How can we support students in being successful in our online course? Why?
This weeks readings discussed the characteristics of adults enrolled in distance education courses. When I was working towards my bachelors degree I took several classes that dealt with andragogy. Most of the focus was on understanding where adult learners were coming from…their history and experience that they brought to the classroom and how that affected their learning ability and styles. I was surprised to read that online learners of all ages were beginning to exhibit the same type of behavior and needs.
Most of the information I gleaned from my classes on teaching adult learners I have been able to take back into my classroom, utilize and see marked differences in my relationship with them, their understanding of course materials or theories and principles, and have actually had a lot more fun teaching. Don’t get me wrong, teaching has always been fun but understanding the how and why behind my students learning skills has taken a lot of stress out of the equation.
I guess the most important thing for me to understand was the history that learners bring to the classroom. With adults, many have already held careers, have families, and possess a fairly firm grasp of understanding of who they are, what their place is in the world within said career, family and community dynamic. They have a belief about themselves. So, when they enter into secondary education it presents a whole new set of rules that upsets this bubble of certainty….they have to develop a new skill set for studying, have to learn something new that they, at first are potentially not good at, and they have to figure out how they fit into this new role. It can be extremely frustrating for them and prove to be a barrier for some if the frustration isn’t addressed. Paying close attention to students behavior, language and performance is a great indicator as to what’s going on in their heads. I have found that addressing anything I see that could be potentially a warning sign (poor test score, inability to finish a project, etc.) opens communication and I am able to hear what the student is feeling (I like to think I can read minds, but I cannot) and engage with them on a one-on-one basis in such a way that nine times out of ten, leads to their success and a deeper relationship between us.
Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences offers an understanding of how students demonstrate their intellectual capacity. This theory is worth looking at when designing instruction. Keeping in mind that it may be possible to meet the specific learning needs of students who may be dominant in one or several intelligences (teAchnology, 2014).
Type of Intelligence Definition
Linguistic Intelligence “Word smart”
Logical-mathematical intelligence “Number/Reasoning whiz”
Spatial intelligence “Picture/Blueprint smart”
Body-Kinesthetic Intelligence “Good on his toes”
Musical Intelligence “More Mozart than Einstein”
Interpersonal intelligence “People smart”
Intrapersonal intelligence “Knows thyself”
Naturalist intelligence “Nature lover”
Kembler (1995) states ” student progress can be enhanced if the design of a course concentrates on developing intrinsic motivation and a deep approach to subject matter. Academic integration can also be improved by developed collective affiliation and ensuring congruence between student expectations and course procedures” (p. 160). How are students intrinsically motivated? Enjoyment, excitement, convenience, security, feeling like a contributing part of a community, humor and variety (Moore & Kearsley, 2012).
So, the potential students that we are designing a credit recovery course may already be considered “at risk” learners. Kids who have a below average reading level, don’t like school (I was one of these in high school), may have dropped out due to unforeseen circumstances, or perhaps just didn’t do the homework to pass the class. Can intrinsic motivation actually be manufactured in an online course? I guess we will try and see! I like that our group has made an effort along the way to keep in mind that some of the requirements for our standards are going to require a lot of commitment from the students.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBCTs) web page, found at http://nbpts.accelerantsandbox.com/five-core-propositions, has several links that are designed to support instructors and defines criteria that will help us give support to out online instructors as well as our potential students. The above link is for their The Five Core Propositions, “form the foundation and frame the rich amalgam of knowledge, skills, dispositions and beliefs that characterize National Board Certified Teachers” (NBCTs, 2014). Check it out!!!
Kember, D. (1995). Open learning for adults: A model of student progress. Englewood Cliffs. NJ: Educational Technology
Moore, M., and Kearsley, G. (2012). Distance Education: A Systems View of Online Learning. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. (2014). Five core propositions. Retrieved from http://nbpts.accelerantsandbox.com/five-core-propositions
teAchology. (2014). What is multiple intelligence theory. Retrieved from http://www.teach-nology.com/teachers/methods/multi_intelligences/