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Comprehensive yet easy to follow, Learning and Development is designed to help faculty, student affairs professionals, and other educators understand how students learn and what they can do to foster student achievement. Sharon Silverman and Martha Casazza reveal how diverse developmental needs—such as lack of self-esteem or cultural alienation—can be at the root of a student's learning difficulties. They draw from the latest theory and research to explore the critical connection between learning and development in six key areas: self and identity, motivation, interaction with the environment, ways of knowing, learning styles and preferences, and self-regulation and goal setting. The authors also present six case studies to show how educators can assess and resolve learning problems while enriching and advancing their own teaching expertise. Written in clear, nontechnical language, Learning and Development provides useful, systematic approaches for making connections between teaching and learning.
Everyone seems to bemoan the fact that students just aren't what they used to be-that they are not as prepared or as motivated as they were in the "good old days" of teaching. Perhaps the reader has had similar thoughts. Even though the changes may be difficult to articulate, they are real. Today's students represent a wide range of learners who bring with them unique experiences and expectations.
In a classic text, Beyond the Open Door, K. Patricia Cross (1971) introduced the "new" students of the 1970s. These were students who were often the first generation in their families to pursue education after high school. They were also students who scored in the bottom third on traditional tests of academic ability but who saw education as "the way to a better job and a better life than that of their parents" (p. 18). In the 1990s, teachers have come to expect these "new" students; in fact, this picture has become rather a common one.
How is today's picture different? Who are the new students of the 1990s, and what will students be like in the decades to come? A brief summary of the demographics related to education in the United States will provide a more focused lens through which to view today's learners. By reviewing the completion rates at different levels of schooling in addition to the changing population groups who are accessing postsecondary institutions, teachers in all settings will be better prepared to understand the needs of their students
The numbers show that high school enrollment increased 13 percent from 1984 to 1994. Although the number of white youths has declined in this population, the participation of blacks and Hispanics has been growing. From 1972 to 1992 the percentage of black high school seniors increased 6 percent, and for Hispanics the growth was 15 percent. Along with this increased enrollment have come higher completion rates. There has been a 12 percent increase for black students from 1975 to 1995. For Hispanics, the rates are more varied, but in 1995 the completion rate was 58.6 percent-an increase of 4 percent from 1990 (Hussar and Gerald, 1996, p. 9).
Not only are more students graduating from high school, but increasingly they are planning to pursue higher education. The proportion of high school students, including all racial and ethnic groups, expecting to graduate from college has risen 20 percent since 1972. The percentage of graduates going directly to college following high school was 62 percent in 1994, compared with 47 percent in 1973. This rate varies, however, among ethnic groups from 62 percent for whites to 50 percent for blacks and Hispanics. College enrollment for students of color increased almost 68 percent from 1984 to 1995. From 1990 to 1995, Hispanics had the largest gain among the four major ethnic minority groups, with an increase of 39.6 percent. The number of Asian Americans in higher education more than doubled from 1984 to 1995 (Carter and Wilson, 1996-97, p. 2).
The numbers also indicate that high school students are taking more rigorous coursework than in the past. The "New Basics" curriculum has placed an emphasis on academic course taking; the requirements are four years of English, three years of science, and social sciences and math. In 1982 only 14 percent of those in high school took such a stringent curriculum; in 1996, 61 percent enrolled in college preparatory courses (Fiore, 1998). According to a 1996 government report, "From a course-taking perspective at least, it appears that all racial and ethnic groups are better prepared for college today than they were in the early 1980s" (Carter and Wilson, 1996-97, p. 6).
The same report states that the reading skills of seventeen-year-olds have improved since the mid-1970s, with greater increases being seen in the test scores of black and Hispanic students than in those of white students. In addition, the math proficiency levels of seventeen-year-old blacks and Hispanic students have risen to narrow the gap that formerly existed with white students. At the same time, the mean SAT scores have increased significantly for black students and decreased slightly for white students.
College completion rates in 1993 increased for all ethnic and racial groups, especially females, compared with those in 1981. The percentage of change was 131.5 percent for Hispanics, 35.5 percent for blacks, and 27.7 percent for whites; women earned the majority of degrees at both the bachelor's and master's levels. These numbers reflect growing diversity; however, there is still a significant disparity among completion rates for minority groups. For students whose goal in 1989-90 was to obtain a bachelor's degree, by the spring of 1994, 61 percent had obtained it or were persisting in their efforts to do so. Of these persisters, 69 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders, 65 percent were white, 52 percent were black, and 34 percent were Hispanics (U.S. Department of Education, 1995, p. 16).
