This paper reflects on teaching model presentations given as part of the current graduate studies course. This paper provides a critique and analysis of social models of teaching as presented by the author and his team-mates, with a discussion of the lesson plan, strategies, and lesson effectiveness. Critiques, analyses, and comparisons are made of teaching model presentations by other in-class teams. The teaching models presented by the other teams were information processing models, personal models, and behavioural models.
Social Models of Teaching
A lesson in confronting intolerance
The social models of teaching were presented by the author and his team-mates. The models presented were group investigation (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 31-55) and role playing (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 57-75). These were presented alongside conceptual systems theory as a framework (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 97-108). The presentation was in the form of a lesson aimed at confronting intolerance in the classroom.
The group investigation model encourages social interaction between learners for the benefit of their learning (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 16). Social engagement increases both cognitive and social development (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 33-34). Research has shown that in most cases the group investigation model is preferable to competitive or individualistic structures (D. W. Johnson & R. T. Johnson, 1974). This model is most effective with proper planning and clear goals (Horn, Collier, Oxford, Bond, & Dansereau, 1998, p. 160; D. W. Johnson & R. T. Johnson, 1981).
The role play model allows learners to interact with others in enactments of real or hypothetical social situations (Cabral, 1987, p. 470). Learners may take on roles with which they are unfamiliar, thereby challenging their own values, beliefs, and attitudes (Allen & White, 1980, p. 35; Shaftel, 1970, p. 558). This allows the learners to develop empathy, their social skills, and their problem-solving skills (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 16).
Conceptual systems theory acknowledges that learners experience their learning environments in different ways and relates the structure of the learning environment to each learner’s level of integrative complexity (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 27). It applies an interactionist model to pair learners with an appropriate level of learning structure (Holloway & Wampold, 1986, p. 310; Hunt, 1970, p. 69). A greater level of structure is appropriate for more rigid learners while more ambiguity is appropriate for more adaptive learners (Isaacson & Williams, 1984, p. 4). Although learner discomfort is acknowledged, learners should be placed in learning environments that may be slightly above their conceptual level in order to stimulate their development (Joyce, 1984, p. 27).
Lesson planning and strategies
The lesson topic, confronting intolerance in the classroom, was selected to take advantage of the social interaction elements of the social teaching models, especially to develop empathy (Fletcher & Russell, 2001, p. 37). The topic included diverse perspectives that could be brought into group investigation. It presented the opportunity for casting roles for a role play activity. The sensitive nature of the subject matter could challenge values and beliefs, a feature of the role play model (Shaftel, 1970, pp. 557-558). A social issues topic is well-suited to social models of teaching (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 16). The topic also presented an opportunity to cast several different learning environment structures for the purpose of the conceptual systems theory framework.
The author’s team considered the amount of time that would be required for the lesson. In particular, the role play model requires an adequate amount of time to repeat the enactments (Cabral, 1987, p. 479). However, in the interests of time, the role play activity was truncated to a single, brief enactment.
As a brief focusing event, a video (Wanda Sykes Says Don’t Say “That’s So Gay”, 2008) was selected for several reasons. It would quickly establish the conflict situation under study. It would also be an effective means to engage learners in the given topic (Fletcher & Russell, 2001, p. 37).
The sequence of activities was considered. The activities were arranged so that learners would have an opportunity to prepare their thoughts and ideas in the more controlled structure of group investigation. Later, learners would participate in the more spontaneous role play activity for which the group investigation would have prepared them.
The use of group investigation was effective partly because it was a model familiar to the learners. Directions from the presenters, therefore, could focus on the subject matter instead of the mechanics of the activity. A variation of group investigation – referred to as jigsaw – allowed for continuity of the group activity from specialized expert groups to dyadic pairs (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 38).
The role play activity was effective insofar as perceptions and attitudes appeared to be challenged. The activity would become more effective with repeated practice by the learners, as recommended by the literature (Donahue & Parsons, 1982, pp. 361-362; Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 67; Shaftel, 1970). Additional time for preparation, discussion, and reflection would have benefited the learning.
Conceptual systems theory was introduced through the selection of the given topic, the modes of interaction, and the change of activity venues. These considerations allowed for varying degrees of structure. Ongoing assessments of the learners through observation would allow facilitators to more closely pair the learning environment to the learners’ individual conceptual levels.
In this demonstration, the learning was socially constructed (Svinicki, 1999, p. 13; Taylor, 1986, p. 56). Therefore, the participation of the learners was key in contributing to the learning. The presenters’ roles were modulated to that of facilitators who guided the learners into and through the learning contexts.
