Delightfully, Difficult Work: Transformation through Teaching and Learning

Delightfully, Difficult Work: Transformation through Teaching and Learning

Karen Weller Swanson (Mercer University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-906-0.ch011
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Many times students enroll in courses with the sole intention of learning new content or skills. While this is a reasonable goal, a longer term vision for students towards one of a transformed individual educates the whole person. Transformation through education has been studied for years (Kegan, 1994; Baxter-Magolda & King, 2004; and Belenky et al., 1986). This chapter is designed to examine the framework that explains the process of the transformational growth of students in becoming self-authoring. This chapter will also discuss the scholarly role that transformation plays for instructors through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Both theories have similar requirements for reflection, dialogue with peers and continuous growth. The need to design experiences that explicitly support students to reflect on their assumptions, consider alternative perspectives, develop a content language, and make connections between theory and practice will be discussed. The impact of explicitly making these ideas transparent to students illustrates the importance of modeling and valuing reflective feedback by instructors to enhance the learning process. Ideally, well-designed course dynamically shapes instructors’ thinking about their teaching and students‘ ways of thinking about their learning.
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Reflection and transformation, in educational circles today, are quickly becoming the latest buzz words. Current conversations include portfolios, journaling and online discussions as ways for students to become more aware of their cognitive learning patterns. The intention of this chapter is weave together the theories of critical reflection (Bolton, 2005), self-authorship (Baxter Magolda, 2004) and a feedback cycle (Brookfield, 2000) to better impact learning; also to introduce the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for instructors as a systematic way to reflect on their teaching. These four theories intertwine the reflective feedback cycle into a teaching and learning design to be mutually beneficial. The outcome of incorporating a feedback cycle is to illustrate the different developmental levels, teaching and learning preferences and ways to construct knowledge between instructors and students.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Constructive-Developmental Pedagogy: More than letting students talk and generate their own ideas, it is a matter of creating the developmental conditions that allow them to generate their own ideas effectively, in essence to develop their minds, their voices, and themselves.

Learner-Centered Pedagogy: This refers to the process of teaching and learning in which students are at the heart of curriculum design, classroom interaction and evaluation techniques. For example, students are provided choice of readings, assignments and assessment tools in a class.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: This is the systematic practice by instructors and instructors to use classroom data to inform curricular decisions. It requires that these understandings are made public, are part of a critical conversation with academic peers and can advance the field.

Feedback Cycle: It is a method of collecting information from students regarding their thoughts on a class, assignment or the community. Students are asked question which elicit specific responses which then the instructor reads and places in an organized format that represents the range of answers to a question. The student’s views are then presented at the next class and discussed. The information gathered over the course is used by the instructor to make adjustments to the curriculum, assignment and community interactions.

Adult Development: The process of individualizing one’s own thoughts in opinions. Development is promoted in the context of others such as parents, teachers and friends. One moves from a state of internalizing the beliefs held by others to a more sophisticated state of creating individualized views which incorporate parts and pieces from others.

Resistance: It is the process of passive or aggressive responses by students to instruction or assignments.

Community Of Practice: A group of individuals who meet around a common topic which hold specialized vocabulary and ways of knowing. It is within this group that one learns the intricacies of the topic and also helps to build knowledge in other participants.

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