EFFECTIVE WAYS TO FOSTER LEARNING
Kelly Lynn Snyder
Strayer University Online
May 19, 2009
The article written by Jialin Yi was about effective ways to foster learning. The article was written in January of 2005. According to Yi, learning is viewed as an object or a process; some view it as both of them. Throughout the article Yi talks about the three instructional means used to foster learning ends. These three methods are: problem-based learning, cooperative learning, and situated learning. Most of these instructional methods include three components: the directed outcome, learning activities, and methods of evaluation. Learning is a process of acquiring knowledge. According to Yi’s article learning is a process of developing new knowledge and skills and finally improving individual and organizational performance.
Yi discusses adult learners and how they learn compared to the way children learn. Instructional methods are meant to improve adult learners’ knowledge and skills. There is no boundary between the way that adults and children learn, but many educators will disagree with that statement. Adults seem to be more self-directed, goal oriented, task and problem centered. Adults experience more diversity and are intrinsically motivated. According to Ertmer and Newby, knowledge is a function of how the individual creates meaning from his or her own experiences.
There are two types of beliefs in the learning and knowledge process. There are those who are objectivists and those who are constructivists. Objectivists believe that learners actively take part in a learning process of knowledge acquisition and processing. Constructivists believe that learning is a process of knowledge construction through the interaction with the environment and that knowledge is context dependent. Constructivism encourages social negotiation, reflective awareness, and learning that occur in real world situations. Constructivists challenge the learners’ thinking. Objectivists see learning as a process of knowledge that is external to the learner. These are guided situations where the learner learns, not something they may encounter in the real world and learn from.
Yi then covers ways to foster learning in the corporate world. In today’s society it is vital that employees are able to think creatively, solve problems, work in teams, and make shared decisions. The author
talks about ways to improve the employee’s professional skills by improving they’re learning of problem solving, interpersonal, cooperative, and technical skills. These are skills that employees should have in order to help the company that they work for succeed. As a boss, it is important to have competent employees that are willing to learn and make a impact on the company. Nobody wants to see a company go bankrupt, so they need employees that know what they are doing. Yi believes that there are three methods of instructional means to foster learning ends. These three methods are problem-based learning, cooperative learning, and situated learning. The next thing that Yi points out is that there are three components in instructional methods. These three methods are: desired outcomes, learning activities, and methods of evaluation. Each of these components is present in the three instructional methods.
The first of the three methods of instruction that Yi talks about is problem-based learning. Problem-based learning has been applied to many corporate settings. The most crucial part of problem-based learning is that problems drive learning. The point of problem-based learning is that the learners are given real workplace problems without knowing the content of the problem. Problem-based learning helps the learner develop critical-thinking skills, self-directed learning skills, and problem-related knowledge. This kind of learning may confuse the learner, but the point is to help them learn on their own through real world situations.
Many firms use problem-based learning for three main reasons. The first of these three reasons is that employees have the ability to solve various context-dependent problems. Problem-based learning environments focus on real world problems that the learners have to figure out how to solve. Through problem-based learning, employees will improve reasoning; problem solving skills, critical thinking, and can provide challenging and motivating learning environments. It is very important for employees to work in a motivating environment. Who would want to come to work for someone who did not challenge and motivate him or her?
The second reason firms’ use problem-based learning is because it is consistent with constructivist instructional design principles. Constructivists believe in problem-based learning because it pushes the learner to go beyond the information given. People whether in school or the workplace need to be challenged. They should be expected to take the information they are given and go the next step with it. The third and final
reason why firms use problem-based learning is based on the fact that adults’ learn knowledge and skills with the intention of using it. Adults take the new knowledge that they learn and they use it in future situation. Where there are pros there are also cons. Problem-based learning doe not guarantee that the learner develops problem-solving skills. Employees are responsible for what they learn, but it is up to the instructor to provide support and guidance. The instructor needs to ask question and challenge the learners thinking. Ultimately it is up to the learner to become responsible for his or her own learning.
Yi goes on to list some of the attributes of problem-based learning. These include the outcomes sought, activities involved, and the evaluation applied. The outcome sought is that the learner is expected to learn problem-solving and critical thinking skills. There are many activities that Yi lists; a few include giving the learner a real world situation. The learner has to explore and discuss the problem and then come up with a hypothesis based on the facts that they have been told. Another activity used is that the learners practice self-study where they have to gather information through various sources and the instructor helps them organize their study material. The evaluations used are peer and self-evaluations focusing on the learning goals that the learner was able to recognize.
The second instructional method is cooperative learning. Cooperative learning is a method in which small groups of learners work together to help each other achieve a common learning goal. The purpose of cooperative learning is to communicate ideas that will improve meaningfulness and retention. There are four main attributes to cooperative learning. The four attributes are: positive interdependence, face-to-face interaction, individual accountability, and group processing. Positive interdependence is where the learners rely on one another to reach a common learning goal. Face-to-face interaction is where the learners help and support each other’s efforts to learn. Individual accountability is where each individual is accountable to the teams’ performance. Group processing is where the group members review and improve the group process. These steps are crucial in cooperative learning.
