Category Archives: Learning How to Learn

Educational Research Paradigms

Flying Fishes by Jorbasa on Flickr

One thing I like about learning new things is that as I investigate one problem, I discover whole areas of knowledge that I was previously oblivious too. Yesterday I was exploring the idea of student feedback and my concern about the validity of this feedback. So this morning I set out to read some of the papers I discovered yesterday. The first paper mentioned the positivisitic paradigm which I had never heard of before. Google led me to “Educational Research Paradigms: From Positivism to Multiparadigmatic” by Taylor and Medina. This work was published in a brand new journal from the Institute for Meaning-Centered Education in February, 2013. The authors use analogy of a fisherman studying fish to illustrate the different paradigms.

Continuing with the aquatic theme, as I wade into the paper, I am amused that my whole career is based on the positivist paradigm and I didn’t even know what it was called. The positivist paradigm or positivism refers to the scientific method that I am used to. In addition to now having a label for the paradigm I’m used to using, I also learned about other paradigms:

  • The post-positivism paradigm refers to the modified scientific method used by the social sciences. This modification allows for the researcher to interact more with his/her object of study than what is acceptable in the positivism paradigm.
  • The interpretative paradigm involves the researcher immersing herself into the environment of the object of study and attempt to experience that environment from the study object’s perspective by trying to be like the object.
  • The critical paradigm strives to identify social injustices and helps the object of study overcome these inequalities.
  • The postmodern paradigm uses various artistic means to represent thoughts and feelings which are unseeable to the outside world.

The end of this article emphasizes multi-paradigmatic approaches to educational research. I suppose that this blog represents my multi-paradigmatic approach to educational research. I’m interested in exploring all the different ways of thinking about education and using the best of each to improve my teaching.


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Reading the Riot Act

A course syllabus often includes information on expected behaviours for students including policy on academic integrity. I’ve always regretted the negative connotations of including this information in the course syllabus. To me, it implies to the student, “I wish you wouldn’t, but I know you are going to do it, so here is what happens to you when you do”. The students are treated like criminals on the first day of class as I read them the riot act. Furthermore, it doesn’t stop them from committing academic misconduct. In my experience, these indiscretions are more often due to ignorance rather than willful intent. The student just didn’t understand what academic integrity was.

There has to be a more positive way to talk about academic integrity. What about a video? This is an example from Sheridan College in Ontario.  I like how this video describes what constitutes  misconduct, explains the temptations of why students do it, and gives resources to help prevent students making the wrong choice. This video could serve as a discussion focus or be inspiration to make a similar video for your institution.

This booklet from the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) also talks about academic integrity in a more positive light by focusing on the values that go into academic integrity. This could also be the basis of a classroom discussion as the booklet includes questions for reflection.

The International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI) defines academic integrity as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals to action.

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Filed under Classroom Management, Learning Environments, Learning How to Learn

Post-Test Analysis

Another fun assignment in PIDP 3250 is to create a video describing an instructional strategy. I chose “post-test analysis”. This strategy encourages students to analysis their performance on an exam beyond looking at the grade and seeing what questions they got wrong. The technique was described by Michelle Achasoso in a paper called “Post-Test Analysis: A Tool for Developing Students’ Metacognitive Awareness and Self-regulation“. Elizabeth Barkley then included this technique in her book “Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty“.  The Teaching Professor Newsletter reviewed Barkley’s book and included a summary of post-test analysis in an article entitled “Using Post-Test Analysis to Help Students See Correlation Between Effort and Performance“.

In a nutshell, post-test analysis is a two-step process. In the first stage, students predict their exam score, rank their effort in studying for the exam, identify which learning strategies they used to prepare for the exam and which questions they found easy and hard on the exam. These questions are completed after the exam but before the exam in submitted for grading. After the instructor grades the exams, students complete stage 2 to analyze their performance on the exam. There is a lot of variation if which questions are asked for stage 2. There are some examples of stage 2 questions here, here, here and here. There are also examples in the links above. Based on the results of the post-test analysis, students alter their study habits to hopefully do better on the next test.

This technique appealed to me because I already devote one class to reviewing exams, but I didn’t know how to guide students to make the most of this time. I also do practice tests so that students know what to expect for the real test. I think post-test analysis will be excellent for use with practice tests because students can make use of what they have learned to improve their grade on the real test.

So, here is my video. I personally am not a big fan of videos as I can read faster than I listen, but maybe it’ll appeal to an auditory learner out there, some where.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Filed under Learning How to Learn, Motivational Strategies