Science teaching, science learning

sharing evidence-based practices for undergraduate science faculty 

A visual model of learning to guide teaching choices


How do you think about learning? And how does this conception impact your teaching choices?

I asked myself these questions last fall, when I was working with a group of junior faculty as they considered how to revise their courses. This group tended to be quite self-effacing, saying that they did not know much about teaching or how students learn. Yet as I listened to them talk about their course revisions, I would hear ideas that are central to my own conception of learning that regularly impact how I structure my classes.

I therefore sketched out a visual model of how I think about learning and some of the teaching practices that can support it.

 I shared it with the group, and while I’m not sure it was a particularly useful tool for that conversation, I have found it to be useful when I’m interrogating my own day-to-day teaching practices. What supports am I providing to help the people I’m working with develop their metacognitive abilities? How can I make practice tasks more authentic—and authentic to what? The ways I answer these questions depends on the group I’m working with—undergraduates learning biochemistry, graduate students developing skills and knowledge about teaching, faculty members learning about a new teaching approach—but the overall framework has been useful in a variety of contexts.

How do you think about learning? Do you have a visual model—and how does it look different from this one? What would you add or modify?  I’d love to hear and share your ideas, both about your conceptions of teaching and learning and how those conceptions can be used to modify daily practice.