Although the traditional time for completing a bachelor's degree has been four years, this is changing significantly. Only 36 percent of students complete their degree in four years or less; 26 percent take more than six years. This too can be analyzed by ethnic group: about 36 percent of whites and Asian/Pacific Islanders take four years or less, whereas about 24 percent of blacks and Hispanics complete a degree in this time (U.S. Department of Education, 1995, p. 22).
Also contributing to the new enrollment figures in higher education are the increasing numbers of immigrants entering the United States whose first language is not English. In 1994, 8.7 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born; this figure has doubled since 1970. Seventy-six percent of the immigrant population is considered LEP (limited English proficient)-a growth of 43 percent in the last decade (Chisman, Wrigley, and Ewes, 1993, p. 1). In 1990 immigrant children were enrolled in high school at the rate of 93 percent, and they were more likely than their native peers "to make choices consistent with eventually pursuing a college education" (Vernez and Abrahamse, p. xiii). As they graduate from high school, they are more likely to attend college and to stay continuously through four years than are their native counterparts (1996, p. xiv). The "in-school" rates of eighteen-to twenty-one-year-old immigrants increased from 55 percent in 1980 to 65 percent in 1990 (p. 38). ESL (English as a second language) programs at the postsecondary level have grown commensurately, with 40 percent of all community colleges offering them in 1991, compared with only 26 percent in 1975 (Gray, Rolph, and Melamid, 1996, p. 74).
Students with disabilities are continuing their education further than they did in the past. Starting in 1991-92, their graduation rates from high school increased, with the largest number of the "exiting" population being those with learning disabilities. In 1978 freshmen who reported having a disability made up 2.6 percent of first-year college students; in 1994, this had jumped to 9.2 percent. One-third of these students were learning-disabled, and by 1994 learning-disabled students made up 3 percent of all college freshmen. This population is more likely to be male, older, and from lower-income backgrounds than the general college population.
Another part of the new diversity is age-related. From 1980 to 1990, college enrollment figures show an increase of 34 percent for those twenty-five and older. By 1993 those forty years and older represented 11 percent of the postsecondary population-an increase of 235 percent from 1970 (The Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1996, p. 14). Seventy-nine percent of this population is enrolled part-time, and over half attends two-year schools. A typical profile of this population is female, married, white, and working at least thirty hours a week. Only 39 percent of older students complete their studies in four years; less than half talks to faculty outside of class; and 93 percent never use student assistance services (p. 17). These students seem to be crunching their education into an already crowded schedule and have little time to participate in activities designed to facilitate success.
It is clear from these statistics that the overall participation in postsecondary education has ballooned way beyond the 1947 prediction made by the President's Advisory Commission on Higher Education; it estimated that 49 percent of the population could profit from at least two years of post-high school education and that 32 percent had the capacity for four years. Not only have the numbers increased dramatically, but the learners are coming from increasingly diverse populations that include more varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, immigrants, students with disabilities, and those over twenty-five years old. The kinds of faces and styles of learning are multiplying, and the time spent working toward a degree has lengthened. Students today, more frequently than before, include part-timers with high expectations for themselves who are committed to continuing their education but are often unable to make it the primary focus of their lives.
These "new" learners of the 1990s are somewhat different from those of the 1970s, but like those of the 1970s, they continue to stretch teachers' abilities and expectations. How do teachers ensure that a learner whose first language is one other than English understands the handouts and participates in class discussions? How do teachers facilitate collaborative learning and active participation with those whose cultural expectation is that teachers are authority figures with all the answers? What do teachers do to integrate part-timers who arrive at the last minute and leave as next week's assignment is being given out? And how about learners who may be underprepared either in academic skills or in the culture of the postsecondary environment-or both?
How far has our educational system really come from Cross's concern in the 1970s that our "college programs are not prepared to handle the learning needs of these New Students to higher education" (1971, p. 6).
In order to look for answers to these and other questions and to make the numbers come alive, we now introduce six students who characterize many of the learners enrolled in postsecondary systems today. We describe their general circumstances, goals, backgrounds, and current educational status. Each embodies many features of the students with whom teachers work daily. As readers review these brief histories, they will probably find that the stories sound familiar.
