EDU 6526: Course Reflection

Reflecting on this course, I feel a bit overwhelmed by the many instructional methods with which I’ve been presented. While it has been helpful to group them by four distinct families (see Figure 1) – Information Processing (Cognitivism), Personal Development (Constructivism), Social Relations (Connectivism), and Behavioral Systems (Behaviorism) – it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish which models fall into which categories, especially since so many of them overlap or jump from one family to another. To help clear this confusion, I decided to focus on the overarching instructional values which seem to have stuck with me throughout the course. When employing this lens, two concrete concepts immediately became relevant: language and social relationships.

To begin, many instructional models presented during this course have relied heavily on an intentional and thorough use of language. Indeed, at least one model from each family has been language-based. For example, within the Information Processing family, the PWIM model is all about vocabulary and language within the larger content-based context. The Concept Attainment model is about connecting concepts to each other through the use of language links. And Direct Instruction relies entirely on the teacher communicating new information through explicit language and explanation. All of these models have resonated with me as very relevant and useful in a future classroom context.

The other value which I tend to gravitate towards within instructional models is building social relationships. While an entire instructional family is dedicated to this objective, I find the concept of social bonds to be relevant and important in other categories as well. For example, the method of Role Playing, which falls within the Personal Development family, in which students take on specific social roles in order to solve problems and generate solutions appeals to me greatly. It seems like a very versatile and fun method, which would be effective in both presenting a concept in an innovative perspective, as well as engaging students in their own learning and developing their sense of agency. I also intend to use Group Investigation in my future classroom, in which students work collaboratively to first develop a line of inquiry, and then take action to find answers on their own. The success of this model significantly depends on social relations, and as a result will help to foster positive social processes in a classroom.

This course has been successful in presenting me with a variety of instructional options for my future teaching experience. Although I feel overwhelmed by the possibilities, I am also excited to begin putting them into practice, and see for myself which methods are more effective, and which ones will help me to develop a productive, democratic learning environment.

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