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How Learning Works.. a book study

Holistic Student Development…

Classroom Climate….

Novice vs. Expert Learners…

Avoidance Strategies …

Unconscious incompetence….

Unconscious competence….


What is the pattern? I’ll share a bit more information to help you out.





Pictures didn’t help? I’ll give you a bit more….

“Self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are systematically designed to affect one’s knowledge and skills” (Schunk and Zimmerman, 2007, p. 8) Developing competence, managing emotions, developing autonomy, establishing identity, feeling interpersonal relationships, developing purpose, and developing integrity are apart of Chickering’s (1969) model.

Hardiman-Jackson’s (1992) model where one moves from the naive stage to that of persistent and systematic societal reinforcement, conscious or unconscious acceptance of messages.


To become self-directed learners, according to How Learning Works (page 192), students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.


In the online version of OD 650 students develop presentation skills through videos they create in YouTube. So in order to help students through a process they have never experienced before, I decided to use an instructional design that gradually moves them to the final outcomes through a series of experiential events.


Here is the instructional sequence I used:


  1. As a setup provided a video lecture and assigned readings and other web sources on effective presentations.
  2. First presentation assignment: 1 min topical video – participation grade only, specific 1:1 feedback from instructor only.
  3. Class collaborates online to develop a grading rubric for the final video presentation.
  4. Second presentation assignment: 3 min topical video – participation grade only, feedback from team of peers, feedback from instructor using draft of class grading rubric.
  5. Class finalizes grading rubric for the last graded video presentation.
  6. Third presentation assignment: 5 min final topical video – grade based on rubric, feedback from class, feedback and grade from instructor using final grading rubric.

Where are the steps in the cycle at play in this instructional design?

  • Students must learn to assess the demands of the task: since students in the class had never created YouTube videos nor given presentations online, the first assignment was designed to minimize risk and it allowed them to experience the technical and presentation challenges of this media. From here they had a basis to make an assessment on the demands of the task.
  • Evaluate their own knowledge and skills: feedback on the first assignment (from the instructor only) coupled with their assigned readings on giving effective presentations gave them a framework for evaluating their own knowledge and skills. Plus, the nature of media allowed them to replay and repeat the experience for deeper analysis. In collaborating on the development of a grading rubric, they discussed and decided on what criteria should be used and the relative importance of each in evaluating their work.
  • Plan their approach: The experience of the first assignment gave them an appreciation of the production of a video presentation which should have helped in planning the approach to the next assignment. But I also used milestones in Angel which created their personal task list. Online help guides showed students how to use the task list to manage their assignments.
  • Monitor their progress: The second video presentation assignment was also graded on participation only so there was very little risk. This gave students a chance to test and evaluate their performance from the first event. Because they also collaborated on the grading rubric, they tested their ideas against their own performance. Feedback was provided by a small group of peers so they benefited from additional feedback but also in giving feedback to others.
  • Adjust their strategies as needed: The final grading rubric was due after the second practice presentation assignment which allowed students to adjust the evaluation criteria based on additional experience and feedback they shared with each other. The final presentation was open to the entire class for group feedback and was evaluated based on the final grading rubric.

Do you think this strategy implemented the principle of self-directed learning? Do you think I actually helped them learn to be self-directed learners or just simply gave them opportunities to develop this skill? I think the later is probably the answer. I look forward to your thoughts and ideas on how to improve this process.

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