever. ” (Rousseau, quoted in Hilgard and Bower, 1975) In Rousseau’s novel, Emile (Rousseau, 2000), the hero learns about life through his experiences in life. Complex ideas are built from simple ideas that are gathered from the world around him (Hilgard and Bower, 1975).

The child-centered philosophies of Dewey, Montessori, Piaget and others follow in part from similar views. Kant (1724 – 1804) refined and modernized Plato’s rationalist theory with his suggestion that “a priori” knowledge was knowledge that was present before experience. For Kant, awareness of knowledge may begin with experience but knowledge existed prior to experience. Kant espoused that these ideas must be innate, and their purpose is to create an organizing structure for the data that is received by the senses.

Kant was also one of the first to recognize the cognitive processes of the mind, the idea that the mind was a part of the thinking process and capable of contributing to the thoughts that it developed. This learning theory opened the door to Piaget and others who would further develop the ideas of cognition (Monroe, 1925). Edward Thorndike (1874 – 1949) is considered by many to be the first modern education psychologist who sought to bring a scientific approach to the study of learning. Thorndike believed that learning was incremental and that people learned through a trial and error approach.

His behaviorist theories of learning did not consider that learning took place as a result of mental constructs. Instead, he described how mental connections are formed through positive responses to particular stimuli. For Thorndike, learning was based on an association between sense impressions and an impulse to action. Thorndike favored students’ active learning and sought to structure the environment to ensure certain stimuli that would ‘produce’ learning. The father of modern behaviorism, B. F. Skinner (1904 – 1990), further developed Thorndike’s Stimulus-Response learning theory.

Skinner was responsible for developing programmed learning which was based on his stimulus response research on rats and pigeons in experiments that provided positive reinforcement for “correct” responses. He considered learning to be the production of desired behaviors, and denied any influence of mental processes. Programmed learning gave proper reinforcement to the student, emphasized reward over punishment, moved the student by small steps through discrete skills and allowed the student to move at their own speed. “There are certain questions which have to be answered in turning to the study of any new organism.

What behavior is to be set up? What reinforcers are at hand? What responses are available in embarking upon a program of progressive approximation that will lead to the final form of the behavior? How can reinforcements be most effectively scheduled to maintain the behavior in strength? These questions are all relevant in considering the problem of the child in the lower grades. ” Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980) was the first to state that learning is a developmental cognitive process, that students create knowledge rather than receive knowledge from the teacher.

He recognized that students construct knowledge based on their experiences, and that how they do so is related to their biological, physical, and mental stage of development. Piaget spent years observing very young children and mapping out four stages of growth: sensorimotor (birth to about 2 years), preoperational (roughly ages 2 –7), concrete operations (encompassing about ages 7- 14) and formal operations (beginning around ages 11 – 15 and extending into adulthood.

His work acknowledged the utility of some behaviorally-guided rote learningwhile also arguing that other activities that support students’ exploration are essential: The Russian scientist Vygotsky (1896 – 1934) extended Piaget’s developmental theory of cognitive abilities of the individual to include the notion of social-cultural cognition – that is, the idea that all learning occurs in a cultural context and involves social interactions. He emphasized the role that culture and language play in developing students’ thinking and the ways in which teachers and peers assist learners in developing new ideas and skills.

Vygotsky proposed the concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) which suggested that students learn subjects best just beyond their range of existing experience with assistance from the teacher or another peer to bridge the distance from what they know or can do independently and what they can know or do with assistance (Schunk, 1996). John Dewey (1859 – 1952) agreed in part with Rousseau that education should not be separate from life itself, that education should be child-centered, guided by a welltrained teacher who is grounded in pedagogical and subject knowledge.

