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What Do We Know about Undergraduate Learning?. Bertram C. Bruce Library & Information Science U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Writing assignment. What learning experience do you remember from your undergraduate years?. Learning is …. developmental personal, meaning-based purposeful

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what do we know about undergraduate learning

What Do We Know about Undergraduate Learning?

Bertram C. Bruce

Library & Information Science

U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

writing assignment
Writing assignment
  • What learning experience do you remember from your undergraduate years?

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is
Learning is …
  • developmental
  • personal, meaning-based
  • purposeful
  • social, situated, material, multimodal
  • difficult
  • reflective

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is developmental
Learning is developmental
  • dualism/received knowledge
  • multiplicity/subjective knowledge
  • relativism/procedural knowledge
  • commitment/constructed knowledge

--William Perry

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is meaning based
Learning is meaning-based






--C. S. Peirce

Bertram C. Bruce

ex weddings
Ex: Weddings
  • "Did you know that Pam was going to wear her grandmother's wedding dress? That gave her something that was old, and borrowed, too. It was made of lace over satin, with very large puff sleeves and looked absolutely charming on her."
  • One Indian reader: "She was looking all right except the dress was too old and out of fashion".

--Steffenson, Joag-Dev, & Anderson, 1979

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is purposeful response to exhibit
Learning is purposeful: Response to exhibit

Interpretive Visitor sees Visitor asks

strategy gallery as ... what can ...

Pragmatic classroom/workshop "I do with this?"

Utopian encounter session "this say about my


Critical museum "be thought about this?"

Diversionary amusement park "I feel about this?"

--Jean Umiker-Sebeok (1994), Behavior in a museum

Bertram C. Bruce

is the world round
Is the world round?

Child: I can see it. The world is flat.

Adult: No, the world is round.

Child: It’s round? Oh, a pancake!

Adult: No, no... a ball! Look at this photo of earth from outer space.

Child: Oh! Two earths! The round one in space and the flat one we live on.

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is difficult
Learning is difficult
  • Piaget: disequilibrium
  • Vygotsky: zone of proximal development
  • Dewey: felt difficulty

Bertram C. Bruce

learning is reflective
Learning is reflective

We always live at the time we live and not at some other time, and only by extracting at each present time the full meaning of each present experience are we prepared for doing the same in the future. This is the only preparation which in the long run amounts to anything.

–John Dewey, Experience & Education

Bertram C. Bruce


Not occasionally only, but always, the meaning of a text goes beyond its author. That is why understanding is not merely a reproductive, but always a productive attitude as well.

--H. Gadamer. Truth & method

Bertram C. Bruce

curriculum instruction
Curriculum & instruction

We seek a curriculum design and instructional

methods that are universal, non-developmental,

decontextualized, impersonal, individual-based, unreflective, unidimensional, and easy.

Bertram C. Bruce

  • information doubling every six years
  • new forms of work
  • globalization
  • language changes
  • new technologies
  • concentrated control of media, information

Bertram C. Bruce

performing web design
Performing -> web design

Few people are ever taught to create successful, satisfying experiences for others. Mostly, those folks are in the performing arts: dancers, comedians, storytellers, singers, actors, etc. I now wish I had more training in theater and performing arts to rely on...especially improvisational theater.

––Nathan Shedroff (1997, internet.au)

Bertram C. Bruce

21st century challenge
21st-century challenge
  • Find problems
  • Integrate knowledge from multiple sources and media
  • Think critically
  • Collaborate
  • Learn how to learn

Bertram C. Bruce

  • are smarter (James Flynn)
  • are better educated (Berliner & Biddle; Marable)
  • more professionally-oriented, older, more female, more non-white, more non-English speaking
  • get too little sleep (Mary Carskadon)
  • use the Internet instead of print sources, but trust print more (Leigh Healy)
  • focus on grades too much

Bertram C. Bruce

connecting what we know about
Connecting what we know about…
  • learning
  • curriculum & instruction
  • students today

Bertram C. Bruce

inquiry based learning
Inquiry-based learning
  • Questions: arising out of experience
  • Materials: diverse, authentic, challenging
  • Activities: engaging. hands-on, creating, collaborating, living new roles
  • Dialogue: listening to others; articulating understandings
  • Reflection: expressing experience; moving from new concepts into action

Bertram C. Bruce

teacher as inquirer
Teacher as inquirer
  • Inquiry about the world
  • Partner in inquiry
  • Modeling
  • Guiding
  • Inquiry about teaching and learning

Bertram C. Bruce

lis 391 literacy in the information age
LIS 391: Literacy in the information age
  • Discoveries
  • Projects
  • Collaborative activities, e.g., timeline
  • Media: web board, doc cam, video, web interactive syllabus

Bertram C. Bruce

instant messaging synchronous communication
Instant messaging(synchronous communication)
  • all of the students use it
  • none of the faculty do
  • questions:
    • What functions does it serve?
    • What are its drawbacks?
    • Why are student and faculty needs different?
    • What are their communication practices?

Bertram C. Bruce


Bertram C. Bruce

continuing inquiry
Continuing inquiry…
  • help with homework
  • linking to family/friends at home
  • the use of "away" messages
  • checking away messages
  • checking on the checking (ImSpot)

Bertram C. Bruce

progressive education
Progressive education

The education of engaged citizens involves:

–respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and

–the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good

––John Dewey Project on Progressive Ed.

Bertram C. Bruce

learning to teach 1
Learning to teach - 1

As a guide for the experimentation we so freely encourage, the table opposite will be helpful. We must caution, however, that it is rife with half-truths--despite our best efforts at disclosure. We are dealing here with living things whose colors, habits, and general constitutions will vary with locale and with the skill of the individual gardener.

Bertram C. Bruce

learning to teach 2
Learning to teach - 2

This unpredictability, which strikes terror into the heart of the beginner, is in fact one of the glories of gardening. Things change, certainly from year to year and sometimes from morning to evening. There are mysteries, surprises, and always, lessons to be learned. After almost 40 years hard at it, we are only beginning.

–Amos Pettingill, The Garden Book, 1986

Bertram C. Bruce

inquiry in language learning
Inquiry in language learning

Berghoff, et al, Beyond reading and writing: Inquiry, curriculum, and multiple ways of knowing.

Bruce & Easley, Emerging communities of practice: Collaboration and communication in action research.

Short, et al, Learning together through inquiry: From Columbus to integrated curriculum.

Wells & Chang-Wells, Constructing knowledge together: Classrooms as centers of inquiry and literacy

Bertram C. Bruce

inquiry in science learning
Inquiry in science learning

National Science Foundation: “research-validated models (e.g., extended inquiry, problem-solving)”

Reinventing Undergraduate Education(Carnegie Foundation's Boyer Commission): “#1 Make research-based learning the standard”

Project 2061 (American Association for the Advancement of Science): “#1 …science literacy for all high-school graduates”

Bertram C. Bruce