SLO #2 - Theoretical Understanding
Professional educator demonstrates theoretical understanding by reading, synthesizing and evaluating educational theory and research in their field and applying research findings to their practice in diverse classroom settings.
Artifact –Position paper on the importance of collaboration on student learning. This paper examined the research of several educational studies surrounding the effects of collaboration on students including achievement and motivation, and the impact this has on transfer, retention and social interaction. This paper was created as part of a course requirement for SED 690 as a position paper on a current educational theory that was covered during the semester. The project is located on my professional website (xrl.us/whsphysics).
Explanation –By examining recent research findings on how students learn and different methods capable of achieving higher performance from students, I learned that the collaborative (or cooperative) method is one of several methodologies that create a learning environment that fosters student learning. Although I have always personally found collaboration to be a positive process within my classroom, the research I discovered addressed several advantages, characteristics and technique for using collaboration effectively that were new to me. By evaluating different research I was able to synthesize meaningful practice that could be adapted to my particular classroom and diverse population of students.
Reflection –I have learned so much about educational theory from discussions with my colleagues within the cohort. While I thoroughly enjoyed these discussions, I found my view of what I considered a familiar topic, collaboration, being altered and enhanced, as my colleagues and I discussed articles we read, and research that we found; we grew together. We ended up discussing the merits and pitfalls, based on our research, in no less than three of the masters program’s classes (SED 625, SED 690 & SED 695b). We were the collaborative process in action. I learned as much, if not more, from my hard working colleagues as I did from my professors. At one point, in SED 625 with Professor Rivas, I had to debate against collaborative teaching, which I found difficult since I was a proponent of the method. In preparation for the debate I read research both in favor of collaboration and against. I learned many of the reasons teachers felt the method failed and how important the design of the lesson, as well as execution and assessment, were to the overall success of the learning goal. I still use collaboration often within my classroom, but now I am more aware of my role as facilitator. I spend more time qualifying what the collaboration should include and the role each member has within the group. There are clear expectations of the learning goal and accountability for the individual, the group and the class. I have learned how to better monitor progress, guide the collaborative process and allow more student control over the final product of their learning. By spending so much time researching studies, synthesizing that information into a paper and debating against the practical use of the theory in the classroom, I have gained a greater understanding of that theory and of the effective use of the collaborative process.