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Enabling and Assessing Learning

Individuals learn in different ways and at different speeds. As a teacher it is important to understand the theories of how and why people learn so that the individual needs of the learner are addressed. Learning theories have been more influential since the early 1990’s. (Avis, 2010) There are many learning theorists who have studied how and why people learn, some examples are Pavlov, Skinner who are behaviourists. Dewey, Bruner who are Cognitivists. Maslow, Rogers who are Humanists. Kolb and Bloom who are Reflective enquiry.

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Behaviourism looked at learning in a scientific way, theorist of the time believed that they could teach anything as they could condition an animal to behave in a particular way, whether it was a dog to salivate by the use of food, Pavlov (Learning and Teaching [internet], or pigeons playing table tennis, by breaking the game down into a sequence of actions, Skinner (Edschool. csueastbay [internet]. The person was conditioned to their environment. However behaviourism is very limited, due to the need to repeat the process so many times.

This in turn reduces how fulfilled the learner would be especially if the lesson was purely based on behavioural learning. However behaviourism is still important in today’s classroom in the systematic reinforcement of each aspect which helps build up here understanding. Also giving praise, and giving the person a sense of achievement will indicate the benefit of learning. (Avis, 2010) Cognitivists looked at learning in a different way to behaviourists basing their research on the how the individual gained and organised their knowledge. The individual did not just receive it but interpreted it in way that that meant something to them.

The teacher then has to be aware that in a class of ten there could be ten slightly different understandings. Dewey stated that learning was not a task and the learner had to learn to think and then reflect on this. Bruner said that the learner needs to learn the process so that they could apply it. He felt that the facts were often forgotten. He sees the teachers role as one who facilitates the students own discovery known as “inquiry training” (Walker, 2009) The Humanist approach states that each individual takes responsibility for their own learning and development.

However for the individual to become self actualise, certain other criteria need to be achieved. This is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is based on a step process with the lower needs needing to be satisfied before moving up. These are physical, safety and shelter, love and belonging, Self-esteem and self actualisation. Rogers believed that the student needed to be at the centre of the learning process through active self-discovery as they had a desire to develop and grow. (Petty 2009) The reflective enquiry theory states that the individual develops as they challenge or question their experience thus leading to a better understanding.

Kolb’s four stage learning cycle says that the individual carries out the task; it is then reviewed and reflected on. At stage three further analyses takes place to gain best practice and the final stage is to put it to the test. The model can be entered at any stage and still work in a cyclical manner. (Walker, 2009) As a teacher it is important to be aware of all of these learning theories, and not just to focus on one particular one. Learning happens in many ways so a teacher needs to be able to use different learning theories and adapt those to the needs of the learners ensuring that their learning is fulfilled.

Throughout a lesson the teacher will praise effort to ensure that individual continues to try. The teacher will highlight the process as opposed to the individual facts. The teacher will reflect on what has taken place and then look for the learners to put that into practice. “You can improve both your theory in use and your teaching strategies by using the reflective cycle well” (Petty, 2009) The teacher will use these theories throughout their lessons and be adaptive and flexible to get the most out of their learners. As an NVQ assessor the learning theory I use the most is Kolb’s, reflective enquiry theory.

The candidate provides the evidence – The concrete experience. The evidence is then reflected on to see if it fits with the learning outcomes. I then look at the theory and knowledge with the candidate to examine the understanding they have. Finally I have a candidate discussion which allows me to ascertain what understanding they have the topic. There are several methods of assessment to help support and monitor whether learning has taken place. Assessment means that the learner is being tested to perform a task, skill or a new body of theoretical knowledge. Tummons, 2007) Assessment comes in various forms: formative, which is carried out throughout the course assessing what learning has taken place. Summative assessment is carried out near the end of a course or unit to establish what knowledge has been learned. Initial assessment is carried out in the form of interviews, application forms, qualifications and interviews. The information gathered from these would identify the level of functional skills and identify the learner’s needs. Within my role I use initial assessment, formative assessment and summative assessment.

I would use the initial assessment to help me formulate my teaching plan to cover learning styles, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Whilst this concept has been criticised due to there being little evidence to support that an individual learns with a particular style. It is important that the lesson has plenty of variety across those styles to help enforce and reinforce the learning. Innovative Learning (2011) The formative assessment I carry out would be in the following forms: open and closed questions, practical tasks, and learner observations.

I would ask the learner to provide written summaries on various aspects of their roles. I would carry out candidate discussions with the learner to establish knowledge and understanding. I could also use games, quizzes, demonstrations and role plays to assess my learners especially in the workshop environment. The summative assessment would be the completed portfolio from the candidate which would have product evidence, candidate discussions, and observations, witness testimony and completed knowledge and understanding questions. There are other forms of ssessment which I have not used which includes norm-referenced, where there are no absolute criteria of competence. This ranks the students as opposed to measuring their achievement against a fixed scale. Criterion referenced assessment measures the student against a specific criteria of competence, it’s a test that looks for mastery of skills for example the practical driving test. (Avis, 2010) Assessment is a tool which must give information that is valid and reliable. Valid is ensuring that the correct assessment takes place to what has been learned.

Reliable is ensuring that the assessment tasks and process of making judgements and giving feedback are consistent. Word Count 1159 Section 2 – Learning and Assessment in Practice I teach a group of six people on NVQ Team Leading Level 2 at a local company. The members of the group have differing abilities although all are in level 2 roles within their organisation. As part of the enrolment process I provide information advice and guidance on the NVQ. This covers information on the NVQ, details of the appeal procedure and most importantly to me, the learner profile.

