Module 3.2: Distance Learners Need Discipline

  • An important behavior.  In a distance learning environment, such as this course, what one particular behavior do you think is most important for learners to acquire? 
  • As a participant in this class, use social learning theories as basis to make recommendations on how students in distance learning can help other acquire this behavior.

I think the most important behavior that distance learners should acquire is to be disciplined. Since we don’t physically go to class, we have to carve out study time from our already hectic schedules. It is so easy to postpone study time because of more urgent (but not necessarily more important) tasks. It is also easy to postpone study time for non-urgent and non-important tasks, unfortunately. That’s why a distance learner must learn how to be disciplined about making, following and adjusting schedules.

I think Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy is very helpful for acquiring this behavior. When you see your classmates posting in the forums and writing e-journals on time, it makes you think that you can do it too. It becomes inspiring especially when your classmates post about having two jobs and taking care of young children while doing distance education. Since the atmosphere of the discussion fora are always positive, I think we could also ask our disciplined classmates how they do it and learn from them. And if we are the disciplined students, it would be good to share our secrets in the fora and e-journal posts so as to inspire others. We can learn from each other when we model the good behavior of being disciplined (observational learning/modeling).

Learning from each other is especially applicable in doing groupwork. Being part of a group puts pressure to perform well for the sake of your groupmates. I am much more disciplined in dealing with groupwork than with solo tasks. I set early deadlines and make sure I do my tasks on time because my performance affects the final output of everyone in the group. Having that responsibility, and knowing that my groupmates can observe my behavior, encourages me to stay on task. The constant encouragement of classmates and the synergy of working together also motivate me to do the tasks on time.

Module 3.1: Motivation and Behavior

  • Recall your past experiences where behaviorist approaches have been used to modify your behaviors.
    • Which experiences do you consider positive (helpful and pleasant)?
    • In the attempt to modify your behavior, can you cite behaviorist approaches that successfully modified your behavior/s but turned out to be unpleasant experiences?
    • Were there occasions wherein your behavior/s became more undesirable rather than improved?

A positive experience that helped me to modify my behavior was when my mother would praise me for getting high scores on exams (positive reinforcement). I never cared much for scores and felt like exams didn’t truly measure whether I learned something or not. This is because I am a big-picture thinker and I felt it was unnecessary and tedious to memorize entire sentences and paragraphs so I can get correct marks for fill-in-the-blank questions. However, because of my mother’s praise and encouragement, I wanted her to be happy and studied harder for exams so I can get high scores. It made me happy to make her happy.

My mother told me that when I was a young child, I had a habit of screaming. She hated this habit because it hurt her ears and it was a nuisance to the neighbors. She said she would slap my mouth every time I screamed, and I eventually stopped screaming. Of course, it hurt, but the pain went away within a minute. It hurt my pride much more than my mouth. This was, of course, a positive punishment, where I received something I didn’t like. The unpleasant experience successfully modified my behavior.

I remember a time when I had the chore of cleaning my room once a week. I didn’t like doing it, and it took me a long time to begin. What made me take longer, however, was nagging (using techniques ranging from positive reinforcement to negative punishment). I felt that if I said I will clean my room within the day, people should trust me to do it. I do not need to be nagged. If I am nagged too much, then I will not do it because I will be too irritated. I think this is related to the reinforcement schedule. Continuous reinforcement (either positive or negative), if too much, can discourage a person from modifying his/her behavior.

Reflecting on these past experiences helps me to realize that we are all familiar with the theories on behavior due to our own experiences. We all have behaviors that we wish to modify in ourselves and in the people we are responsible for, and it helps to know the theoretical basis of what we do in order to improve ourselves more effectively.

 

Module 2: Intelligence and Learning Styles in Teaching and Learning

  • On account of what you have learned from this module, in what specific ways will you modify how you learn and how you (will) teach?

I have learned about intelligence and learning styles in this module. I realized just how elusive a definition of intelligence is. I may have come up with my own opinion, but that is based on my own personal concept (albeit informed) of what it means to be an intelligent person. I recognize that each of my students also have their own ideas of intelligence, and that they may believe that they are (or not) intelligent based on their personal ideas. Thus, it would be my job to help them discover their respective intelligences. In the preschool where I work, Gardner’s multiple intelligences are posted on a large tarpaulin by the entrance. The images accompanying each intelligence type are photos of the students demonstrating these intelligence types. I was impressed when I saw it on my first day of work, and I believe it helps the students understand that everyone is unique and has something to offer. The challenge then is for me to be able to encourage each child in his/her own learning style. There has to be a wide range of activities for students representative of the learning styles. This is especially important at the preschool level, as the students still have a long way to go in developing their cognitive abilities.