The context of the demonstration did not allow adequate time to fully elaborate on the role play model. The sequence of the activities mitigated this to some degree. Additional time for group investigation and role playing activities could have facilitated greater learning. The accelerated form of the demonstration also limited the selection of role play participants.
The non-directive teaching model shared some similarities with the social models of teaching. In social models and in the non-directive model, the learners are largely self-directed. The difference is that the non-directive model emphasizes independent study, while the social models require social interactions to be effective (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 14-16, 21).
The social teaching models appeal to the personal philosophies of the author. These incorporate social values such as dignity and respect for oneself and for others. These values are congruent with the goals of the social models (Cabral, 1987; Shaftel, 1970).
Although the social models may be difficult to incorporate into most of the subject matter in which the author is an instructor, he recognizes that the cognitive and creative demands of the subject matter has a tendency to isolate the learners. Social models present a means for the social development of the learners in his classrooms.
Information Processing Models of Teaching
Information processing models of teaching (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 17-20) were presented in two demonstrations. The first demonstration provided a poetry lesson featuring “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. The second demonstration made use of an ice cream dessert for a lesson focused on language training and creativity.
In the poetry lesson, the teaching models presented were inductive thinking (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 127-141), advance organizers (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 247-260), and memorization (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 191-214).
Research by Hilda Taba suggested that learners benefit less “from mastering information preprocessed by other people” than by “mastering the systematic intellectual skills of processing the information themselves” (1966, p. 220). The inductive thinking model encourages learners “to find and organize information and to create and test hypotheses describing relationships among sets of data” (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 18).
In the demonstration lesson, the inductive thinking model allowed learners to study and explore the learning materials in order to make their own knowledge connections. To better implement an inductive thinking approach, learners could be given additional means to identify the systematization that had taken place. This is a process that may not be immediately clear to the learners and may require guidance from the instructor. Additional resources would also have provided the materials through which new information could be found.
Research by Ausubel has shown that learning can be facilitated through advance introduction of concepts in the form of conceptual organizers (1960, p. 271).
The organizers that were provided in the demonstration would likely have fit the advance organizer model more closely had they illustrated the organization of the subject matter. As provided, they required the learner to organize for themselves the information into various categories. Advance organizers provide a conceptual guide to the learning that would be taking place.
Mnemonics are memorization strategies (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 19) that make use of devices or procedures for correlating subject matter to simple, easily recallable patterns (Pressley, Levin, & Delaney, 1982, p. 61). Such correlations can be acoustic, visual, or any other appropriate form (Atkinson, 1975, p. 821). These links allow for easy recall valuable in early stages of learning (Atkinson, 1975, p. 827).
In the demonstration, several mnemonic devices were presented, such as rhyming schemes and loci-and-peg systems. These allowed the learners to experiment with techniques that would be most suitable to the individual and to the learning task.
Of these models, the advance organizers and inductive thinking models may be applicable to the author’s own teaching. Advance organizers can provide a means to visualize abstract technical concepts before they are explored in detail. The inductive thinking model would allow learners to generate correlations among the concepts that they may wish to explore further.
For this lesson topic, the group investigation model could provide a social learning support for what would eventually culminate in the public performance of the poem. The mastery learning model could acknowledge individual learner aptitudes and extend adequate resources to support learning (Bloom, 1968).
Invented words lesson
The second demonstration of the information processing teaching models presented the picture-word inductive model (Calhoun, Poirier, Simon, & Mueller, 2001) and synectics (Joyce & Weil, 2000).
The picture-word inductive model (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 392-395) prescribes a process through which images are used to develop picture-word dictionaries. Then, through categorization and elaboration, learners can develop new vocabularies. This model takes advantage of learners’ existing vocabularies in order to develop new ones (Calhoun et al., 2001, p. 4).
The synectics teaching model is designed to promote creativity through the use of divergent then convergent thinking approaches (Haas, 1978, pp. 141, 148). This provides learners a means to “overcome mental blocks” (Hummell, 2006, p. 22) and to spur creativity and develop new perspectives (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 20).
This demonstration first had the learners invent new words for the ingredients of an ice cream dessert. The learners then practised the new vocabulary in a teamwork exercise that placed members of the team into uncomfortable situations.
The lesson was effective in that learners quickly internalized the new, invented vocabularies. The learners benefited from a teamwork activity that immersed them in the interaction with the new vocabulary. The synectics process appears valuable and additional attention on the prescribed steps would likely have benefited the learning process (Land, 1995, p. 55).
