Posted in learning, Photography, Psychology

My Value of Education: What I’ve Learned

So we have come to the end of the semester, where we reflect on what we have learned and falsify a glowing report for our professor Jesse Martin. So in honor of our wonderful professor Jesse Martin, I plan to the newly discovered KISS Principal or “Keep It Simple Stupid!” Principal.

In regards to the class, I have come across and researched many different psychological effects and principals (many I have written on). This includes desirable difficulties, SAFMEDS method, Zeigarnik effect, Ikea effect, the Jones MUSIC model, Carol Dweck’s Mindset theories, how we live our label, how learning styles hurt learners, and of course the KISS principle. Not only have I expanded my knowledge of various psychological principals and effects that occur within learning and education, but I have also discovered insight into the system of education and learning.

As a society, we are screwed when it comes to learning and education, so much so that Post-secondary education is the biggest Ponzi scheme, where students are on the bottom.pyramid-of-capitalist-feudal-system

Where education is striving to become a successful business, where it seems that more money is put into marketing and appearances than schooling, learning, and the students who are the foundation of education and keep the Ponzi scheme going. The students are the customers, and the degrees are the products that we are purchasing for tens of thousands of dollars. The result of this expensive purchase is that students are not able to think critically.  Where their primary focus is on the grades, which are only for accountability will never reflect what the student has learned, leaving the education system at a standstill in progress. So until someone steps up to challenge the set system, change, and actual learning will never occur.

I now reflect on the metacognition that had occurred after talking with Jesse Martin (before and after every class). When I inquired about topics and information about learning and education, I found myself focusing too much on the system, realizing that I cant change something that doesn’t want to be changed, leading to the conclusion that the entire system of education is resistant to change because students and teachers are comfortable in their bubble. For a shift to occur within education, a drastic action must occur, i.e., sue education for Malpractice.

In conclusion, I have developed a realistic perspective on how bad our education system is, which has forced me to become an independent agent for change. I conform less, question authority (more than before), question the reasons for why society and education do things in a particular manner, inspiring more confidence in my actions towards, enabling me to do things my way, regardless of the system in place. So much so that I am one of the first undergrad students to work with the teaching center, and take control over my learning regardless of other’s opinion, thoughts, or previous actions.

Moreover, I end this post, concluding that teaching is an art, and learning is a science and should begin to be thought of and applied as such.

For this week’s featured image, I put up Jesse Martin, the professor who inspired the newly found confidence, knowledge & independent agent of change… Cool! I am now a superhero.  change-agents1-1920x800

 

Posted in learning, Psychology

Effortful Learning: Synthesis​

Learning is an effortful process, as demonstrated in the last three blogs. This synthesis will reinforce the notion of effortful learning, with the goal of inspiring other individuals to reflect on their learning and question the current system of education.

As mentioned in the post about desirable difficulties, the brain and memory are less of a filing cabinet, but more of a muscle. When novel information has entered the mind, the information must be rehearsed for it to be encoded within long-term memory, much like working out the muscle to keep fit; if the memory is not repeated or muscle is not worked out, both slowly diminish.

In the case of desirable difficulties, the information obtained must be continuously reviewed over a more considerable amount of time (testing and spacing effects) to maintain the information both time and energy must be applied.

Unfortunately, teachers do a lot of the work of learning for us. By organizing the material onto slides (organizational effect) that allows for easier comprehension of the material in a way that diminished attention (disfluency effect), so that little effort is needed by the student to understand the material. Not only do teachers do the work for us, but the traditional structure of education and standardized testing assist students with fast-tracking of information so that they can obtain a high grade through a multiple choice exam. With the goal of the education system to achieve A high GPA and test results; which is pursued by both students and teachers. It appears that teachers and post-secondary institutes want students to succeed only in the form of grades as that is how they measure success. Providing students with effort-less learning contradicts how learning is acquired: through effort, time, persistence, and difficulty, not through the ability to fill in a bubble on a scantron sheet.

