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As a Lecturer in acute and critical care I am responsible for the education of adults with a formal registered, recordable qualification within a medical discipline, predominantly nursing and allied professions.
I have a varied role, that of my own practice, education in practice and as a Lecturer within a University. I am a registered Nurse and Paramedic with experience of teaching and mentoring others.
This critical self evaluation aims to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the theoretical educational frameworks and their application to my teaching, mentoring and how this may influence my colleagues and students.
My intention is to show my appreciation of pertinent concepts and their application to my teaching style through a range of research into relevant topics.
The term “Education” is derived from the Latin root ‘e’ out and ‘ducare’ to lead, so ‘educare’ has been translated for English interpretation “To Lead, to bring Forth from that which is within”.
Epistemology, a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods and limits of human knowledge has been considered by key thinkers for centuries.
Pedagogy is the study of teaching. As an example, Paulo Freire , referred to his teaching of Adults as “critical pedagogy”. Andragogy, a term initially used by a German Educator in 1883 and developed into a theory by Knowles, is the process of engaging adult learners within a structure of learning. Knowles asserts Andragogy should be considered separately to Pedagogy. Knowles assertion lies in the belief that a Greek translation of pedagogy is “Child-leading” and Andragogy is “man leading”.
Like all adult learners Nurses, Paramedics and Health Visitors differ widely from one another in their personal characteristics. These differences come from alterations in intelligence, motivation, personality types and our individual learning styles.
Human physical development completes at adulthood therefore we could be forgiven for believing that this is the same for psychological development.
The main theories underpinning adult learning are from the humanistic approaches of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, Malcolm Knowles and his work on the experiential learning approach within Androgogy, and David Kolb’s extension of Knowles work with the Learning Cycle.
Pedagogy is the study of teaching. Paulo Freire referred to his teaching of Adults as “critical pedagogy”. Androgogy is an educational approach characterised by student centred, self directed learning. (Merriam, 2001).
Carr (2002) identifies we [humans], are all different and in particular our values, personalities and character are resistant to explanation and understanding. We do not lend ourselves to easy explanation and understanding in terms of the chemical, physical or biological construction. Carr (ibid), considers attempts to categorise education and our learners. He cites the doctrine of Rene Descartes known as Cartesian Dualism, the idea that minds and souls are separate to that of our physical bodies.
Curzon (2004) states the most influential taxonomy of learning objectives is that of Bloom, an American psychologist from the University of Chicago, “Blooms’ Taxonomy”.
Taxonomy is a formal way to classify a subject based on a belief of relationship within. (Curzon, 2004) suggests caution with the semantics surrounding Taxonomy in education. The study of science for example refers to taxonomy as a strictly ordered classification of objects and phenomena. Bloom however classifies areas such as “Knowledge” and “synthesis”. These classifications are unlike that of specimens of human anatomy such as a muscle fibre or mitochondria; these may be seen, discussed and placed within a hierarchical order based on size.
Placement of ‘analyses’ or ‘appraisal’ within a category used by Bloom’s Taxonomy will lend itself to a degree of subjectivity and appears to support Cartesian Dualism. The great classifiers, Li Shih-Chen (1518-93) and Linnaeus (1707-78) when creating taxonomy reacted subjectively whilst following an ordered fashion (Curzon, 2004).
There have been three clear models of learning offered that have been of particular influence in education. Cognivist, Behaviourist, and Humanist.
- Cognitive, assimilation and accommodation of the world.
- Behaviourist, a scientific positivist approach to learning.
- Humanist, wishing to empowered the learner.
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development discusses an intellectual’s adaption to an environment while intellect develops. (Piaget and Inhelder, 1969).
