Application-centered course designed based on the course’s characteristics
The objective of this course is not only to make students understand the developing world but also to enable them to select a right development strategy for their countries. That is, real-world applications of what students learned is a core pedagogical approach when explaining how to operate the course based on this course’s characteristics, which aims to enhance competency in real-world application when students come back to their country, rather than acquire a general knowledge that needs to be evaluated in a test. I heard it is called as an educational term *Transfer of Learning, which refers to the capacity to apply acquired knowledge and skills to new situations.
Compared to the course ‘Microeconomics’, which teaches theories of economics, the teaching focus of this course ‘Introduction to Development Policy’ is on the development issues of developing countries and explain the theoretical content of economics intuitively. Additionally, it is most important for students to be given a chance to apply what they learned because they are the consultants and researchers of the future. This results in various practical implications based on each developing countries. For example, students learn about HDI (Human Development Index) during class. Afterwards, I give a homework question; e.g. “Identify your country’s rank on HDI and analyze why gap occurs between income level and HDI”, as a guide for students to realize how to connect theory to the real-world and how to apply it to their respective countries.
PBL to facilitate student-centered learning
This course is based on PBL, which stands for problem-based learning, as an appropriate pedagogy for adult students by actively utilizing their experiences and prior knowledge in solving a problem-question. In the structure of this course, PBL is adapted in order for students to help learn through the persistent learning experience of resolving the un-structured problems offered as weekly homework questions, which students have to choose among a list of questions.
The PBL as a teaching method for student-centered learning motivates students to do self-study voluntarily in finding their own answers to selected questions, as well as to be more engaged while participating in discussions and answering the questions that I ask students in class.
In order to accomplish that, during the first class, students are requested to select a developing country of their own choice where students will apply what they learned from the course. In detail, students should do homework based on suggested homework questions for each chapter. The answer is expected to identify the current situations and problems in their chosen country related to the questions.
Through this process, students will take the perspective of a consultant for their selected country. The homework questions become part of a series of process or steps ultimately resulting in making a development policy recommendation based on broad and balanced understanding on the development issues.
Inductive approach for students to be more involved in learning experience
I focus on being a conductor in this course. I hope my course can allow for students to develop self-direct learning skills based on their own academic interests while being supported by the professor who is the conductor of the course. It means that as the conductor, I help students explore their interests and provide a chance for them to go through the process of inquiry.
At this point, my pedagogical approach for the class is based on an inductive method of teaching. During the introduction phase of the lesson, I start to ask students questions relevant to that day’s lesson topic in order to give them an idea on what they will learn that day in advance. Then, I ask them to discuss among themselves for about 10 minutes. The purpose is for them to have time to prepare for that day’s lesson instead of assigning them to read the materials before class. Afterwards, I show them 5-8 questions and ask them to choose a question they’re interested in for their homework.
Through this introduction phase, I engage students to make them curious about that day’s learning content and maintain their focus on the class by letting them think which question to select and provide ideas on how to complete their homework. These activities promote a student-centered learning environment, which allows students to create their own goals related to their own interest and support them to reach their goals under students’ control.
Sharing students’ learning journey with peers and professor
I also think it’s important for students to share their own learning journey among themselves in class. To stimulate mutual learning, I choose 3-4 students every class, who have submitted the best homework, to do a short presentation in order to share their approach, as well as the processes that they went through, with their peers. Students don’t know who will make a presentation in each class, so they all have to prepare a presentation for every class. It will help students figure out how to apply theory to real-world situations. This also provides an opportunity for students to evaluate the quality of the homework by sharing their cases with each other.
[Transfer of Learning]
Education Transfer of learning refers to learning in one context and applying it to another, i.e. the capacity to apply acquired knowledge and skills to new situations.[i] Today, transfer of learning is usually described as the process and the effective extent to which past experiences (also referred to as the transfer source) affect learning and performance in a new situation (the transfer target)[ii].
Learning from learning is more important than learning itself. What it means is to allow learners to think about learning and therefore construct their own connections between what has been learnt in the past versus what is being learnt in the present. It is about being aware of your learning and taking control of the same. In that sense, when learners manage their own learning and are more self-aware, they increase the accessibility of their learning to be applied in situations that occur in the future and help themselves in transferring their learning. In this context, an Instructor can change to helping learners learn meta-cognition skills and strategies.[iii]
Four key characteristics of learning as applied to transfer [iv]
1. The necessity of initial learning;
The necessity of initial learning for transfer specifies that mere exposure or memorization is not learning; there must be understanding. Learning as understanding takes time, such that expertise with deep, organized knowledge improves transfer. Teaching that emphasizes how to use knowledge or that improves motivation should enhance transfer.
2. The importance of abstract and contextual knowledge;
While knowledge anchored in context is important for initial learning, it is also inflexible without some level of abstraction that goes beyond the context. Practices to improve transfer include having students specify connections across multiple contexts or having them develop general solutions and strategies that would apply beyond a single-context case.
3. The conception of learning as an active and dynamic process;
Learning should be considered an active and dynamic process, not a static product. Instead of one-shot tests that follow learning tasks, students can improve transfer by engaging in assessments that extend beyond current abilities. Improving transfer in this way requires instructor prompts to assist students – such as dynamic assessments – or student development of metacognitive skills without prompting.
4. The notion that all learning is transfer.
The fourth characteristic defines all learning as transfer. New learning builds on previous learning, which implies that teachers can facilitate transfer by activating what students know and by making their thinking visible. This includes addressing student misconceptions and recognizing cultural behaviors that students bring to learning situations.
A student-learning centered view of transfer embodies these four characteristics. With this conception, instructors can help students transfer learning not just between contexts in academics, but also to common home, work, or community environments
[i] Transfer of learning. (2009). Definition of Transfer of learning [Online Comment]. Retrieved July 2, 2018, from http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Transfer_of_learning
[ii] Ellis, H. C. (1965). The Transfer of Learning. New York: The Macmillan Company.
[iii] Goel, T. (2009). Transfer of Learning – Theories and Implications. Retrieved from http://tarunagoel.blogspot.com/2009/11/transfer-of-learning-theories-and.html
[iv] Bransford , J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.