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H800: 58 WK 12 ACTIVITY 2

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011, 04:55


As you read the paper, think about the ways in which similar ideas were discussed in previous weeks and refer to the relevant module materials:

Do you think the innovations described in Weeks 8 and 9 as ‘learning design’ would induce more desirable approaches to studying on the part of the students?

The student (maturity, experience of education, opportunity, access, support)

But is also depends on the learning designer (as teacher)’s approach, whether deep or surface learning (Marton, 1977); or thinking of the six approaches to learning Saljo (1979) came up with.

The importance here is how much effort is put into creating activities in the learning experience, forcing the student’s hands in some respect by obliging them to go along with the ‘deep’ approach. I would therefore favour, to cover more bases, activities that are also fun and engaging, with a sensible allocation of time to do them. This has to be preferable to shallow, passive learning.

Compare Marton’s idea that some students regard learning as something that just happens to them with Sfard’s account that you read in Week 3.

Marton (1976) doesn’t say that learning is something that ‘just happens to them,’ what he says is that in contrast to deep learning where the students take an active role ‘seeing learning as something they do themselves’ those who adopt surface learning ‘approach learning in a passive role and see learning as something that just happens to them.’

You may not have encountered the literature that Richardson describes. In Week 4, Chris Jones asked you to think about your own definition of ‘learning’. Do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a learner?

Yes. If you ask a closed question. I hadn’t thought that different disciplines would take or do take a different approach to learning. That between them French, Geography, History, Maths, Physics, Biology, Art and so on were in part enjoyed or loathed depending on whether the engagement was personally driven or dictated to us as passive learners. Teachers in their ways can easily turn a student off or onto a subject. The same can apply at a distance with learning design. A balance has to be struck, with variety, to cover different experiences of learning and their differing expectations of the way to do things. I am therefore interested in Kember (1997) definitions of approaches to teaching.

Interaction between the teacher and student, and facilitating understanding on the part of the student the key motivators and the experience of a number of subjects … even as an adult I find there is too much ‘teaching as imparting information’ which I find takes five or six stabs before it sticks (reluctantly).

Which of Säljö’s five conceptions of learning best fits your own definition?

‘Learning as an interpretative process aimed at the understanding of reality’.

If you have (or have had) a role in teaching or training, do the concepts, theories and evidence described in my paper fit your own experience as a teacher or trainer? If you haven’t had such a role, ask your tutor whether they fit their experience as a teacher.

I could discuss Kimbers (1997) approaches to teaching at length from the point of view of a coach, someone who created distance learning materials (video and course books) and very rarely a teacher with a class of secondary school students for a day. I could also compare teaching practices almost from my first year at school through university and postgraduate courses/training.

The approach to teaching can make or break a course … it can kill a subject you love, or bring to life something you approached with trepidation.

Do you find the argument convincing?

‘Students who hold a reproductive conception of learning through exposure to a subject-based curriculum may simply find it hard to adapt to a more student-centred curriculum.’

I have suffered through some modules of a Swimming Coach course which couldn’t accommodate people who’d loathed school, didn’t want to learn, just wanted to know the answers. It frustrated that better instructors too. It saddened me that their experiences of learning had been so poor.

You may find the similarity between the models in Figure 1 and Figure 2 beguiling, but are the models really justified?

I don’t get the diagrams at all … though I am guilty of doing things just like it. It strikes me that they are slides from a presentation without the attached commentary.


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Design Museum

H800 53 Block 2 Approaches to learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 12:14

Richardson (2005), ‘Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education’.

This short, clear, bulleted article is the most straightforward and possibly most valuable text I've come across in the 14 months of the Masters in Open and Distance Education that I have thus far done.

No doubt its clarity is in part a product of my improved understanding and more extensive experience gained during this period; it slots into place.

Learning a foreign language (French)  I described fluency being akin to a fog lifting; it became clearer and intuitive. I wonder if I am approaching that point with online learning? Not that certainty is possible,

I'll return to Richardson often.


Richardson, John T. E. (2005). Students’ approaches to learning and teachers’ approaches to teaching in higher education. Educational Psychology, 25(6), pp. 673–680.



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