Learning Science Research Seminar Education Essay

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In this short paper, I will draw on ideas and concepts from presenters, readings, and class discussions, which relate to my research interest, and contributed to my ideas for future research. Before coming to McGill, I was interested in the application of technology tools like weblogs, wikis, and forums in individual and collaborative learning. Starting my PhD at McGill, and especially taking the Learning Science Seminar course, with its nature of introducing different trends of research areas in Learning Science, was a start point in the process of maturation of my research interest. I also got a better idea about the nature of Learning Science and get the ability to organize and find the links among different concepts and notions I learned from my courses and practice. For example, before taking this course I used to think of Learning Science as being only about learning and not focused on other related issues like teaching. Or on a broader view, for me, learning science was equal to education; however, now I know that education is only a part of learning science with its interdisciplinary nature.

Each of the presenters in course "Learning Science Research Seminar" had great effects on my attitude towards my concerns in doing research in education as well as my practice as a teacher, from Dr. Breuleux's "Building Community" through online Tele-Collaboration focusing on facilitating collaboration among students, teachers and educational leaders to enhance learning across the community, which made me more optimistic toward having a dynamic networked "community of practice (CoP)" for professional development (Alain Breuleux, Personal Communication, September 14, 2010 ), to Dr. Batesman who put the greatest emphasis in education practice on assessment, with the belief that unfair assessment may "limit" or even "stop" learning, damages class dynamics, and students lose their trust in the teacher (Dianne Bateman, Personal Communication, September 28, 2010 ), whose importance was totally ignored in my previous teaching experiences, as I was always more occupied with my instruction rather than testing. However, the topics which matched and directed my research interest in this class were discussed in Dr. Pekrun' presentation (Personal Communication, November 16, 2010 ) and paper on Achievement emotions, Gina Franco and John Ranellucci's presentation (Personal Communication, October 26, 2010 ) on Motivation and Self regulated learning as well as Dr, Azevedo's presentation (Personal Communication, November 23, 2010 ) and paper with his specialty on Self regulated learning (SRL) and multi-agent learning environments.

My concept map of learning science starts with its simple definition for me. Learning science is an interdisciplinary science whose core is learning. Learning in itself is about knowledge and education of knowledge, and then education of knowledge involves four factors. The learner, the educational agents like teacher, etc, the learning materials and finally learning settings and contexts. My interests in education have been mainly focused on learning context and the learner themselves. For the concept map I preferred to focus on the learner. There are two types of factors about learner. The external factors include higher order units like family, classroom, society, culture, etc. However the internal factors are mainly related to the learner themselves and include factors like personal characteristics, learning motivations, emotions, regulation, cognition, etc. Some of these internal factors were discussed in our Learning Science Seminar course, which had most influence in directing my research interest.

Before Dr. Pekrun's talk I was not aware or better say clear about the relationship between learner's internal factors especially the possible reciprocal effects of a learner's emotions on their motivations and goal setting as well as choice of self regulatory strategies. I had these vague perceptions that every action that a learner does is because of the underlying motivation, especially a complicated mental process like self regulated learning must be involved with experiencing different types of emotions and under influence of strong motivations. Also I had these intuitions that after accomplishment of approach goals (mastery/performance) some positive emotions should be expected, after accomplishment of avoidance goals mastery/performance) relief of negative emotions must be expected. Or for example if a learner fails to achieve the preset goals (as a phase in SRL), emotions like frustration, hopelessness even shame may be experienced. However, after these presentations and reading related papers, I got more exact view on these issues which will be discussed briefly in this paper.

Emotion and motivation

The topic introduced by Gina Franco and John Ranellucci's presentation (Personal Communication, October 26, 2010), motivation, encouraged me to study more on this issue. After studying some papers on this issue I noticed that motivation has been considered from different perspectives, and there are different terminologies for motivation (intrinsic vs. extrinsic; in relation to goal orientation; in relation to interest, etc.) In Pekrun (2009) two major terms have been introduced. In a learning setting, learner try to reach to goals related to their competence in the specific tasks, these goals are achievement goals and are divided to "performance approach/ avoidance goals", and "mastery goals". On the other hand, there is achievement emotions, which are emotions related to the competence in a task or the outcome of an activity and are divided into "activity emotions" like enjoyment, boredom, and anger, and "outcome emotions" like hope, pride, anxiety, hopelessness, and shame. As Pekrun (2009) asserts, achievement motivations are predictive of achievement emotions and then achievement emotions as mediator between motivation and performance, predict learners attainment in their performance. In Pekrun et al.'s model, achievement performance goals are associated with outcome emotions (especially anxiety), and mastery goals are mentioned to be interconnected with activity emotions. The result of their study showed that more specifically mastery goals were positive predictors of enjoyment and predicted anger and boredom negatively. Performance approach goals predicted hope and pride positively and performance avoidance predicted anxiety, shame, and hopelessness positively.

Emotion and SRL processes

There are different models for SRL processing (Pintrich, 2000; Nelson and Narens ,1990; Azevedo and Chromley, 2004 ) two of which were discussed in our Learning Science Seminar class. The first one was discussed by John Ranellucci when explaining Muis' (2007) integrated model of epistemic belief and SRL, as this model is based on Pintrich (2000) SRL model, and the second one was presented in Azevedo's (2008) paper.

According to Pintrich SRL processing model presented by John Ranellucci, the first phase that is task perception, a learner, after scanning the task and the knowledge they have related to that task, may experience emotions that interfere the perception of the task, for example the amount of anxiety may be that high that it hinders complete comprehension of the instructions to the task. In phase two, which is setting goals and planning, the learner consider the task and what they want to achieve, and based on them set some goals. The learner may expects feelings like anxiety to complete the task. So one of the goals may be to lower the anxiety by using some strategies like doing search about the topic or seeking help from a peers. During the enactment phase the learner tries to keep the balance of his emotions for example keeping his anxiety at the level of tolerable to go through the performance on task. Even in the final phase, that is adaptation, emotions may play important role. For example the precipitation of negative emotions resulted from a sense of inability to accomplish the task may make the learner abandon the task altogether (Winne & Hadwin, 2008). Or the learner may try to reduce and control his anxiety by adding to the effort put on the task.

Conclusion

In this reflective paper I considered the relation of three learner's internal factors discussed by three presenters in our class. Emotions were involved when a learner is regulating their learning, and there are strong links between the learner's achievement emotions and achievement motivations as discussed in Pekrun (2009). My future research will be focused on the motivation and SRL. That is to consider the covert motivation behind each of the SRL processes, setting goals, use of strategies, monitoring etc. For this I am intended to consider the type of motivation that learners have when choosing different SRL processes when learning through hypermedia, or intelligent tutoring systems such as MetatTutor.

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