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[First, I should warn anyone reading that this email truncates the  
previous conversation and that this post is long and a bit abstract.
Read on it your peril!!!!!!]
Diana,
I think you are probably right that people are using  theories of  
pedagogy and perhaps
development to guide their thinking about the services their centers  
provide. But, I think I am asking
a somewhat different set of questions (e.g.  What does a learning  
center (as a bureaucratic unit) do?
What is its function;  what could it be?).

I am not sure that pedagogical and developmental theories are the best  
theories
to apply to thinking about the function of learning centers--which are  
themselves organizations which are part of
institutions and not pedagogues. In other words, "centers" don't  
literally teach, so I want to
put in question the appropriateness of pedagogical theories to  
conceptualize the function of the center.
When I was a learning specialist and instructor I used  many of the
kinds of theories you associate with the thinkers/practitioners below.  
But now that I am
a learning center administrator, I find that I need additional tools  
to think about the center
as a whole in relation to  the institution and its constituencies.

So, I have begun to think about  our learning (and teaching) center as  
a "knowledge-creating
organization" and am using organizational theory to explore new ways  
of thinking about what we
do and actually doing what we do. For instance, if you imagine a  
learning center as a knowledge creating
organization, what do we do with the knowledge we create?  
Additionally, how would we organize
tutoring and train tutors differently if we described their role as  
knowledge creators rather than aids
to student learning? Thinking of a learning center as a knowledge- 
creating organization is particularly
appealing to me in my position because I work at a research university  
and knowledge creation and dissemination
(not teaching) is, arguably, the core of its mission. Does it make  
sense to explicitly align the mission of the center with the core  
mission
of the institution which houses us? I think so; but what would that  
look like? This theory is opening up whole new
ways of thinking about my center and it makes me wonder what theories  
(if any) undergird more
conventional conceptualizations of learning centers.

Let me give you one concrete example of the line of thinking I'm  
developing. If we think of tutors as knowledge-creators in a
knowledge-creating organization who create knowledge of their own and  
with  student(s) about the discipline, about the discipline,
about learning and about tutoring, then it makes sense to try to  
capture that knowledge. It follows that we might seek to collect the  
knowledge
they are creating, combine it with the knowledge other tutors (and  
students, for that matter) are creating, and then circulate this  
combined knowledge
within the organization and the institution as a whole. That's a  
pretty different way of thinking than what appears to be the tacit
conception of learning centers which is as places where students come  
to receive or develop their knowledge. Organizational theory
focuses on the knowledge in or of the organization and ways to utilize  
it, whereas pedagogical theories focus on how students
can receive, develop, acquire (etc.) knowledge. As a result of this  
shift in focus, I'm thinking about new ways for tutors to communicate  
with one another and capture their often tacit and ephemeral knowledge  
for use by the center and the university. That can be as  simple as  
creating a blog or wiki in which tutors
report their observations (knowledge) to one another and then  
analyzing those entries as artifacts or data sources that tell us  
something about,
for instance, the learning demands of the courses we're tutoring. No  
one else on campus is creating this kind of knowledge in any  
systematic way,
but the center creates it individually, if  haphazardly. Would  
advisors and academic departments benefit from having more specific  
knowledge about
the learning demands of particular courses? Administrators and  
professors? Students? I think so.


Hope that clarifies some things.
Nic
On Aug 4, 2011, at 11:33 AM, Diana Bell wrote:

> Eric and others--Oh No--please don't feel as if I'm marginalizing  
> DE--quite
> the contrary; it is a significant and important field of study. AND,  
> the
> programs I've looked at do address important learning center issues  
> such as
> learning styles, multiple intelligences, etc. I just wanted to  
> emphasize
> that DE is only part of learning center pedagogy and that instead of
> enrolling in a program that a student would have to "make fit," it  
> would be
> nice to have a program that specifically addresses all of the issues  
> in
> learning center pedagogy and administration.
>
> As for learning center theory--like writing center theory, I would  
> expect
> that practitioners use theories of pedagogy. I use, for example, Lev
> Vygotski (zone of proximal development, sociocultural education,
> scaffolding, cognitive development); Bell Hooks (critical pedagogy,
> feminism, marginalization); Paulo Freire (critical pedagogy, informal
> education, banking model of education); Mina Shaughnessy (critical  
> pedagogy,
> student-centered learning), Mike Rose (critical pedagogy, cognition,
> student-centered learning);  and Mihaly Czikzentmihaly (Flow theory,
> creativity, psychology of discovery and invention) just to name a few.
>
> Have a great day everyone!
> Diana
>
>>
>> I think it’s worthwhile remembering that many of us view  
>> developmental
>> education broadly and holistically, not narrowly; NADE’s  
>> perspective, for
>> example is that developmental education “promotes the cognitive and
>> affective growth of all postsecondary learners, at all levels of the
>> learning continuum” (http://www.nade.net/AboutDevEd.html ). At any  
>> rate, I
>> think the point folks were making when they responded with info  
>> about Texas
>> State’s new program was that one of our three concentrations is  
>> Learning
>> Support.  It seemed to be related to the question about  
>> specializations in
>> doctoral programs that was posed earlier.
>> Eric Paulson
>>
>>


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