Weekly Writing Unit 4 Week 1

Weekly Writing Unit 4, Week 1

October 11, 2014

AnneMarie Mattacchione

I was delighted to read chapter 2 & 3 of the text. Many of the concepts Fink describes were part of my unconsciously competent skills when teaching adults. I am consciously aware of how I implement foundational knowledge, application, integration and more recently learning how to learn or metacognition. However, caring and human dimension have been a part of my course planning and activities but I felt perhaps I may be  wasting the students time implementing strategies and assignments that focused on getting at the caring and human dimension indicators. I was torn by what I felt was right, but not having clear direction to do so.  I feel a new freedom. Now I have empirical clout to defend my position!

It is my opinion that all situational factors will impact my lesson plan. I plan to use an anticipated course that I will teach in spring to develop my lesson plan. My focus will be on the one course that is least developed utilizing the taxonomy of significant learning as well as Brown, Collins and Duguid’s article. I believe that a review of all my courses would benefit from looking through this new lens. Since I plan to use an existing course I first need to do an analysis of the course outcomes, assignments, and activities which align with the situational factors and which areas are lacking or weak. I imagine using a grid of some kind to help me process this information more intentionally. So something like the following:


Categories Learning Outcomes Activities Feedback and Assessment Revise?
Foundational Knowledge
Human Dimension
Learning how to Learning
Authentic Activity
Structuring Activity


I would insert the appropriate outcome, activity/assignment, feedback and assessment which currently aligns with the category and consider its strength and appropriateness. I can already see another benefit of this type of analysis- redundant and missing or weak areas.

When considering the important situational factors listed in exhibit 3.2 the first category is already known since I am selected a scheduled course for spring semester 2015. Considering the second factor: expectations of external groups I have addressed the three bullets in the courses I current develop. However, as a faculty group I want to ensure we have a good understanding and articulated assumptions regarding our curricular goals for the department. I think I know it and I think we agree, however I don’t want to assume. Under nature of the subject, I need to further consider the final bullet- Is the field relatively stable, in a period of rapid change? I believe our field (Early Childhood Education) is in a period of rapid change. I must consider how this will impact what and how I teach. I cover this area considerably in one of my courses however, again, do we have agreement across the discipline? And how are we making adjustments?

While I believe that I use intentional and meaningful strategies to get to know my students, I want to compare the bullet list carefully. I am fortunate that the majority of students in our classrooms I have advised. Therefore, I get to know the students before they begin courses and again between semesters. I take advantage of this time by first understanding their story- how did they come to the university? Why are they interested in the discipline? What are their academic goals? Are they currently employed and where? Have they had prior work experience in the field? What are the personal demands they are juggling this semester? What schedule of courses would work for their successful completion considering their personal demands? One characteristic I have not implemented during the advising meeting is getting to know their learning style. It comes out a little when we talk about face to face and eCampus courses. Some students are strongly opposed to eCampus courses because their learning style requires interactive discussions and questioning as well as support for learning how to be a good student. A task much harder to learn online unless the teacher is available and attentive. It would be easy to ask them to take a short interactive quiz to determine their learning style.

Since I am teaching the same course I am developing, I have a good idea of my own particular challenges and strengths that can be adjusted to while developing the course. During the semester I keep a log of my new awareness of my own teaching and how I want to address it the next time I teach the course. Since I teach most of the courses in the degree, I typically do not teach the same course in sequential semesters, so tracking the adjustment is critical for implementation later. After five years of fulltime teaching I would have assumed I would change course content less often, but I find the opposite is true. As I grow and develop as a teacher, I am being more aware of how well students are learning or not learning. This inspires me to challenge myself to keep exploring and learning how to teach. I am finding honest student feedback to be very helpful as well as continuing my studies of adult learning.


Works Cited

Brown, J.S. (1989).  Situated cognition and the culture of learning,  Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32—42.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.



4 thoughts on “Weekly Writing Unit 4 Week 1

  1. Jenny

    The grid you developed looks like a very useful tool for designing and evaluating your course. You have inspired me to create something similar for my own course. I, too, think that metacognition is very important and sometimes overlooked. I am trying to incorporate it more consistently into my courses as well as my own lesson planning.

  2. Alda

    I like that you highlight the “caring and human dimension” of instruction. When we talk about planning and teaching strategies, the conversations can become focused on more logistical and formulaic aspects. But you bring it back to what’s best for the students as real people who are trying to learn. You mention paying more attention to student learning styles. One thing we haven’t discussed yet in this class is immediacy. How do you show students you care in an online environment? Nonverbals seem to be such a huge part of that- eye contact, smiling, and walking around the classroom. How do we show immediacy online? I admit to using emoticons and exclamation points in my replies to student discussion board posts in an attempt to demonstrate enthusiasm, for example.

  3. Owen

    I too really like Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning – and most especially the Human Dimension, Caring, and lastly, Learning how to Learn wedges or aspects. Of course these are somewhat arbitrary categories, or contrived in their existence. But I do think they’re important to think about and can greatly inform course design – they are most frequently ignored and I too think they’re really important.

    I like how you’re already coming along in your re-design.

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