These students serve as case studies throughout the book. As the integration of theory, research, and principles is discussed across the various components of teaching, we will refer to these students to clarify the connections. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their own students in a similar way to ensure a relevance and clarity that comes with such a concrete application. These case studies do not specify racial and ethnic backgrounds, with the exception of Jadwiga; we've done this on purpose in order to facilitate the broadest connections for the reader.
Jadwiga is a former ESL student who has recently completed her English language coursework. She had been living in the United States for a year when she first enrolled at Urban Commuter University (UCU) three years ago. Before that, she had immigrated from Poland with her family to join extended family members who lived in a large metropolitan area of the Midwest. Jadwiga spoke little English, and her parents spoke none at all. Because they lived in a Polish American community and it was easy enough to find jobs for which English was not required, learning English was not a priority.
After a year, Jadwiga began to feel the restrictions associated with her job in the neighborhood and the missed opportunities due to her lack of English. She discovered through friends that UCU had a good ESL program, but she was a little afraid. Her family did not see the need for her to leave the community; after all, she had a good job and was in a secure environment. After much encouragement from her friends, however, she went to UCU and was assessed by the ESL faculty. They placed Jadwiga into level one of the five-level English language program, and she diligently worked her way through all five levels.
It took her almost two years to complete the coursework by attending classes in the evenings. She worked full-time during the day and joined her growing group of young classmates in the evenings. She looked forward to meeting them for dinner to practice her English before going to class. Jadwiga was finding less time for her family, and when she was home she spent most of her time studying. As much as she wanted to help, she became increasingly resentful of the additional family responsibilities she had to assume due to her increasing proficiency in English. She also wanted to speak English while at home, and she offered to help her parents learn. She found, however, that speaking Polish provided a comfort zone and a tie to their heritage that her family did not want to give up.
Shortly before completing the fifth level of English study, Jadwiga moved into an apartment downtown with some of her friends. She found a new job near school where she had to speak English, and she chose a program of study at UCU that would lead to a career in medical technology. Although she was excited and extremely proud of her accomplishments, her family did not want to talk about it and spoke very little when she came home to visit.
Mike is struggling to run his own auto repair business. He went to work full-time at his uncle's auto body shop after his graduation from high school. High school had seemed pretty easy to Mike; after all, he had been advised in his freshman year to focus on vocational-technical courses. He had grown up spending a great deal of time in his uncle's shop; he felt very comfortable in the shop atmosphere of these classes and often felt that he knew more than the teachers. Mike and his friends, in fact, developed a reputation for being confrontational and difficult, both in the classroom and outside. Their attitude was that they were already doing "real" work in their part-time jobs as mechanics, and there was nothing relevant going on at school. Mike rarely did homework and often skipped class or was asked to leave when he became too disruptive. Teacher expectations were low. In spite of this, he passed all his classes and graduated in four years.
This experience in school left Mike with the feeling that formal education was for others; he would rather learn on the job where the work was exciting and fulfilling. He worked long hours for his uncle, and because of his dedication and growing expertise the customers often asked for him specifically. At the end of two years he was working on the side for so many customers that his work week had stretched to an average of sixty-five hours. He began paying his friends to help him out with the extra work and eventually rented space in an empty garage down the street from his uncle's where he worked evenings.
After feeling pressure from his friends to cut down on his hours, Mike decided to leave his uncle's shop and direct his efforts solely at developing his own business. He figured that he already had plenty of customers and good, dependable help from his friends. What he didn't have, and didn't know he needed, was formal training in the various components of running a small business. He knew his trade, but he needed a framework for budgeting, marketing, accounting, and training. The first year was tough because he had to depend on others for this expertise. Many of his friends left because he wasn't able to pay them on a regular basis, and Mike became frustrated when he couldn't adequately communicate with his business staff.
Mike asked his uncle for advice and, after listening to him, decided to go back to school in the evenings and take a few classes. He registered in the continuing education program at his high school for an accounting class, where he immediately began to experience the old feelings from his high school days when the assignments seemed irrelevant and he felt inadequate. He struggled with the math examples from the text and wondered what they had to do with his goal of running a business.
Sabina is frustrated by her experiences in a graduate-level class taught through distance learning. She graduated from college with a major in English literature and went to work for a small company that specialized in corporate training. Her job was to write up the proposals that were sent out to potential clients; she primarily worked alone and at her own pace. She was quite successful, and her interest in writing continued to grow. After ten years, however, Sabina grew tired of this position and also felt that she needed to spend more time at home raising her two children.
