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DISCUSSION FORUM: COGNITIVE LEARNING PROCESSES PART II

In efforts to promote healthy human development, one tends only to focus on the impact that learning and cognitive processes have on students. However, it is important to recognize that in this process, classroom facilitators are immersed in a cognitive process that requires the use of effective problem solving and reasoning skills. Schunk refers to reasoning as a mental process involved in generating and evaluating logical arguments. For Schunk (2012), reasoning yields a conclusion from thoughts, percepts, and assertions and involves working through problems to explain why something happened or what will happen (p. 311). As I observe, analyze and evaluate my students behaviors, I find myself in a continuous process of clarification. Presenting new material can be challenging for some students but overwhelming to others. Consequently, at the beginning of each class session I write on the board the main topics to be covered in the class period and how these topics relate to the material that has been previously explained and rehearsed. Every semester, I deal with a group of students whose learning and social functioning cover a wide spectrum. Although I have a curriculum to follow for each class I teach, every semester I have to add a new twist to my teaching style as a means of accommodating my students needs (basis). Throughout my years of teaching experience, I have come to the conclusion that students that take classes during the spring are more demanding and challenging than those who take classes during the summer and fall semesters. During the spring semester drop-out rates tend to increase compared to the other two terms of an academic year. Students who take classes during the summer semester work more diligently than students taking classes during the spring and fall. Summer students are either ready to graduate or willing to work ahead of the game as they pursue different academic goals. Fall students tend to have a better attitude, more motivation, and a clear understanding of what self-efficacy means. I developed these general rules by extracting similarities and differences among specific objects and events

for the last four years inductive reasoning (Schunk, 2012). The process of reasoning is not complete if, as stated by Schunk (2012), one cannot formulate hypotheses about future events assuming that ones problem solving is correct so far (evaluation) (p. 315). In finding my connection with the Educational Psychology field, I have come to understand that students cannot learn unless they believe they are capable of learning. Many community college students have not had the kind of educational experiences and support necessary to develop their intellectual capabilities. As an instructor, I believe it is my responsibility t o nurture a students intellect and belief in his or her academic abilities and capabilities. So regardless of students perceptions and motivations towards school, I cannot assume that from now on all my students will exhibit the same patterns of behavior. Instead, I need to use metacognitive processes in a way that, during my hours of instruction, learners monitor their efforts to ensure that questions are properly posed, that data from adequate sources are available and used to draw inferences, and that relevant criteria are employed in evaluation (Schunk, 2012). My goal of instruction is to help students understand the essence of the learning not the methodology behind this lifelong process. But, how can the essence of learning be taught in a way that facilitates the use of skills previously learned in a new/different way (transfer)? Taking into consideration Schunks ideas, one can facilitate transfer by: Teaching learning strategies: as a classroom facilitator, I design my plans by taking into consideration the following proverb: if you give a person a fish, he eats for a day. But, if you teach a person to fish, he eats for a lifetime. I try to help my students be as independent as possible by connecting them to their resources. Using discovery learning: Schunk (2012) asserts that discovery learning often facilitates

transfer and problem solving better than expository teaching (p. 316). Discovery learning is a strategy that facilitates the development of inductive and deductive reasoning.

Maintaining a positive psychological climate: while facilitating the process of change for students, it is important that classrooms facilitators minimize excessive anxiety as a means of creating a sound sense of self-efficacy among students for improving their skills (Schunk, 2012).

References: Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

INSTRUCTIONAL APPLICATIONS USING COGNITIVE LEARNING PROCESSES For this particular discussion forum, I have decided to share with you the key learning features of computer-based learning environments and distance learning as I develop a proposal for an online course that I am planning to teach for the upcoming fall semester. In todays global era, it seems like students can experience simulations of environment and events that they never could in regular classes, receive instruction from and communicate with others over long distances, and interact with large knowledge bases and expert tutoring systems (Schunk, 2012). In accordance with Schunks views, technology, particularly online learning environments, should be seen as: A tool to support knowledge construction: computer-based learning environments allow students to construct most of their own learning given a set of instructions. By doing so, students have the opportunity to create and develop their own problem solving skills that are later shared with the rest of the online learners. From a personal standpoint, online environments ignite creativity as students do not have to react on the spot when a particular question is asked asynchronous instruction. Information vehicle for exploring knowledge to support learning by constructing: the Internet allows instructors to sort through all kinds of resources (simulations, games, multimedia, and hypermedia) that can be added to the online learning environment as a means of enhancing the content being delivered online. Context to support learning by doing: discussion boards are a great feature contained in online learning environments. Students are encouraged to post questions to other classmates and instructors as a means of demonstrating mastery of a particular skill.