In this demonstration, the group investigation model was incorporated to support of the learning process. It is not an inherent component of the picture-word inductive model, nor of the synectics model. However, combining teaching models in this fashion has been shown to dramatically increase educational success (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 35).
Aspects of the synectics model may be valuable to the author’s teaching subject areas. The synectics model provides a clear process that can be used to foster creativity (Haas, 1978).
Personal Models of Teaching
Personal nutrition lesson
The personal model that was presented was non-directive teaching (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 285-299), in conjunction with a framework supporting positive self-concepts, self-actualization, and personal growth (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 301-311).
Non-directive teaching casts the instructor as counsellor, allowing the learner to play a greater role in directing their own learning. The relationship between instructor and learner is more of a partnership, where the instructor may guide the learner in independent study (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 21).
Educational success relies in part on positive self-concepts. At the same time, positive self-concepts can affect learning through the process of self-actualization. Instructors play a role in enhancing self-esteem in order to encourage educational development (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 301-311).
In this demonstration lesson, learners were shown a number of resources that were made available to them in the classroom. The resources included items for self-study, for reflection, and for expression of thoughts and ideas. The presenters allowed the learners to define their own goals, as well as a direction and pace for achieving those goals.
This teaching model is effective for learners who have adequate motivation to guide themselves through this type of learning process. Learners with low motivation would not likely participate in a class that makes use of this model. They would require strong intrinsic motivators (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006, pp. 142-149; Svinicki, 1999). The mastery learning model may prove a more successful approach through its motivational supports (Svinicki, 1999, p. 21).
The non-directive teaching model appeared more effective with a social component. For example, discussions arose spontaneously in response to observations that were written by learners on the classroom whiteboard. As stated earlier, combining teaching models facilitates greater learning (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 35).
The encouragement of positive self-concepts appears to be a powerful tool for any learning environment. It maintains a powerful intrinsic motivator for the learner (Svinicki, 1999). This is a tool that the author would plan to incorporate more directly.
Behavioural Systems Models of Teaching
Hair braiding lesson
Behavioural systems teaching models were demonstrated with a lesson involving the task of hair braiding. The behavioural systems models that were presented were direct instruction (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 337-345) and mastery learning (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 323-335). These were planned within Gagné’s frameworks for teaching (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 385-395).
The direct instruction model requires “direct statements of objectives, sets of activities clearly related to the objectives, careful monitoring or progress, and feedback about achievement” (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 24). It is characterized by explicit demonstration of the learning tasks, guided practice of the task by the student, and subsequent independent practice until learning is achieved (Rosenshine, 1985, p. 1396).
The mastery learning model allows for variance in teaching in order to accommodate varying learner aptitudes so that the majority of learners attain mastery over time (Bloom, 1968, pp. 2-3). Learners can repeat learning units “until they have mastered the material” (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 23). The mastery model allows for risk-taking and corrective feedback, with failures accepted as opportunities for growth (Svinicki, 1999, p. 21).
Research by Gagné has yielded a number of observations about learning, including the identification of several demonstrations of performance resulting from learning (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 385). These demonstrations of performance form a hierarchy of prerequisites (Joyce & Weil, 2000, p. 387; Svinicki, 1999, p. 7); it is the instructor’s role to move the learner through these phases (Joyce & Weil, 2000, pp. 388-395).
The demonstration provided example of direct instruction through hands-on interaction with the learning task. Learners were provided a demonstration of the task and then were allowed time for guided practice. More time could have been spent at this stage. The direct instruction model requires adequate time for guided practice, a requirement that is often overlooked (Rosenshine, 1985, p. 1396).
Gagné’s performance hierarchy supports the learning progression demonstrated in the direct instruction. The initial task demonstration is a prerequisite to the guided practice. Successful completion of guided practice is a prerequisite to independent practice.
Separately from direct instruction, the mastery learning model allowed learners to proceed at their own pace.
Mastery learning and direct instruction were both effective in the learning task that was demonstrated. They differed in that mastery learning allows for as much time as a learner may need, while this was not necessarily the case with direct instruction.
Mastery learning is a teaching model the author could advocate for the reason that it encourages risk-taking, a trait that’s valuable in creative fields.
The teaching model that could supplement this lesson might be memorization. The lesson required that certain steps be followed in a certain sequence, a learning task that could be aided by mnemonic devices.
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