She decided that returning to graduate school might be the answer; it might provide her with the opportunity to refocus her career and at the same time allow her to meet the increasing demands of her family. She found a program that seemed to be a good fit; it had a writing specialization and offered the option of an interactive video delivery system. That meant Sabina would not have to spend time driving thirty miles to class; rather, she could simply go to the interactive video classroom at the local community college and be connected to her classmates and teacher through a video camera. All instruction originated from the primary site, and most of the students attended there; in fact, Sabina was the only student who was not present in the community college classroom.
Even though Sabina had no prior experience with technology, and the monitors and cameras scared her a little, she welcomed the opportunity to be a part of this new distance learning process. She quickly learned how to work the controls and participate in discussions. She had always been resourceful and independent, so she was accustomed to figuring things out on her own. Soon, however, she began to notice the informal conversations going on among her classmates before the teacher arrived. And even though she was always included in group projects and activities, she felt a little like an outsider as she watched the others handling and distributing the materials for a presentation that she had helped to create.
One evening, the teacher invited a guest speaker to class who had never experienced an interactive delivery system. Sabina was present via camera, but the speaker kept forgetting about her and rarely looked in her direction as she spoke to the group. Sabina was able to ask questions at the end, but it was still unsettling to feel so removed. It was then that she decided to make the trip and attend the next class session thirty miles away at the primary site. She had never met her teacher or classmates face-to-face, and she felt she needed that connection.
Linda is an eighteen-year-old, first-year student living in the residence hall at Urban Residential University (URU). Her goal has always been to become a physician like both of her parents, and she chose URU because of its fine reputation in pre-med education. Her course enrollment for the first term includes biology, chemistry, psychology, English, and calculus.
When Linda was in junior high school, she was diagnosed with a learning disability in reading and worked with a learning disability specialist for three years. Her reading improved, and she received no help for her learning disability after her sophomore year in high school. She always excelled in mathematics, enjoyed science, and especially wanted to be a physician so she could help others.
Linda had never lived away from home before attending URU and was somewhat homesick from the beginning. She called her parents almost every day and often went home for the weekend because her parents lived only an hour away. Her involvement in campus activities was minimal; she found that she needed to study a great deal and felt more comfortable at home on the weekends.
Academically, the coursework was more challenging than Linda expected. Her grades in high school were mostly A's and B's, but at URU she received mostly C's and was in danger of failing her chemistry class. The large lecture classes were markedly different from her small classes in high school, and she felt intimidated by her professors, most of whom didn't know her by name. The reading assignments in all of her classes were extensive, and Linda fell significantly behind. She attended all of her classes regularly and hoped that the information from her lecture notes would make up for the reading that she had not completed.
Linda kept her academic performance concerns a well-guarded secret. When her parents asked, she always said that everything was fine. She didn't seek assistance from others and always studied alone. Because of her increasing concern about grades, she retreated from her fellow classmates. Anxiety about test performance was building as the term moved along toward final exams, and this fear made it difficult for Linda to concentrate. Her study time steadily decreased because of these difficulties. She knew that her goal of going to medical school required very good grades, and she was becoming increasingly concerned about what would happen if she performed poorly. She was especially worried about what she would tell her parents and was having difficulty sleeping and eating because of this anxiety.
Charles is a twenty-five-year-old student who is taking classes at the technical institute in order to learn computer technology skills that will help advance him on the job. He was working as a data entry clerk, but a higher-level position in data analysis opened up and he wanted to apply for the position. His company supported continuing education and paid the tuition for Charles to learn new skills.
Charles attended classes three nights a week for a total of six hours of class time weekly. This meant that for three nights he went to class directly after work and didn't get home until after his two-year-old daughter had gone to sleep. Because he had to leave very early for work, he didn't see his daughter in the morning which greatly reduced the amount of time he had to spend with her.
Class time was only one factor. Charles found that the coursework required many hours of outside reading and study which he usually completed on the weekend. His wife would have liked to go on family outings during the weekend, but Charles needed to study; there was tension between Charles and his wife because of his time away from her and their daughter.
To compound Charles's problems, there was difficulty at work. Other employees in his department complained that Charles was not alert at his computer and was making numerous entry errors. His boss spoke with him about this, and he was feeling pressure to improve his work performance.
