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In the beginning of the course Learning Science Research Seminar, I started with a basic understanding of Learning Sciences. My understanding of the Learning sciences was mainly limited to different concepts of learning activities in formal and informal learning environment. In this paper I will discuss the progress of my understanding of the Learning sciences. The development of my understandings occurred through the processes of many discourses with our instructor, speakers, different materials, and also by participating in class discussions. I will discuss my understanding of the Learning sciences in two dimensions, firstly, in respect to the growth of my understanding related to the learning environment of learning sciences, then secondly, the changes of my understanding related to the patterns of research approach that researchers are applying in their research studies.
The depth of my understanding related to the learning environment has grown after reading Lamon, Laferriere, and Brueleux's (2009) chapter on networked communities. Initially my understandings about the learning settings were confined to different characteristics of formal and informal educations. However, after reading elaborate descriptions of formal, informal, and non-formal education characteristics in the chapter, I developed detail understanding of different components of these types of educational system.
In educational system, I also had an understandings about the co-existence of artificial and non-artificial components, for instance, there are computers, learning materials, artefacts, learners, educators, administrators etc. However, my understandings related to the interactional influences of these components on each other grew at extend. One hand I learned the possibilities of educators' professional development through building communities mediated by technology. That could be initiated by educators themselves and not always by school district authorities. As, Dr. Alain Breuleux explained in his presentation that using computer as a platform how educators could able to build network of communities to develop themselves professionally in formal, informal, and non-formal learning settings (A. Breuleux, personal communication, September 14, 2010).
In other hand Bateman, Taylor, Janik, and Logan (2009) explained in 'research on curriculum coherence and student success at the CEGEP education system' that administrators and educators through collaborative group work could develop internal professional development system without any computer mediated external support. This helps me to understand different aspects of communities of learners approach and its unique contributions toward learning.
Collaborative group works not only help educators to enrich their knowledge but also helping students to engage in meaningful learning. This basic understanding of collaborative work has been enhanced after listening to Mark Aulls discussion about how educators could develop different situations in learning environment to comfort students to feel free to share their understanding and influence on each other's learnings (M. Aulls, personal communication, September 21, 2010).
Having comfortable environment in our class room while I was reading, listening, observing presenter's presentation, and discussing with other classmates I became interested to understand the methodologies that researchers were using in their studies. Initially, I had an understanding that researchers apply existing theories from different sciences for instance, psychology, computer science etc. to justify the applicability of that theory into learning environment. In my view researchers were using qualitative, quantitative, or both qualitative-quantitative methods (mixed method) to justify the reliability of the existing theory in learning environment. While observing researchers' studies, I realized that each researcher was following a common pattern in their studies. Researchers were connecting three basic components while designing their research studies.
During designing research study, researchers were identifying existing teaching and learning problems in educational system, considering relevant existing theories, and designing strategies to intervene the existing problems. For instance, Roger Azevedo addressed that learners, learn subject matters without always regulating their learning that are important for deeper understanding (R. Azevedo, personal communication, November 23, 2010). He designed Meta tutor strategy to help learners develop effective self-regulating learning strategies as a scaffolding manner. Also, Nathen Hall recognized that transition from high school to university learning format influence students' academic performance (N. Halls, personal communication, November 9, 2010). He designed Attributional retraining to intervene students' motivation in learning to influence their academic performance. Similarly, Alenoush Saroyan addressed the needed skills of pedagogical expertise along with the domain expertise and designed workshop based intervention to guide professors to better articulate and transform their domain expertise (A. Saroyan, personal communication, November 2, 2010). This research pattern of addressing and solving practical problems in learning by designing interventions through integrating different theories, methods, and procedures was obvious in all researchers' studies.
I realized that in this designed-based research processes, researchers were using a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed method research approach to analyze the impact of the intervention that they designed for improvement of education. Researchers utilized this qualitative, quantitative or mixed method to establish the reliability, validity, and applicability of their findings into educational processes. I believe that through these processes of understanding leading me to develop more heuristic view of the Learning sciences. Whereas, before attending this course I had a fragmented understanding of learning sciences.
Apart from my development of understanding different concepts of learning sciences, I was amazed to see the applicability of learning sciences concepts in the field of philosophy, engineering, medical, sociology etc. Researchers in different fields tied their research design to improve education by justifying the applicability of their proposed strategies. Researcher also opened new path for further experiments by sharing the limitations of their findings and methods. This entire experience of this course will greatly guide me to prepare my research design in future. I will be more precise to select the area of my research and before starting any of the application processes I will spend more time to establish the detail ground work for my research. That is I will analyze available all theoretical aspects linked to the research question of my interest prior developing any design based strategy.
In conclusion I would like to mention that I really enjoyed the experiences of this class. Especially I would like to thank our instructor to bring the idea of developing concept map that tremendously help me to develop a profound idea on the Learning sciences.