Learning Models within Paradigms

During Agile 2011 I had the pleasure of leading an Open Jam session that focused on learning models and how they fit within learning theories or worldviews. We took at look at the progress made with learning theories in general starting with behaviorism and noted that each one presented excellent viewpoints and needs that we have as humans. We recognised the value of not being despotic about a particular paradigm, but to recognise and pull the values needed, especially when using the learning models within a specific paradigm. As is easy with looking at the different learning paradigms or worldviews, eyes easily glaze, so we greatly enjoyed finding personal relevance in understanding the representational Star Trek races…

Behaviorism: Klingon
Cognitivism:Vulcan
Constructivism: Human
Motivational/Humanism: Betazoid
Design research: Borg

In fact, the re-tweet rate of this particular observation was surprisingly high! Once each paradigm was understood, we took a look at the learning models and theories that fell under each of those worldviews. As always, visuals are extremely helpful, and we sketched out the models of several, seeing the connections of our own experiences through these models. I made the point that all of us see things differently, and a model is simply a mental picture that is made visible for better understanding, noting that there are several different visual representations of many of these theories.

Something that I felt was very valuable in our discussion was the differentiation between learning and assessment models. It is easy to assume that they are one in the same, but actually learning models simply demonstrate the learning process while assessment models demonstrate the taxonomy or where a learner is within the process. Three assessment models were discussed, including Bloom’s Taxonomy, Shu Ha Ri, and the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. All of these, in their own ways, create a framework from beginner to expert and provide a quantifiable way of establishing where the learner’s expertise is within that particular framework. I noted that affective taxonomy levels were equally important, but it is not something that gets included in assessment determinations enough, at least in academics.

I was very surprised that an hour floated by before our discussion started diverting strongly to the more amusing comparisons of learning theories and Star Trek races, and found the entire experience, from digging into aspects I am less familiar to discussing these matters with individuals of varying backgrounds, to be very helpful in my own desire to achieve better perspective and understand a more holistic picture of the learning process.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

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