Like Locke, he believed that structured experience matters and disciplinary modes of inquiry could allow the development of the mind, thus creating a dialectic between the child and the curriculum that the teacher must manage. The teacher’s goal is to understand both the demands of the discipline and the needs of the child and then to provide learning experiences to enable the student to uncover the curriculum. Dewey believed that the ability of a person to learn was dependent on many things, one of which was the environment. . 0 Future trends There are many changes occurring in the twenty-first century which will influence the nature of learning and learning styles being adopted. Perhaps the most significant change is that universities are now increasingly competing with a range of non-traditional education providers. This will force higher education into a pro-active stance in understanding how students learn best, and how teaching impacts on learning. Additional contemporary changes include globalisation, modularisation, mobility of earners, distance education/elearning/flexible learning, lifelong learning, mass education, and work-based learning. ‘The de-institutionalisation of education, in the form of open and independent learning systems, is creating a need for learners to develop appropriate skills’ (Knowles, 1975, p. 14). The impact here on learners is the gradual move away from the more traditional forms of teaching and learning, where information was transmitted to the student through physical interaction between teacher and student, to more self-directed, student-centred approaches.

Problem-based learning is an example of one approach to learning where the learner needs to take responsibility for his or her own learning, with the teacher now increasingly assuming the role of facilitator of student learning. The impact of technology and the internet will continue to increase, having economic and social implications for society. For instance people can now work from home if they have immediate access to a computer. This may facilitate the increase of distance-learning courses as students no longer have to attend a physical campus to gain qualifications.

Increasing modularisation enables many students to learn at their own pace, in their own time. CONCLUSION The Philosophy of education has been shaped over centuries with certain philosophers and their thoughts directly affecting it. A good example is Plato and his educational philosophy that was christened Republic. He argues that the society would be holistic if children at a tender age would be raised with a system of education that natures their intellectual capabilities with facts, physical discipline, music, art and skills.

The same principles can be applied to an individual institution. This can be defined as a collective approach informed by educational philosophy to aid in teaching in a way that the objective of imparting knowledge is achieved within a reasonable time. This philosophy of education is subject to review and modification, total over haul or improvements depending on whether the constant evaluation shows whether the goals set have been achieved or not. The drastic advances in technology have also affected the educational philosophy.

The world is moving towards the web 2. 0, where technological interaction between learners and teachers is emphasized. Another factor that informs education philosophy is the fact that the world is changing its educational strategies. At one point in history, education was a transit of knowledge from the tutor to student. With nationals encouraging innovations and research in various fields, students are encouraged to discover, be inquisitive and get to learn through active experiments and research.

This is a way that has revolutionized the way education policy makers and other stakeholders define philosophy of education. The relevancy of a given philosophy of education therefore, is determined by the educational needs of a given society. REFERENCES 1- Level3, Issue 2, June 2004, Dublin Institute of Technology, Learning Theories and Higher Education; Frank Ashworth, Gabriel Brennan, Kathy Egan, Ron Hamilton, Olalla Saenz; 2- Critique of Various Philosophies and Theories of Education; Ted Slater, Philosophy of Education / Dr.

William Cox / Regent University. 3- 2007, Pearson Education, Inc. H. Douglas Brown. -5th Edition; Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. 4- Kurzweil, R. (1996) The Age of intelligent machines “Chronology”. Retrieved September 18, 2012 from http://www. kurzweiltech. com/mchron. htm. 5- 2001, Stanford University, Developed by Linda-Darling Hammond, Kim Austin, Suzanne Orcutt, and Jim Rosso; How People Learn: Introduction To Learning Theories.

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The Lost Tools of Learning

Response to The Lost Tools of Learning Sayers believed the main problem with modern education is that children aren’t being taught to think. She believed that public education does not teach students how to understand relationships between subjects, nor does the public system teach students how to make sense of the information they learned. She was frustrated that adults cannot properly debate a question, write a lucid article in the newspaper or think for themselves when it comes to evaluating propaganda or advertising. Sayers was disheartened that students are learning everything except the art of learning itself.

Her argument against our current education system reminds me of the saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for life. ” Instead of just teaching subjects we should be teaching thinking, arguing and how to express conclusions. If we teach students with a different approach which focuses on the art of how to learn something new and how to make connections among the subjects we learn, then we will be educated on a deeper level – not just having knowledge, but understanding and wisdom as well.

The Trivium is Sayers answer to our problems with the current education system. The Trivium consist of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic and Rhetoric. These are not subjects studied individually, but methods of studying subjects. Grammar is the first part which involves learning the language and structure of a subject. Specifically, Sayers believed the Grammar stage should include observation and memorization of key concepts in Latin, Literature, History, Geography, Science and Math.

