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Application of Theories

Application of Theories

Author: Gino Sangiuliano

In this lesson, students will analyze the three learning theories and their application.

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Thinking Person, Clker,; Possibilities, Pixabay,; Learning, Pixabay,; Growth, Pixabay,

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Hello there, and welcome. This lesson is called Application of Theories. So today, we'll be reviewing the three adult learning theories and how they can be applied to learning and teaching. Let's get started.

It's good to have choices. Whether you are strolling down the breakfast aisle looking for cereal or if you're deciding to accept that life altering job offer, it's good to have options. As youngsters, we had far fewer choices that we have as adults, and that includes when it comes to our learning. As we grow and our learning styles evolve, we have a much better idea of what works for us and what doesn't.

In this lesson, you will hear about some choices you will have available to you when you are planning or attending an adult professional learning session. Which is right for you? When designing professional learning opportunities, you might consider including tenets found in andragogy and adult learning theory. As you develop a plan for professional development, keep in mind that andragogy instruction focuses more on the process and less on the concept being taught.

The following questions can help to guide your process and help you incorporate Knowles' six assumptions. Is the climate or setting conducive for learning and is it comfortable and adult-oriented? Often, space can be an issue. And in elementary schools, adult size furniture can be difficult to come by, as well.

What experiences does this learner bring with them? Previous exposure to content and concepts can often be a jumping off point for learning. Is there an immediate need for this information? Will the learner use this information in a future role?

Is there a problem to be solved? This speaks to adults being more problem centered. Does this lesson help develop internal motivators such as self-esteem, self-confidence, and a better quality of life?

Will the learner be able to use the information that is presented immediately? Adults want to walk away from a learning experience with something that they can do right away with their new-found knowledge. Adult learning is categorized by the learner being self-directed and involved in the decision making process. Furthermore, they take part in the planning and self-evaluation of their learning. You're likely to see strategies like role playing, simulations, and case studies as opposed to lectures.

Transformational learning theory encourages the learner to step back and take a hard look at their experiences. This critical self-reflection then leads to valuable discourse and, most likely, necessary changes. There are four main components of the transitional learning process that I would like to point out. They are, what is the learner's experience, what is the learner's ability for critical reflection, what types of reflection and discourse has the learner participated in, what action has the learner taken as a result of their learning and reflection?

There are strategies that can be put into place that will support transformational learning. For instance, create a climate that supports transformational learning. This is evident in classrooms where dialogue and reflection are regular practices. Know your students' learning styles and the types of activities that appeal to them. And finally, when creating learning activities, be sure that they represent different points of view for the diversity of your learners.

Self-directed learning theory allows the learner to make decisions about content, methods, resources, and evaluation of their learning. This may sound like a leap of faith to some, but the return can be great. When talking about taking ownership, this is what is meant.

When designing self-directed learning opportunities, consider starting with a specific plan or contract. Conduct a self study to determine skill level and needs, and also a self-assessment to determine appropriate learning objectives. Establish specific and targeted learning goals, strategies, and evaluation criteria. This is where you can really tailor the learning to match your individual needs.

Next, go ahead and use the appropriate resources and methods that match your learning goal. Acquire strategies for making decisions and self-evaluate your work, as well. Employ strategies that maximize self-reflection of learning.

And finally, anytime you can learn with others, you should. Consider collaborating with a peer or an advisor to help guide the learning process. Self-directed learning can take many forms, including learning projects, collaboration, self-teaching, self-learning, self-study, self-education, independent learning and peer learning, that are often found in professional learning communities. In some formal settings, the learner may be required to have an instructor to help students set their goals and guide strategies for their learning and self-evaluation.

Let's create a real life learning opportunity. We will look at learning to use Google Classroom through the lens of the three theories we covered in this lesson. First, andragogy. The school decides to hold a workshop on the topic. The space is conducive for adult learning-- things like furniture, charging capabilities, snacks, and so on.

Take into account what the learners already know about the topic. In this example, teachers will be expected to use Google Classroom as part of their practice. The problem is that the district has decided to go paperless and teachers need to adjust. Teachers should be motivated to learn something that their students are most likely comfortable with already. They should be able to go back to their rooms and set up a Google Classroom immediately.

Now we'll look at that same learning opportunity from a transformational learning point of view. A survey is given out to the staff asking what their level of comfort is with Google Classroom. Different stations are set up throughout the room related to the use of Google Classroom, representing novice, moderate, and expert users.

Teachers are given the opportunity to participate at the level that they're most comfortable with. Teachers debrief in their small groups. And the lesson ends with an exit ticket asking what they learned.

And finally, self-directed. In this scenario, teachers include growth and technology as part of their professional learning plan. They self-assess their ability to utilize technology effectively.

They set a goal of learning about Google Classroom. Then they find online resources and video tutorials to help them, seeking guidance from a colleague or administrator if needed. They experiment with what they learned and finally, take inventory of what they learned.

Let's go ahead and summarize what we covered in this lesson. We looked at the tenants of adult learning, including Malcolm Knowles andragogy. We looked at transformational learning and a more independent approach called self-directed learning. Here's today's food for thought. If you were learning about Google Classroom, or anything else, for that matter, which theory would you choose?

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description so you can easily target the resources that you want. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Application of Theories"

(00:00-00:11) Intro

(00:12-00:44) Choices

(00:45-02:13) Guiding Questions for Andragogy

(02:14-03:09) Transformation Learning

(03:10-04:41) Self-directed Learning

(04:42-06:26) Example of Theories

(06:27-07:08) Summary/Food For Thought

Additional Resources

How To Drive Your Professional Development With A Self-Directed Learning Program

This article provides strategies for driving your professional learning to improve practices.

Teacher Agency: Self-Directed Professional Development

This blog post explains the difference between visionary and traditional professional development paradigms. It also outlines the importance of teacher empowerment through self-directed learning.