February 11, 2009

Strategies for Increasing Student Learning and Performance

By: in Instructional Design, Learning Styles

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When it comes to course design, is the goal to help your students understand concepts, enable future retrieval of concepts, or enable future retrieval of concepts and apply them in real-world situations?

To create more effective learning environments, and minimize forgetting, some faculty are turning to Situation-based Learning Design (SBLD), which aligns learning context with performance context.

“SBLD begins with the magic question: What do we want our learners to be able to do, and in what situations do we want our learners to do those things,” says Will Thalheimer, president of Work-Learning Research. “It’s based on a fairly simple concept but can have profound implications.”

In the recent online seminar, Transforming Your Online Class with Situation-Based Learning, Thalheimer discusses the theory behind situation-based learning and how it can be used to provide deeper more meaningful learning and retention.

Using the Situation-Evaluation-Decision-Action (SEDA) model to evaluate instructional design, Thalheimer talks about the importance of giving students the opportunities to evaluate, make decisions and act on the problem or situation presented to them within relevant contexts and without artificial hints or supports. For example, when educators “chapterize concepts”, and don’t provide comprehensive knowledge checks or cumulative exams, they are not providing the student with proper evaluation opportunities to retrieve knowledge in a way they will be asked to retrieve it in the real world.

Whether you’re teaching in the classroom or online, Thalheimer provides the following tips for incorporating SBLD and creating performance contexts in your courses.

  • Provide real-world examples
  • Assign project work to happen in the targeted situations
  • Provide scenario-based questions
  • Have exercises related to targeted situations
  • Use relevant case studies
  • Provide simulations

The benefits, he says, includes more engaged learning, better long-term memory and recall, and improved results.

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