Monday, February 20, 2012

Problem Based Learning

This week I read "Why Good Classes Fail" on It made the point that classes can use all the proper techniques and still fail due to a lack of enthusiasm and genuineness from the professor. We have a couple of professors who are really big into problem based learning. They love to tell us that it is the best way to learn. They are even passionate about the subject material, but no one in the class is connecting. Other teachers use project based learning (but don’t shove it in our face that they are doing it), and it works. I personally believe the problem is in relevance and connecting with the students. Both of the classes that these teachers have taught are in areas that very few, if any, of the students think they will work in. I still think both of the classes are valuable to the curriculum; however, I think the focus needs to shift. Sorry, I know that is very vague and confusing, but I don't want to call out the class more than I have. Basically, I think the focus needs to shift to more current day practicability.  The other issue appears to be that the professors have failed to connect with the students, and the professors almost always step back so that we can solve our own problems. It is definitely valuable and necessary for students to facilitate their own learning. If we were given all the answers that would an issue too. However, when we get stuck and are unable to preserve they are still unable to help us. Occasionally, they will finally explain a few classes later, but at that point we  have stopped caring because we can no longer deal with the frustration.

This was left in the comments of the article:
When a Teach for America researcher “called up teachers who were making remarkable gains and asked to visit their classrooms, he noticed he’d get a similar response from all of them: ‘They’d say, “You’re welcome to come, but I have to warn you—I am in the middle of just blowing up my classroom structure and changing my reading workshop because I think it’s not working as well as it could.” When you hear that over and over, and you don’t hear that from other teachers, you start to form a hypothesis.’ Great teachers, he concluded, constantly reevaluate what they are doing.” (A. Ripley, 2010, The Atlantic)

 I think this summarizes the biggest problem I am having with my class. According to previous students, they have been teaching like this for a while, and it never works. Reflective teaching is always important. Just because theoretically it should work does not mean realistically it will. I also think this is an important thought to keep in mind as an OT, especially as a new one or veteran. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the idea that theoretically something should work or it has always worked in the past that we forget things can be changed and they probably should be. Reflection and constant experimentation are some of the best ways to create a successful practice in my opinion.  (Sidenote: one of my undergraduate professors also left a comment. It's a small world.)

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