Education | Learning: Theory into Practice
P312 | 6034 | Amber Esping
Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.) (2000). How
people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.:
National Academy Press.
Gardner, H. (1993). The unschooled mind: How children think and how
schools should teach. New York: BasicBooks.
P312 Course Packet [Available at the IU Bookstore, TIS and Eigenmann]
Welcome to P312! You have the honor of participating in the first
offering of this new class in the recently restructured Secondary
Education Anchor Program in Teacher Education at Indiana University.
You should be aware that you will also be taking P313 Adolescent
Development in a Learning Community, and that these courses are
coordinated. The purpose of these classes is to provide you with the
latest scientific information about how people learn and develop so
that you can better understand your role in the educational process.
In P312, we will focus on the topics of learning, motivation and
assessment to help us design effective learning environments for our
students. In P313, you will learn about the unique characteristics
of adolescent learners that will need to be taken into consideration
as you work with your students.
This course is designed to provide you with the basic distinctions
and concepts necessary to apply various theories of learning,
motivation and assessment to the teaching and learning process.
These theories are tools that you can use to make your classrooms and
the experiences of your students more productive and useful. This
course will introduce and illustrate the proper use of these tools in
providing insights into defining and solving problems of teaching and
learning. The emphasis will always be on the use of these theories
to solve realistic and relevant problems drawn either from your own
personal experience or from cases we will study. It is only when you
have experienced the application of these theories to actual problems
that you can readily see their strengths and weaknesses.
I have used the word “tool” several times already and it is an
important one to understand in the context of this course. I clam
that theories are tools much like hammers and screwdrivers are
tools. A hammer is a useful and effective tool if your task is to
drive a nail into a board. You can try to use a screwdriver to drive
a nail, but I suspect you will fail and wind up with cuts and
bruises. Likewise, if you try to drive a screw with a hammer, the
wood will split and the bond is unlikely to hold-but a screwdriver
will accomplish the task very well. And despite the best efforts of
our most clever toolmakers, there is no such thing as a tool that
meets all of our needs. The analogy I am drawing is that la theory
like Skinner’s operant conditioning is a useful and appropriate tool
for certain problems like dealing with a disruptive student but not
for other problems. Similarly, Piaget’s theory is especially helpful
when considering the appropriateness of certain mathematics tasks for
a grade level, but not very helpful for many other problems. During
this course we will review a number of theories and theoretical
concepts because no one theory is applicable to all of the problems
one is likely to encounter.
Another way of looking at theory is to view them as “lenses” that can
help you see what is happening in a classroom. Those of you who wear
glasses know that putting them on helps to bring the world into
focus. What if you had several different pairs of glasses, each of
which brought a different part of the world into focus? Each time you
put on a different pair, you would view the same situation in a
different way. Theories are like this—You can view the same teaching
situation many different ways, depending on which theory you are
using as a lens.
But theories also carry with them a world-view, a conception of what
it means to be human: what it means to learn something, to teach
something, to know something, to be a person. It is important that
we examine these world-views so that we can better judge the
appropriateness of using a particular theory. To extend the tool
analogy, to a two-year-old child with a hammer in her hands,
everything in the world needs a good pounding. If we limit ourselves
to one or a few theories, or if we fail to see the kinds of
assumptions that a theory makes about the world, we will commit a
similar error. If we limit ourselves to operant conditioning, for
example, we run the risk of regarding all of our behavior (from
simple forms like disliking broccoli to complex forms like
understanding quantum mechanics) as strengthened or weakened
according to external consequences—rewards and punishments. One of
my major aims for the course is that you carry away with you a
variety of tools and a sense of when they are and are not best
A word must be said about the work-load in this course. Extensive
reading will be required, and students will be asked to take control
over their own learning process throughout the semester. There simply
aren’t going to be many opportunities to cram or pull an “all-
nighter.” I understand that some of you may feel that work best
under pressure at the last minute. For the most part however, that
strategy will not work in this class. It is important to know
yourself well: If you are a procrastinator (and many very talented
people are, by the way) please come talk to me, and perhaps I can
offer some suggestions to help you organize and prioritize the work-
Attendance: Attendance is very important. You are allowed to miss
TWO classes for any reason without penalty, and without justifying it
to me. If you use up your two absences early in the semester, and
then get the flu, the extra classes you miss will not be excused.
So, save your absences for real emergencies. (All of us need
a “mental health” day from time to time, and I understand that. Just
be smart about it!) Also, please keep in mind that all assignments
are due at the beginning of class on the due date, whether you are
present or not.
