Innovations in Teaching
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Innovations in Teaching. Ann Downer, EdD, Director I-TECH (the International AETC). Innovation. …change that creates a new dimension of performance ( Drucker, 2002 ) …the successful exploitation of new ideas ( Dept. of Trade and Industry, UK )

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Innovations in teaching

Innovations in Teaching

Ann Downer, EdD, Director

I-TECH (the International AETC)



  • …change that creates a new dimension of performance (Drucker, 2002)

  • …the successful exploitation of new ideas (Dept. of Trade and Industry, UK)

  • …a creative idea that is realized (Johansson, 2004)


…change that creates a new dimension of performance

…the successful exploitation of new ideas

…a creative idea that is realized

As a result of this session, participants will:

be more likely to plan and facilitate teaching designed to impact 3 domains of learning;

select teaching methods with greater knowledge of evidence for their use; and

apply at least one new idea from the session to their next teaching assignment.


Session outline

Session Outline

  • Formal presentation to:

    • review accepted building blocks of effective educational design; and

    • summarize new research on teaching and learning.

  • Discussion and demonstration of “new” training methods to:

    • diversify our teaching portfolio; and

    • deepen the learning experience.

Foundations of modern educational theory

Foundations of Modern Educational Theory

  • Plato- creation of guardians for society (aristocratic government)

  • Rousseau (Émile in 1762)- tabula rasa (humans neither good nor bad; corrupted by society)

  • Dewey (~1900)- established Univ. of Chicago Lab. Schools; pragmatism; learning by doing

  • Marx and Sartre early to mid-20th century

  • Freire (1972)- social transformation through education; literacy education

  • “How” of teaching begins to gain attention with development of psychology and brain research- well into the 20th century.

Big b behaviorism

“Big B” Behaviorism

  • B.F. Skinner (1950)- learning a process of forming connections between stimuli and response

  • Behavioral psychology origin of practices such as:

    • writing learning objectives;

    • breaking content into small tasks and constructing knowledge one piece at a time (called sequencing);

    • giving immediate feedback (for conditioning); and

    • providing rewards and incentives for learning.

  • Emphasis on the observable made it difficult to study aspects of learning such as understanding, reasoning, and comprehension

Little b behaviorism

“Little b” Behaviorism

  • Humanists (i.e., Carl Rogers)- people have a desire and tendency to learn and will do so naturally when the environment nourishes learning

  • Developmental psychologists (i.e., Eric Erikson)- learning needs unfold in predictable patterns associated with developmental stages

  • “Little b” behaviorism led to modern “theories” of adult learning (i.e., Knowles, Vella)

When threat to self is low learning can proceed carl rogers

“When threat to self is low…learning can proceed.”Carl Rogers

Learning with understanding

Learning with Understanding

  • Most important contribution to learning theory during the 20th century was emphasis on learning with understanding and comprehension, not just memorization

  • Led to creation of taxonomies for didactic, affective and psychomotor domains (Mager, Bloom, Krathwahl)

  • Take-home message: select teaching methods for each domain

Cognitive domain 1

Knowledge: recall; the ability to remember information

Comprehension: understanding; the ability to interpret and explain information

Application: the ability to use information to solve problems and create new approaches

1Bloom 1956

Analysis: ability to break down information; to categorize and recognize patterns

Synthesis: ability to bring together sets of information to create or invent solutions to problems

Evaluation: ability to make a judgment based upon evidence

Cognitive Domain1

Affective domain 2

Affective Domain2

  • Receiving: attending and open to new information

  • Responding: active pursuit of an interest

  • Valuing: ability to demonstrate commitment

  • Organization: ability to formulate a judgment

  • Characterized by a value or value complex: ability to demonstrate a consistent philosophy

    2Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., and Masia, B.B. (1964)

Psychomotor domain 3

Perception: observation of behaviors involved in completing a task

Set: becoming mentally prepared to perform the task

Guided Response: performing a task with assistance

3Rothwell and Kazanas (1989)

Mechanism: acting without assistance

Complex Overt Response: performing automatically with facility and habitually

Psychomotor Domain3

Without knowledge i could not play the violin without wisdom i could not play the music

“Without knowledge I could not play the violin. Without wisdom, I could not play the music.”

Much educational practice is uninspired and results in:

  • memorization instead of self-discovery; and

  • knowledge instead of wisdom.

    Effective education provides foundation for understanding experience and developing wisdom.

New research

New Research

  • Preconception- People acquire new information on top of pre-existing knowledge, which is a powerful influence.

  • Knowledge- Acquiring a body of knowledge is critical for creating understanding and for high levels of cognitive functioning.

  • Metacognition- Experts differ from novices in specific cognitive ways- they monitor when they need more information, judge whether new information seems consistent with existing knowledge, and ask what analogies they can use to advance their own understanding.



  • If knowledge is incorrect or underdeveloped, people may not learn or may learn only to test.

  • All new learning involves transfer from previous learning.

  • Challenges: developmental issues in children and primacy in adults

  • Implications?

Organized knowledge

Ability to integrate new information into existing body of knowledge is most important factor for assuring transfer of learning from classroom to application in the real world

What are bodies of knowledge?

Experts are better able to see patterns, relationships, and discrepancies where the novice sees unrelated pieces of information.


Organized Knowledge



  • Ability to assess own knowledge, skills, and performance

  • Self-reflection, self-assessment, and sense-making:

    • Am I making assumptions?

    • Are my personal values affecting my judgment?

    • What is the source of this information?

    • Could the source affect my interpretation?

    • Am I seeing a pattern?

Implications for educators

Implications for Educators

  • Challenging learning objectives

  • Innovative learning methods for multiple domains

  • Needs assessment

  • Place information into conceptual frameworks

  • Provide many examples

  • Emphasize metacognition

  • What else?

Innovations in teaching


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