Ever since I became a teacher, I have sort to improve my practice by way of further informal research into topic areas that may impact my professional effectiveness. Early in my career I engaged in professional development on topics such as behaviour management (with Bill Rogers), project- and problem-based (with Intel), website design, webquest design, action research and so much more. What is this type of ad hoc research strategy reminiscent of? After doing some reading and reflection, I believe that my professional practice has seen me develop skills in design-based research, as a facilitator of professional improvement. The image below shows the difference between traditionally adopted research and design-based research practice.
The way that I approached research was very much to figure out the exact nature of the problem I was facing in the classroom and to then do some internet research to develop solutions for these problems. Behaviour/classroom management was of course a big issue for me in those early days and determining the main source of the problem was of course not easy, however, the students’ engagement and motivation proved to be a big factor in it. I sort to explore more technically innovative ways to facilitate students’ learning opportunities to increase their motivation and engagement with the subject, creating Webquests and projects that would give them more autonomy and ownership over their learning.
My work towards finding a solution was not quick, and to be honest, I never mastered it of course, but I tried many different strategies and tools, both technical and pedagogical, to test and refine what might work best. I always learned a lot from these experiences, and I still do this kind of research in the various roles I have taken since my first classroom teaching position.
I believe that no learning experience is complete without critical reflection and that is part of the design-based research paradigm, and the catalyst for it becoming a cycle that restarts based on critical reflection.
Getting to the point and the fine line of my purpose in researching is something I do not think I always do well but this time, doing research, I am being a lot more thorough and open to where it takes me. However, I also find that I end up with so many ideas about what my resulting project will be that I cannot refine it enough to be a good piece of academic writing that someone else can gain something from.
So how to I make sense of my ideas and my research and reading? It is evident from my critical reflections recorded on this blog how I’ve been trying to make sense of my research and reading. I have been prolifically reading through articles based on the search terms I started with, including: metacognition and goal-setting; critical reflection and goal-setting; and, metacognition and critical reflection. However, from the literature uncovered as a result of those searches, I started research other things such as: goal theory; judgements of confidence (JOC); self-regulation and goal-setting theory; and, metacognitive awareness in goal-setting and critical reflection. As I’ve read my knowledge of these topics has grown and so I’ve found my ideas about the focus of my project for uni getting confused but also refined.
As I’ve read these many articles I’ve copied sections of particular interest and relevance from them and put them into a Word document that records the article they are from and page numbers and I have now got a long paper trail of my research and reading, which I can reflect on and make notes from. I am also recording my ideas for my project rationale and method in a separate note on my computer and will continue to develop it. The purpose of my project has always been about helping my students to set deep, highly thoughtful goals that increase their learning outcomes and metacognitive awareness along the way. However, as I’ve read more I’ve had my focus being refined and changed to consider looking at it from the angle of ‘what is it that is stopping my students from setting deep, highly thoughtful goals now?’ or ‘why do my students set very superficial, broad goals that do not identify what they really want to achieve?’. I’ve been considering whether or not I should look more at the the psychological hinderances to good goal-setting that my students might be experiencing as well.
I will continue to work on a solid rationale for my project by critically reflecting on my the sections of the literature that I have gathered and see where it leads me. The gaps that the literature has identified gives me a starting point but I am only doing one project, not several.
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T. Cummings and M. Bernard (2002) of the St. George’s University, Grenada and the University of West Indies, Trinidad, respectively have co-written a piece on ‘A model for the Instructional Design, Development, Delivery and Evaluation of a Web-based course in Computer Science’. This article details a five-step model, the EMBER model for system development and problem solving in information systems. The article argues that the EMBER model provides solid foundation for web-based development of courses, focused on an audience of secondary students and with the role of the teacher to be predominantly a facilitator. The model is detailed in precise and succinct language that offers great guidance for planning web-based learning.
EMBER stands for evaluate, model, build, execute and review and is pretty straightforward as far as the steps go. The design of learning courses is done so by evaluating the syllabus requirements and desired outcomes and this is step one of the EMBER model. The article continues to detail each step of the model and provides some images to support these. The images are somewhat hard to understand and may prove irrelevant for some readers; however, the descriptions for each stage are brief and very helpful. The article is short but sufficient in its supply of accurate information and guidance for the design of learning in web-based environments.