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I, like Bina Vanmall, am also impressed with John Bransfo
Hi,

 
I, like Bina Vanmall, am also impressed with John Bransford’s
How Humans Learn and I am in the process of trying to incorporate the findings
in my college reading class. www.cms185redesign.pbworks.com
 
I got a Mark Taylor Instruction redesign grant this summer
for redesigning instruction in CMS 185 (College Reading: COMPASS scores 80-84),
and one of the objectives was (1) to make the course content relevant to the
students’ goals, and another objective was (2) to help the students to see the value
of thee strategies they are to learn and how it will benefit them (again their
goals, not the instructor’s goals). From a motivational point of view, the
student’s aren't as motivated by the instructor’s goals.
 
Immediately it became apparent that a reading goal of being
able to read and comprehend their textbook better was not sufficient enough to
make the course content relevant to the student. Their goals are to get a
credential or degree and to secure employment related to their degree. Again, reading
textbooks better is not sufficient motivation.
 
At this point I took my cues from Wiggings and Tighe’s Understanding by Design, which insists
thatthere should be before any
consideration of redesign details an overarching goal for the course that transcends
the content of the course. In this case the students’ goals transcend the
content of CMS 185. Overarching Goal: “Learning strategies for developing
competence in an area of inquiry.”
 
My next step was to look at what the research literature has
to say about the goals of human learning. In John Bransford’s Human Learning, the concept of deep
learning (in this case developing competence in an area of inquiry – the
discipline reading selections we include in CMS 185.  The basis of developing competence is that
newly learned information and concepts do not transfer to new situations or
make learning related concepts easier unless certain learning criteria are met.
These criteria are the keys to deeper learning and building competence. They
are – the learner needs to:
 
(1)Develop a deep foundation of factual knowledge,
(2)Understand facts and ideas in the context of a conceptual
framework, and
(3)Organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and
application.
 
This criteria for learning is considered to be essential to
the overarching goal of “Learning strategies for developing competence in an
area of inquiry.” The areas of inquiry in CMS 185 are math, sociology,
psychology, business, biology, and history (the most taken content courses
taken by first time freshmen and large numbers f allied health students). All
strategies taught in CMS 185 are taught in the context of the learning
framework of the overarching goal (again, “Learning strategies for developing
competence in an area of inquiry.”)
 
Brief explanations for each of the disciplines in CMS 185 can
be found in a larger framework at my PBWiki at www.cms185redesign.pbworks.com
The overarching goal provides consistency across discipline
readings as a learning conceptual framework.
 
The following questions drive the organization instruction
of cognitive strategies to meet the overarching goal.
-       Do the cognitive
strategies help the students “develop a deep foundation of factual knowledge?”
What cognitive strategies do that?
-       Do the cognitive
strategies help the students “ understand the facts and ideas in the context of
a conceptual framework?” What cognitive strategies do that?
-       Do the cognitive help
the student “organize knowledge in ways that facilitate retrieval and
application?” What cognitive strategies do that?

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