Saturday, September 12, 2009

Strategic learning

Yes...I'm being a glutton for punishment at the moment and am taking two papers in the Otago Polytechnic Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching (GCTLT), so be prepared a series of posts that you may not be interested in but are requirements for the course: Learner Centered Learning.

Having said that, I am doing this in a very flexible way.... in other words, I am doing this course in my own time...on my I'd appreciate any comments or feedback from you as I go to increase my learning and understanding.

Level of learning
Week one requires me to consider levels of learning: surface, deep and strategic. I have always been aware of the difference between surface and deep learning. As an educator I have aimed to design learning activities and assessment that encourages deep learning. In midwifery education it is vital that learners not only know facts, but also understand how to apply them in clinical assess...make decisions...and apply knowledge. After all the lives of woman and babies rely on this integration and application of knowledge.

Strategic learning
It is recently that I have become more aware of strategic learning as I have watched my two children work their way through New Zealand's education system, NCEA Levels 1-3. They chose what to study and what assessment to do according to the units they wanted or needed to achieve. I was very critical of this approach to education because I believed it focused learning on assessment and reduced their exposure to wider learning opportunities.

My own use of strategic learning
But I have to be honest and admit that I have been using a similar approach to my own learning over the years, especially as I have been completing the GCTLT. I am incredibly busy at the moment, involved with a number of projects. So I have made pragmatic decisions to focus on what I require for my work and assessment...ensuring that what I have 'learned' is of practical use to me, not such 'nice to know' stuff...and that doesn't sound like such a silly idea...does it?

Implications for educators
So if we as educators accept that strategic learning is becoming more and more prevalent in tertiary education as students are primed into it by NCEA, life-style and workload, we have to accept the challenge of how to deliver assessment that encourages deep learning.

What are you - a surface, deep or strategic learner? What drives your learning? What do you think of NCEA - as a student, parent or teacher?

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