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Tuesday, 25 June 2013 14:21

Principles Of Learning Featured

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Principles Of Learning

Bransford and Donovan (nd) have identified various principles of learning.  In the first principle is engaging preconceptions in the learning process. Students bring different preconceptions in class and teachers should engage them. The authors have identified various strategies to engage the preconceptions.  Teachers should draw on the experiences and knowledge learners bring to the class (  Bransford & Denovan, nd). Students can have experience that support the conception the teacher plans to teach. However, teachers should provide instructional guidance in order to bring the experiences to the fore.   The educator should provide opportunities for learners to experience discrepant situations that enable them learn from the shortcomings in their daily models.  Depending on the learner’s current knowledge and experience can be hard as the daily experiences do not provide opportunities for learners to be aware of the phenomenon being studied.  Further, teachers should provide students with narrative accounts of discover of knowledge and development of tools. Providing a narrative account of the cultural heritage enables students embrace change (Elder & Davies, 2006).

 The second concept is organizing knowledge around main concepts. Teachers should introduce the main concepts when teaching. They should introduce core concepts about the nature of the field.  That is what it means to study science, mathematics and history. They should also introduce concepts important to the comprehension of the topic taught. Introducing the concepts improves students’ level of understanding and enables them understand the concepts.   Therefore, teachers should identify the concepts vital to the topic and discipline before teaching.   Failure to identify the concepts will affect the learning process, teaching and student performance.  The third principle is supporting metacognition. The teaching should enhance metacognitive skills and hence improves students’ performance. However, supporting metacognition has a big impact on low achieving students. Classroom discussions enable students to questioning their thinking and monitoring. Group discussions allow students to be involved actively in mental search. Though group discussions are vital, they have a negative effect on students. Some students might dominate the discussions and decisions. This hinders other students from participating fully in the discussion. Students should pause during discussion to think and write on their own. Supporting self monitoring and evaluation enables students develop metacognitive skills.

              Lesson plan 5: The amazing ice cubes has demonstrated how teachers can use the three principles when teaching (  Bransford & Denovan, nd).  The three principles are used to teach floating and sinking.  First, the learners’ prior knowledge plays an important role in understanding the topic. Students know their group work job priorities. Thus, the teacher does not assume the student’s prior knowledge as it will help in understanding floating and sinking. Also, the prior knowledge will help in group discussions. This is evidenced by the quotation below:

“…Students are familiar with their group work job responsibilities. No prior knowledge is assumed for this lesson…”

Second, the teacher has identified concepts important in understanding floating and sinking.  The teacher has also identified concepts related to science subject.  Some of the concepts include “ice floats on water”, “oil float on water”, “ice floats on oil” and “water contracts when it melts”.  The concepts enable students understand the topic being taught.  The students able to determine whether ice sinks or float in oil. In addition, the students will determine whether water and oil mix or not. Further, the students will learn more about the formation of water droplets as ice melts and that the ice cubes tilt down because of the droplets. Also, they will observe that the water droplets mix with water in the bottom of the glass.  The students can only understand the topic if they understand the science concepts identified by the teacher. Lastly, the teacher has encouraged the development of metacognitive skills.  He has included group activities and discussions in order to promote the development of metacognitive skills. The students participate in small group activities where each student prepares a work station.  The students work in small groups for 15 to 25 minutes where they observe ice cubes floating on oil. Apart from group discussions, the teacher encourages whole class discussions.  The teacher introduces the lesson and discusses the procedure.  Also, the educator and students will set up the melting ice cubes demonstration and discuss for 10 minutes to 15 minutes ( Bransford & Denovan, nd).  The teacher will lead the discussion about the class activities by asking several questions.  The questions are as stated below:

Why do you think the ice in the demonstration didn’t overflow when it melted?

What did you see happening in the glass?

What do you think happens to water when it freezes?

 Why did the water droplets sink while the ice cube kept floating?

             There are various teaching methods used to teach students including constructivist, direct instructions and principled eclecticism. The methods have various weaknesses and strengths that affect student learning.  The constructivist method entails the use of constructivist strategies. The advocates of constructivist method believe that learners construct knowledge using the current knowledge. Hence, teachers should develop a constructivist learning environment to enable students to learn independently. Moreover, teachers use direct instructions to teach students.  In direct instructions, educators have control. Direction instruction is based on behavioral and development learning theories.  In direct instruction classes, teachers spend a lot of time lecturing. The teachers guide students in solving complex problems and then the students are given problems to solve. However, direct instructions affect student learning as they do not support prior experience. Direct instruction depends on old learning theories, and students do not have control (Booth, 2011).

                  Many scholars have supported the principled eclecticism approach in teaching because of its strengths. Concept principled eclecticism refers to a desirable, consistent, pluralistic method of teaching languages.  Eclecticism entails the use of different learning activities to teach.  The activities have different characteristics and are motivated by various underlying assumptions.  Teachers use a wide range of activities to teach language (Cazden, 2006). Other education areas including education, counseling and art have used various activities to teach students. The advocates of eclecticism claim that there are strengths and weaknesses of using single theory based techniques. Dependence upon single theory teaching has been criticized as the limited number of methods becomes mechanic. This affects learning and students do not benefit from the learning process.  When using eclecticism, teachers do not mix up various methods randomly. Teachers should ensure the activities have systematic relationships (Larsen-Freeman, 2000).


Booth. (2011). Reflective teaching, Effective learning. ALA edition

Bransford, J.D., & Denovan, M.S. (nd). Pulling threads. National Academy of Sciences

Cazden, C, B. (2006). The Value of Principled Eclecticism in Education Reform: 1965–2005. Pedagogies, 1(2)

Elder, C., & Davies, A. (2006). The handbook of applied linguistic. John Wiley & Sons

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford University press


Last modified on Tuesday, 25 June 2013 14:25
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