For example, the grammar of History should include dates, events, anecdotes and personalities. Dialectic, or Logic is the next stage where a student learns how to use this language through analysis of the subjects. In this stage a student takes the knowledge from the grammar stage and begins to build a deeper understanding by reasoning and analyzing what he’s learned. Rhetoric is the third stage which involves being able to critique the subject – to speak and write intelligently and defend opinions and ideas about a certain topic or subject.

In this stage students will put the things memorized from the Grammar stage into new context and the concepts they analyzed in the Dialectic stage will be synthesized with new insight and perspective. A student in the Rhetoric stage will be able to articulate his thoughts and opinions of a concept. Through the Trivium students are able to learn independently, analyze logically, think critically and communicate clearly. Each stage is a building block towards a deeper level of understanding. Integration of subjects is a key difference between classical education and instruction from the public education system.

In the public education system, students are taught subjects in isolation. As they get older they are encouraged to specialize in one subject. By learning through the stages of the Trivium, students are able to understand that subjects aren’t isolated, but that everything is interrelated. As they progress through the stages of the Trivium, they learn how to make connections among subjects and put things they have learned into context together. Integration of subjects also makes new learning easier. Students who have learned how to learn can easily master a new subject.

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Mkt 421 Week 3 Learning Team Submission

Starbucks has a specific target audience for the company’s soup line. According to “Who Is Starbucks’ Target Audience? ” (2012), “This audience is adult male and adult females from the ages of twenty-five to forty years old. This is approximately half of Starbucks total business” (para. 3). The company has another large target market audience. According to “Who Is Starbucks’ Target Audience? ” (2012), “Starbucks’ second largest target market is forty percent of its business. This audience is between the ages of eight-teen to twenty-four” (para. 4).

This helps the company to target a mature audience that will appreciate the wholesome goodness of the company’s soup line. One potently large target market the soup line will open up is catering business lunches. This will open up corporate America to the value that Starbucks presents. This corporate customer will not only purchase soup, but will also be able to purchase coffee with the order. This audience already consumes the company’s’ coffee, but goes elsewhere for their meal plans. This is also an attempt to gain customers from fast food establishments that would like a more upscale dining experience.

This experience along with the other things like internet access is what Starbucks offers its customers. Who Is Starbucks’ Target Audience?. (2012). Retrieved from http://smallbusiness. chron. com/starbucks-target-audience-10553. html It might be argued that Starbucks is no more than a fast food company paralleling such chains as McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell. The company appears to provide the same basic service customers expect from a fast food giant. One sharp marketing contrast however, consistently has Starbucks standing out far above the others.

Starbucks Corporation counts on the same customers visiting their local stores daily and sometimes multiple times in a day. Most fast food chains cannot typically tout such a claim. Starbucks’ customer base is not necessarily specific to age, gender, or cultural origin. Starbucks customers are those who buy-in to the sophisticated image of the “Siren,” and all she represents. Many Americans have always loved good coffee and coffee drinking as a social event. Starbucks capitalizes on this tradition and caters to the coffee house crowd.

In the minds of many, coffee houses represent a rather bohemian genre of artists, poets, and scholars. Starbucks customers know there is a bit of the coffee house crowd in all of us. The company markets a sense of social freedom that has timeless appeal. Starbucks customers like the feeling of exclusivity that being a Starbucks customer provides. Knowing the quirky Starbucks language is an example that is exclusively Starbucks. Starbucks language is a kind of mix of Italian and English. For example, beverage preparers are referred to as “baristas. Beverage titles like “caramel macchiato,” and “Triple, Vente, no foam, three Splenda, skinny, latte,” are fun to say and make the customer feel worldly and sophisticated. Ordering the exclusively Starbucks “frappacino” satisfies that strange attraction Americans seem to have toward all things European; never mind that the trademarked word frappacino is not a real word in any language. In addition, Starbucks customers value time and are often master jugglers and multitaskers. Schedules that often overlap career, academics, and family needs are common among Starbucks customers.

