I am an environmental/development economist with extensive training in valuation of environmental and natural resources, rural and regional development issues, and social science research methods. My career goal is to be a professor at a teaching or research University in Canada. My professional goal is to make significant contribution to strengthen body of knowledge of economics of food and resource studies through research and teaching. I conducted research on economic policy reforms, food security and poverty reduction, and economics of natural resource management. I published my research findings in academic peer reviewed journals, such as Regional Development Studies and Asia Pacific Journal of Rural Development. I also presented some of my research findings at annual conferences of Association of Environmental and Natural Resource Economists (AERE), Canadian Society for Ecological Economists (CANSEE), and Sri Lanka Economic Association (SLEA). In addition, I have teaching experience from post-secondary in Canada and Sri Lanka.
WHY I AM TAKING PIDP 3260
My career goal is to be an instructor/ a professor at teaching or research University in Canada. In the context of globalization, class rooms at post-secondary institutes in North America are full of diversity, online learning, and application of social media in teaching and learning. Therefore, current class rooms at post-secondary institutes have become complex places where, conventional lecture based teaching style fail to address issues related to diversity, use of social media, and developing soft-skills or employability skills among graduate students. Due to such changes, teaching and learning have become context dependent.
I selected PIDP 3260 because it teaches me themes and concepts of effective instruction and elaborates upon strategies to develop instructional competencies. These competencies will help me to address the above mentioned complexity of class rooms. In addition, PIDP 3260 provides a good description about formal and informal assessment procedures for the instruction. Furthermore, this course will help me to gain more knowledge on professional practice in teaching and learning at post-secondary institutes. The course also teaches how to use feedback mechanism to improve instructor’s professional practice in teaching. It also highlights the purpose and methods of course evaluation. Furthermore, PIDP 3260 emphasizes the importance of professional development plan in career management. Considering the above facts, I would say that PIDP 3260 presents necessary inputs for participants to build a successful teaching career.
Instructors who care about students and who are supporting to create positive learning environment in the adult class room use praise and feedback to motivate students in learning. However praise and feedback are not able to achieve intended outcomes. Some students do not give high value for teachers’ praise and do not take such actions seriously. As a result, students do not feel rewarded when they receive praise. To create motivation among adult learners, praise and feedback should be productive and constructive. If the praise is productive, it should be focus on right mind set and skills. It is impossible to create motivation among learners through praise without such a focus. In general, praise is not purposeful and it is used to encourage learners. In many instances, praise is used to compensate other negative comments. On the other hand, intention behind the feedback is blame. Therefore, in many instances, praise and feedback are not able to achieve expected results. In short, they are not able motivate learners for active learning. Some educational experts show that following elements should be associated with productive praise and constructive feedback.
Productive praise should be consisted of following elements:
i Be specific and use straightforward sentence without theoretical questions
ii Praise the accomplishment or achievement using specific criteria that is related to learning
iii Praise personally instead of appreciating in front of other members of the group
iv Do not praise everything. It devalues your praise.
Constructive feedback should be consisted of following elements:
i Make the feedback objective and descriptive using correct examples of the relevant issue
ii Conduct self-assessment to understand mistakes and errors related to particular topic or learning
iii Do not provide a answer and lead the learner to find out the correct answer
iv Provide the feedback on the behavior not on the person
I think that the above elements related with praise and feedback may help instructors to create active learning environment in the class room.
This is very important strategy that uses to examine knowledge, skills, recall, and understanding. It is also very important to create appropriate challenge for motivating students in active learning. Learning activities which are too boring or too hard do not encourage many students in active learning. In many instances, such learning activities lead to disengagement. Background knowledge probe is known as a class room management technique that instructors can use to examine the background knowledge of students. This strategy assists instructors to determine the most appropriate level of instruction at the beginning of the class. In applying this strategy in the class room, instructors prepare a focused questionnaire at the beginning of the new class or new topic and students to answer such questions. This strategy helps instructors to identify the suitable starting point for the class. It also helps instructors to design additional learning activities for students who do not have sufficient knowledge. Furthermore, based on the outcome of the test, instructors can design more challenging work for students who are well prepared for learning activities. This strategy also leads students to memorize their previous knowledge and so that they are able to interpret and give meaning to new information. In applying this strategy, an instructor should use following steps:
(i) Before starting the lesson, an instructor should know what students have already known about the topic or new concept. At this point, an instructor should prepare a list what students want to know by participating in this lecture.
(ii) Based on the list, an instructor should prepare a two or three open ended questions to determine the current knowledge of students. In doing so, an instructor should avoid the use of technical terms that are unfamiliar to students.
(iii) An instructor can use white board or handout to present those questions for students.
(iv) An instructor should provide clear instruction for students about the purpose of this exercise. It is also important to give assurance for students that their answers will not be graded.
(v) When students provide answers to questions, form small groups to share their responses.
Critical thinking is governed by clear intellectual standard. Clear intellectual standard is associated with developing someone’s argument through identifying and analyzing arguments in favor of his/her claim and overcoming biases. It also takes into account opositional views and identifies strategies to select rationale choice based on his/her belief. Clarity is one of the standards of critical thinking and it indicates the communication of our thoughts, beliefs, and argument clearly. For example, we discuss about poverty. To maintain intellectual standard, we should clarify what is the aspects of poverty that we are going to discuss. i.e. health, income, education etc. Precision is also identified as an important standard in critical thinking. To achieve, precision we should take into account the considered issue in particular way. In doing so, we should ask following questions: (i) What is the problem? (ii) What the potential answers to this problem? (iii) What are the strength and weaknesses of each answers? When critical thinkers answer to a question, they consider the accuracy of available information. The selection of the right strategy for particular problem is dependent on the accuracy of information. Relevance is also become one of the very important standards because it influences on the solution that we are going to select for particular problem. In many instances, discussions related to socioeconomic and political issues lose the relevance of the considered issue. Consistency of thinking process is other vital factor that determines the effectiveness of the solution for particular problem. If our thinking process is not consistent, it is difficult to find logical and accurate solution for the problem. When we argue A>B>C, to consistent our argument, A should be greater than C. However, if we say A is smaller than C, then our argument is inconsistent. Logical concreteness is other element of intellectual standard. This means that we come to the final conclusion based on our previous facts and assumptions. Furthermore, when we use intellectual standard, we engage in depth analysis and thorough evaluation of the considered problem and potential solutions. This is known as completeness. It avoids the superficial criticism of our thinking process. In addition, as critical thinkers, we attempt to find impartial and unbiased solutions to a given problem. This is called fairness.
In recent time, online learning has become a key element in adult learning programs in the world. Currently, adult learning is happening in many areas such as work place, continuing education, and communities. This brief posting examines the negative aspects and challenges of online learning in the context globalization. Some researchers show that online learning is very important for increasing effectiveness in changing jobs and work environment. Online networks and communities have created innovative lifelong learning patterns such as helping novel ways of both intentional and non-intentional learning. These online networks and communities conduct lifelong learning including skill development and personal growth. Such a move encourages participation within positive sociable community. However, due to the advancement of technology, many adult face frustration in online learning. This situation creates challenges for both learners and educators. Online learners engage in both formal and informal education. Particularly, online learning is occurred in higher education, social networking, and communities of practice. National Online Learners Priorities report shows that 67% of the sample is female online learners and 85% of the sample age twenty five and older. Furthermore, this report indicates that online learners overall satisfaction remains at high level compared with learners who reside on campus and take online courses. There are several factors such as flexibility, convenience, institutional reputation, and cost influence as determinants of online education. Furthermore, social media such Facebook, You Tube, and Twitter plays significant role in adult education. This social network offers opportunities for learners explore topics of interests and share information. It also provides opportunities for skill and leadership development. Technological advancement creates opportunities for learners to form online communities to practice and share information about the topics of common interests. Online communities are different from social network because they need experts to share information about the relevant topics. Therefore, they use virtual space to create collaborative learning and activities shared interests. These online learning communities actively engage in communication of interested topics such as adult learning, professional job postings, and sustainable development etc.
Culture can be analyzed using perspectives in adult education such as personality, privilege, context and power. Personality may be visible or invisible. It is limited to the attributes such as age, class, culture, language, and sexual orientation etc. Personality influences on our experiences about the world. It also affects how world influences us. For example, our position such as gender, socioeconomic status, and age influence on our world experience. Kids who born in rich families are easy access to high education and jobs in many communities in the world. Privilege means inherited power related to race, gender, education, and occupation. For example, doctors and lawyers have more privilege compared to teachers in daily activities in any community. Culture refers a set of values reflect through action in a certain community or institute. Furthermore, culture influences the social context. Education is happened in the social context where learners have multiple agendas and conflicting interests. For example, learners at post-secondary institutes in Canada come from various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds with different kinds of job expectations. An instructor has also learning agenda to teach earn income and gain promotion. He/she also comes from different socioeconomic and cultural background. When these two groups make interactions and engage in social context leads power relations. Culture and social context play significant role in adult education in Canada. Due to changes in global economy (i.e. information age, immigration, scholarship, etc) class rooms in post-secondary institutes in Canada have become considerably multicultural. Teaching methods based on andragogy may be comfortable for learners who grow up in the western society. Foreign students who immigrate here with different socioeconomic and educational background
meet difficulties in following such learning approach. Furthermore, access to education in Countries like Canada depends on availability of funding, technology, power, and privilege. As mentioned one of my previous postings, internet has become increasingly important for not only in adult education but also in daily transaction with different commercial enterprises. As a result, people and countries have easy access to new technology have more resources to engage in adult learning compared with people who do not have access to such resources. Therefore, unequal distribution of educational opportunities and other resources lead to make teaching and learning increasing become a challenging task in the global context.
