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The authors begin by defining "learning that lasts" as the successful integration of learning, development, and performance. Drawing on two decades of longitudinal studies of student learning in the highly acclaimed curriculum at Alverno College and on leading educational theories, Marcia Mentkowski and her associates set forth a theory of deep and durable learning that includes practical strategies for enabling a wide range of students to cultivate integrative and expansive capabilities across a lifetime. They present concrete suggestions on the ways that faculty and academic staff can work together to forge effective curricula, design innovative programs, implement key institutional goals, and renegotiate the college culture. They analyze compelling research results, collaborative inquiry by consortia of institutions, and twenty-five years of experience to illuminate what educators and administrators must achieve so that increasingly varied learners can realize their goals and potential.
Learning That Lasts intertwines educational theory, practice, and research by demonstrating how learning frameworks can shape curricula, teaching strategy, and assessment. It presents core curriculum principles for practice and it also systematically tests assumptions about student learning, development, and performance. This landmark volume provides a detailed blueprint for understanding and promoting purposeful, responsible contribution to work, personal, and civic life.
Learning-centered education does not mean replacing an emphasis on teaching with one on learning. It does mean taking up the complexity of educators' envisioning the learning-to-teaching connection by making explicit the intuitive bridge from their knowing to acting. When building such bridges from learning-to-teaching in conversation, educators benefit by using learning principles-cast in a usable, transferable language-as bricks and mortar. Once on the bridge, however partially completed, they are free to brainstorm collaborative action principles for learning that lasts-that is, evidence-based guidelines for teaching and advising, two roles that faculty and staff embrace as part of the teaching-learning interaction.
Building bridges from learning to teaching is an abiding concern for educators as they move from student learning, as a starting point, to rethink teaching. As they formulate what they know about learning-to-teaching, educators imagine or plan what to do with what they know in their own setting. We propose that educators initiate a conversation about learning that lasts as it bears on teaching. To frame it, we provide three tools for helping it along and a design for how the conversation might flow. Such a conversation can be long or short, broad or in depth, begun with expert or novice educators-inspired by the intent to understand their students' learning.
Educators deepen their understanding of learning and teaching through discourse, which is shaped, consciously or unconsciously, by the participants' knowledge and concerns about learning. Each individual and group frames what they know in different ways and comes to different solutions. Differences and commonalities will emerge across disciplines.
Beginning a discussion about learning often evokes a request for a definition. For our purposes here, learning emerges from educational practice as an integrative, recursive, heuristic activity. In the fullest sense, learning involves thinking through the personal, disciplinary, or contextual frameworks that bear on a situation. It involves engaging in multiple experiences and performances to explore, demonstrate, and consolidate one's learning. It also means ongoing assessment that opens performances up to observation, analysis, judgment, and insight. It means embracing a range of other reflective activities that increase understanding of performance and support the integration of learning into one's overall makeup (for example, making meaning across situations, planning for future action, taking action in a range of contexts). A definition of learning and its revision may be a product of a conversation, but definition is not the primary purpose.
sation:"New Language" as a Learning Strategy
As Alverno faculty tried to adapt their language of learning-to-teaching for wider discussion, on and off campus, they realized that it was rooted in their experience of teaching. It was difficult for them to discuss the processes and consequences of learning, or their emerging ideas about the nature of teaching, apart from the contexts with which they were familiar (Riordan, 1993). Thus, amending the learning principles for this chapter meant renewed efforts to craft a language that makes explicit the learning-to-teaching connection. We expect that readers who use the principles initially to reflect on their own knowledge about learning and then to study learning as it relates to their teaching will transform our language into their own context-specific dialect. Thus, the language of learning is constantly evolving and adapting, as conversation communities pull apart or overlap.
As educators, we are continually testing idioms and usages that work well to build consensus across disciplines, but we also need context-specific, technical terms for our discourse to become more deeply meaningful (cf. Harris, 1985). A broadened and deepened language also serves communication among colleagues across higher education, because meaning making requires attention to a number of fundamental issues and common tasks in the field. Then, tensions around terminology (for example, judgment or action, design or implementation) can become dynamic and productive rather than barriers. For example, educators struggle to develop a language where learning and teaching are not immediately bifurcated, but each informs the other. They are unlikely to separate learning from its context, for example, while interacting with students. They do not separate "ability" from "content," "content" from "process," or "process" from "outcome" while they are teaching. Neither do most educators separate knowledge from performance, theory from practice, or emphasis on the disciplines from emphasis on learners. Nor do most educators, in practice, sever the "is" from the "ought" or divide the ideal from the feasible. Rather, they link what learners are actually learning with what ought to be learned, in order to project what can be learned.
Jointly developing such a language means that much of the conversation ("What is learning? What can be learned?") becomes a search for definitions, concepts, and evidence. Once a cross- disciplinary conversation turns to comparisons among various sources of ideas, then the nature of evidence, its form and epistemology, becomes a topic. Faculty and staff who uncover outside advances in learning theory and practice also create such advances themselves. To do either requires an evidence base in a language of learning that integrates emerging evidence from cognitive scientists as well as from teaching-advising practice. The need for evidence arises in part because claims for causality permeate an educator's language of teaching. Even so, that assumption of causality encounters constant challenge from each discipline, because each has a different perspective on what is good evidence. Causality in a collaborative conversation implies using a range of sources of ideas and kinds of evidence if participants are to generate principles that anticipate collaborative action. A benefit is that participants can begin to formulate, use, or revise learning principles for integrating different sources of evidence.
To elaborate their ideas about learning in a usable form, many educators translate them into a set of learning principles-the "transferable" part of the learning-to-teaching connection-because they integrate many different sources of substantive ideas about learning (for example, theory, experience, inquiry, understanding of current students). Some educators may not yet have formulated their learning principles and may initiate their conversation by using principles from various sources that resulted from collaborative inquiry (American Association for Higher Education, American College Personnel Association, & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1998; Lambert & McCombs, 1998). We also offer a set of learning principles here, as a way of initiating a conversation. Learning that lasts is integrative; experiential; self-aware and self reflective, self assessed and self-regarding; developmental and individual, transitional and transformative; active and interactive, independent and collaborative; situated and transferable; deep and expansive, purposeful and responsible.
Learning principles often do not suggest more than very broad learning conditions. Corresponding action principles for teaching and advising are a necessary part of the conversation. Educators do not dichotomize learning and action principles in practice. However, learning principles are intended to be more comprehensive and transferable than action principles; the latter are much more situated yet transportable. The benefit is that action principles are closer to actual practice. As axioms, they reflect how educators integrate different contexts of practice as well as a host of day-to-day teaching and advising experiences.
In creating an action principle from a learning principle, educators perform an act of individualized and collective interpretation, orienting their understanding toward a future action. Action principles represent educators' integration of their current perspective with their long-term, empirically based picture of learning that lasts. They join their past and most recent inquiries with their current teaching practices. "If-then" statements, formulated as action principles, can capture the dynamic between teaching and learning; they are at the heart of what enables effective teaching. Learning and action principles reflect conscious understandings that the faculty or staff member keeps focused on while planning, carrying out, and reflecting on teaching or advising. Of course, action principles are only a beginning for design-an anticipatory action-and only one outcome of the interpretive act of constructing connections to a theory of teaching from a revised theory of learning. In a particular setting, such principles are further mediated by the thinking, judging, and acting of each educator in response to that of the students (see Chapter Eight).
Learning principles realized through action principles, together with relationships among the domains of growth and transformative learning cycles, make for an educational theory of learning that lasts. And so we explicate principles of learning that lasts in relation to the in-depth inquiry in both Parts Two and Four, giving these principles more meaning because they are grounded in an integrated theory, research, and practice. We elaborate action principles with direct quotations to reflect selected, individual voices from the 110 faculty and staff members who contributed to twenty-one group conversations (see Appendix G).
The learner begins to integrate, to continually make connections and create new wholes out of multiple parts: his or her knowledge and ability, individual abilities needed in a given situation, and abilities and the situation or context. The learner is enabled to integrate and develop historical, scientific, and artistic concepts and frameworks by thinking with them and interacting with them in specific situations. Students learn to integrate by challenging themselves to continually differentiate, to break open ideas and concepts in their development of understanding. Some begin with the whole, others with parts in varied orders, pulling things apart to come to different ways of reconnecting them uniquely. Such learning creates a more sensitive and complex understanding of differences and how things fit together. Integrative learning that lasts extends, deepens, and secures the learner's knowledge and ability.
vision of collaboration.
