My teaching philosophy is drawn from constructivism (Driscoll, 2005; Ertmer & Newby, 1993), Gagne’s theory of instruction, Bandura’s self efficacy theory, and Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (1987), as well as from pedagogy and best practices of instructional design.
Constructivism is a theory that equates learning with creating meaning from experience (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Constructivists contend that what we know of the world stems from the interpretation of experiences; creating meaning as opposed to acquiring it.
Learners do not transfer knowledge from the external world into memories; rather they shape a comprehension of the world based on individual experiences and human connections. According to Lee (2016), “constructivism states that learning is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it…knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment.”
Gagne’s Theory of Instruction
Gagne’s Theory of Instruction is a process that starts with gaining the attention of the students (Driscoll, 2005). The instructor is also responsible for assessing and implementing behavioral modifications, which can assist students in reaching their full potential. Instructors may use techniques such as encoding, chunking, and retrieval, which can be crucial to developing a student’s cognitive information processing.
Behavioral reinforcements may also be utilized, especially if they are found meaningful and motivational to the learner. Learning activities designed by an instructor should help students to problem-solve, interact in communities of other learners, provide occasions for self-study, leadership, and cooperation, as well as assist students in determining how learning is connected to their own goals and objectives.
Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory
As with any learning theory, challenges to learning exist and must be considered. Instructors can use Bandura’s self-efficacy theory to identify students lacking motivation to learn. Practices that can be implemented include approaching material in unique or innovative ways, varying the instructional presentation, building on learners’ previous experiences, providing opportunities for students to achieve goals, providing learners with some degree of control over their own instruction, using positive reinforcement, and providing learners opportunities to use and demonstrate or problem-solve with new skills or information (Driscoll, 2005).
Instructors must also pay attention to distractions in the physical environment, such as noise, heat, distractions, lighting, and time of day. Most students will benefit from an instructor addressing and solving these issues to the best of her or his ability.
Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education
Chickering and Gameson (1987), first introduced to focus on undergraduate education, is equally applicable to graduate instruction, and provides a solid conceptual framework for the goals of my teaching philosophy. Chickering and Gamson also assert that good educational practice does the following:
- Encourages student-faculty contact
- Encourages cooperation among students
- Encourages active learning
- Gives prompt feedback
- Emphasizes time on task
- Communicates high expectations
- Respects diverse talents and ways of learning
Instructional technology is much more than the initial definition of planning, producing, selecting, utilizing, and managing learning modules and objects. Instructional design should be thought of as “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Branch, 2004).
Instructional designers have been charged with “translating principles of learning and instruction into specifications for instructional materials and activities” (Smith & Ragan, 1993). To achieve this goal, according to Ertmer and Newby, “a designer must have the ability to diagnose and analyze practical learning problems … (as well as) have an understanding the potential sources of solutions (i.e., the theories of human learning) (2013).” Designers should have an ample collection of instructional approaches available, along with the ability to discern when and why to use each, considering the demands of the task with an instructional strategy that has the highest chance of helping the learner (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).
As suggested by Warries (1990), a selection based on strong research is much more reliable than one based on “instructional phenomena.”
Using these educational theories and my knowledge of instructional technology, my goal is to empower learners through reasoning, critical thinking, understanding, practical use, and real-world application of knowledge.
I believe that students must be active participants in the learning process. This includes students participating during designed learning activities, but also includes taking responsibility for their own learning inside and outside of the classroom. The learner should be motivated to self-regulate learning by having some control over their own learning, setting developmentally appropriate and attainable goals, while being allowed to demonstrate and apply new knowledge. Reflective thinking should be encouraged in order to deepen the connection made between new knowledge and prior knowledge (Driscoll, 2005).
By providing a safe, positive learning environment in which students can experiment, question, and try new things, it is my hope that students will build confidence in their own abilities and begin to self-appraise and reflect on new knowledge. I will also strive to incorporate a variety of instructional technology tools that will stimulate curiosity, promote engagement, and encourage interaction with peers and the community.
Finally, it is my goal to remain a life-long learner, continuing to research, test, and utilize the latest, most interactive, and impactful instructional technology tools in order to provide an exemplary, valuable, and innovative learning experience for students.
Branch, R. M. (2004). Personal communication.
Chickering, A. W. & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin, 39, 3-7.
Constructivism (2017). Learning Theories. Retrieved from https://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html
Driscoll, M.P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon: Pearson Education.
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50-72.
Lee, J. (2016). Constructivism. Learning Theories. Retrieved from: https://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html#contributors
Reiser, R. A. (2007). What field did you say you were in? In R.A. Reiser, & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Columbus Ohio: Pearson Education, Inc.
Seels, B., & Glasgow, Z. (1998). Making instructional design decisions (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.
Smith, P.L., & Ragan, T.J. (1993). Instructional design. New York: Macmillan.
Warries, E. (1990). Theory and the systematic design of instruction. In S. Dijkstra, B. van Hout Wolters, & P.C. van der Sijde, (Eds.), Research on instruction: Design and effects (pp. 1–19). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology.