Saturday, February 8, 2020

2020 #VWEDU: #DTA: "Learning" objectives for descriptive knowledge. The limitations of academic knowledge

"Learning" objectives for descriptive knowledge. 
The limitations of academic knowledge

Getting descriptive knowledge about a subject makes a student able to describe some things about the subject.  It also practices study skills.  But if the practice only reaches recognize and recall it may not be teaching (or evaluating) all the skills needed for effective study.  This article is explicitly licensed Public Domain (CC0).
Any teaching plan should start 
with learning objectives

"Learning" objectives for descriptive knowledge

  • "learning" in quotes because the objectives are about descriptive knowledge.
  • The objective for descriptive knowledge would be phrased "learns that..."
  • The ellipsis would be a noun clause saying what the learner is to recall.
  • In contrast, a skill objective would be phrased "becomes able to..."
  • Here the ellipsis would be a verb phrase describing an action.
  • skill objective aims at learners doing something.  
  • knowledge objective aims at learners telling about something.
  • How does a learner get descriptive knowledge?  
  • And how do you know that the learner has gotten descriptive knowledge.
  • And why does the learner need to get this unit of descriptive knowledge?


Descriptive knowledge: The academic method


  • The learner reads or hears a verbal description.
  • The product of such learning is called propositional knowledge.
  • Propositional because it is acquired and demonstrated in language.

Learning objective

  • The learner may only need to answer questions to demonstrate learning.
  • Correct recognition of some elements of the description may be accepted as demonstration.
  • Recognition: Pick the correct item on a multiple-choice test.
  • Recall: Restate the description with acceptable accuracy.
  • In more advanced studies the learner has to write answers or respond orally.

The skills behind the academic method

Why does the learner need to get this unit of descriptive knowledge?

  • For some units the adult need is obvious: reading, writing, arithmetic
  • But what about the state history?  The student may not live in that state as an adult.
  • From the standpoint of the student the answer is still obvious.  
  • The course is one of the keys to the exit.  It is like an escape room
  • Still the student can benefit from this course.
  • The course is practice in the skill of studying.
  • Adults frequently have to read something and make use of the content.
  • That state history course certainly gave practice in reading and remembering content.
  • Remembering is one way to make use of.
  • But there are other ways people need to make use of what they read.
  • The Secret of the Instruction Manual  

The experience method 

  • Experiencing (seeing, hearing, exploring) whatever is to be described.
  • Experiential learning (Wikipedia) 
  • Experiential learning (search)
  • In an educational context, experience may be offered by field trips.
  • Field trip (Wikipedia)
  • How to learn from a field trip
  • Prior instruction may be given to students on what to look for.
  • Subsequent tests may be given to let students show what they remember.
  • People learn places in 3D environments quite easily,
  • Spatial memory (Wikipedia)
  • Merely functioning successfully develops the skills needed to function successfully--at least for the survivors.
  • But it may take longer than desired and may involve serious risks and losses.
  • For that reason the mixed method is often used.

Mixed method

  • Pictures, videos, and simulations are examples of mixing methods.
  • Every Photo is a Story Part 1: Start to Read a Photograph
  • A prominent example is flight training.
  • The mixed method seems to arise from a pair of objectives:
  • Develop requisite skills and be able to talk knowingly about the task.
  • Possibly a store of knowledge about the task could help in problem-solving.
  • In any case, being able to talk knowledgeably about the task reassures others.
  • -
  • Reading and taking a multiple choice test on the reading may not be a good learning strategy for that use objective.  
  • Note that the use objective is phrased as a skill ("be able")
  • Practicing a skill is the way to develop it.  
  • And measuring the skill level in the practice is a good way to evaluate it
  • In a computer managed environment, practice and evaluation can be done together.
  • Flight simulator

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