Who Should “Own” the Learning?

For many years, teaching has been characterized by an auditory-verbal presentation style. While this has worked for many students, only 25% of all learners are primary auditory channel learners! As we have become more informed about multiple intelligences, brain-based learning, and different learning styles, it has been apparent when teaching is more auditory-verbal-linguistic than visual-kinesthetic-verbal, an instructional disconnect can occur for those students who are more visual-kinesthetic in how they best process information.

Added to this instructional disconnect is the assessment disconnect – the traditional paper-pencil method of determining how much students have learned and how well they have learned it. I wonder how many more students would be better able to demonstrate what they know and what they have learned if we could be more flexible in how we assess learning?

The question also comes to mind about who owns the “learning”. Do our students take very much ownership if knowledge is “imparted” to them by the teacher, with a “review” that is characterized by closed ended questions? Reviews can be quick thumbnails of what was just covered in class, and are typically teacher-led or activities at the end of the chapter – in either case, the way in which information is reviewed is determined by a teacher or an author & publisher.

I wonder if “ownership” of learning would be facilitated by using “debriefing” – a mixture of open ended questions offered by both students and the teacher – more of a collaborative inquiry. Debriefing has greater student participation and should give teachers opportunities to value student thoughts and to further “connect the dots” based on a student’s thinking.

Teaching, just like life, is full of choices. Do we fashion learning to reflect back specific information via closed-ended questions and paper-pencil assessments, or should we model and encourage student thinking and ownership of their learning so that they connect the dots?

© 2010  Dave Krupke  All Rights Reserved