Prolonged absence due to extraordinary circumstances such as illness
will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. In all cases
documentation will be required. An example of appropriate
documentation for an illness is a physician’s note on professional
letterhead, accounting for all days of absence.
Email: I send a lot of emails though Webmail. (I do not use
Oncourse to send email.) Please check your IU account regularly for
course updates and information. I check my email account several
times a day, and make every effort to get back to students quickly.
Also, if your Webmail account goes over quota, I can’t reach you.
Please clean it out periodically.
Oncourse: Please check Oncourse (http://oncourse.iu.edu/)
regularly. I will post class notes and assignments there. (Note:
Don’t wait until the last minute to print class notes, because the
printers on campus are not always available.)
Assigned Readings: Due to the technical nature of this material,
independent reading is a necessity to be prepared for our daily
discussions of current educational topics. As you read, learn
the “edu-speak,” generate questions, and form your own opinions.
Teachers talk about these topics during their prep hours (and job
interviews); you’ll be doing the same in our class. All of us have a
responsibility to come to class prepared so we can dive into
interesting and provocative discussions. See the course calendar for
reading assignments and dates.
Late Papers and Assignments: All assignments are due at the
beginning of class, on the due date--whether you are present in class
or not. Any item not turned in on time will be docked 1 letter grade
for each calendar day it is late. This means that if an assignment is
due on Monday, and it is turned in on Wednesday, the best grade
possible is a C. Items turned in more than a half-hour after class
has begun (on the due date) will also be docked ½ letter grade.
(i.e. don’t miss class to finish your paper!) Missed assignments
will be counted as a zero unless there are extraordinary
circumstances that can be documented in writing or you make
arrangements with me well in advance. I am a reasonable person. If
you are having a problem, come talk to me—just do it early.
Academic Honesty: As an educator, you will unfortunately have to
deal with an occasional student who attempts to gain credit falsely
through academic dishonesty. Naturally, you cannot permit deceitful
practices, and in turn, I expect you to show integrity in all of your
academic work as well. All university policies for academic honesty
as stated in the Undergraduate Bulletin apply in this course. Please
familiarize yourself with the policies outlined in the Code of
Student Rights, Responsibilities & Conduct. This can be viewed at
http://campuslife.indiana.edu/Code/ Students who are caught cheating
or plagiarizing will receive a zero for the assignment and may fail
Syllabus Changes: The syllabus is flexible. Modifications will me
made as needed.
Religious Holidays: Reasonable accommodations will be made for any
student who wishes to miss a class for religious observance. If you
plan to miss an exam, you must submit an Accommodation Request Form
to me by the end of the second week of classes. If you have
questions regarding the Indiana University Religious Holidays Policy,
please see http://www.indiana.edu/~deanfac/holidays.html An
Accommodation Request Form can be downloaded from
calendar of religious holidays for this semester can be found at
Students with Disabilities: Modifications and accommodations will be
made as necessary. Please let me know the first week if you will
require adaptations or modifications, exam procedure, or due date
because of special circumstances.
I will use the following guidelines in evaluating your work:
A - Extraordinarily high achievement; shows unusually complete
command of the subject matter; represents an exceptionally high
degree of synthesis and application.
B - Very good, solid, above average quality of work; good synthesis
C - Satisfactory quality of work; average level of synthesis and
D - Minimally acceptable performance.
F - Unacceptable work, does not meet objectives of course.
Important Note: It is a requirement of the School of Education that
you achieve a minimum of a C to “pass” this class and continue in the
teacher education program. A grade of C- or lower will result in
having to retake the course.
Extra Credit: I do not give individual extra credit assignments.
Come and talk to me if you are having trouble! I want you to do well,
and I have tremendous respect for students who ask for help. However,
I do not respect students who wait until the last minute and then ask
Writing Tutorial Services: For obvious reasons, future teachers
should be concerned about proper spelling and grammar. Please
thoroughly edit your papers before you turn them in. (There are some
grammar hints in this course packet.) If you want help improving your
writing skills, there is a wonderful, free service available at:
Writing Tutorial Services, 206 Ballantine Hall. Ph. 855-6738. Check
out this website for more information:
http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/home.html Of course, I am always
happy to help as well.
Incompletes: Incompletes will only be given in extraordinary
circumstances. It is your responsibility to keep up with the course
material. If you are having difficulty doing so, come see me during
office hours or make an appointment. Don’t wait until it is too late.
