USING WHAT WE KNOW: APPLYING DEVELOPMENTAL STRATEGIES TO HELP STUDENTS ACHIEVE LEARNING OUTCOMES Patricia M. King Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education University of Michigan Tensions underlying Learning Outcomes “We seek understanding for the pleasure and confidence it brings, and we seek puzzlement for selfconscious ignorance for the mental itching and scratching it engenders. We want students who will leave our institutions deeply committed to values and civic and moral responsibility; yet we must never forget that they must also be committed to skepticism and doubt. We foster the transformation of thought into action, but we also strive to educate for delay, selfcriticism, and reflection.” (Lee Shulman, 2002) Concerns about Student Learning Popular press: Many reports of “underachieving” or “failing colleges” or of students being “academically adrift” Employer reports of widespread dissatisfaction with students’ skills in critical thinking, ability to solve complex problems, and collaborate with others in diverse group settings (e.g., AACU, 2010). More Concerns about Student Learning Most studies of student development have shown that very few college students (and college educated adults) achieve highest level of development consistent with college missions. In light of these concerns, our work is cut out for us. Luckily, we have resources to tap here. Intentionally Promoting Learning Outcomes: Factors to Consider Today Four Interrelated Factors 1. Goals for Student Learning 2. Student Characteristics 3. Principles of Student Development 4. Creative Implementation (class/program, department/functional area, campus wide) Three Interrelated Levels of Focus Institutional Culture Program or Course Initiatives 1 on 1 Interactions Helping Students Achieve Learning Outcomes 1) Be clear about the learning goals of your program. 2) Know your students; what are their current skills (cognitive, emotional, relational)? These two ideas anchor the two ends of the bridge of your journey together. 3) Add knowledge of student development 4) Map out this journey. 5) Hang on for the ride! Learning goals-3 levels Institutional: mission, specific campus-wide initiatives Programmatic: general education, by major, by focus (leadership, intergroup relations, career, etc.) Individual: student-specific, often embedded within programmatic or institutional goals 1) Identify Your Learning Goals What aspect of development do you wish to promote? What skills are particularly important at this time? Are there key features (e.g., opportunities, constraints) that may affect these goals? Example: promote reflective thinking Why is this important at this time? Are there specific concerns that you wish to address? 21st Century Essential Outcomes Knowledge of Human Cultures & the Physical and Natural World Intellectual and Practical Skills: Inquiry & analysis, critical & creative thinking, communication, information literacy, teamwork, & problem solving Personal and Social Responsibility: civic knowledge & engagement, intercultural competence, ethical reasoning & action, skills for lifelong learning Integrative Learning: synthesis, application of knowledge, skills, and responsibilities to new settings and complex problems American Associations of Colleges and Universities LEAP Project, www.aacu.org/leap/vision.cfm Capacities Underlying Learning Outcomes See knowledge as contextual and constructed; apply complex reasoning skills to judgment making Have an internally generated identity and sense of self that regulates experiences and choices (e.g., to apply one’s values in deciding how to act) Have the capacity to engage in authentic, interdependent relations with diverse others Mature capacities of self-authorship and other lifespan & college student development theories Without Mature Capacities, … …students report feeling overwhelmed in situations that require Making an independent judgment, taking a stand, voicing an unpopular opinion; Taking responsibility despite extenuating circumstances Navigating life’s complexities (e.g., disciplinary, social) that can’t be reduced to dichotomies. 2) Know Your Students Gifted in math, geography, dance, science, languages Remarkably aware and worldly Remarkably naïve and self-absorbed Remarkably compassionate Remarkably mean spirited --And everything in between… Regardless, it is important to know where they are coming from, and accept them “where they are.” Be aware of their developmental capacities What are their cognitive capacities (critical thinking, complex reasoning, seeing subtleties and nuances) ? What are their interpersonal skills (empathy, understanding of others, balancing individual and community goals)? How do they define themselves (clarity of values, social identities [gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation], sense of purpose)? Learn How Students Make Judgments How would you characterizes their problem solving? How well do they already engage in reflective thinking? On what do they base their judgments currently? How do they reconcile differing opinions/conclusions? What are common frameworks for interpreting data used by students with whom you work? Development and Schemas Schemas are known as frames of reference, meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mind-sets. They are powerful because They work implicitly, in the background, so are not typically scrutinized or evaluated They generate beliefs and guide actions At the heart of development is examining and changing one’s schemas about the world & oneself Schemas Develop The process by which we transform our taken-forgranted frames of reference…to make them More inclusive, Discriminating, Open, Emotionally capable of change, and Reflective So that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide actions. Mezirow (2000), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 7-8 ). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Well- and Ill-Structured Problems Well-Structured Ill–Structured Can be described with a high degree of completeness Can be solved with a high degree of certainty Cannot be described with a high degree of completeness Cannot be solved with a high degree of certainty Experts usually agree on the Experts often disagree about the correct solution best solution, even when the problem can be considered solved Goal: Learn to reason to correct solutions Learn to construct and defend reasonable solutions RJ Levels-Views of Knowledge Early-Prereflective: Knowledge exists absolutely and concretely Middle-Quasi-Reflective: Knowledge is uncertain and idiosyncratic to the knower Advanced-Reflective: Knowledge is the outcome of a process of reasonable inquiry RJ Levels-How to Justify Beliefs Early: Observe phenomenon yourself or ask an authority figure Middle: Gather evidence and arguments; choice is idiosyncratic to knower (e.g., choose evidence that fits a belief) Advanced: What is most compelling based on evidence from variety of considerations (e.g., most complete, reasonable, plausible) Basis for Beliefs-Early Levels Point of View #1 Point of View #2 How I was raised You were raised differently How I was taught How you were taught What I want to believe What you want to believe What I take as evidence What you take as evidence Assumes one is right and one is wrong. No explicit criteria for judging this Patricia M. King, U of Michigan Basis for Beliefs-Middle Levels Point of View #1 ------------------ Point of View #2 Take perspectives into account, allow them to be examined See that both perspectives reflect assumptions, are based on evidence See both as valid, begin to examine strength of evidence Patricia M. King, U of Michigan Basis for Beliefs–Advanced Levels Think of each box as clusters of evidence; Sort strong and weak evidence/arguments; see how they fit together to construct an argument. Patricia M. King, U of Michigan “You’ve got to want to connect the dots, Mr. Michaelson.” Assessing Student Characteristics Formal: Institutional Studies (CIRP, NSSE, Wabash National Study); systematic records of drop out and transfer, disciplinary infractions, academic integrity queries, basis for roommate change requests, participation rates in service learning & other high impact practices, etc. Informal: Listen to students, ask about their views, how their views have changed over time, decisions they are facing; reasoning used in course assignments Assessing RJ Concepts Do students acknowledge the basis for multiple points of view about controversial issues? Rely on authorities, peers, evidence? Can they articulate more nuanced differences (e.g., racist vs. race-conscious) See themselves as learners who construct their beliefs? Listening for Reasoning, Meaning People convey making changes in their meaning making through comments such as, “I don’t think of it that way anymore” and “I never thought I’d be saying this, but…” “I was really uncomfortable and knew I had to do something.” When these changes are developmentally adaptive, they result in “transformative learning.” Linking Goals and Student Characteristics: Building Developmental Bridges 3) Apply Knowledge of Student Devt In light of both goals and student characteristics: Identify consistencies and discrepancies between learning goals and learner capacities Balance level of challenge with level of support (Sanford) Use developmental sequencing to outline the “curriculum” of the journey AACU’s VALUE Rubrics Promote authentic assessment of student work and campus-wide shared understanding of student learning outcomes VALUE: Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (www.aacu.org/value) 15 rubrics created by teams of faculty and academic professionals on campuses Problem Solving Rubric Identify strategies Propose solutions/hypotheses Evaluate potential solutions Implement solution Evaluate outcomes Each component is defined by 4 levels: benchmark 2 milestones capstone Proposes a solution/hypothesis that… Benchmark: is difficult to evaluate because it is vague or only indirectly addresses the problem Milestone: 1) is “off the shelf” rather than individually designed to address specific contextual factors; 2) indicates comprehension; is sensitive to one other dimension (ethical, logical, OR cultural) Capstone: indicates a deep comprehension of the problem; is sensitive to contextual factors; is sensitive to ethical, logical, AND cultural dimensions of the problem Teamwork Rubric Contributes to team meetings Facilitates the contributions of team members Individual contributions outside of team meetings Fosters constructive team climate Responds to conflict Facilitates the Contributions of Team Members: Engages team members by... Benchmark: …taking turns and listening to others without interruption Milestones: 1)…restating views of others; 2)...building upon, synthesizing contributions of others Capstone: …constructively building upon or synthesizing the contributions of others, noticing when someone is not participating, inviting them to engage. Encouraging Reflective Thinking Be explicit about expectations for achieving learning outcomes Provide many opportunities for students to examine the basis for own & others’ views Help them discern their underlying assumptions and schemas Give feedback to help them see how close they are to a “capstone” level Encourage Reflective Thinking Create climates where it is safe for students to explore options and take risks as they explore and construct responses Explore the basis for different beliefs Encourage them to articulate their ideas and conclusions, however tentatively Give options that encourage exploration Encourage Complex Reflections 1) Simple Prompt: Which do you prefer? (That’s all.) 2) More Complex, Multidimensional Prompts What evidence does each person/approach offer? Which facts are central to the argument? Which are supplemental? Which are irrelevant? Where are the “holes” in the each argument? Taking each approach as a whole, how strong is it? Compare the weight of the evidence for each; which is stronger? [What are good criteria for “strong”?] Encourage Complex Reflections -2 3) Integrative Prompts How did your analysis affect your conclusion? How could you use this kind of analysis when making decisions in other contexts? What will you take away from your involvement in this activity that you could apply elsewhere? How will you apply what you learned this year to your plans for next year? Encourage Reflective Thinking Offer many opportunities to talk about meaning and interpretation (“What do you think?” “What did you make of that?”) Validate that their ideas are important by giving space and time for this. Ask how their experiences affected them (how they think and react). Offer progressively challenging tasks, with appropriate support to succeed at them. Encourage Reflective Thinking Promote a campus culture of reflection Where do opportunities for reflection build upon and reinforce each other? How does what you learned in that class contribute to your understanding of your major? How will your experiences this year affect your goals for next year? Scaffold deeper reflection through e-portfolios, rubrics, course projects, volunteering, internships, etc. Baxter Magolda, M. B. & King, P. M. (2008). Toward reflective conversations: Promoting selfauthorship through advising. Peer Review, 10 (1) 8-11. Promote Development! “Comfort the disturbed; disturb the comfortable.” “We do not make transformative changes in the way we learn as long as what we learn fits comfortably in our existing frames of reference.” Mezirow (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. In New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, 5-12.