Many of the workshops this semester are quite inspiring, especially this past week’s presentation by Dr. McGuire from LSU. Her foundational learning strategies can have a profound impact on struggling students, turning likely failure into potential success.
Earlier in the semester we had some debates in our seminars about the range of students we have in our classrooms and the inevitability for some of failure in an academic environment. Dr. McGuire challenges this inevitability, pointing instead to the underlying mechanics of the students’ approach to their academic work. Faculty take it for granted that students come to our classrooms with obvious academic skills and understanding how to apply the skills. When we see them struggle, our assumption is usually that a lack of effort or discipline is the primary cause. I am as guilty of this assumption as anyone. Dr. McGuire shows us, however, that we cannot make these assumptions. Instead, we must recognize the importance of teaching our students the underlying skills and learning strategies that can lead to clear improvement.
I was most struck by the now obvious power of talking to students about their own understanding of levels of learning, especially by presenting Bloom’s Taxonomy. Why should we keep our intensive discussions of learning process to ourselves? Along the long road of our students’ education, how many of their teachers shared the very pedagogical thinking/body of work that guides so many of the activities in the classroom? College is certainly a good place to lift the veil and share openly our pedagogical thinking to our students.