The Methods And Activities Of Teaching Education Essay

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Pedagogy is the study of the methods and activities of teaching (Cambridge online dictionary). This Assignment will look at how we can link pedagogy in teaching Applied ICT to a group of Year 11 students of mixed ability in a typical inner city Secondary school, to the theories of learning which are the foundations of how we teach and learn.

Based on what has been observed during a placement in the secondary school, and also on further reading it is difficult to define exactly what "learning" is, but for the purpose of this assignment learning can be linked to changes in behaviour, understanding, capability and the knowledge that is acquired by both teachers and pupils.

In a simplistic view it can be said that there are many different theories of learning, but the two main areas that underpin this in education are the humanistic approach, looking at what pupils "want to learn", and the behavioural approach, concentrating on what "the teacher is wanting" the pupil to learn. It was noted that within the classroom and whilst on a school visit there seemed to be no significant behavioural problems within the group of pupils.

Teaching Applied ICT gives the opportunity to move out of the classroom environment and visit companies and organisations so that students are able to view ICT working in context within the workplace. Giving students this opportunity should help them gain a broader knowledge and understanding of this subject, but taking students out of a classroom environment can create changes in the behaviour of students, and it is also important that the capability of all the students is challenged.

The Humanistic view to learning is that of 'natural desire', where learning is student lead and personalized, and the role of the teacher is thought of as more of a facilitator. One of the central assumptions of this humanistic view according to Huitt (2001) is the fact that people act intentionally and with values. Humanists believe that you should look at the individual as a whole, and that it is important to view how an individual learns throughout their life as they grow and develop.

Smith (1999) discusses the basic concern for the human potential of growth. It was noted that in some cases in the classroom environment students are not necessarily entering the classroom with the intention of learning. As students have mainly decided on choosing to learn and engage in the topic of ICT within the 14-19 curriculum, this suggests that at some stage the students did have a natural desire to take up the subject in order to engage in the learning and hopefully progress onto qualifications. The possibility is that the actual desire of students on a day to day level may be greatly different to the desire that they have to learn over a longer period of time.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of needs argues that people aim to meet basic needs first, and then they seek to meet successively higher needs in the form of a hierarchy until they reach self-actualization, or self fulfillment. Behavior and learning is motivated by an individuals desire for personal growth an the need to become all the things that a person is capable of becoming (Maslow,1970).

Although not directly linked to the teaching of ICT within the classroom it is very significant that students are likely to have other needs other than that of learning in order to achieve their true potential. I have noted on several occasions that students have not been concentrating during the beginning of lessons, even when the starter exercise has been accessed by the majority of students. When these students were questioned, especially during morning periods, the answer given was that they could not concentrate and they were hungry, which coincides with the lowest level on the hierarchy.

Maslow first introduced his concept of hierarchy in 1943 in his paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", which was closely followed by his book "Motivation and Personality". There are many aspects of this theory that can be linked to the individual's motivation either within the confinements of a lesson, or over a period of time. These hierarchies are closely linked to the concept of ECM which is now high on the government's agenda for schools.

There is however a few exceptions that frequently occur within this model, such as individuals when questioned did feel safe and secure in the classroom environment even when they have not had breakfast. In the model it is only possible to seek the safety of a secure environment when the physiological needs are met, therefore another issue with this model is that there are no time limits set. An individual could possibly drop to the bottom of the hierarchy within a lesson if a pupil has forgotten a packed lunch or their dinner money. They may start to only think of where they are going to get their next meal.

Closely linked with the humanistic approach theorist David A. Kolb suggests "learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience" Kolb, (1984, p. 38). The theory consists of a cycle which is in four stages, where you are able to begin at any one stage, but then each stage must follow in sequence:

"DO" or Concrete experience

"OBSERVE" or Reflective observation

"THINK" or Abstract conceptualization

"PLAN" or Active experimentation

Along with the learning cycle Kolb also offers a way into understanding the individual people's learning styles.

Within Applied ICT it is very helpful taking students out of the classroom and into organizations where they can 'observe' ICT working. Rather than teach students how and why the ICT is being used it was found to be more productive to let the students experience the ICT working in the normal environment of an organization before asking the students to form opinions on what the technology may be used for.

In the case of observing a working restaurant, students were able to view restaurant staff taking orders and then walking back to the order desk to place the orders on a touch screen. Once observed the students reflected on why the staff were continually moving towards the same computer terminal after taking orders, forming an opinion as to why they must be inputting the data into an ordering system for the kitchens. The students also noted that it would also be possible to use the same ordering system to link the drinks orders to the bar staff. All of this information was then confirmed by letting students actually taking an order themselves and entering it into the order database, where they gained a concrete experience.

Looking at how the students actually learned, Kolb's learning styles can start to become understood. Some students found it much easier to understand the use of technology by entering the order, and then reflecting on how this would be useful when watching the waiters (diverging). Assimilator learners found that it was easier to conceptualize how the ordering would take place before watching the order taking and then reflecting on how this was……

Learners who had conceptualized the order taking, but had not really understood how and why the ordering worked through observations started understand more when they started to think how it would work if they had actually witnessed a drinks order being processed (converging). Finally the learners who were 'Accommodating' only understood really what was going on when they not only entered the orders themselves, but started to think about which other types of orders could be placed on the system.

The whole work of Kolb underpins the curriculum and how it may be delivered in schools today, although preparation for the trip was not simple as one of the issues with Kolb's work is that e does not take into account the different attainment levels to which the students are working at, therefore it was necessary to prepare resources for the students at different levels so that all students could engage with the learning and develop their knowledge.

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed by Howard Gardiner in 1983. He suggests that individuals possess a number of different independent intelligences (at least seven), and that these can be acquired at different levels. Gardner also suggests that if individuals have an ability to learn in a certain manner, they should be encouraged to develop their learning using this talent.

