Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ALD 701 First Session

We had a busy morning and talked about ideas (my favorite things to discuss)

We talked about Constructivist Learning Theory and Social Cognitive Theory.  We talked about philosophies and beliefs about learning and teaching.  We talked briefly about Learning Styles and the impact of Learning Styles on instruction.  We did not address your chapter reading on Behavioral Learning Theory, so I hope at least one of you addresses the contribution Behaviorism has had on teaching and learning in the US. (although out of favor, it is still very much alive). 

I look forward to reading your posts...  Be sure to respond to one of your colleagues ideas

15 comments:

Elias Traboulsi said...

I found Christine's use of the Jenga blogs to demonstrate assimilation quite effective. I suggested adding another colored block to replace blocks removed from the structure because they were outdated/proven not be factual with newer information. Is this accommodation? Should the whole process be in fact called "assimmodation" (accommodation + assimilation)? A few additional thoughts occurred to me that may apply to the use of this demonstration model. 1. The lower the block in the structure, the older it is, the more established it is, and the more weight is on top of it; hence it is harder to remove. Its removel (without concomitant replacement) risks to crumble the whole structure. 2. If the structure is more complex in shape, a pyramid for example, there would be blocks that are more critical to maintaining its stability than others; removing, replacing such blocks would also be more difficult/challenging. 3. Finally, some of the blocks are probably innate (instinctive) and unshakable, while others are acquired (learned). The former are probably more solid. Hence, even if we lose several of the acquired blocks, facts, beliefs or others, the structure may not crumble quickly and we would have time for remedy/repair.

Brian Johnson said...

I would like to tackle the continued use of behavioralism within our training programs. We continue to use Skinners theoretical underpinnings within our programs. When we have discussions in program directors training classes behavioralism is an underlying principle. This is probably because we all grew up as young children where behavior modification was a constant part of life. This is our fall back theory of instruction because it is what we are most familiar with, although its not accepted in academic practice. I can think of many meeting where we talk about carrots (positive reinforcement) and sticks (punishment) to deal with problems and educational problems. I also see that the ideas of negative reinforcement and reinforcement removal are the underlying driving forces for the hidden curriculum.

I would also like to add that i agree with Elias' statement that perhaps a pyramid is a better way to think of the structure of knowledge beliefs and experiences. In the long run when dealing with highly educated people changing the structure of their knowledge can be difficult without destroying the base completely.

Richard Prayson said...

Richard Prayson
Although constructivist and social cognitive learning are favored educational systems in current medical school educational settings, I believe behavioral learning theory is still at
play in medical school education today. Constructivism is predicated on the notion that we construct learning based on what we know; part of what we “know” has its origins in the first 2 decades of life where behaviorism approaches were more obviously at work (in least in my experience). In behaviorism, learning opportunities enable the learner to change behavior based on external stimuli. The teacher arranges the environment to the end of producing a desired effect. The use of behavioral-based, drill and practice learning objectives and approaches (such as multiple choice test taking, practicing history taking and physical diagnosis skills), competency based goals and focus on skill development and training represent examples of where this plays out in medical education. Performance on an OSCE assessment, for example, would serve as a benchmark for being able to perform certain tasks. If satisfactorily performed, positive reinforcement is given in terms of a good evaluation. If the performance is unsatisfactory, the student is required to remediate and may have to repeat the OSCE, negative reinforcements. Programs that still employ traditional multiple choice testing operate under the tenant that the main driver for learning is the goal of doing well on the exam. This creates a tension with the advertised goal of learning with the goal of being able to better take care of patients

Anonymous said...

Blog for September 5: David Wheeler
I was rather intrigued by the epistemological precepts inherent in Constructivism. I have but a rudimentary understanding of this theory that makes the assumption that we construct knowledge based on our entire personal and social milieu and context. This philosophy assumes knowledge is constructed by the learner in response to individualized learning goals based upon reasoning, critical thinking, self-regulation and mindful reflection.
I was really struck by the notion of Metacognition as the heightened state of self-awareness of one's own thinking and learning processes. This idea of metacognition seems essential to any authentic and sustainable learning endeavor. I think it makes sense that when learners become self-aware of their thinking process they will be able to developmen mindful behavioral and/or cognitive strategies.
Constructivist theory makes a very important assumption that knowledge is structured by learners as they attempt to make sense of their experiences. The learner is not an empty vessel waiting to be filled up with rote facts; the learner becomes an active participant that will assimilate and acquire new knowledge in an attempt to create meaning. Learning is a continuous life-long process resulting from acting in situations and constructivist theory utilizes the entire milieu of the learner in the process of gaining new knowledge and new skill sets.