The new, “Cup of Comfort” line of gourmet soups provides customers a way to grab a healthy bite of lunch or dinner without interrupting an already busy day. Soccer mom can swing through the drive through so little Bobby or Jennifer can eat a healthy meal before practice and mom can get a quick boost to keep her going. “Cup of Comfort,” adds an appealing element to the Starbucks menu and satisfies a need for something substantial and healthy in customers’ diets during an afternoon or evening visit to this favorite gathering place.

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Week Two Learning Team Reflection on Personal Liability

Week Two Learning Team Reflection on Personal Liability Law/531 October 2, 2012 ? Week Two Learning Team Reflection on Personal Liability Benefits to Commerce Team C colleagues decided on the following opinions in respect to the advantages of commerce using shareholders and other entities for protection against personal liability losses. Commerce is the buying and selling of goods or services within cities, states, and globally. The legal structure of a business will establish the liable responsibilities of the business owner.

When a business is established as a Corporation or an LLC this structure separates business owner’s personal assets from the business debit and liability. The benefits of commerce acquiring shareholders or other entities to protect and shield their members from personal liabilities are a consideration that every entrepreneur should seek professional advice before starting a business. “As a separate legal entities, corporations are liable for their own debts and obligations” (Cheeseman, p. 558, 2010). By the corporation having shareholders it is limiting their loss if a potential suit arises.

If they were to be sued they would be limited to the extent of their financial investment in the corporation. The officers of the corporation create a shield that protects them from liability, and from having their personal assets at risk. The benefit of having a corporation is that corporations itself becomes a legal entity; therefore the liability is taken away from an owner. If lawsuits arise the assets of the corporation will be at risk; however, the shareholders will not bear any personal liability. Therefore, potential investors in a corporation seek to have professional executives who use good judgment in running a business.

The net worth of the corporation is also determined by the shareholders investment in the business and should there be a suit the corporation stands to be financially stronger than a business owned by a sole proprietor. If protecting investors was not available through legal methods most investors would not take the risk of losing their personal assets along with their investment. Personal Liability of Shareholders Team C colleagues decided on the following opinions in respect to the advantages of needing personal liability attached to individuals in violation and performing misdeeds.

The United States is a country of laws. Believing that individuals and businesses are responsible for the actions and decision they make while in a position of authority. Personal liability is sometimes imposed the shareholders are normally not liable for the corporate debts incurred. (Cheeseman, 2010) Beginning around 1940, the government started enacting laws that attempted to protect society from unscrupulous businesses. History has shown that these laws alone cannot protect society from the misdeeds of individuals.

Businesses always have relied on the consumer for continued existence. Therefore, a mutual trust must occur to maintain the balance of commerce. People run businesses; therefore it is reasonable to consider that those that have a fiduciary responsibility should be held accountable for the misdeeds or torts that occur because of their negligence. Current laws consider a corporation as a legal entity accountable for any torts the members of that company may commit. Members of management under the same laws are afforded protection against claims on personal assets.

If this protection did not exist individual’s assets could be attached to any litigation against the company regardless of which members were at fault. One may think attaching personal liability to managing members would be a reasonable solution. After all, they are the individuals who have stewardship over the company. In fact, this action would be counterproductive harming society and commerce alike. Corporate officers and business leaders would not want to take on the risk and would refrain from seeking a managing role within a corporation. The immediate effect on commerce would be devastating.

Those with experience and know-how would simply remove themselves from management responsibilities, creating a vacuum for less qualified individuals, increasing the potential for torts to occur. Shareholders confidence would wane, stock markets would falter, and the economy would suffer a financial meltdown. Team C members also concur that corporations have protection for their shareholders regarding their personal information, but they do not hold the shareholders responsible if the corporation goes bankrupt or shuts down. Shareholders are only responsible for the amount of money they have invested in the company.

Piercing the corporate veil is the doctrine stating that if the shareholder uses the corporation improperly, the court of equity disregards the corporate entity. The shareholder is personally liable for the corporation’s debts and obligations (Cheeseman, 2010). This is also known as the alter ego doctrine because the corporation becomes the alter ego of the shareholder. Still today sole proprietorships are the most popular form of starting a business and having ownership. The definition is a business owned by one person and not incorporated with any others.