According to Piaget (ibid) for this adaption to occur there must be a form of organisation within the individual. Schemas (organisational or conceptual patterns of the mind) are ways the individual makes sense of an environment. Schemas are like small inner theories that develop during infancy and become more complex as development continues. When a child is involved in a new situation they will have already formed schemas. They will assimilate the new situation and if the original schema appears inadequate they will modify it in order to make sense of the new situation. For example an apple is green therefore all fruit is green until they are given a banana. Piaget explains this as “assimilation and accommodation”.
Piaget theorises that assimilation and accommodation are in balance and a dynamic process allowing for an individual’s learning to develop.
Levinson (1986) has further developed a model of adult development. This identifies four major periods and attempts to place adulthood into specific times of change. Levinson’s theory, although sound, has yet to be widely accepted.
I have taught across Levinson’s methodology and unknown to me at the time created schema’s (Piaget) of my own in order to engage with the range of adult learners within my groups.
An example of this is a day teaching a class of Qualified Nursing Students studying towards a higher degree, the youngest in her early twenties and the oldest in her fifties. I requested feedback on the various teaching styles employed and asked for an anonymous score for each element taught. The day consisted of a variety of Presentations, Quiz style papers, group work and student presentations. I will revisit these results later in this paper while exploring the different ways in which people learn but I am attempting to theorise if older students may be better acquainted with more didactic approaches to education because of internal schemas made in earlier styles of teaching encountered in contrast to the more diverse nature of current teaching process’s encountered by younger students?
The feedback shows that although the group enjoyed the learning process, the employed seemed to please some more than others. A further consideration of this feedback shows that the older members of the class preferred to sit and listen to a constructed more didactic approach liking the group work and personal research less than the younger students.
Rogers seeks to explain different ways adults engage in Education and places them into three categories’. (Rogers, A 2002) These categories’ are listed with examples of my own educational involvement.
- Formal – I deliver formal education for Post Registration students working toward higher academic standard within a university setting.
- Extra-formal – I have taught on Courses run by other learning providers. Students working in mostly unrelated areas but obtaining a certificate.
- Informal – I have taught my hobby to others for their own personal growth.
Contributions from Kolb (1984) and Knowles (1984) led to Kolb’s Androgogy.
Kolb’s Androgogy allows for a style of education that includes the experiences of its learners. Students are actively encouraged to consider their experiences and reflect upon them in order to improve learning outcomes and understanding. Reflecting on these experiences will allow for modification of cognitive structures (schemas) and this will enable preparation for the next cycle of experiential learning.
Motivation of the student.
This is a personal reflective list of my motivation to study the theory of Education and how it relates to practice as an example to be considered as we moved through some of the theory of motivation.
- My work requires me to achieve a Qualification in Education
- I want to be an excellent teacher
- I would like my students to enjoy learning with me
- I need my students to be able to learn with my guidance.
Adult motivation is considered an important factor in the learning process. Theories of motivation assume that adult learning is with purpose and leading toward a goal. To explain motivation we reflect the views of different schools of psychology. The behaviourist views motivation as environmental rather than coming from within an individual. This approach is determined by how well things went before. If attending a course was considered dull and uninteresting they will not return and therefore their course attendance behaviour has been reinforced.
Maslow (Maslow, A 1971) published the ‘Theory of Human Motivation’. Maslow identifies motivation in an individual as them trying to grow. He believes that at any particular time an individual’s behaviour is dominated by the stronger of his/her needs. Maslow arranges these into a hierarchy of needs.
Each class of need is stronger than the one above in the hierarchy. The higher up the hierarchy the weaker the need becomes. Progression up is dependent on the individuals needs being met at a particular level. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ranges from the very basic needs of food and warmth to the self actualising, the fulfilment of one’s potential.
If I stop to consider my motivation expressed above against Maslow I can see that I am aiming for self actualising, wanting to be an excellent teacher. I am looking to fulfil my full potential. However at the same time I am fulfilling some more basic needs by requiring a qualification in order to feed my family and pay my mortgage. This seems to disagree with Maslow and his theory that one basic need must be fulfilled before moving on to the weaker higher need? (although, of course I am not without food or shelter, yet!)
