June 2, 2016

Learning how people learn (best)

Dr. Katie Headrick Taylor, UW College of Education

Dr. Katie Headrick Taylor, UW College of Education

The UWSOP Curricular Innovation Guidance Team had the pleasure of participating in an interactive session on teaching and learning led by our own team member Dr. Katie Headrick Taylor, Assistant Professor at UW College of Education’s Learning Sciences and Human Development Program.

Dr. Taylor led us through several activities and facilitated discussions around how people learn across different settings (i.e., in or out of school) and throughout their lives, based on research from the Learning Sciences, including work from the College of Education’s Dr. John Bransford (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999).

We discussed the qualities of “effective” learning environments—learner-centered, knowledge-centered, community-centered, and assessment-centered—and the practicalities of achieving these qualities within a classroom setting.

Using an online collaboration tool, we began an exploration of UWSOP’s signature pedagogies, based on the work of Lee Shulman in “Signature Pedagogies in the Professions” (2005), who describes these as the “types of teaching that organize the fundamental ways in which future practitioners are educated for their new professions.” We learned about the 3 dimensions of signature pedagogies:

  1. Surface structure: “concrete, operational acts of teaching and learning, of showing and demonstrating, of questioning and answering, of interacting and withholding, of approaching and withdrawing”Examples of surface structures at the UWSOP might include lectures, small groups in lab settings, and experiential/practice arrangements.
  2. Deep structure: “a set of assumptions about how best to impart a certain body of knowledge and know-how”Examples of a deep structure at the UWSOP might be that because pharmacy is so much about “doing,” that rather than focusing on imparting a specific body of knowledge, instead students need to be able to actively participate and learn from mistakes.
  3. Implicit structure: “a moral dimension that comprises a set of beliefs about professional attitudes, values, and dispositions”Examples of an implicit structure at the UWSOP might be to focus on making the right decision based on the circumstances of the patient, instead of the most “correct” one.

In exploring these dimensions we generated several questions we could consciously address during the curricular innovation process. We also speculated on what’s missing outside of these structures in our current pedagogical approaches, and how we could incorporate various learning experiences to provide a pharmacy education program that is able to best meet our learning objectives and outcomes.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. National Academy Press.

Gurung, R. A., Chick, N. L., & Haynie, A. (2009). Exploring signature pedagogies: Approaches to teaching disciplinary habits of mind. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Shulman, LS (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52-59.

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