Learning Theories: A Question Bank

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Project Report
Learning Theories – A Question Bank

Motivation for this project

The entire ET course was based on Learning theories both in terms of the content and the format. Therefore we were very keen on understanding the theories and principles of learning in depth. Creating meaningful questions requires one to know the subject in depth. Hence we decided on creating a question bank for Learning Theories. There was also the realization that “The answers we seek lie in the questions we ask” i.e. the more we ask the “right” questions the clearer the topic becomes. There were two more factors that influenced this decision. One was the mid sem and the quality of questions asked. The other was the lecture on alternative assessment questions which helped us realize that the questions need not necessarily be the traditional “describe a theory”, “write about …. “ kind of question. In fact questions can be designed to help students learn as much or more in the test rather than in the class. The aim of the question need not necessarily be to find out what the student does not know but rather to help the student clarify issues. Another influencing factor was the idea that what we will create could have practical utility and could be actually used in classroom situations sometime in the future. Bloom’s taxonomy provided us with the realization that there is a structured way of assessing what the student has learnt on a particular topic. This learning is not just restricted to recall of concepts but can be extended to application, evaluation and even creation. When the group members were debating on the list of probable topics, we realized that each of us had been fascinated by the idea of applying Bloom’s taxonomy in our respective areas. So this seemed like a good opportunity to actually do it. The only challenge now was to decide upon a common area of convergence of topic. Since learning theories was a topic that we had already covered in ET 801, and given the centrality of learning to the research process, it seemed but natural that this is what we would converge upon. The Journey

We started with scoping the project. It was agreed upon that the entire arena of learning is too broad and we need to restrict our focus to a few select topics. After reading the available literature on learning, we narrowed down to the following areas: * Generic – What is learning? General Principles of learning. * Three main schools – Basic tenets, Main Proponents and application * Behaviorism

* Cognitivism
* Constructivism
* Comprehensive - Interplay between the principles and theories of the 3 schools The aim was to focus upon the understanding and application level of these rather than mere “textbook recall”. The next step was to choose a framework to design the questions. We were oscillating between Alternative Assessment Questions and Bloom’s taxonomy. In the end, we chose Bloom’s taxonomy as we felt that it was a more comprehensive way of assessing the learning that had taken place. This ensured that the questions that we developed spanned the entire range of learning – from recalling the content to evaluating and creating meaning out of the content. Attempts have been made to ensure that the question bank has questions on all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy for all the three schools of learning. We have restricted the number of recall questions and have focused more on the apply level and higher order questions. The decision was taken consciously since the recall questions are the easiest to construct and have the least of value in learning. The next decision step was to agree upon whether we wanted to create the questions level wise or whether we just wanted to create an eclectic set and categorize them later. We chose the latter since it did not restrict the thinking process by imposing a pre-defined structure. It also allowed for easier collaboration. The process of generating questions involved the...
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