When I took the learning style surveys, I scored highest on solitary learning, followed by physical and visual. In the VARK (visual/aural/read write/kinesthetic) survey, I was a strong K (kinesthetic). The surveys tell me that I learn best when I’m alone, preferably with movement or seeing actual structures (or representations of these structures). I am a “touch and see” kind of person. I think this makes sense because I am a scientist. I work with empirical evidence. For my work, reason is not enough, because there are too many unknown variables that can affect results. There has to be evidence. Scientists also need time alone to sit, think and write. This is my training, and I guess it showed in my learning style. Now that I know my learning styles, I will use them to learn better. I will look for peace and quiet when doing the modules so I can concentrate. I will also make sure my physical surroundings are orderly so I will not be distracted by clutter. I will use diagrams and/or do something physical (e.g. take a walk, build something with lego) when I have difficulty understanding a concept.

To find out your own learning style, take the surveys here:

http://www.learning-styles-online.com/

http://vark-learn.com/

Module 1: Learning to Be A Teacher

  • After some thinking, write a personal statement about the following: What kind of teacher do you want to become? What strengths do you want to have? What kinds of potential weaknesses might you need to overcome?

My teaching experience is at the university level. As a person, I have an unquenchable thirst for learning. I think this serves me well as a teacher, because I keep wanting to learn about teaching. I want to share this love for learning with my students. I want my students to foster a healthy curiosity, and to know how to find answers to their questions. I want them to be self-directed. Other than that, I also want them to have positive behaviors and attitudes. I want them to have good character and values.

Because I want the above for my students, I need to be the kind of teacher that is able to deliver these things. It is difficult, and perfection cannot be attained, but I am not so easily discouraged. I start with my strengths. I am creative, cheerful and optimistic. I am open to trying out new ideas and teaching strategies. I have high standards for my work and I do my best to achieve them. I love my students and truly want the best for them. My enthusiasm is infectious, and my passion for my work shows in my teaching. I am always prepared for class and I make sure to use the allotted time wisely. Before entering a classroom, I also make sure I am in a good mood and leave the bad vibes at the door. Sometimes I feel like a performer, but I know I cannot take my stress out on my students.

In terms of potential weakness, I can get carried away with teaching the concepts of the lesson and end up not paying enough attention to the students in terms of affirming them. I need to be more conscious about giving positive comments to my students. I am also very conscious of time, and so I sometimes end up just using lectures instead of thinking of active learning strategies for my students so I can be sure to end class on time. This can be overcome by better planning.

I am excited about this course because I want to know how my students learn, and how I can apply these principles to help them learn better. Knowing how I myself learn will also aid me in learning teaching methods.

Reflections on Assignment 2

What lessons did I learn from Assignment 2?
How would I like to have a similar experience in the future?

  • Will I want to do this again?
  • Shall I do something like it in a class that I (shall) teach?

I learned much from Assignment 2. First, I learned how hard it is to do groupwork online, especially since we were limited to communicating via the forum only. Each post had to be well thought out and in mostly English. It was difficult to compose posts in such a way that would be unambiguous to the reader. Eventually though, I got the hang of it.

The next challenge was understanding exactly what we were supposed to do. I had a feeling Teacher Malou made the assignment open-ended on purpose, and so I tried to figure things out without asking too many questions even as I found the instructions confusing. Fortunately, Eliza figured things out earlier, and so she guided our group with what we needed to do. I think though that next time I would ask more questions about things I found unclear.

I also felt bad about not meeting the deadlines I proposed for the group. My computer malfunctioned and I was not able to contribute early in the assignment. I did my best to be active and be a good groupmate to make up for coming in late. Eliza and Jezrel were ready to submit the day I showed up at the forum. I’m glad I was not discouraged from posting suggestions, a table of specs and rubrics even if they had already made these. In the end, we revised what they originally made and I think I was able to make a substantial contribution. I am also glad all of us were able to contribute to the assessment tool. I’m blessed to have such active groupmates.

I was really happy with using rubrics to grade groupmates. I think I will definitely use rubrics for that purpose in my class next semester. Normally I ask the students to grade their groupmates, but their criteria is completely up to their own personal discretions. Having the rubrics shown to the class before groupwork begins would definitely communicate to the students how they are expected to contribute. Students will also not be shy about grading their groupmates using objective criteria. I’m thinking of creating one rubric for the entire class during a class activity so they can have inputs as well.

I would appreciate a similar experience in the future. Assignment 2 was definitely more manageable with groupmates. However, I recognize that some students were not as lucky with their groupmates. I guess in that case it could possibly be more difficult to accomplish the task as a group rather than individually.

I would consider doing a similar activity for my class. I once had a teacher whose exam was something like create 1 easy question, 1 medium question and 1 difficult question, and then answer all the questions. This of course puts the burden of making the exam on the students. However, I am not sure how I would grade that. But then, I guess I can always make a rubric for that and show the students how they will be graded beforehand.