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Reading Critique: How People Learn - Chapter 6

                This chapter was very interesting in tackling four concepts which I will explain in moderate detail to tackle the idea of learning and the effect the environment can have on that. The first type of environment (and it is often noted that none of these environments is exclusive of the others) is learner centered. In this environment it is important to recognize where the student is coming from. This is not strictly cultural, but also involves previous learned knowledge from past grades, and any other factors outside of the classroom which contribute to his/her experiences. This idea has been proven to be significant with experiments asking students to relate home experiences to their current work, and it thereby improving test performance on reading. While focusing on the environment may be essential, it is very difficult to determine what is stored as experiences. To narrow that down, knowledge – centered environments (the second concept) focuses on the knowledge that you have previously learned that is specific to what you are going to learn. This methodology allows the learner to engage in assimilation and connect his preconceived thoughts with what he desires to learn. The presented analogy of learning the landscape reminds me a lot about the general field of Computer Science. I would argue that given the existing technology, CS is becoming a lot more about learning how to access sources and install different libraries than the theoretical knowledge behind CS concepts. So, how can you measure this? This leads us to the well known problem of standardized tests in the United States which I will refrain from covering extensively. In short, we should not teach to memorization and assessment of exams, but rather to the learning and understanding of the concepts that are being taught.
                The concept of feedback and its implications on education are, to say the least, complex to understand. Researchers have indicative scientific evidence that demonstrates that feedback does in fact positively influence learning (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). However, this knowledge in education is applied much less than one would think. On a personal level, I feel that my education has taught me that throughout the years feedback will be important, but that as you go from Middle to High school to college, this feedback will diminish as you become more independent. However, approximately 17 years ago researchers Robert Barr and John Tagg published an article on the future of undergraduate education, and the movement from instruction to learning (Barr & Tagg, 1995). This comes to me as a shock because many of the courses at Georgia Tech strikingly resemble instruction, and not learning. The main idea that comes to mind with Georgia Tech’s education for better or worse seems to be survival. Students may joke about it, but can subtle details in our own learning environment truly impact the learning, or lack thereof, of others? The idea of failing students and subsequently curving classes simply highlights some of the flaws in feedback that many professors infamously do. This suggests that the general teaching scheme which all Georgia Tech professors use should be more uniform and tailored to learning, to enhance the quality of education in the institution. Maybe then will we go from instruction, to learning? I hope so.

Works Cited

Barr, R. B., & Tagg, J. (1995). A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 27(6), 13-25.
Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006, April). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218.


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left it as a draft, came back, its ready.

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Understand that truth
will tear down that wall.

Detail with actions
Step over those who detail
For substance is rare
But taking down the producer
That's the norm in this hell.