The current study techniques as illustrated in my prior post consist of cramming, lecture slides, highlighters, flashcards, and the list of ineffective study techniques goes on and on. But for learning to be meaningful and active, students cannot merely rely on surface level strategies such as rereading the textbook or highlighting their notes. Unfortunately, these methods achieve decent if not exceptional results within grading, but the function of the current education is to make learning easy, but learning should not be easy, as emphasized in previous posts.

In conjunction with the effort-less student strategies, learning is individualized. By this I mean, that unless students form a study group, studying and learning is done as an individualized activity.  For example, in our Camus library, there are more isolated cubicles than study rooms or work tables, which promotes secluded studying. In individualistic societies, collective learning and test taking in the classroom are frowned upon; many call it cheating.

By not giving students the opportunity to see different perspectives, discuss, reflect on and challenge the information with each other, students become used to learning in one manner which is lecture halls and isolated. Resulting in a lack of effort because students are habituated to the same environment, and less attention is needed to succeed, so studying becomes subjective. This is because of this set structure of individualized learning and lecture halls, other forms of learning or feedback never occur (differentiated instruction delayed feedback). To illustrate this lack of effort and individualization for students, a news article recently came out that states that millennials would give up their right to vote for the next two elections to have their student loan debt forgiven. To some, this may be an acceptable choice, but to a majority of people, this is shocking. This example shows how millennials and a portion of society think individualistically rather than thinking of the collective. Now whether this choice is due to an overabundance of debt, the lack of effort it takes to vote, or that their vote doesn’t matter, it still reflects the focus of individualized effort rather than collective effort.

At this state, it appears that studying and learning are done without any scientific evidence, even go against psychology and how we actually learn; education and learning have become subjective, in the way that their methods are based upon tradition and opinion. But as we have seen in the SAFMEDS post, learning should not be subjective, and that there is a significant amount of psychology within learning, to make learning more effective in the long run. With this being said, I end this synthesis with one question: Do C’s really get degrees? I believe so.

The featured image, although disturbing, is an accurate portrayal of the learning, knowledge, and effort within the education system.

References

Blumberg, J. (2017). 50% of millennials would give up this fundamental American right to have their student loans forgivenCNBC. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/29/millennials-would-give-up-this-right-to-wipe-out-their-student-loans.html

Dangel, H. (2017). Effortful Retrieval | Center for Excellence in Teaching and LearningSites.gsu.edu. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from http://sites.gsu.edu/scholarlyteaching/effortful-retrieval/

Davis, M. (2017). How Collaborative Learning Leads to Student SuccessEdutopia. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/stw-collaborative-learning-college-prep

Hopper, E. (2017). Individualist or Collectivist? How Culture Influences BehaviorHealthyPsych.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://healthypsych.com/individualist-or-collectivist-how-culture-influences-behavior/

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Learning Myths vs. Learning Facts – The Effortful Educator. (2017). The Effortful Educator. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://theeffortfuleducator.com/2017/07/17/learning-myths-vs-learning-facts/

McFeeters, F. (2017). The Effects of Individualism Vs. Collectivism on Learner’s Recall, Transfer, and Attitudes Toward Collaboration and Individualized Learning (PH’D). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

McGarry, K. (2017). effortful learning: desirable difficulty. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/effortful-learning-desirable-difficulty/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: ineffective Pedagogy and Academia. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/ineffective-pedagogy-and-academia/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: SAFMEDS. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/effortful-learning-application-of-safmeds-2/

No authorship indicated. (1987). Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning (2nd ed.). Psyccritiques32(6). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/027279

 

Posted in learning, Psychology

Effortful Learning: Ineffective Pedagogy and Academia

In a typical year or degree, undergraduates academia consists of cramming, flashcards, lectures, highlighting which all seem to be a must-have or go to method of learning. As I will demonstrate these methods are less effective than we may believe.

The first ineffective method of studying is cramming. It seems that cramming is a rite of passage, where you only become a real student if you cram at least one within your undergrad degree. Cramming is defined as forcing something into a tight or crowded area. This typically involves last-minute preparation for an exam, paper, or assignment. Unfortunately, cramming comes at a high cost of wellness, such as eating regularly (coffee does not count as food, sorry), and of course sleep. A study was done where they sleep deprived student for 36 hours and measured the effects with visual stimuli. The result of the study was an exaggerated reaction and impaired mental function. The students provided euphoric reactions to neutral visual images and produced more risky behavior because of the heightened activity in the Mesolimbic system (reward pathway). In addition to the euphoric responses, they had an impaired mental function where the students have difficulty studying the day after because they were so sleep deprived. It seems that as we are trying to increase our cognitive function by sacrificing sleep and wellness, we end up doing more harm and damage to our brain than if were to just go and sleep for a few more hours.

