There are three primary ingredients necessary to teach students how to think. They are 1) a way to motivate the students to engage in the process, 2) the ideal way for them to learn how to think, and 3) a technology that allows you to bring the other two together and scale it up to class sizes just under 100. It took some time for me to find a way to bring all three together, but I figured it out and have been teaching that way for about seven years now.
The method of teaching works when the students have a basic background in the subject. This method has worked across a variety of subjects from Learning and Education and Social Cognition (subjects you would expect the students to love learning with the method I use), to Advanced Research Methods. When you teach students they way they learn and include for them a chance to learn how to think the results are amazing.
Some of the student comments from over the years can give you a flavor of what their experience is like (I love it, and I’m not kidding). I’ll give you a random selection from each year so you can see what they say. I promise you, I am not picking the best to impress you. This is what I hear over and over again. Students love to think, and when they get a chance, this is what they say.
I think it has given the majority of us a new perspective on the education system, giving us the opportunity to experience self-directed learning. Comparing this to other teaching methods, it seems hard to understand why methods like this aren’t used more often, especially in higher education. I don’t think I previously realised the true value of the ‘deeper learning’ which is associated with experiential learning and problem solving; whilst these don’t initially seem to apply to this module, I would argue that presenting an argument on your topic every week, and thinking creatively to comment on others’ blogs, both of which require a lot of research and a good understanding, do encourage deeper learning. (https://bonitadavies.wordpress.com/)
Before beginning the (MA) degree I expected nothing more than long tedious lectures consisting of note taking and doodles, how wrong was I? Never in my four years of undergraduate study have I experienced learning in such an effective way, and dare I say it – fun! I’ve learnt more in this module that has ‘no teaching’, than I have in any other so far. My only critique of this module is that it makes going to other lectures very hard! Thank(s) so much for a great learning experience; let’s hope others adopt (this) teaching model. (https://psp2c0.wordpress.com/)
Over the past 3 years, we have been exposed to ‘traditional’ teaching environments – all of us sitting in lecture theatres, facing forward in silence, listening to the ‘expert’. What have we learnt in these environments?
What Educators Think: We have gathered a vast knowledge and understanding of the topic. We are prepared for the upcoming exam.
The Reality: We have updated our facebook statuses. Our doodles have become more advanced. We have learnt to sleep subtly.
This module has demonstrated the success of modernised learning environments. I have learnt more across the last semester than I ever have in any other module. I am driven to learn. I am excited to read my peers’ ideas.
I have been inspired and excited by this educational module and only hope that we begin to see more flexible and student-driven programmes in the future! (http://psyched101.wordpress.com/)
If I had to sum up this module in a single word, it would most likely be refreshing; this module has rejuvenated a part of education that I had long since forgotten, a desire to expand my knowledge for my own benefit, not just learning for the benefit of high grades.
It’s quite clear to see then that the reason this module is such a success is because it uses many concepts that provide excellent learning methods – concepts that the module actually teaches us about! It teaches us about teaching through teaching! It’s a metamodule! (http://psuafc.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/week-10-reflection/)
For me the most significant experience was how the module induced feelings of cooperation, with amazing support and words of encouragement off peers when performing presentations, respect from others for differing opinions and amiable responses that introduced conflicting evidence
All in all, this module has been amazing, empowering, engaging, motivational… obviously highly EDUCATIONAL… and so much more!!! (http://spc69.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/reflection/)
I can honestly say I have enjoyed the module. By no means has it been an easy ride, the work load has been much more demanding as you had to produce a good standard of work on a weekly basis. Despite the hard work, I haven’t been sat in a lecture with hundreds of others bored, frustrated and not understanding concepts being presented. Instead I have taken an interest in others work, enjoyed divulging in extra research and writing about topics that I care about. I think this is what education should strive for, a love of learning. (http://scienceofeducationrebeccaknight.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/so-long-farewell/)
The only reason people get lost in thought is because it is unfamiliar territory – This may well be the case for some people, but this module certainly has made me think, and quite a lot! (http://captainhazza.wordpress.com/)
Thank You Jesse for coming up with an original way to conduct a module, and thank you to my co-students for all the stimulating debates that have happened during this module!! (http://elenmai.wordpress.com/)
Wow, what a journey this module has been. I really feel that I have learned more here than in any previous module. Being able to go off on research what interests you and then write up your findings as you wish really ignited an intrinsic drive to do well. As Jesse pointed out, all of our work is on the open internet, for all to see. Couple this with the fact that our class mates are all critically discussing each other’s work, and there is certainly reason to stay motivated. I agree with Rich, that to some degree I have felt like a real writer at times, and besides from all of the content knowledge that I have learned, it is certainly worth while acknowledging all of the other skills that I (as I’m sure we all have) have improved/ picked up. For one, my writing has definitely improved. Further, I am sure that our research skills have improved, having to research each week in at least one area, and more if we were to give a decent response to other people’s blogs.