In the business world sole ownership is not separate and cannot be split apart from the owners personal assets (Fairfax, 2011). The unincorporated business is exposed to unlimited liabilities and loss of personal asset protection. In today’s commerce environment having unlimited liability is the single most substantial difference between having shareholders and other entities shielding the business and sole ownership. Concluding, it is imperative that individuals interested in starting a business take the appropriate measures to decide how they simply will protect the business from potential liability, or loss.

Seeking the advice of professionals can facilitate making the proper decisions. ? Reference Cheeseman, H. (2010). Corporate Formation and Financing, Business Law (7th ed. )(pp. 556- 576). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Errors And Omissions Insurance – E. (2012, September 28). Retrieved from (I) INVESTOPEDIA: http://www. investopedia. com/terms/e/errors-omissions-insurance. asp#axzz27oyyIDBO Fairfax, L. M. (2011, July). The Model Business Corporation act at Sixty. Law & Contemporary Problems, 74(1), 19-30.

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Learning how to act: my personal journey in discovering my acting process

Many perceive the work of an actor as a lot of fun and that it is easy as saying the alphabet. After all, who among us have not acted at one point in our lives? Haven’t we put up an act when faced with daunting situations in our lives? Haven’t we said lines that weren’t really part our true personality?

All of us have acted one part or another at different times in our lives. But to be an actor is not just about putting up an act. What many people do not understand is the fact that acting is just like any other job –you have to put a lot of work in it to perfect it. It is not just a talent you have. It’s a skill that must be developed over time and practice. In theater and in acting, it is true that practice makes perfect.

With this thought, it necessarily follows that a real actor must continue to learn how to act and make it as natural as it possibly can. It is thus very useful that many books have been written about how one can best capture the art of acting and how one is able to play a role and not just merely act it. I have used these books in my own personal journey in discovering my very own acting process. And I must admit that doing so has made my work, and my life, as an actor even more meaningful.

Let us first take, for instance, the book written by the Members of the Atlantic Theater Company called A Practical Handbook for the Actor.

In sum, this book outlines and explains the Practical Aesthetics Technique where emotions are explored through the use of the imagination and the pursuit of a physical action. Practical Aesthetics is an acting technique developed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet. The book is co-written by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto and Scott Zigler. It is based upon a series of workshops by acting coach David Mamet.

According to this book, Bruder, et. al. postulate that “acting, like carpentry is a craft with a definite set of skills and tools” (Bruder, et. al., 1986). The book mainly aims to teach up and coming actors like me to find the truth in every scene they are to perform and to be able to identify the specific actions in the production and why they are doing them.

I must say that I agree with the book when it said that the process of an actor begins before any acting is offered. To do this, I agree that that actors like me must learn to always keep themselves in a state of optimal conditioning. Doing this will allow us to immediately connect to any character that are assigned to us to portray as well as to discover the essence of character. To move in this direction, I start evaluating and considering all given circumstances of the character. I try to familiarize myself with the character or role I am to play as well as make every effort to explore their world. In addition, I try to see any parallelisms between the role I play and the real me.

I’ve learned that this is an important aspect in my acting process since it will allow me to understand where my character is coming from or why they might tend to feel a certain way. Personalizing a role has become an integral part of my job as an actor. I believe this is the only way where one actor can bring a particular character to life.

Another aspect that must be highlighted in carrying out the tasks of an actor is memorization. Without a doubt, memorizing the lines –knowing what to say and when to say it—is an integral part of being an actor.

As noted in the book, an actor can learn much about the play and the role in the process of memorization. As we learn to memorize the words out of context, the book noted, we realize the importance of giving each and every word the attention and focus it deserves. The reason by which the character must say those lines should also be sought (Bruder, et. al., 1986).

I also have learned that memorization is much more than learning the lines. It is also learning the perfect delivery of each line of the character. This is where vocal training comes into play. Delivering your lines in a clear, crisp and understandable manner is a very important facet in the life of an actor.

Just like other actors who have read and experienced the book A Practical Handbook for the Actor, I have learned that the voice is a system, with layers of muscles, bones, tissues, and fibers that must be maintained in performance shape if expected to respond on command.  My vocal chords are actually the way by which my characters are able to speak what they want. With this realization comes the decision to include a basic vocal workout into my daily routine so that each word that I say on behalf of the character I play comes through in the way it should.

