Coming off of working on the midterm exam, this week’s task of composing four learning objectives for our course was helpful in gaining perspective and focus for what we want our students to learn. I was particularly struck by Nirupama Akella’s macro-holistic design concept, which takes the idea of chunking and turns it a bit on its ear. We have all read that “chunking” is a great idea, and it is, but we also need to look at providing students with a strong sense of why they are being asked to do smaller tasks. Without providing purpose, students may very likely feel as if they are being asked to do busywork: work that they mindlessly complete for a grade and don’t revisit. With that idea in mind, Akella reflects on Charles M. Reigeluth’s elaboration theory, which “puts the learner in the center of the learning process” (Akella). Therefore, the goal becomes not just the small tasks that lead up to the larger ones, but giving the larger idea at the beginning of a lesson so as to provide students with the bigger picture of how the content will be helpful/useful in the overall scheme of what they are learning.
The goal of teaching should be “about analyzing and addressing the needs of the learner in a macro fashion. . . . [because a] learner will always need to know the path and goal of instructions” (Akella). Hence, I foresee my class following Reigeluth’s use of starting each module with an “epitome,” which “is a large holistic comprehensive tangible example that should be positioned at the top of all weekly content” (Akella). With this epitome, students come to understand that what they are learning can be compartmentalized within the larger goals of the course. For instance, in my freshman composition course, one of the goals is for students to learn to read and analyze college-level texts and compose essays, drawing on various scholarly sources, using academic prose. I would begin each of the chunking pieces with an epitome that “enables the learner to start with a wide-angle view and then zoom in on relevant parts” (Akella). If you look at the following Assessment Taxonomy Table, you can see how each task moves toward the ultimate goal, and the progression of students’ thinking moves upward on Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy from more basic undertakings, like thinking and discussing to more complex, higher-level thinking, like analyzing and synthesizing.
Akella, Nirupama. "Macro vs. Micro? Arguing for the Whole and Not the Chunk!" ELearn Magazine, an ACM Publication. The Association for Computing Machinery, Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.
Hi, my name is Lisa, and I am an English professor at a community college in Southern California. This blog is my way of tracking my progress in my Assessment in E-Learning course (EDUC 762) for the University of Wisconsin, Stout's E-Learning and Online Teaching Graduate Certificate program.