Since last September when I commenced the Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Learning and Teaching through Otago Polytechnic I have been learning a great deal about pedagogical theories. This has greatly influenced my thought on teaching and has caused be to think and consider what my teaching philosophy might be. The foundation of any course is the pedagogical framework. This may vary from an instructivist (or behaviourist) model to a constructivist model. Siragusa , Dixon and Dixon (2007) suggest that highly technical courses, such as midwifery, require a more instructivist approach in the first year of the program, which can gradually change over time, as knowledge increases to a more constructivist approach. How these two are blended is dependent on several factors. Some of these are;
- How focussed or unfocussed is the instructional design
- How much content is provided or is student constructed
- Whether students are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated
- Whether the lecturers role is didactic or facilitative
- Whether the lecturer has novice or expert online capability
- Whether the course is structured to be “teacher proofed” or easily modified
- Whether collaborative learning is teacher or student guided
Midwifery students obviously need to develop clinical midwifery skills and theoretical knowledge to support these skills however the most important skills for midwifery students are the ability to critically reflect, problem solve, seek out evidence for practice and engage in continuing learning after formal study is complete. Vgotsky (1962) theorised that social interaction plays a fundamental role in cognitive development. He focussed on the connections between people and their socio-cultural context. When considering continuing professional development for health professionals, research has consistently found a preference for keeping up to date with current practice, through practice communities and professional networks. Communities of practice may be used for problem solving, sharing information, sharing resources, discussing developments as well as establishing where there is existing knowledge or gaps in knowledge and highlighting areas worthy of further investigation (Fahey & Monaghan, 2005; Gabbay & Le May, 2004; Lee, 2006; Tolson McAloon, Hotchkiss & Schofield, 2005; Wenger, 2006). I recently completed a course [Facilitating online learning communities ] where I explored the use of online tools to support the development of learning communities.
I agree that practice communities, and group interaction, play a large role in learning. I also believe that learning is life long. We need students to learn skills, and access resources that will support their continuing learning and development after they have completed their course of study, and gained accreditation in their chosen profession. There is also a significant amount of course content that students need to access and interact with. In the traditional classroom setting this would be done through the delivery of lectures, in the new flexible model of course delivery, there is an opportunity to reconsider this, and look at other ways to guide students to this material and support their learning. George Siemens discusses the concept of curatorial teaching. He suggests that lecturers provide access to resources for students to peruse and learn from. Gilly Salmon developed a five stage model for e-moderation, which is an alternative to traditional teaching for the online environment. The e-moderator and the curator seem to share some aspects in common. Both encourage autonomy for the learner, while they also provide direction to resources that will support learning. Salmon’s model provides a framework for scaffolding learning, as students learn and develop more knowledge of their topic.
In conclusion my teaching philosophy is firmly based in Constructivist theory. During the first year of the midwifery program however a more Instructivist model is needed to provide student with the background knowledge on which they can construct their subsequent learning with support from the faculty as well as midwives in practice.
Fahey, C. M., & Monaghan, J. S. (2005). Australian rural midwives: perspectives on continuing professional development [Electronic Version]. Rural and Remote Health, 5. Retrieved 25th June 2006 from http://rrh.deakin.edu.au.
Gabbay, J., & Le-May, A. (2004). Evidence based guidelines or collectively constructed “mindlines”? Ethnographic study of knowledge management in primary care. British Medical Journal, 329, 1013-1017.
Lee, S. W.-Y. (2006). The interplay between self directed learning and social interactions: Collaborative knowledge building in online problem-based discussion. Paper presented at the 7th International conference on learning sciences. ICLS’06., Bloomington IN.
Salmon, G. (2004) All things in moderation: 5 stage model. Downloaded from the world wide web April 2008 from; http://www.atimod.com/e-moderating/5stage.shtml
Siragusa, L., Dixon, K. C., Dixon, L., (2007) Designing quality e-learning environments in higher education. Conference presentation, Ascilite 2007 Singapore.
Tolson, D., McAloon, M., Hotchkiss, R., & Schofield, I. (2005). Progressing evidence-based practice: an effective nursing model? Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50(2), 124-133
Vygotsky, L. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA. MIT Press.
Wenger, E. (2008). Communities of practice, a brief introduction. Retrieved May 2008, from http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm