About learning a report by Demos study group

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Why is this project needed?[edit]

If the Wikiverstiy is to succeed then it will need to develop effective methods of learning. This project will help identify some of these methods.

What is this project about?[edit]

This project will look at the implications for Wikiversity of "About learning" a report from Demos (a rightwing British think tank). This report looks at how English and Welsh secondary school pupils could benefit from learning to learn projects involving teachers working with cognitive scientists to make the most of the latest advances in research and practice.

Who is this project for?[edit]

This project is for anyone who is interested in how to improve learning.

Active participants[edit]

Mystictim 20:39, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

When will this project take place?[edit]

The initial phase of this project will be conducted during January 2007.

How will this project be conducted?[edit]

If you would like to take part in this project please download the document About learning. The main strand of this project will be a critical reading of this document.

Resources[edit]

Related learning projects[edit]

Learning to learn a wiki way

Websites[edit]

Documents[edit]

About learning

Project Outcomes[edit]

Summary of the About learning report[edit]

There are 9 sections to this report.

The challenge: making students more effective at learning[edit]

Begins with a plea for teachers and cognitive scientists to work together to improve the practice of teaching and learning.

Then makes the claim that if the learning skills and attitudes children develop at home are enhanced by their school experience they will tend to succeed were as if this doesn't happen then they will end up paying a personal and social price resulting in disadvantage.

Then claims that no formal system exists to help teachers develop and use an explicit, elaborate and expert view of learning.

Goes on to say that cognitive and social scientists can provide a framework for this as seen in such publications as How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school.

However goes on to say teachers have been exposed to various psychological models of learning and have divergent class room experiences. This has lead to a lack of a common vocabulary to develop and share knowledge about learning with their peers and students. This has lead to a range of teaching methods being used in a rather arbitrary manner.

The report then says that time is right for teachers, educationists and cognitive scientists to come together to improve this situation.

The report claims this has already begun with a strong emphasis on learning to learn.

Finally ends session on a cautionary note in that not all of these schemes for improving learning have a strong evidence base.

Is it possible to learn how to learn?[edit]

Difficulty with a common sense view of learning and a confusion of terms used to mean the same thing and the same terms used to mean different things in the literature on this subject.

Then quotes from of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme’s Learning How to Learn Project

"learning to learn is not a single entity or skill, but a family of learning practices that enhance one's capacity to learn."


The evidence for recent developments[edit]

Two types of evidence, scientific research and practice based. "It is when the two kinds of evidence are mutually supportive that the evidence base for a practice is most powerful" Then gives two examples Assessment for learning and Cognitive acceleration along with a more eclectic approach from Profesor Guy Claxton.

Then lists the 5 Rs developed by Claxton with The Campaign for learning

  • Remembering - the ability to recall
  • Resilience - the habit of persisting with difficulty
  • Resourcefulness - the ability to deploy a variety of learning strategies
  • Reflection - the disposition to think about one's own learning and about oneself as a developing learner
  • Reciprocity or sociability - the ability to learn well in the company of others

A second Claxton formulation the seven dimensions of learning power from the Lifelong Learning Foundation is then given

  • Changing and learning - a sense that I can change and continue to learn
  • Critical curiosity - getting below the surface, asking questions
  • Meaning making - making a bigger picture by fitting information together
  • Creativity - finding new ways to approach information and situations
  • Resilience - being able to resist distraction from inside and outside and to tolerate the feelings of learning
  • Strategic awareness - planning, resourcing and using learning preferences to complete a task
  • Learning relationships - being able to work alone and in collaboration.

Then goes on to warn about commercial schemes that have little scientific or practice evidence to support their claims.

Gives example of various learning styles approaches currently very popular. However limited evidence either scientifically or from class room practice to support their claims.

Then says that the best practitioners use learning styles to expand the variety of leaning activities and encourage learners to explore a range of approaches to learning that vary from situation to situation and individual to individual. However learning styles often end up being seen as fix innate attributes of learners. This leads tutors to target specific types of learning activities at given individuals limiting their learning strategies.

Then points out that as a growing need to personalise learning and learning styles could be a useful tool if there was evidence to show that they are in fact effective. This needs to come from both the scientific community and practice based evidence.

What we know: the evidence from science[edit]

This section draws mainly on How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school has to say on learner-centred, knowledge-centred, assessment-centred and community-centred learning environments.

Learner-centred learning environments accepts that learners already have a wealth of knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs that they bring to any learning situation. They will rely on these as the starting position for any new learning. If the tutor is starting from a very different position then learning will become difficult and ineffective. Knowledge-centred environments


What we know: the evidence from professional practice[edit]

Independent learners: a priority[edit]

Improving the evidence base through development and research[edit]

A shared language for learning[edit]

A proposal for progress in learning[edit]