As I earlier noted, timing is just as important as learning the words to say. To get into character, an actor must learn to always know what the character needs and wants and why they are inclined to say a particular line at a particular time. To be able to do this, I have learned the importance of reading through the script over and over and over again. As noted in the book A Practical Handbook for the Actor a script and character analysis requires sharp and thorough thinking skills and insight.

As much as possible, I try to go over the script quite a number of times and try to assess if I was able to get the whole picture correctly. I try to make notes of how I understand each emotion being felt by the character and try to see if the same analysis will hold true the next time I read through the script. I aptly call this text analysis whereby I assess if I have covered everything I need to cover in terms of knowing my character and his lines. I believe this is very helpful in getting to know my character in a deeper level.

I believe that only when an actor knows his character in a deep and meaningful level can an actor will be able to react naturally in all situations –scripted or otherwise. I agree with the book when it noted that text analysis is the skeleton of the character. It provides the actor some baseline information on which reviews can be made to hone a certain technique. This process also helps me stay on the objectives at hand and allows me to make use of various tactical ranges.

In trying to approach acting, I have tried to remember the words of the famous Konstatin Stanislavski when he said that one should always approach a role as directly as possible and see if it lives. He noted that if the role and the actor has a connection, then there would be no point in applying a certain technique towards acting. But, as an actor, I also know that this does not happen often. Hence, learning a certain technique towards improving one’s craft is very important.

Many actors today admit that Stanislavski’s System is a complex method used to produce realistic characters. When using the Stanislavski’s System, an actor is required to deeply analyze his or her character’s motivations. The actor must learn to discover the character’s objective in each scene and the so-called super objective for the entire play. To do this, I have learned to also apply Stanislavski’s “magic if” where an actor is able to ask questions about their characters and themselves such as “what if I were also in the same situation?” How would I act then? This thinking gives me a deeper understanding of the actions of my characters as well as an insight of what is going through in his mind.

One other important aspect that I find interesting in the Stanislavski’s System is his focus on the Method of Physical Action. I find this interesting because he placed as much emphasis on the physical aspect of acting as he does on the emotional part. Many actors, including yours truly, have this thought running in our heads that emotions form the better part of how acting should be. But Stanislavski says otherwise. He notes that physical action is just as important as the emotional aspect of a scene.

According to Stanislavski, the Method of Physical Action has brought him to a complete dealing with the instrument of the actor. But what exactly is this so-called Method of Physical Action?

The Method of Physical Action is said to be based on the idea that emotional life is a kind of two-way street and that the only thing an actor will ever have control of in his life as regards himself is his body, nothing more. There is never a direct line to emotions in performance, only to the body. Quite simply, the body must be used to convey the emotions. Stanislavki stressed on the need for the actor and the director to work hard in using the actor’s body –the body being the primary material of creation. He added that the purpose of rehearsal is how to come to physical actions that affect the actor and bring life to the scene at the same time.

In fine, Stanislavski noted that the art of performance cannot be learned from literature alone but also from action; from performance and not just mere observation. As a result, I have learned to be more conscious of my physical action in converying emotions to the audience. After all, an audience will not necessarily feel my sadness unless I am able to phyiscally convey it to them by means of tears and a sad facial expression, among others.

Another important thing I have learned in my journey to discover my personal acting process is the idea or concept of growth. I realized that an actor, just like anyone else, must continue to grow in each and every role that he plays. As noted in the same book, an actor must learn how to embrace the importance of the never-ending process of growth. The journey of acquiring additional knowledge, filling and refilling the artistic tank, humbling oneself to a point that permits an explosion of growth or even one good “Ah Ha” moment is not only important, but also essential to one’s life as an actor and as a person (Bruder, et. al., 1986).

As an actor I must continually grow and always be on the look out to better my craft. To do this, I must learn to immerse myself in a creative environment –one that will complement the skill and talent that I have as an actor. I now understand the importance of being in a group where I can let my creativity flow free and at the same time, learn from the people I am with. It has been said that the day you stop learning is the day you start dying. As an actor, and as person, we must not let that happen. I have learned the importance of learning while working and working while learning.

