Learning Theories in Xavier’s Classroom
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Question: Identify the learning theory primarily represented in Xavier’s teaching practice and explain how Xavier created a learning environment to align with the theory.
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Scenario : Science of Learning
Xavier and Lydia teach classes for adult learners. You are Xavier and Lydia’s mentor teacher. You observe their classes to evaluate methods for effective instruction. To help determine effectiveness, you watch for evidence of differentiated learning principles, interpretation of cognitive function in learning, an awareness of the impact of learner characteristics on learning outcomes, practice with a distinguished alignment to the major learning theories, and the use of elements in the learning environment.
Observation of Lydia’s Class
Lydia placed five rows of tables with chairs facing the front of the room. Using this design, she is confident all learners will be able to see and hear her lecture. Above the sign-in table, Lydia places a large sign reading, “NO Phone Zone.”
Lydia calls out a friendly “Welcome” as the adults settle into their assigned seats. Lydia introduces herself and shares the course schedule, learning objectives, and expectations. Expectations for participants include raising their hand for a turn to speak, remaining attentive during all activities and for the duration of the class, and of course, no use of electronic devices.
Lydia randomly calls upon members of the class to participate. When Darrell raises his hand to answer a question, Lydia praises Darrell and tosses him a half-size candy bar. Looking pleased, Darrell catches the candy. It isn’t long before the other learners catch on; for the next hour, dozens of hands shoot rapidly in the air, questions are answered, candy is awarded.
Next, participants are assigned to groups. Participants are instructed to complete the activity independently before sharing it with their group. Each member will raise their hands for a five-minute turn to share.
During the small group activity, Lydia notices several participants swiping through information on their cell phones. She loudly calls the participants out by name and then points to the “NO Phone Zone” sign.
Later, Lydia asks a student using his phone to place it on the sign-in table until the end of the class. As the student reluctantly complies, the other learners quickly remove their electronic devices from sight. Lydia is pleased because she is confident that eliminating the use of personal devices will help limit distractions during class.
A 45-minute lunch break is provided. Lydia suggests that participants take a ‘working lunch’ to use the time to review individually for the test.
As the day comes to an end, Lydia recaps the agenda and describes how the day’s activities supported the course’s learning objectives. The remaining 30 minutes of the course are reserved for participants to complete the exam. Most learners appear nervous as they begin.
Observation of Xavier’s Class
You are greeted at the door by Xavier and are asked to take a seat wherever you would like. The tables are joined to create a large square, with various seating options such as chairs, standing space, and stools around the shape’s perimeter. All participants can see one another from each seat, and Xavier sits among the group to share the presentation. Posters displaying positive messages are hung on the wall. Floor lamps were brought in to illuminate a corner where natural light does not reach. The temperature was controlled at a comfortable 72 degrees.
Xavier calls out a friendly, “Welcome” and invites participants to share a bit about themselves and their children in an open forum. Pictures from participants’ phones are shared widely.
After introductions, Xavier asks participants to share why they enrolled in the course and what they hope to gain. As the participants share, Xavier points out how the course agenda, learning objectives, and expectations will align with the participants’ needs. As a group, the class completes a brainstorming activity to define class participation expectations.
Xavier explains that the schedule is flexible. Alternative activities are available on the back table and multiple ways to complete the tasks are acceptable. Participants are encouraged to take breaks as needed. Xavier created an electronic file to share along with printed information.
Next, participants are offered multiple ways to engage in their learning. Some participants select an individual reflection activity; others watch and debate a segment of a documentary film. Those that selected the small group activity brainstorm ideas on sticky notes before creating a word-cloud pattern of solutions. As Xavier monitors the groups, he notices several participants step away for a moment to check their phones. Others use their device to share information. Xavier comments on the observed behaviors, pointing out how these strategies can be effective learning tools.
A 45-minute lunch break is provided. Xavier encourages a ‘working lunch’ to create and share knowledge with their peers. He posts choices of activities on the board for those that wish to participate.
As the day comes to an end, Xavier leads an interactive activity to recap the course’s learning objectives. Next, he offers five minutes of personal reflection before asking participants to write a Call-to-Action statement that will describe how they will use their new knowledge at home. During this time, Xavier briefly meets with each student to discuss strategies for implementing their Call-To-Action. As Xavier distributes the exam, he reminds the participants that this final activity only intends to help him, and the learners understand their progression towards the course goals. What counts are the strategies they will take home with them. Most learners appear unpressured by the exam and begin.