Anonymous said...

Karen George-When reading about Skinner and the black box metaphor I was immediately reminded of the phrase tabula rasa, Latin for blank slate. Having an empty slate or vessel, the learner, and filling it has been the pedagogy in both ancient and modern times. The manipulation of positive and negative reinforments to achieve desired behaviors is how most of us received our early education and in some ways we still function this way expecting our rewards. While there are limitations of behaviorism in explaining language and intrinsic motivation Skinner's work laid the foundation in many current day applications where behavior needs to be modified. Examples of current behavior modification applications are classroom management,IEPs, treating phobias,OCDs and self control skills to deal with tobacco use, weight management or social skills. While I'd like to see more of the "getting the inside out" approach to education I do see the the usefulness of the behaviorist theory in some applications.

Pilar Castro said...

I think Brian's argument of our continue use of behavioralism in our training programs is very accurate. We should be making a conscious effort to move away from it. More and more we are going to be training physicians that probably went to a medical school programs where a more constructivist approach was used. Let me just try to elaborate on this, the constructivist goals for learning are problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking and the active and reflective use of Knowledge. Many medical schools these days have curriculums where the learner have to constantly nurture self awareness of the knowledge that they are acquiring. Let's think of the Cleveland Lerner College of Medicine. As I understand the medical students that participate in this program are not graded in the regular way. They are given written evaluations with areas for improvement. They have to actively seek feedback; the evaluators also have to encourage the students to seek that feedback. Collaboration is probably also one of the key components of this program. To quote (Brown et al, 1989) in his argument about collaboration "collaboration enables insights and solutions to act synergistically).
We should be learning from this more innovative approaches to education., like the Cleveland Lerner College of Medicine.

Anonymous said...

Felecia Roberson-I have to agree with Richard Praysons' view that constructivism,social cognitive learning and behaviorism are used in the current adult educational setting in all professions. We learn not only by doing but also from the feedback of our peers and educators around us. We acquire our knowledge through assigned task with immediate feedback through written and verbal evaluation, we progress or digress based on that feedback. Such feedback is predicated on the environment we are currently surrounded by. In order to progress in any learning arena a person has to have an equal balance of affirmation from the educator that he/she can accomplish what is required of them and within themselves (self esteem). Our rewards are derived from all three aforementioned arena's, positive reinforcement from the educator by means of positive evaluations, acceptance by our peers through socially accepted performance of tasks delegated to us and within ourselves knowing he/she has aquired the knowledge it will take to accomplish our current goal.

Christine said...

Some interesting thoughts on Behaviorism and its place in Education today

Anonymous said...

Maged Argalious

While the constructivist theory was designed at the " individual" level, I find it interesting how similar it is to the care team approach we take in medicine. The history and physical taken by the primary care provider, with multiple consultations, work up resembles those building blocks and ultimately result in reaching the final diagnosis and treatment plan for patients. In the last decade, we have realized the importance of the care team approach in medicine, but I'm not sure we have made big strides in providing group learning opportunities for learners.

Heidi Gdovin said...

The behavioral learning theory is alive and well in our area at certain times. However in my area I believe the social learning theory is more dominate. Employees are learning from others in our area through observation. The take in the culture and observe the normative behavior. Much of the work done on a daily basis can be new and different and therefore people have to communicate with others, ask questions to learn the steps needed to complete the tasks and be open to feedback. As time goes on and this collaboration and observation continue, you can see the individual’s self-efficacy increase. Over time each learner becomes more confident in their abilities to do the job and can continue providing superior service to consumers. In addition as a supervisor and teacher I think it is important to consider the constructivist theory and spend time “getting the inside out” when working with employees to ensure the learner can take in the new knowledge and take the steps to store the new information for later retrieval.

Kathy Baker said...

I found E. L. Thorndike's Law of Effect interesting and rather true in education in the present day. The Law of Effect states, "When a modifiable connection between a single situation and a response is made and is accompanied by a satisfying state of affairs, that connection's strength is increased. When made and accompanied by an annoying stat of affairs, its strength is decreased." This aspect of behaviorism is seen in all aspects of education, ranging from teaching your staff a deviated method of doing their job, medical students learning about the CNS, to patients learning the impact that their 30 years worth of smoking has had on them. With the staff learning a deviated method to their job, they may have satisfying state of affairs if it is productive and helpful to them but on the other hand, it may cause an annoying state of affairs if more work is created or the concept is not fully understood. Those medical students learning about the CNS might perform exceptionally well on their exam or they struggled studying for the exam and did not perform their best. Educating and trying to influence a patients' behavior about smoking might be even more trying. The satisfying state of affairs might be (from a healthcare workers perspective a negative) the nicotine fix they get when they smoke, while the annoyance (which healthcare workers might view as the satisfying state of affairs) is quitting this 30 year long habit.

