Saturday, March 04, 2006

Engaged Learning: Making Learning an Authentic Experience

What is Engaged Learning?

The authors started with making sense of what is engaged learning. As defined in the article, the term “engaged learning” implies that learners are responsible for their own learning, actively developing their own thinking / learning strategies and formulate new ideas and understanding in conversation and work with others. In other words, learners are actively engaged in the learning process to construct their own knowledge through interactions with peers and teachers.

Why Engaged Learning?

One may ask why is there a need to shift away from passive and didactic methods of learning and instructions towards emphasis on active forms of learning since the former has proven to produce “successful” students who are able to produce good results in exams. The clear answer is that the world is fast-changing one and the students that we produce are to spend their adult lives in a multi-tasking, multifaceted, technology-driven, diverse, vibrant world. Are our students adequately prepared for such a world? So does producing good results in exams equate to being successful in this fast-changing world? What changes do we need to make in our current methods of learning and instructions so as to prepare our students for the future? What are the 21st century skills that our students need to acquire? The enGauge 21st Century skills listed the following 4 skills for the 21st century learners:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Inventive Thinking
  • Effective Communication
  • High Productivity

We may now be able to see the link between “engaged learning” and preparation of our students for the fast-changing world. There is no better place to start preparing our students to be reflective, resourceful, and able to collaborate with others in their learning process than in the school where they spent a substantial amount of time in.

How to Go about Doing Engaged Learning?

The authors have provided a clear framework that deals with the tenets involved, namely classified into 2 broad areas of Problem Design and Process Design. The framework provides a good platform for teachers to consider as they prepare learning activities with the aim of to engaging students in their learning process.

For example, as suggested in the framework, the design of the problem should be ill structured. Often teachers tend to put in place too many scaffolds in the learning task.

An illustration: in teaching geometrical properties, some teachers will use GSP objects for students to manipulate so that they can make conjectures on the geometrical properties based on the observations made. However teachers tend to prepare worksheets with table that comes with headings for students to record down the data observed based on the headings given. In light of the engaged learning framework, teachers may want to leave out the headings in the table so that students can decide for themselves what are the data to be collected.

To be continue......

Monday, February 20, 2006

The start of the journey.......

Started this blog on 21 Feb.......