There are three reasons why cooperative learning is useful when developing training programs. The first is that the information age requires collaborative activities within the workplace. It is very important for
employees to work together, provide feedback, and enhance interpersonal skills. Many companies would not make it if their employees did not try to get along and help each other out by offering advice. The second reason is that constructivists encourage the use of small cooperative groups in learning. This allows for social interaction at work and the employees tend to share ideas that help companies grow. Sharing ideas could open other people’s eyes to new things. The third and final reason is because adults encounter diverse experiences. When adults share their stories they may be helping another person benefit from that experience.
The main attributes for cooperative learning include desired outcomes, learning activities, and methods of evaluation. For cooperative learning the desired outcomes are an increase in cooperative and interpersonal skills. A few learning activities may include learners forming small study groups or the group discussing common goals and resources used to complete the task. For the evaluation the group does peer and self-evaluations before the final evaluation of the teams product and outcomes. This type of learning relies on group work and cooperation among the group.
The third and final instructional method is situated learning. Yi tells of how knowledge is constructed situationally and can only be transferred to situations that are similar. These types of learning experiences should relate to real world situations in order to make an impact on the learner. There are three reasons why situated learning works in training programs. The first being that it is authentic and makes the employee more prepared for events that may occur in the real world. The second is that it emphasizes the need for the learner to engage in meaningful experiences. The third is that it relates instructional content to the needs and experience of the learners.
The general guidelines to situated learning are desired outcomes, learning activities, and methods of evaluation. For situated learning the desired outcome is that the employees learn technical skills that are relevant to the field in which they work. An activity that would be used in situated learning would be role-playing. In order to evaluate the learners, the instructor would have to judge on participation and performance. This is a very fun activity that can easily be assessed by seeing who is willing to try and learn. Employees get to be a part of a real world situation and show how they would deal with the problem at hand.
Yi’s main point of this article is to teach the reader some effective ways to foster learning. Many instructors, regardless of who they teach, need to know that there are many different types of learning styles. These learning styles give the instructors options in their classrooms. They need to pick what will work best for them and their students. Yi also wanted to point out that there are two types of instructors, objectivists and constructivists. It is important as an instructor, especially teaching adults, to know what will work best for them. Adult learners learn differently than kids so they need a different style of teaching. When instructing adults at a corporate level to better a company, Yi gives ideas on how to teach them so that they get that real world setting and understanding. This can only help the company training their employees.
MAIN ELEMENTS OF THE ARGUMENT
Yi has many wonderful ideas and really explains the three types of learning styles very clearly. His article is very informative and can be a great resource for many instructors. Yi has given his own opinion of what type of instructor he is and has given examples of both types so that the reader can figure out where they fall. He did a great job explaining every aspect of learning and how to teach that to students and adults. Sometimes it just takes an idea to get a teacher motivated.
DISCUSSION OF CONCLUSION
Yi claims that using these different learning goals in the correct situation will help learners learn. He makes complete sense, but now it is up to the instructor to figure out where they stand and how to implement the correct style into their teaching. Yi says that by integrating problem-based learning, cooperative learning, and situated learning into a lesson is possible and useful. In the end Yi believes that implementing these three learning-centered methods can make learning transferable from classroom to the workplace. These are the types of skills that kids need to know, things that will help them in the real world.
IDENTIFICATION OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Yi is a good author. One thing that stuck out in this article was that it was difficult to read. I was very bored with all the terms and definitions of each. I felt like I was reading a dictionary with a few examples. I
did not like the article as a whole though. It was very hard to get through. When I read an article I like to read something with a storyline. The article would have been better if Yi told of a classroom that he taught in or a corporation that hired him to instruct their employees in real world situations. Sitting down to read an article like this one is not something I like to do.
The examples were the strong part of the article. I liked reading ways to integrate each learning method into the classroom. Reading the example sin this article gave me an idea of ways that I could integrate different learning methods into my classroom someday. It is nice to get new ideas that could make a difference in the way that you teach. There is not anybody out there that is the perfect teacher and does not need new ideas. Real world situations is where it is, they help the students learn how to deal with situations they will encounter in the real world.
I am not sure that there are any fixes for this paper besides the one that I suggested above. Yi could have given a story about a classroom that he taught in and how he taught real world experiences. The article is meant to inform the reader on the different learning methods. The author did what he intended to do, it was just boring to me. The article was very informative and straight to the point.
I think that the article would have been much more exciting if the author gave real life experiences not just examples. Sometimes telling a story about a time when these methods were used, reaches the reader. As the reader of this article, it did not catch my attention at all. In order to get the attention of more readers, the article should have been more exciting. I think that many readers, unless writing a paper and needing to know definitions of the learning methods would be deterred from this paper.
I suppose teachers would benefit from this article because it gives them an idea of what the three different learning methods are. Teachers may need new ideas to use in their classroom to help prepare students for their future and this article gives many activities that the teacher may want to try. I also think that college
students writing a paper on the three methods of learning would benefit from this paper the most. Yi does a great job explaining the types of learning methods, defining these methods, and giving examples of the methods. This would definitely be useful information for a paper that is being written about the three learning methods.
Yi, Lialin (2005). Effective ways to foster learning. Performance Improvement. Silver Spring. Vol. 44, Iss. 1,