Gardner stuff

During teaching, the idea of students being able to develop their abilities to learn focused planning on the individual students and how to include and develop all students within the class. This approach closely links back to the Every Child Matters agenda and how to develop the knowledge of all individuals within the classroom. Although concentrating on certain aspects of Gardner's intelligences, such as the verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities of students within the classroom it is also important to consider the overall interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities of students more to provide a more rounded and balanced curriculum.

There is a need to cater for students at different abilities, whether within the classroom, the year group, or the key stages. Depending on how students are grouped should affect the way in which lessons are planned and delivered. Although some of the ideas behind the theory of Gardner are used within the classroom the overall basis of the theory is not enough to change the way in which individuals are grouped, as there seems to be stronger influences that bind individuals learning together, such as those described by Maslow.

It is possible to differentiate within lessons so that an attempt is made to help the students to learn to the best of their ability. How far you can proceed with this concept whilst taking into account that students are on the whole grouped together in age rather than overall ability, and also considering the ability of the teachers to develop the lessons with the equipment and resources available makes it difficult to make a judgment on whether each child is learning to the best of their ability.

No matter what the ability of students there is a theory that suggests that by observing and imitating behavior, this can lead students to 'think for themselves', which is key to a student's progression throughout their education. The Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1977) stresses closely the link between students observing behaviors that may have been modeled and imitating these, leading to learning.

Bandura (1977) provides a detailed description on learning. For him

Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. (Bandura 1977, p.22)

Within the classroom environment it was noted that it is very useful to model tasks to students as they will then have a higher and better understanding of the task and what they need in order to complete the activity.

Outside the environment of the classroom, whilst engaged in learning within an organization that the students were studying it was noted that students responded in several different ways. The behavior of students, rather than becoming more disruptive became more professional and respected. This may have been the fact that they were in a professional environment with other members of the public in attendance. One other aspect of the students' behavior became noticeable when they met the guide showing them around the building. It was obvious that students unintentionally copied the mannerisms of the guide, which can be attributed to the positive attitude and attributes that were seen by the pupils on what they perceived as a role model.

Although whilst students are behaving correctly in and out of the classroom, there are times that students do not engage with lessons and start to misbehave. Piaget (1932) discussed the moral development of individuals and an understanding of others. It can be noted that morally students should really know they are at school to learn, and not disrupt the classroom. Further work by Piaget (1952), produced by decades of observing young children lead to his theory of cognitive development.

The basis of the theory of cognitive development is that there is a shift of children's thinking over certain stages of their maturation, as they are growing up. These stages were split into four, with the final stage, when a student is in adolescence they should be able to reason hypothetically and deduce outcomes, therefore actively construct their own knowledge and understand outcomes, thinking for themselves.

In education it is clear that individuals are grouped in stages, thus mimicking theory of Piaget. Year groups are grouped into Key Stages for development, but although students still receive lessons in their year groups it is obvious that not all pupils develop at the same rate. Within the classroom environment and also whilst leading visits it is still very important to differentiate lessons so that all pupils are able to access the lesson, and also provide extension tasks where pupils have completed work to a satisfactory level within the time and have no other work to complete.

The theory behind cognitive development does not relate to "how" a student can be cleverer with relation to their cognition according to their age. There is also little or no evidence of other factors such as social or emotional aspects which may influence learning. Similarly there seems to be no link towards abnormal development or development disorders that may be present in a student.

Unlike Piaget where it is considered that the development of a child must precede their learning, the sociocultural view of Vygotsky (1978) argued that

"learning is a necessary and universal aspect of the process of developing culturally organized, specifically human psychological function" (Vygotsky 1978, p.90).

This view suggests that in actual fact that social learning would precede the development of an individual. Therefore whereas Piaget would argue that the development of a pupil is due to them being actively curious and wanting to be involved in the learning taking place, Vygotsky would argue that the social contribution and interaction, for example with the guide on the visit, helped the process of development of the pupils.

Taking the ideas of Vygotsky into the classroom it has been noted that students working collaboratively, when they are socially interacting either with their peers or teachers, or whether working in pairs or groups, will produce a high level of work if kept on task. This cooperation Vygotsky argues leads to cognitive development.

Vygotsky (1978) also viewed the Zone of Proximal Development as an area where guidance or instructions can be given, allowing pupils to work on their own to develop higher mental functions. Within the planning and teaching of a lesson it is clear that objectives and success criteria have been planned and shown to the pupils. This clearly develops the ability to complete tasks to different levels of achievement for the pupils, and allows them to advance their learning in a way that is clear and concise.

In essence, on an individual basis, a student needs to understand how they can 'learn to learn' in order to gain the best education they can achieve. Students have to take responsibility for their own learning, with the help of teachers, parents and as many resources as possible that will benefit them overall. The students individual learning styles must also be noted down by teachers in order for them to plan, develop and deliver lessons in a personalized way, for as many individuals as possible in each lesson.

Taking into account that students are grouped in key stages and in year groups, and even maybe in sets, there will always be a range of students within the classroom that have to be catered for. It is important for teachers to embrace as many teaching and learning styles as possible if they are appropriate to move any of the individual learners in the classroom forward.

In Applied ICT although the students may understand the theory of the actual ICT, it may be difficult for the students to put the actual application of the use of the ICT into context.

Timetabling implications mean that it is impossible to completely personalize the learning of an individual at present as the resources are clearly not available for this to happen. As this is the case personalization has largely got to take place within lessons linking in with the humanistic approach to differentiating for the individual or groups. This approach will also help with the multiple intelligences within the classroom and cater for different ability students, scaffolding lessons so that all students engage within the learning environment and are able to progress in a safe environment.