Students learn from classmates responses as well as instructor feedback and advice. WIKIS and Blogs are part of a new technological strategy that is governing most online learning. Schunk states that when verbal and visual [] information are combined during instruction, students benefit from dual coding. The simultaneous presentation helps learners form connections between words and pictures because they are in WM at the same time (Schunk, p. 327, 2012). I see the use of multimedia as an opportunity for learners to perceive information from two or more sources which can be seen as a form of positive reinforcement. Social medium to support learning by conversing: building an online learning community is a clear example of how technology can connect people outside a traditional classroom setting, and how it serves as an intellectual partner to support learning by reflecting. Schunk (2012) explains that distance education may be more effective with asynchronous learning (p. 329). Lepper and Malone (1987) noted that computers can focus attention on the task through motivational enhancements (Schunk, 2012). Last but not least, Schunk predicts that as the convenience of technology continues to improve, we may see a gradual moving away from traditional instruction and toward a model containing fewer class meetings and more electronic communications (Schunk, p. 331, 2012). Schunk notes that technological advances will continue to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, and assistive technology should become more common. My goal of instruction for the online class that I am planning to teach will incorporate some of the Principles of Universal Design. Universal Design is a new trend that is governing most educational institutions in terms of accessibility. This new trend complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act

which requires the provision of academic accommodations to all individuals with documented disabilities. Below is a brief description of the seven principles if UDL and some examples that apply to my proposal: 1. Equitable Use: the design of a course is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. For example, alternative course information is provided instead of graphics for users who are blind, or whose learning style is verbally oriented. 2. Flexibility in Use: the design of a course accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. For example, students can choose from various methods to demonstrate their mastery of content discussion boards, presentations through VoiceThread. 3. Simple and Intuitive Use: the design of a course is easy to understand, regardless of the users experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level. For example, large blocks of text are broken into smaller paragraphs, with headings and bulleted and numbered lists. 4. Perceptible Information: the design of a course communicates information effectively to the user regardless of ambient conditions or the users sensory abilities. For example, videos are captioned. 5. Tolerance for Error: the design of a course minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. For example, numbered lists are provided for step-by-step procedures.

6. Low Physical Effort: the design of a course can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue. unit are located in one place. 7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of the users body size, posture, or mobility. For example, controls for videos and audio content are made available to students.
Information adapted from Academic Impressions: Improving Accessibility Through 7 Principles of Universal Design.

For example, all required readings and activities for a given

As a final note, Schunk (2012) concludes that technology can enhance learning. [] For him, no instructional medium is consistently superior to others, regardless of the content, learners, or setting. Technology is not a cause of learning: rather, it is a means for applying principles of effective instruction and learning (Schunk, p. 330, 2012).

References: Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

SAMPLE RESPONSES TO DISCUSSION POST Naomi, Good ideas. Schunk (2012) states that teachers may need to provide students with explicit motivational feedback that links strategy use with improved performance and provides information about how the strategy will prove useful in that setting. Studies show that such motivational feedback enhances strategy use, academic performance, and self-efficacy for performing well (Schunk, p. 323, 2012). Role playing and simulation strategies are excellent tools for allowing students to use problem solving skills given a particular scenario. Successful performance of task will prompt the classroom facilitator to provide students with positive feedback. On the contrary, when the action performed does not yield the desired results, the classroom facilitator intervenes and models the action as it needs to be performed. Pursuing this further, simulations involve insight or the sudden awareness of a likely solution given that participants require time for: Preparation: what is the problem that needs immediate attention? What caused it? Incubation: do I need inductive or deductive reasoning to solve the problem? What resources do I need/will I need to arrive at a possible solution? Illumination: based on a particular type of reasoning, I need A, B, and C as the main resources for solving the problem. Verification: this phase is related to the trial and error strategy as one uses a particular type of reasoning and available resources to solve the problem.

This explanation correlates with your idea of simulations being more effective than regular teaching at stimulating deep cognitive processing (pg. 326) and also increases an individuals ability to build memory networks (pg. 326).

References: Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.