Lectures and PowerPoint, they seem to be one of the first, if not the only go-to methods in the teaching arsenal. It seems that lecturing and PowerPoints are a rite of passage, where you only become a real teacher if you lecture and create a reusable PowerPoint at least once within your teaching career. I recently went to a panel discussion, where a professor defended lecturing and PowerPoints. He claimed that lecturing is a method that is used to fast-track information to the students, while providing an overview, focus on a range of material, and showing students to critically think. During the presentation, he did make a few historical points, in that lecturing dates to medieval times, going back 700-800 years.

The image on the left is a lecture at the University of Bologna in Italy in the mid-fourteenth century (“Lecture,” 2017). The image in the middle is a modern lecture hall in a post-secondary. The image on the right is a modern movie theater. All three look very similar, of the three, the least useful setting, is the one in the middle. I say this because the lecture in Italy was one of the only ways the students got information. While with the movie theatre, the audience is entertained at a cheaper cost of only $10-20 per show, rather than $500-$2000 for the semester (and at least at the movie theatre, the audience can see Ryan Reynolds while eating popcorn).

Regarding PowerPoint, they seem to be a teacher’s only tool within their teaching arsenal. The original purpose of PowerPoint was for business presentations, to show graphs and data. Robert Gaskin, the designer of PowerPoint, stated that “I did not target other existing large groups of users of presentations, such as school teachers or military officers. … I also did not plan to target people who were not existing users of presentations … such as clergy and school children … our focus was purely on business users, in small and large companies, from one person to the largest multinationals” (“Microsoft PowerPoint,” 2017).

Flashcards. The history of flashcards or index cards was created by Carl Linnaeus in the 1900’s, who wanted a system for organization where he could arrange and organize data easily. Flashcards have been used by many people for similar functions, like cataloging, and now is one of the most popular study aid for students. There are many different forms of flashcards (index cards, colored coded cards, digital cards) that all have the same function– self-testing. However, are they useful? I do not think so. Although they are a form of self-testing, they influence ineffective studying, by promoting serial anticipation or (learning) effect, and a lack of associative learning. Serial anticipation is where items are learned because of the sequence or order they are in. Regarding flashcards, many students tend to study flashcards in the same order, so they are learning the order of the cards as much as the cards themselves. Which when the cards are mixed up or in a different order, students have difficulty answering recalling the cards because the order is no longer available. Therefore, the SAFMEDS method is more efficient, purely on the spaced repetition and shuffling of the cards daily.  The lack of associative learning also prevents effective learning. Typically, flashcards are consist of isolated information. “Flashcards only focus on pure memorization and/or recognition; not associative learning, knowledge or understanding”(McGarry, 2017). Thus they are useless when it comes to practical learning.

Highlighters seem to be the main purchase after or even before flashcards. Invented by Dr. Frank Honn in 1963, with the intended purpose to label and find information easier, in other words, highlighter’s sole purpose is for locating information easier, not as a studying method, like most students us them for, where pages from textbooks go from black and white to a psychedelic neon nightmare:

As I had mentioned in my post about desirable difficulties, all the ways mentioned above of learning and studying are entirely ineffective. Cramming completely goes against the spacing effect because the learning is not spaced, thus not be encoded into long-term memory. Lecturing does not offer variety, alertness, and interactivity in term of differentiated instruction, resulting in passive rather than active learning. PowerPoints (as mentioned in my previous post) provides the teacher with more learning than the students because the students do not have to organize the information themselves, it is just provided. Flashcards seem like a proper technique for learning but contradict the testing effect, as they only are useful for recognition, and don’t deal with complex questions, as it is difficult to fit a complex question and answer on an index card, and material is not struggled with because the answer is easily accessible on the back side of the flashcard. Highlighting should only be used as a colorful way to locate text, as by making the information more accessible to find it again goes against the disfluency effect, as information should be more difficult to comprehend, so more attention is put forth, so unless you are planning on highlighting the entire page with a dark blue, making the text difficult to see, then highlighter is useless for learning but excellent for locating.

