Evidence-Based Learning Course Summary

In the course, Psychology 3850-NA, Evidence-Based Learning, Dr. Jesse Martin facilitated the class in a very different way that other courses I have taken at university. I did individual research and writing of ten 500-word blog posts, reviewed 40 other course participant posts and in the classroom I presented on alternate weeks my recent post and participated in half hour discussions of other people’s research in small groups of about 8 people for discussions. There were no lectures as such.

The complement of individual and group work extends the view of Evidence-Based Learning topics and shows how others conduct research and what their life experiences have taught them.

I did appreciate the references provided by Dr. Martin to his own research and writing on Evidence-Based Learning as there are many insightful writings about learning and education from a Psychologist’s perspective.

To me, one unexpected advantage to enhance my learning, was the diversity of interests of people participating in the class. There was such a wide range of people’s interest from a chemistry major to education to counseling majors, and many others, and hearing their perspectives on Evidence-Based Learning was very informative.

Relative to my own blog posts I had a chance to research and reflect on my own teaching experiences and even had a chance to test what we were learning by allowing students in a class I taught to explore, in neighboring groups, learning of a topic through discussion and sharing and testing. As a “topic based” set of blog posts I looked at the advantages computer technology and what software can bring to the learning environment. Graphically representing information with using Mind Mapping, utilizing various programs to produce high quality materials of different types and organizing and finding information with OneNote, which also nicely supports collaboration, are useful in learning and education.

Regarding research on Evidence-Based Learning I was surprised that I found a great deal of opinions and anecdotal information on the internet and in scientific literature but a conspicuous absence of solid scientific research into the subject. There is a clear need for more scientific research for finding evidence about what influences learning and constitutes effective learning.

As distinct from lecture based instruction, in this course it seems we were participating in a Socratic discussion where, “participants seek and gain deeper understanding of concepts through thoughtful dialogue rather than memorizing information that has been provided for them”, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method). Our discussions were not a debate but an evolution of a concept through the shared experience and knowledge of the group.

I would certainly recommend this class to undergraduate students in any discipline.

Thank you, John Walkey  B.A., B.Ed.

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