by: Kimberly Vierra
OSU Cascades – Business Administration
Student Engagement Program Manager
“I have no question that students who learn, not professors who perform, is what teaching is all about: students who learn are the finest fruits of teachers who teach.” (Palmer, 2007, p.7).
Dr. Funmi Amobi led us on a journey through the challenges of effective lesson planning during our Tuesday teaching talk last week. Early in our session, she asked us to reflect on the quote above, and think about the implications of the statement in terms of planning effective lessons. For me, the quote changes the lens through which I determine what makes a particular class session a success. If I deliver a fabulous lecture, but no student is taking notes, and no student is making meaning from it for themselves, was it a success?
Keeping student learning objectives (SLOs) as the focus of each lesson plan helps to create effective experiences that drive engagement in learning. One segment of the workshop was on the Pause, Play, Repeat procedure. This procedure is an interactive instructional approach where mini-lectures are interspersed with pauses (Dutill and Wehler, 2017). I enjoyed learning about this approach to ‘chunking’ the class period into the following sections: introduce the learning objectives, teach/model, assess, clarify/teach, assess, and summarize. I tried this approach to having shorter, 15-20-minute blocks of teaching, with assessments interspersed, in my class last Friday. The result was an increase in student engagement with the material.
Dr. Funmi Amobi shared a useful lesson planning template with us as well. It is a structured guide where you start with the purpose of the lesson, and break down the learning time into the opening, the flow through the teaching/learning activities in the body of the lesson, and finally close the lesson. One of the key takeaways from the suggested introduction activities is to engage the student in a “naïve task”, in which the instructor asks students to complete a challenge for which they don’t yet have knowledge. I tried this with an introductory Kahoot quiz covering several financial concepts. It was an effective activity to start with, as it let me know where each student was in terms of their knowledge, and it allowed me to tailor the learning to their specific needs for the rest of the session.
Another interesting topic covered was the blending Bloom’s cognitive levels and dimensions of knowledge. The dimensions of knowledge are factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive. Bloom’s Taxonomy (updated by Wilson, 2001), builds on the levels of remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and finally to create. These two concepts can be combined, and in so doing, help us to chart the progression of student learning at both knowledge dimensions and cognitive process levels, and align objectives directly with assessments and instructional strategies.
Most of us are familiar with the creation of SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time bound. SLOs should be SMART, and by adding the combined cognitive levels and dimensions of knowledge, our SLOs can be even SMARTER. As an example from one of my classes, one of my learning objective states, “By the end of the term, you will be able to negotiate salary and benefits according to your personal and professional values.”
This learning objective is SMART, as it is specific to what the students will be able to negotiate, it is attainable, results-oriented and time-bound. But where does this SLO fall on the wheel of combined cognitive levels and dimensions of knowledge? I would place it under conceptual knowledge, and they will be applying their knowledge. Adding this lens to the SLO means that I will ensure that we spend time in relevant learning activities and will apply relevant assessments to ensure that students can carry out and use learned negotiation techniques appropriately, given various possible situations they may find themselves in.
To come back to the initial quote, “I have no question that students who learn, not professors who perform, is what teaching is all about: students who learn are the finest fruits of teachers who teach.” (Palmer, 2007, p.7). Through effective lesson planning, we can ensure that more of our students are maximizing their learning in each of our class sessions. Thanks to Dr. Funmi Amobi for her engaging and useful session.
Dutill, J. & Wheler, M. (2017, October 23,). Pause, Play, Repeat: Using Pause Procedure in Online Microlectures. Retrieved from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/pause-play-repeat-using-pause-procedure-online-microlectures/
Palmer, P. (2007). The courage to teach. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Wilson, L. O. (2016). Understanding the new version of Bloom’s taxonomy. Retrieved from https://thesecondprinciple.com/teaching-essentials/beyond-bloom-cognitive-taxonomy-revised/