When I say learning, I don’t just mean it to be a classroom-type of learning. I also talk about learning through observation. We must learn to observe the environment we move in, the people around us, the places we go to. I must say that I agree with Alice Ripley when she said that acting all is about experiencing life and then carrying that experience with you on stage.

It is also in this concept that I have learned to make bold choices in my life as an actor. I have learned not to be afraid of unconventional roles or ways of acting out a part. Making bold choices is, I believe, an integral part of learning. I have realized that I will grow as an actor if I can take on roles that are new to me or if I can step out of roles that are stereotyped.  Doing something different each day is the spice in an actor’s life and I have learned to look forward to every opportunity in spicing up my career with bold moves.

Using presence of mind and common sense is also an important part in carrying out my acting process. As an actor, one must be ready for anything –a missed line, a prop that is not in its right place or a miscued entrance. When these things happen, common sense is the one thing that will save an actor from a disastrous scene. Coming up with adlibs or learning how to subtly put the misplaced prop in its rightful place is a skill that must also be honed as an actor. I believe that presence of mind can be assured when an actor is focused on the play at hand. I would like to call it simply as “being in the moment”.

Being in the moment is more than just being in character. It involves being aware of the entire acting environment and learning how to cope with unexpected events whenever needed. As actors, it is not rare to find ourselves in situations where we are so focused in our roles that we tend to miss some of the difficulties encountered by our co-actors. In situations like these, we must learn to salvage the scene by helping our co-actors find their groove again, so to speak.

Lastly, I have learned that I have to learn to enjoy what I do as an actor. I must enjoy the variety of roles I play –knowing full well that not everyone is able to live in a world separate from their own reality. I have learned, in my own acting process, the idea of making acting as fun as it can possibly be for me and my fellow actors. I agree when they say that acting should be fun, challenging but fun. My acting process, I realize, will change over time. It will adapt to the environment I am moving in and the roles I will be playing. But one thing should remain the same: it must always be fun. I must find a way to make it a fun learning experience each time. After all, when we enjoy what we do, the audience feels it. And the audience deserves nothing less than the best of ourselves as actors when we go up on that stage.

References:

Bruder, M., et al. (1986). A Practical Handbook for the Actor, New York: Random House, Vintage Books.

Stanislavski, C. (1936). An Actor Prepares, New York: Routledge.

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Free Essays

Learning to Read Malcolm X

In the book “Learning to Read,” Malcolm X describes his “homemade Education. ” He started his homemade education because his ability to read and write was hampered, which frustrated him. He educated himself with a dictionary and began painstakingly copying every entry. He began remembering the words and what they meant. Over a period of time he finished copying out the whole dictionary. Malcolm regarded the dictionary as a miniature encyclopedia. As his word base broadened, he found that he could understand what he read.

Malcolm read every free moment he had and he would stay up long nights reading until 3 or 4 in the morning. As Malcolm continued to read he gained an extensive interest in History books. He was astounded at the knowledge he obtained about the history of black civilizations throughout the world. However, his reading was not limited to history because he also read about genetics, philosophy, and religion. Malcolm possessed the ability to teach himself the English language when one knows how complex it is.

His relentless efforts not only bettered his intelligence but also his education on topics such as history, genetics and philosophy. In “Learning to read”, the tone of Malcolm X’s voice is proud. Malcolm started on the streets as a hustler but later taught himself how to read in which he educated himself on the history of black civilization. With all of the knowledge Malcolm gained from reading, he is proud to have proved Arnold Toynbee wrong. Toynbee stated that Africa was the only continent to produce no history. Malcolm however, states Africa did posses history; it simply was not recorded. In 1857, some of the desperate people from India finally mutinied- and expecting the African Slave trade, nowhere in history recorded anymore unnecessary bestial and ruthless human carnage than the British suppression of the non-white Indian people. ” Finally, Malcolm uses his education to boast and dignify his life. He flies around the world to speak to people of his success and it boosts his ego substantially when people think he has gone to school well past 8th grade. It is truly remarkable to teach oneself the English language and Malcolm X is extremely proud of his accomplishments.