Journal Entry 1
2. What characteristics of your adult learners most influence ‘how’ you develop and deliver a course?
PIDP 3210 taught us that the first thing we have to do when developing a course curriculum is to do a needs assessment. An important part of a needs assessment is to determine the characteristics of the people who will be taking the course. What is their level of experience? What is their prior knowledge of the subject? What are they physically capable of? These are the questions that must be asked and answered when designing a curriculum. This stem appealed to me because it reminds me that when designing a curriculum the most important item to consider is the people who will be taking the course. I found the PIDP 3210 course to be very learner centered as it used a hands-on approach by having the students design their own curriculum. This process meant that my lack of experience wasn’t a factor in learning curriculum development. The course taught me to look at curriculum design from the perspective of the people taking the course so I can make sure that I can enhance rather than inhibit their learning. This stem reminds me that in designing a curriculum it is important to be aware of the characteristics of the learners who will be taking the course.
Journal Entry 2
3. How do your perspectives and ideas on teaching and learning influence your curriculum development work?
Learning theories explain how we believe that learning occurs. This stem reminds me that when designing a curriculum we have to consider the manner in which people learn so we can plan our teaching and learning activities to fit into a framework that will enhance their ability to learn. Some learning theories are more useful than others depending on what is being taught. An example of this is as an admirer of Albert Banduras and his work on the social cognitive model of education, I have found it to be an effective model to use in teaching a skilled trade. In the curriculum I designed, the instructor models the behaviors that the students must replicate. I also address the confidence level of my students by giving them plenty of opportunity to ask questions and make sure they understand what is being taught so they will be able to attempt the increasingly difficult skills that are incorporated into my course. Once again it comes back to considering how the learner processes the knowledge that we are attempting to teach them and select the best methods to help them learn. I plan to learn more about various learning theories and how the people learn so I can adjust my teaching methodologies and develop my curriculum enhance my students learning no matter the subject matter being taught.
Journal Entry 3
4. What are some of your general principles regarding the creation of positive learning environments in each of the lessons or workshops of the courses you teach?
This stem ties into the others as once again it addresses student centered learning by looking at the environment they learn in and how to make it a positive one. In my course I have tried to create a positive learning environment by addressing the following principles. Safety is a key factor in teaching a skill such as gas welding. By teaching safe practices in the classroom before the students step foot in the shop I make sure that the students have the knowledge to act in a safe manner. Also as the instructor I must be sure that the shop space is safe and free of hazards for my students. I give them lots of chances to discuss what we will be doing and ask questions before we begin to practice a skill so they have a good understanding of what is required of them. I use self-evaluation in my course so the students realize that their primary goal is to master a skill and not to compete for marks with their fellow classmates. I have the students work in pairs when they are practicing their welding skills so they can support and encourage each other. As the instructor I observe and give them positive feedback as they practice their skills. In this way I hope to create a non-threatening learning environment that encourages the students challenge themselves to learn a new skill.
Journal Entry 4
5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Competency-Based Education (CBE) approach to curriculum development?
Competency-Based Education (CBE) is very useful in developing curriculums to meet specific needs within a workplace. It is very useful for entry level training programs and ‘on-the-job’ training programs. By defining goals and developing objectives to meet those goals we can efficiently fill the gap between our present situation and gain the knowledge so we can get to where we want to be. Performance Objectives give the students a clear idea of what they will be learning and the criteria that they have to meet in order to be successful. It allows the instructor to concentrate on teaching rather than testing and assessing. It is a useful approach for those interested in continually improving their skills and knowledge. CBE does have its drawbacks however. Students may be able to meet the standards and criteria in the classroom but not be able to think on their feet when they confront an unusual situation in the workplace. Once students and faculty reach an acceptable level of performance there is a tendency not to push forward and improve. There is a tendency for students and faculty to avoid trying a variety of new skills or learn more than what is necessary to reach the various goals and objectives. That is why it is a sound strategy for the PIDP 3210 to teach both CBE and Outcomes Based Education approaches to developing curriculum.