The profile allows me to ascertain what qualifications they have. Previous work experience they have had and any training that they have undertaken. This allows me to assess if there is any accreditation of prior learning (APL). The second part of the profile details personal characteristics of candidate and details of any special assessment requirements. It is at this stage that the candidate can highlight any difficulties or special needs that they may have. At this stage I have a discussion with the candidate about what they have recorded on the form.

This helps me to evaluate their ability with regards to differentiation. Differentiation is the process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in the group have the best possible chance of learning. (Petty, 2009) I then develop my lesson plans ensuring that I have a wide variety of learning styles and assessment. However as I take each lesson, I look for other signs from the candidate to indicate that learning is taking place or that there is a difficulty in learning and I need to provide more support.

The sessions took place in the training room at Bradken. The whole setting helped to satisfy their need for physical comfort and safety and shelter as in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The room was well lit, ventilated and warm,. The candidates sat round an oval table which was very conducive to allowing discussion and sharing of information. At times they could break into groups or work on their own. The candidates were taken away from their work environment, which allowed them to concentrate on their learning.

The room is good on site, with local work; I could carry out some of the sessions at college, which would allow me to use more materials. It is important to state within the enrolment process the candidates complete a key skills assessment. This allows me to ask the candidate if they would like further help in any area that they did not do well in. However this help is not mandatory and it is up to the candidate as to whether they use it. Irrespective of this, I ensure that my sessions cover any key skills issues as they arise.

Within this area I could do more and look to be more supportive with ICT skills. My scheme of work (Appendix 3) covers the four mandatory units and one optional unit of the qualification. When selecting the content and learning outcomes, I use the performance criteria from the qualification (Appendix 6) as the basis of the content. The reason I use this is to allow the candidate to familiarise themselves with the wording and context of the unit, always asking questions to explain the outcomes and provide evidence to display those outcomes.

I then refer to the Team lading questionnaire (Appendix7) and ask them to look at the questions that refer to the unit they are doing. I ask the candidate to write their answers and I then use this as a discussion document to highlight practical areas and evidence that they may be able to provide for the unit. It also helps in prompting other members of the group of areas of evidence that could be useful. I then consider the various abilities of the group. I explain the unit to the group and pose questions to them, asking them to write their answers on a flip chart and then discuss.

My learner activity could be more varied and this is an area that I need to improve on, especially if I have a group as in this case. This is due to not having the same amount of resources off campus as to on. For example with candidate 1 (appendix1), I ensure that I explain the wording and discuss at length there experience within the unit. When going through the knowledge and understanding questions, I ask candidate 1 to gather and collate as much information as they can and bring it to the next session, where we can go through the questions and I will assist in writing the answers. On some ccasions we have discussed the questions and recorded the answers on the Dictaphone. I have found that this has been very helpful for candidate 1 as this allows him to progress at a similar rate to his colleagues. At times I have challenged him to typing the answers on the PC to help him progress his PC skills and to think about the structure of the answers he is giving from a language perspective. With candidate 2 (Appendix 2), I check that he understands what has been discussed. I am aware that at times he will say “yes” when he may not understand, so I check by asking him to explain to the group.

My lesson plans (Appendix 4 & 5) are at times repetitive due to the lack of resources when teaching off site. Further research is required so that so that I can look for more variety. For local candidates I could ask them to come to the college so that I can use more resources, this would be useful as I could deliver more through power point and use the SMART boards. At the end of the session I state that any written piece of work that has to be done, they can e-mail that to me before the next session so that they can check that they are doing it correctly.

This allows those who are not as confident for various issues to send me their work, which allows me to support each individual for their own needs. For candidate 1 this is extremely helpful and allows him to do a draft in his own mind, which aids his confidence. Throughout the sessions I use the initial assessment for lesson planning. I also use formative and summative assessment, whether it is evidence that is brought to the session or candidate discussions I have with the candidates. Throughout the session I pose questions and look for answers where the candidate draws on their experience.

I then will set an action plan (Appendix 10 and 11) for each candidate for the work that they need to complete for the next session, ensuring that I take into account their ability and their needs as a learner. At the next session I will review their evidence and reference it back to the standards giving the candidate verbal and written feedback on their work. (Appendix 8 and 9) Throughout the sessions I tend to follow Kolb’s theory. I would ask the candidates to recall their experiences. I would then discuss those with them and highlight good practice and inform them of good practice.

I would then ask the candidate to provide evidence of the task, with statements and witness testimony. I would then observe the candidate carrying out the task and utilising their new found knowledge. The whole process works well, providing knowledge and feedback through the session and then the review at the next session. It can be difficult if a candidate struggles when in a group situation, to deal with this, I will arrange a further appointment with them on an individual basis to support them on the unit. Words 1274 Section 3

I found this module very interesting as it has allowed me to develop my knowledge further than my City and Guilds 7303. It has allowed me to think about what I do and how I do it and then reflect on it. I have found reflection very enjoyable, although difficult at first. I now find myself reflecting immediately after my session, thinking of the positive and negatives of what went well and what did not and how I felt throughout the session. Looking at the learning behaviours has allowed me to understand where my candidates are and how they may react.

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