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[edit] Classroom Innovation


A shift in higher learning education has become necessary to adapt to the developing generations of the workers of tomorrow. With technological advances on the rise and the drive for knowledge, there is a need to accommodate for future generational mindsets. Innovating new teaching strategies into classroom practice has proven to be a complex, yet highly effective task for educators.[1] By transferring intricate teaching models to regular teaching models, educators can successfully exhibit high levels of effectiveness with their students.[1]

[edit] Types of Learning Strategies

College classrooms and higher learning have been exponentially growing, for this reason there has been an increase in variability among students and their abilities and aspirations.[2]Traditional classrooms do a rather mediocre job at attending to individual student’s needs and goals, as well as the learning experience that they retain after they have graduated. Many innovative classroom ideas have been proposed but never implemented, thus restricting the possible level of higher learning that can be achieved and utilized in today’s workforce. Some of these unconventional teaching techniques can be seen in the Jigsaw Classroom, Experience Based Learning (EBL), and Activity Theory.

[edit] Jigsaw Classroom

The technique of the Jigsaw Classroom was first introduced in grade schools to reduce competition between ever growing diverse students.[2] The approach is designed to break up a particular problem or assignment and distribute various components of the task between classmates, who then learn, collaborate, and discuss the solution of the problem as a whole.[2] This approach can be better described as each individual being a puzzle piece that must work together so that the final picture can come together as a whole. This interactive approach yields greater creativity and interdependency to achieve the goal at hand while promoting the practical benefits of the theory’s fundamentals. Theories that focus on real life experience as a tool for learning have also been given some consideration.

[edit] Experience Based Learning

Experience Based Learning utilizes an approach in which real life problems are used as the basis for helping the students effectively collaborate and communicate their knowledge.[3] The main collaboration and application aspect is much like the Jigsaw classroom. Having the students apply their acquired skills and knowledge to more everyday problems or issues, promotes life-long learning habits.[3] Experience based learning has found most success in medical schools where it is used for analyzing clinical cases, but has found merit in other fields utilizing this technique as well.[3] David A. Kolb proposes a four-stage learning cyclethat demonstrates how experience is translated through reflection based on what we ‘do’, ‘observe’, ‘think’, and ‘plan’. Kolb’s theory consists of 4 stages:

Kolb's four-stage theory
Kolb's four-stage theory
  1. Immediate or Concrete Experiences (CE): emphasizes active involvement, relating with other people and learning by experience.
  2. Reflective Observation (RO): represents the stage in which the learner watches and listens, while viewing issues from different perspectives and discovering meaning in learnt material.
  3. Abstract Conceptualization (AC): emphasizes the application of thought and logic, as opposed to feelings, to the learning situation. This stage involves planning, developing theories, and analysis.
  4. Active Experimentation (AE): involves testing theories, carrying out plans, and influencing people and events through activity.



The last stage initiates new experiences that cycle back to stage 1 and repeats the process of active learning. There has been increasing interest for EBL because it lowers the barrier between teacher and student, as well as promote interaction and reflection without having set procedures that control learning.[3] Activity Theory shares these common characteristics and is among the many interactive unconventional teaching techniques being assessed today.

[edit] Activity Theory

Activity Theory employs historical development and ideas with the active aspect of human life.[4] Traditional teachings state that learning must precede activity, however Activity Theory emphasizes quite the opposite where conscious learning manifests from performance and activity.[4]

Activity Theory, the Jigsaw Classroom, and Experience Based Learning all share components of individual goals and direction for learning while utilizing the collaboration of students and teachers. With the use of designer methods, students can retain knowledge at a greater degree with information that is directly relatable to everyday life situations, better preparing them for the workforce. Restructuring classroom goals to improve students’ attitudes and appreciation towards school can have profound effects on a learning environment for both the student and the teacher (Blaney, Stephan, Rosenfield, Aronson, & Sikes, 1977). Only through the exploration of new innovations will we be able to expand our knowledge and practice to create healthier and more valued learning experiences for current and future generations.

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Scott, S. (2003). Innovative use of teaching repertoire: A study in transfer of complex strategies into classroom practice by novice teachers. European Journal of Teacher Education, 26(3), p. 365-376.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Perkins, D. V., & Saris, R. N. (2001). A “jigsaw classroom” technique for undergraduate statistics courses. Teaching of Psychology, 28(2), 111-113.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Roy, J., Richards, D., & Pisan, Y. (2002). Helping teachers implement experience based learning. Proceedings of the International Conference on Computers in Education, p. 1-2.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jonassen, D. H., & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity Theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(1), p. 61-79.
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