According to Quinn I am not alone with my critique of Maslow’s theory. There are many documented incidents of people becoming highly creative despite a lack of basic needs; for example, in concentration camps in World War Two.
So this theory suggests that my students will most likely be able to reach their own potential if they are at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy. If this is true then student accommodation will truly have improved also!
The opponent-process theory, (Solomon, 1980); focuses on the emotional state. When an emotional reaction is generated within an individual an opposing reaction is also generated.
The opponent- process theory
For example a student Paramedic is finding the nervous system difficult to understand but has a Eureka moment; this triggers emotion A and B.
Emotion A) pleasure, a student is pleased she now grasps the concept of neuro- transmitters and believes she can understand pain control and maybe pass her course, this also generates an opposite emotional state, B) displeasure but in lesser amounts, she may forget. Emotion B) remains the same at all times but each time emotion A) is triggered it increases in size.
I like this theory, in essence it comments that emotions are an act of balance, homeostatic if you will and we can choose to increase the positive aspect of learning experiences creating happy students. Continuity with positive reactions within our students will continue to add to emotion A) allowing it growth and the student to retain a positive outlook with her education and the way it is delivered. This theory also explains why although a student is doing well with their studies they may also feel negative emotions. It has been criticised for being over general but I believe it is useful to understand that both positive and negative emotions are within our students continually but can be offset. I therefore must be mindful that I can also reverse the process leading to unhappy students.
Psychologists have attempted to categorise motivation. They are presented under four headings. (Biggs, 1991)
This type is described by Biggs as extrinsic, students are performing purely to receive a reward, such as a qualification or to avoid a reprimand such as loss of promotion. In order to educate an individual with this type of motivation Biggs suggests that teaching should be seen as constructive. This type of motivation is in complete contrast to intrinsic motivation.
These students want to learn for the pleasure of learning. I would link this to Maslow’s hierarchy and believe a student with purely intrinsic motivation must be, according to Maslow, looking to fulfil their personal potential, (self actualising).
A drive to please others and receive approval or praise lies behind this form of motivation. The student is generally unconcerned by the qualification but requires the reinforcement activity of the person they consider to be important. This is often someone they respect or admire.
These students want to achieve success. Achievement motivation is further sub divided by (Ausubel, 1963)
- Cognitive drive- satisfaction of a believed need to know.
- Self enhancement- satisfying a need for self esteem
- Affiliation- seeking approval from others.
How we Learn
- Kaminsky, James S, A New History of Educational Philosophy, Westport, CN: Greenwood Press.
- Carr, David 2002, Making Sense of Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Theory of Education and Teaching, Taylor & Francis, Available from: http://lib.myilibrary.com/Browse/open.asp?ID=11208&loc=iii8 December 20
- Curzon, L.B 2004, Teaching in Further education: An Outline of Principles and Practice, 6th Edition. Continuum London. New York
- Merriam, S.B. (2001) Androgogy and self directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Vol98.
- Kaufman DM, Mann KV, Jennett PA. 2000. Teaching and learning in medical education: How theory can inform practice. Edinburgh UK: Association for Studies in Medical Education,
- Rogers, A 1996, Teaching Adults, 3rd Edition, Open University Press
- Levinson, D.J (1978) Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York: Knopf.
- Solomon, R.L. and Corbit, J.D (1974) An opponent process theory of acquired motivation, American Psychologist, 35, 119-41
- Solomon, R.L. (1980) The opponent process theory of acquired motivation: the costs of pleasure and the benefits of pain, American Psychologist, 35, 691-712
- Maslow, A. (1971), The farther reaches of Human Nature, penguin,Harmondesworth.
- Biggs, J.B. (1991), Teaching for Learning, Hawthorn, Victoria, Acer
- Ausubel (1963), The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune and Stratton
- Light, G and Cox,R (2001), Learning and Teaching in Higher Education-The Reflective Professional, London, Sage Publications
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