So, if these ineffective strategies are your go-to methods of learning, studying or teaching, then you may want to rethink your approach to education, studying or teaching.

The featured photo is of my favourite aunt: Pam. In this photo, she is pretending to eat rocks, to which these learning strategies are just as effective as eating rocks.

References

Anwar, Y. (2017). Pulling an all-nighter can bring on euphoria and risky behaviorBerkeley News. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/03/22/pulling-an-all-nighter/

Granoff, D. (2017). All-Nighters Found to Cause Euphoria … and Brain Damage | Flyby | The Harvard CrimsonThecrimson.com. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://www.thecrimson.com/flyby/article/2011/3/25/sleep-yoo-brain-study/

Heibutzki, R. (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For MeEducation.seattlepi.com. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://education.seattlepi.com/effects-cramming-test-2719.html

Highlighter. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highlighter#cite_note-3

History of Highlighters – Who Invented Highlighter?. (2017). Historyofpencils.com. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://www.historyofpencils.com/writing-instruments-history/history-of-highlighters/

Index card. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Index_card

Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. (2008). Optimising self-regulated study: The benefits—and costs—of dropping flashcards. Memory16(2), 125-136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658210701763899

Lecture. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lecture

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: Application of SAFMEDSCognitive mindset. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/effortful-learning-application-of-safmeds-2/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: Desirable DifficultyCognitive mindset. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/effortful-learning-desirable-difficulty/

McGarry, K. (2017). Liquid NetworkingCognitive mindset. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/liquid-networking/

Microsoft PowerPoint. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_PowerPoint

Serial anticipation method – Oxford Reference. (2017). Oxfordreference.com. Retrieved 10 November 2017, from http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100455881

Posted in learning, Psychology

Effortful Learning: Application of SAFMEDS

For the second part of this three-part series, we will examine different methods of effective learning that use desirable difficulties. Learning is typically viewed in a subjective manner, especially learning strategies; but this post will apply psychology and cognition to learning.

Learning is typically viewed in a subjective manner, especially learning strategies; but this post will apply psychology and cognition to learning.

Differentiated instruction, is about varying the way material is presented, and there are a few effective ways of doing this. The first as we know is having discussions rather than a lecture because every discussion is different in how it is presented and the information that is discussed. another way is to have student participation in class, rather than having a single professor give the same speech (that she/he has probably given multiple times) invite student involvement. Unfortunately, there is a lack of student participation, and some time to get students to interact in class is quite difficult. This is because we are uncomfortable talking to 200 students, we are unsure of our understanding, it could be embarrassing, or (just like teachers) we have an image that we don’t want to risk, so maybe we should start a social movement to take control of our class and learning (but that is a different blog).

The organizational effect is about organizing your own material, and by doing so it is better understood and remembered. I use this technique myself, where I collect all the information from lecture slides, notes, textbook and additional resources, and organize them into what I call the “golden notebook” where I organize and rewrite my material in a way that makes sense to me. By doing so, I am not just memorizing, but understanding the material in a more comprehensive way. With lectures and slides, most professors organize material so that we can easily understand it, but by doing so, they professors are learning more than we are in the long run, as they are organizing the material is a way that makes sense to them and teaches it to us, even though we are the one taking the exams. For example, one of my professors begins every set of slides with a detailed outline of talking points, which he sticks to religiously: outline

The nice thing about desirable difficulties is that a variety of components can be exploited in the same learning technique, which leads us to a highly effective tool.

Say-All-Fast-Minute-Every-Day-Shuffled aka SAFMEDS is a type of learning system (Lindsley, 1996) that stems from B.F. Skinner and his free operant learning, which is that the learner is free to make as many responses to each stimulus without interference, but there is varying of the environment or stimuli, resulting in development and learning occurs, to which these same principles are used in the SAFMEDS technique.