Role play is also a popular strategy that used for practicing creative thinking in the class room. This is a participatory technique that allows students to gain experience the emotional and intellectual responses of assumed identity or imaginary environment. The word “Role” implies that students actively apply knowledge, skills, and understanding to critically analyze the given problem. The word “Play” indicates that students apply their imagination and act their parts in nonthreatening environment. When an instructor uses role play as a learning strategy he/she should give sufficient time for students to understand the purpose of the role play. If students do not understand the learning goals they may be in off track and role play seems to be artificial. In this strategy, students should have sufficient understanding about the character that they are going to perform. If so, they may be more effective in the role that they play. When the role is more complicated students needs to conduct prior research to understand the nature and activities assigned to the character. However, in some instances, some students may be not enthusiastic about the role play. Under such a situation, an instructor should have to take necessary actions to reduce their discomfort and create nonthreatening environment. In doing so, an instructor can conduct ice breaker activities at the beginning of the term. The objective of this exercise is not to improve acting skills but rather to achieve specific learning goals. Therefore, eventually, an instructor should lead students to assume observer role.
Case studies can be used to train problem solving skills among students at post-secondary institutes. This strategy is used to carry out in depth analysis of a single situation or set of circumstances over time. In the education literature, this method is known as very popular method that can be used to engage students in problem solving, team work, and creative interactions. This strategy is used in professional fields such as medicine, law, and business as well as humanities such as history, sociology, and political science. When an instructor applies case study approach as a learning method he/she should use well-designed case for analysis, problem solving, decision making, and justification. This strategy gives more emphasize on active learning, real world application, and the drama and excitement. Therefore, this strategy is known as a good method to engage students in learning activities in the class room. This strategy also provides opportunities for students to identify personally with decision makers and problem that they have in their hand. There are several steps that can be followed by an instructor when he/she applies case study approach for problem solving. They are given as follows:
(i) Identify a situation or set of circumstances that create a challenging problem. In doing so, instructor can use new papers, research articles or his/her own experience.
(ii) Prepare number of questions that guide students in their approach to the case. i.e. What is the problem? What the causes of the problem? What conclusion can be drawn?
(iii) Decide the structure of your group report or statement
(iv) Form groups that include five to six students and distribute hand outs to them
(v) Lead students to analyze the case by sorting out data, identifying the problem, and finding solutions, and providing recommendations
(vi) Facilitate the students through asking questions, guiding discussions, and not telling the write answer to the problem
Gamification is a very popular strategy in current adult learning environment. In gamification, game based mechanism and game thinking is used to engage students and motivate them in adult learning process. Recently, online games, videos, and computers have become common elements of the life of college students. There are some commercial games such as civilization and rise of nations that have academic and intellectual elements. Furthermore, there are games that are developed for college level classes. Currently, teachers and vendors display some games that are design for educational purposes in the academic and disciplinary conferences. Teachers can use electronic game characteristics to teach study goals and interactions among adult learners. In addition, games are easily applied for role playing, problem solving, and board games. Researchers showed that using interactive games lead to high level of retention of information. In gaming, teachers can use both verbal and visual information. As a result information retention dramatically increases. This does not indicate that lectures are not important components of adult learning. However, lectures accompanied with gaming may assist to increase the level of retention of information.
There are number of best practices related with using games in adult learning. They are given as follows:
i. Gamification should be used only for improving and motivating learning
ii It should aim to engage learners in attractive manner
iii Game should be used for learning through trial and error
iv Follow simple and clear rules on scoring and wining
v Conduct evaluation and testing on every elements of the game
Alisha makes very interesting and attractive presentation on goals using Powtoon. This presentation applies both visual images and written texts throughout the presentation to engage students in the learning process. As a result, the presenter is able to provide active learning environment for students in the class. At the beginning of the presentation, Alisha provides the definition of goal in attractive manner using the letters “SMART”. I think that such an approach is very helpful to retain attention of students in learning process. Then, she discusses about the role of teachers and role of learners in setting goals. In presenting these slides, the presenter uses written text, visual images, and sound system throughout the presentation. Therefore, the presentation is able to create active learning environment and lead to engage students in learning process. However, it is not clear that Alisha does follow learning rubric. She does not discuss about the best practices related to setting goals. However, the presenter shows how instructor can integrate written text, visual image, and sound system to create a learning strategy that leads to student engagement.