Thank you Jesse for a fantastic module, I hope it is recognised as the success I see it as, and continues and progresses further. (http://stephengarethedwards.wordpress.com/)
…other modules are boring. I have never been completely enthralled by a lecture given by the professors. Listening to the same voice and sitting in the same seat for 2 hours used to send me into the most wondrous and incredible powernaps I have thus far experienced! However this module really opens your eyes to the different possibilities and it makes you think if the other lecturers chose this approach how much more fun and learning would occur it would be insane!!! (http://heatherd14.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/the-grand-finale/#comments)
The method of teaching, which this module has utilized, has been extremely effective process of learning. I think I have done more external research here than any other module while at university. This is because in order to understand properly what people have been talking about each week then I have had to do my own research. This has proved to be very effective method of learning for me and I think something like this could be used in other subject to teach students in secondary schools.
I would like to thank everyone for making this module really interesting. I would also like to thank Jess in designing this novel way of learning module as this has not only been fun but have been really informative and eye opening on the field of science of education (https://johnny2340.wordpress.com/)
I’ve never read so many papers than for this module. I’ve definitely gone the extra mile with the actual writing too, trying to please the reader (although perhaps my word counts weren’t appreciated). Everyone works hard not to look an idiot in front of their peers, but more than that, they want to impress them. And this has really raised the bar for the class of work being produced. I have also learned a lot from others who have addressed questions that I never even thought of before, such as “What are we educating for?”. Awesome module… (http://phillippadoran.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/and-last-but-not-least/#comments)
I don’t think the things I have picked up in this module will be forgotten and I also think I will continue to read about these issues past the module which is something I don’t usually do!
All in all, it depends upon the module organizer, we have been lucky in Jesse that he was willing to try something new; I’m sure not every member of staff would be as open to new methods of teaching and learning. (http://richsworld89.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/end-of-the-line/#comments)
Some of “transferable” skills I think I have developed are:
- Flexible writing. I am now able to write more freely, before I had a tendency to fall under the word count. I now think that I am able to discuss points in more depth and draw on previous learning in my writing (I found after the first few posts blog ideas came easily to me). I will try to continue blogging to try and retain and develop this skill.
- Review the evidence. Many of the topics I chose had unclear answer or highly differing opinions. I feel I have developing my researching skills and can review the evidence.
- Discussion. Although this is not a specific skill I feel that I am more confident in doing so. I really enjoyed this aspect of the class. It is something that I feel that should be developed within other classes, especially the format as it allowed for freedom of expression.
- Interest. Again not a specific skill but I before I hadn’t considered pursuing this area as a career. I have developed a passion for the subject, especially evidence-based practices and intervention within schools.
I also notice in most blogs, that we do not pitch our blogs and comments at Jesse, we pitch them at each other. This is peer learning and it just shows that we can learn a lot from each other. I’m sure Jesse has also learnt a few bits and pieces from us too.
It’s great to get an insight into what you’ve gained from this module. You’ve not shied away from difficult topics in your talks and blogs and this has been great for expanding existing knowledge and learning about new topics. It shows what a difference a open can mind can make. (http://goodnewsfarnsworth.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/thatll-learn-him/#comments)
This module has definitely left me with life long skills. It has got me trying to better myself, what with being in comparison with fellow classmates/Housemates. It keeps you on your toes and makes you want to out do yourself every week.
I agree with you that this module has helped improve my writing skills as well. Being dyslexic I was very apprehensive about writing a blog each week at first. As I’m an awful speller and at times my grammar can be bad too. This has made me aware of my weaknesses in writing and I have found ways to get around this each week. (http://stephengarethedwards.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/last-blog/#comments)
Jesse Martin is awesome!
Oh captain, my captain!
(always wanted to say that)
Anonymous student evaluation comment
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more about what and how I do it and both you and your students will be changed forever – I promise!
How could we take something as natural and wonderful as learning and turn it into education?