Proposal Title

Measuring a Student’s Approach to Learning

Session Type

Presentation

Room

P&A Rm 106

Start Date

July 2015

Keywords

psychometrics, learning style, cognition

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

A foundational observation, starting with the work of Piaget a century ago, noted two learning approaches that represent the poles of a progression in student learning skills. We use the labels “Exemplar (or Rote) Learners” and “Abstraction (or Theory-based) Learners” to distinguish students who principally solve problems by learning a spectrum of examples from those who come to understand an underlying theory of how the features relate within a category of problems. We have been collaborating with two research groups at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL): Gina Frey in Chemistry and Mark McDaniel in Cognitive Psychology. McDaniel’s group has developed an on-line instrument to evaluate a student’s learning approach and we have used this to study our first-year Chemistry classes consisting of ~2000 students and are comparing their scholastic performance with their learning approach. We will describe and explain the on-line assessment instrument and report on three years of data. We will compare our Ontario students with students at six American institutions who are also participating in the study. Going forward, we intend to use this tool to assess the effectiveness of different learning interventions that will attempt to help exemplar learners develop into abstraction learners.

Elements of Engagement

If time permits, the audience will be invited to experience the online assessment tool being used to probe student learning styles.

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Jul 9th, 2:30 PM

Measuring a Student’s Approach to Learning

P&A Rm 106

A foundational observation, starting with the work of Piaget a century ago, noted two learning approaches that represent the poles of a progression in student learning skills. We use the labels “Exemplar (or Rote) Learners” and “Abstraction (or Theory-based) Learners” to distinguish students who principally solve problems by learning a spectrum of examples from those who come to understand an underlying theory of how the features relate within a category of problems. We have been collaborating with two research groups at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL): Gina Frey in Chemistry and Mark McDaniel in Cognitive Psychology. McDaniel’s group has developed an on-line instrument to evaluate a student’s learning approach and we have used this to study our first-year Chemistry classes consisting of ~2000 students and are comparing their scholastic performance with their learning approach. We will describe and explain the on-line assessment instrument and report on three years of data. We will compare our Ontario students with students at six American institutions who are also participating in the study. Going forward, we intend to use this tool to assess the effectiveness of different learning interventions that will attempt to help exemplar learners develop into abstraction learners.