Index cards are used, where on one side you have a definition or explanation, while on the other side features a term, a statistic, or a name that is short to read.  The goal of SAFMEDS card is to promote fluency with novel stimuli.

With this task, the learner has freedom in a few different portions that positively impact their learning. Freedom to present the stimuli, pertains positively that they earn can control the fluency of how the cards are presented, resulting in a rhythmical pattern that contributes to their performance of fluency. The learner also controls the pace of when they go through the shuffled deck. if the learner is struggling with the material, then they have the freedom to review the SAFMEDS deck the next day, but if a learner is performing well, then they might wait 2 days before going through the shuffled deck again. with this freedom, it seems quite like one of the desirable difficulties of spaced repetition or the spacing effect. each time the learner goes through their deck active recall is enacted.

Free to form responses is when the learner can adapt the material in their favor, to suit their responses while learning. In other words, learners made their own SAFMEDS deck that contained their own abbreviations and organized the material on each card that made sense to each of them. This again sounds quite like the Organizational effect of desirable difficulties.

Freedom to repeat responses is described as the learner can repeat and go through their SAFMEDS deck as much as they need to learn, which means that repeated responses will occur. But each time they go through their self-made deck is shuffled to help promote fluency and prevent serial learning effect and memorization, by exploiting disfluency through shuffling. so, by varying the material, the learners learn the material better through random repetition. This is like the disfluency effect, where the same material is presented in a novel form that enhances learning through attention.

The final freedom is the Freedom to speed. This is described as establishing a time limit when going through the SAFMEDS deck to motivate the learn and promote more fluent responses that had to better learning. by adding a time limit of one minute, is it able to show the progress and feedback of improvement.  when the learner can only answer 10 cards within 1 minute, it shows to them that they need to improve by going through their deck tomorrow.  In addition to the progression, measurable feedback is provided, through the tracking of their progress. This tracking is done by another tool known as the Standard Celebration Chart: filled+in+chart

With this chart, the learner can track their progress and improvement that extend past days, weeks, into months and years. With the time limit and the Celebration chart, a learner is provided delayed feedback as part of desirable difficulties, by showing their progression and improvement that extend back by weeks, months and years.

This learning system not only applies to four of the desirable difficulties, but it applies to ALL the desirable difficulties that were discussed the last blog. differentiated instruction pertains to the learner’s requirement to shuffle the deck before each use, in which by doing so they vary the content or order of the material. Promoting alertness and fluency. The final desirable difficulty that SAFMEDS applied to is the obvious one of the testing effect. by using novel terms and definitions, where the learner self-tests with their material, by actively retrieving information each time they go through their SAFMEDS deck.

Here is an example of what the SAFMEDS cards look like:Figure-1-Example-of-the-front-and-back-of-two-of-the-SAFMEDS-cards-from-Pack-1

For this weeks featured photo, it is a lithograph print of mine, that I believe relates quite well to one of the desirable difficulties: disfluency effect. Most people when they see this, they assume it is a typical five-fingered hand, but with careful counting, they realize that an extra hand member is added. Did you notice it?

 

References

Calkin, A. (2005). Precision teaching: The Standard Celeration Charts. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6(4), pp.207-215.

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Precision teaching. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precision_teaching#Instructional_tools [Accessed 3 Nov. 2017].

Gibson, V. (2017). Differentiating Instruction and Practice: Practical Steps for Implementation | Center for Development and Learning. [online] Cdl.org. Available at: http://www.cdl.org/articles/differentiating-instruction-and-practice/ [Accessed 3 Nov. 2017].

Johnston, J. and Pennypacker, H. (1971). A behavioral approach to college teaching. American Psychologist, 26(3), pp.219-244.

Lindsley, O. (1996). The Four Free-Operant Freedoms. The Behavior Analyst, 19(2), pp.199-210.

Potts, L., Eshleman, J. and Cooper, J. (1993). Ogden R. Lindsley and the Historical Development of Precision Teaching. The Behavior Analyst, 16(2), pp.177-189.

Quigley, S., Peterson, S., Frieder, J. and Peck, K. (2017). A Review of SAFMEDS: Evidence for Procedures, Outcomes and Directions for Future Research. The Behavior Analyst.