Withdrawals: The automatic withdrawal date for first semester 2003
is October 29th. After this date, it is up to the instructor and the
Associate Dean for Teacher Education to determine whether to give a W
or an F. The School of Education policy reads as follows:
“Ordinarily, the only acceptable reason for withdrawal is illness or
obligation of employment. It’s the student’s responsibility to start
the withdrawal procedure by getting the form and asking the
appropriate people to sign it. The application for withdrawal must
be processed within ten days of its receipt.
STANDARDS AND PRINCIPLES FOR TEACHER EDUCATION
This course is structured around a set of core principles developed
by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium
(INTASC), the educational task force responsible for constructing
model standards for the licensing of new teachers. These principles
represent the knowledge, dispositions, and performances deemed
essential for prospective teachers in all subject areas. You can
read about the principles at http://www.ccsso.org/intasc.html. This
course will specifically address five principles by covering the
topics of student development and learning (Principles 2.1A and
2.1B), individual and group motivation and behavior (Principles 5.1A
and %.1B), and assessment strategies (Principle 8.1A). Additionally,
this course, like all courses offered by the IU School of Education,
is developed within a framework comprised of six major principles.
If you are not familiar with these principles, please read about them
P312 COURSE ASSIGNMENTS
Personal Theory Of Learning and Understanding: (20% of your grade)
You will turn in a two-page essay titled “My Personal Theory Of
Learning and Understanding” on the second day of class. You will
rewrite and extend this paper for your final “exam”.
Critical Reading Forms: (10 % of your grade)
During the first part of the semester, you will be asked to hand in 4
Critical Reading Forms. These forms will help you become a more
critical, thoughtful and observant reader.
Movie Analysis: (20% of your grade)
For the midterm, you will analyze the movie Searching for Bobby
Fischer using the learning theories discussed in class.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Video Case Analysis: (40% of your grade)
During the semester you will complete a case analyses using videos of
actual classrooms from the Inquiry Learning Forum. You will complete
part of the assignment by yourself, another part with a “critical
friend” and a third part with members of a group to which you will be
assigned. Your basic task in the first part will be to reflect upon
the instructional activities that you see in the videos and identify
issues for further analysis and study. In the second part you will
offer feedback to a colleague who has conducted a separate analysis
and receive feedback from her/him. In the third part, you will do all
of those tasks once again but in this case the goal of your group
will be to design or redesign a lesson based upon your analyses. In
all cases, the emphasis of the analysis should be on the instruction
rather than the instructor – standards of professional critique
(e.g., constructive, respectful comments) will be required. The first
analysis will count as 10% of your grade, the second as 10% and the
third as 30%.
Participation: (10 % of your grade)
The class discussions and activities are integral to your successful
completion of the assignments described above. Therefore, I expect
you to come to class, and to participate with enthusiasm! If you
have any questions, please refer to the attendance policy.
--do not make these mistakes on your papers--
1. Do not begin sentences with the word “So”
2. When you start a new topic, start a new paragraph
3. Use apostrophes (‘) to show possession. For example, “I will
bring the student’s book to school.” The book BELONGS to the
student, so you use an apostrophe. Do not use an apostrophe unless
you are talking about ownership. (For example, do not say “The
student’s are going to class today.”
If you are talking about more than one student, then the apostrophe
goes AFTER the s. For example: “I will bring the students’ books to
class.” The books belong to several students.
If the word ends in an s, put the apostrophe AFTER the s, even if you
are only talking about one person. For example, If you are talking
about someone who is named Mrs. Elias, you would say “I will bring
Mrs. Elias’ book to school.”
4. In formal writing, avoid overuse of the word “you”. For example:
Don’t write: “You should be aware of your students’ learning
styles.” Instead, write: “Teachers should be aware of their
students’ learning styles.”
5. The person who runs the school is the principal. (Think: “The
principal is my pal.”) Do not confuse this word with “principle.” We
will study learning principles in this class, but the principal runs
6. Brevity = clarity. If you can say something in fewer words, do
it. The object of great writing is not to use the biggest word, but
to use the right word. Check your definitions!
7. Let your papers sit for a couple of days, then check them for
grammar mistakes and clarity of thought. (This is
called “incubation.”) There is often a huge gap between what you
meant to say and what is actually on the page. There are very
interesting neurological reasons why you won’t catch mistakes right
away. We will talk about these reasons in our second unit.)
8. Bring your work to the Writing Tutorial Services, 206 Ballantine
Hall. Ph. 855-6738. (http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/wts/home.html) Of
course, you can always turn your drafts in early. I am always happy
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http://www.nochildleftbehind.gov/ (The official Web site of the No
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