I agree with Heidi that a large portion of adult learning and within the working world is based on observation and communication. I would also say that the social learning theory is dominant with my unit and employees based on the simple fact that our employees are sitting side by side for 12 hour shifts and communication is a vital part of their job. They observe with preceptors during orientation and learn in a hands on, communicative approach.

Miguel A. Morillo said...

hello everybody, It's great to read through all the interesting posts. I'd say that I agree with much of what is already stated. I see myself favoring constructivism more than the other theories, but as usual I don't want to box myself in to thinking that this is the only way to proceed in education. It seems as every so often a new theory on how things work ( in general) comes by, and like a generational fad, most of us embrace it as a panacea, and totally disregard the old theory. In reality no one theory is perfect or holds the absolute truth. The truth perhaps just includes aspects of all the theories known and yet to come. I think that abandoning Skinner entirely perhaps is not reasonable. There are many areas of learning where it is still useful. I do agree that we should start incorporating more constructivist ideas into the teacher-learner relationship. It will be a monumental task though. Even if we would start a totally constructivist approach the learners are going to have to prepare to deal with critical evaluations (eg., standardized testing) that have been developed in many ways as a behaviorism tool. Changing the way we teach, will have to come with changing the platform of how we grade and assess progress in our students. I don't think it is not fair to teach them in one system and evaluate them in another. What do you guys think?

Rachel Steines said...

Reciprocal determinism was a term I used to associate with a child's process of learning. The behavior and conduct of a child's family, teachers, or others in their social enviornment influenced their behavior on a certain subject or simply in general. However, during our first essentials meetings when we were talking about the social cognitive learning theory, I realized that reciprocal determinism is not just for children. The many physicians who teach residents in our class brought this to my attention. Observational learning through modeling and imitation is, I would imagine, a great way for residents and medical students to learn. Watching a fellow or staff physician perform a procedure and then try to emulate their talent as best they can may be one of the best ways some of these individuals learn. There is a resident that I once worked closely with who said one of his preceptors in medical school always listened to the same CD during surgery. To this day, that resident prefers to listen to that CD during his surgeries because, for some reason, he feels he has the most confidence when listening to that music, simply because the doctor he wishes to emulate did the same. Although this example may be very different that the reciprocal determinism you may see in your own residents, the concept is the same. Adults react to their enviornment just like children do. It was an interesting realization for me.

Brian Burkey said...

The comments posted by Rachel and Heidi resonate with me. I was most challenged by the social cognitive theory, presented in class by Lily. I would have normally put myself entirely in the constructivist realm of education, but the social cognitive theory explains what I have observed for two decades of resident education--that by and large, residents "become" their mentors. This can be either good or bad, depending on who you mentor is. I have seen troubled residents become positive members of a group, and good medical students become over-bearing and inconsiderate residents, again depending on who "mentors" them. The social cognitive theory gives us a hint as to how to impact this modelling, so that we can have the desired effect on residents and other learners, in a thoughtful and proactive way. We first need to expose the learners to appropriate mentors, reinforce positive behaviors and finally encourage them to reflect on how they deal with certain interactions and assess their behavior and its impact on their colleagues, patients and performance. This will help develop learners with emotional intelligence and sets us up for our next classroom topic.
Brian B

Anonymous said...

Matt Celmar said…

I have taught different levels of public school and have seen that behavioralism is alive and well in modern American education. The benefit of behavioralism is that it instills the desired learning onto the learner through environmental manipulation and modeling. Skills and ideas are driven home to the learner with the help of lecture and memorization (rote learning). When students are young they need to be introduced to unbelievable amounts of knowledge and become acculturated into the school system. Behavioralism is an effective approach for young students to attain knowledge.

This is not to say that behavioralism is the predominant theory in public education. There are many creative schools and teachers that employ a constructivist model in their classrooms. I have seen and conducted classes and lessons where students develop their curriculum, explore the knowledge, and create their own assessment. I believe that good teachers can employ both to certain degree.