In evening class, Charles found the work interesting and challenging. But after a long day at work, he found it difficult to concentrate and sometimes wished he could be at home with his wife and daughter. The mathematical background required for the data analysis work was significant, and Charles discovered that he needed to review more and more in order to be able to complete the class assignments. He noticed that other students seemed to grasp concepts much more quickly, and he was beginning to feel discouraged. The teacher was usually in a hurry to leave class at the end, so there was no available time to seek extra help.
Because his company was paying the course tuition, Charles had to demonstrate success in the course. If he failed to finish it satisfactorily, he would have to pay the tuition himself. This additional financial concern added to the worry and pressure to achieve.
Teresita is in college to complete a bachelor's degree in early childhood education after successfully completing an associate's degree in the same field five years earlier at a neighboring community college. Her husband is not supportive of her educational pursuits and tries to discourage her. Nevertheless, Teresita is determined; she has agreed to maintain all of her household responsibilities as well as her part-time child care job while going to school.
Her enthusiasm was high as she began her coursework. She loved learning and was an excellent student. But she began to feel the stress of trying to meet all her responsibilities at home, work, and school. Her grades began to slide and she didn't know how to turn things around.
At home, her husband was telling her that she was wrong to try to return to school and that was why she wasn't doing well. According to him, she should just stick with her part-time job and be home with the children and everything would be fine.
In a private meeting with the director of the early childhood education program, Teresita cried, saying that she thought she would have to give up her dream of earning this degree. She didn't know how she could catch up with the course assignments and was worried about keeping peace at home.
If readers will "take these students along" as they proceed, the theoretical constructs described in Chapters Two and Three will seem more relevant and directly connected to teaching. By continuously asking questions raised by the various theories and then critically reflecting on how they could directly enhance the learning and development of these students, the reader will begin to experience the value of integrating theory with practice.
Some of these questions can be directly related to the individual students we described. For instance, in Chapter Two Sternberg's concept of the triarchic mind or Tennant's adult learning theory will raise questions related to Mike's failure with formal school-ing and success in the workplace. More important, these theories will lead to reflections on how Mike's needs could be better met if formal educational practice were reexamined and made more relevant.
When the constructivist theories and their relationship to collaborative learning are described, think about Sabina and how this applies to her distance learning situation. Ask how collaboration and connection with students who may not be physically present in the classroom might be facilitated. Reflect on both the positive and negative outcomes of drawing Linda into an interpersonal relationship with either a small group or an individual tutor. Ask if she might need an external mediator, as Vygotsky suggests in his zone of proximal development.
When metacognition is discussed, think about how Charles needs to develop the strategic component of self-regulation in order to manage his stress and organize his time. Ask how Brookfield's concept of cultural suicide may affect each of these students as they lose their traditional family support. Using McClusky's theory of margin, look for the elements of load versus power that each of these students carries.
Another set of questions and reflections could be related more generally to the variables we have embedded in our student descriptions. One of the most farreaching variables that generates many unanswered questions is that of instructional delivery method. Great differences in student backgrounds, for example, will continue to have an impact on teaching practice and on questions related to the learning environment this creates; the interaction of individual learning styles, the effect on interpersonal relationships, and the effect on active, collaborative learning must be addressed.
An increasing number of postsecondary learners will have English as their second language and bring cultural expectations for teaching and individual development that may not easily fit into traditional learning settings. How can teachers integrate a range of cultural imperatives with theoretical perspectives on active learning, constructivism, and different ways of knowing? Can there be a comfort zone that acknowledges and respects a wide range of needs and expectations while challenging learners to expand their meaning systems? How is the balance between support and challenge created? Do teachers' assumptions about learning and the environment match those of the students?
These and many more questions will be raised throughout this volume in order to guide a reflection on teaching practice and the construction of a theoretical framework to facilitate student learning and development.
|Pt. 1||Understanding Learning and Development||1|
|2||Theories of Personal Development and Learning||17|
|3||Theories Related to Cognitive Development and Learning||32|
|4||A Framework for Effective Practice||57|
|Pt. 2||Applying Research to Teaching||71|
|5||Self and Identity||73|
|7||Interaction with the Environment||116|
|8||Ways of Knowing||138|
|9||Learning Styles and Preferences||178|
|10||Self-Regulation and Goal Setting||213|
|Pt. 3||New Teaching Perspectives||235|
|11||Critical Reflection on Practice||237|
|12||Educator as Innovator, Researcher, and Change Agent||254|