In generating the "if-then" action principles as a group, faculty and staff as individuals also articulated several corollary insights in conversation. As one noted: "In thinking about a course, major, or program, faculty strive to create coherence. However, integration is fostered by coherence within diversity. So I also work with the multidimensionality of a concept, issue, or situation; draw on diverse sources; and engage students in exploring the complexity involved." Another group member said: "I ask students to look at different perspectives. Sometimes they understand their own perspectives better after examining others', so it's important to make the environment challenging as well as supportive." Said another: "Continually ask questions that encourage students to reflect on the relationship among the various concepts they are learning." Another commented: "Learning experiences should include explicit periods of reflection for students to analyze the expression, demonstration, or use of their abilities in varied contexts." Said another: "Integration is developmental, and novice students need multiple opportunities to grow in their ability to integrate." One faculty member noted, "Students experience knowing and doing more as discrete moments in their learning, even though faculty encourage their integration." Therefore she suggested organizing learning experiences for intermediate students so that they have some fidelity with future performance settings and more directly guiding beginning students to consider how their disciplinary learning connects to doing something with it.
Learning That Lasts Is Experiential
The learner learns experientially by connecting knowing and doing, theory and practice. Experiential learning is both active and situated, as well as integrative. It begins with experience but does not stop there; experience becomes the basis for students to develop abstractions reflectively based on familiar content. These abstractions become experiential hooks that students can consciously connect with disciplinary abstractions, which otherwise might have little meaning or purpose for them. Designing experiential learning asks educators to reconsider the principles of active learning and situated learning in the light of the need for reflection on experience. Experiential learning also calls on learners to think during experience. One way performers learn is by pursuing analytical inquiries in a problem-solving context, using their knowledge base to frame useful questions, seeking needed information, drawing conclusions, and persuading others. Individuals also learn from the experience of others. Students continually learn from observing and modeling their performance on that of peers and faculty. They learn by analyzing history, literature, consequences to the behavior of others, and the outcomes of world events.
demand structure, in which students can test their ability to transfer what they have learned to actual work contexts; feedback from an independent environment; and the opportunity to observe oneself at work and to test the ability to appraise one's own performance. Through off-campus internships, students were able to articulate connections between their college learning and future professional expectations. They came to key insights on how to read organizations and what it meant to demonstrate professional responsibility. Experiential learning in the classroom and in internships confirms the learner's abilities and enhances individual identity. At the same time, experiential learning validates the meaning of curricular abilities for postcollege settings.
Given the evidence for the role of abstract thinking in student performance in the curriculum, faculty and staff emphasized that "Students need practice in relating examples that connect abstractions to concrete experiences that are meaningful in their lives. Teachers take on a corresponding responsibility for keeping in touch with current cultural idioms, and for inquiring into students' experience and upbringing." Another educator concluded, "Teachers need to guide students deeper into the discipline and encourage them to relate abstractions to experience outside their own milieus sooner rather than later." Because students do not find disciplinary abstractions meaningful in the same way that faculty do, faculty suggested being explicit in class about how abstractions connect to the student's current experience, internships, and future roles. The role of reflection on internships in relation to discipline knowledge and outcomes is essential. One educator argued, "We need to assist students to move between concrete contexts and broader principles. This implies bringing broader principles to bear on actual experiences and drawing broader principles from actual experience. It involves inductive and deductive reasoning."
In order to take more and more responsibility for developing abilities, learners need an increasing understanding of what they are doing in relation to what they aim to do. Being aware is thus an essential part of learning. If a learner understands what was clear and meaningful about an explanation of a biological theory or a sociological framework, she can determine future strategies for effective presentations. If another understands why he was unable to hold a group's attention, he can work on improving. A successful active and reflective learning process includes learner engagement, self assessment, and feedback. Reflective self assessment helps learners to shape future performance, based on understanding both their past and present work and their intellectual processes.
The interacting groups discussed how students grow in their capacity to observe, interpret, analyze, and judge their performances in relation to planning future performances and ongoing development. Students' perspectives reinforced the faculty's realization that self assessment was central to the student's growth as a learner. In generating action principles, faculty and staff focused on their active role in fostering self assessment and self-awareness in student learning: "Create self assessment prompts that reflect the learning experience; ground self assessment in a specific content/ framework/context; include self assessment in learning; and teach the principles of self assessment as well as the meaning of criteria and their value." Another noted that "It is important to create settings that are communal, conducive to risk taking, open-ended." "Yes," said another, "the goal of peer assessment is Ômaking the other person better.' It is then nonjudgmental and nonthreatening, and results in more honest critique. Assist learners to balance self assessment between attention to development of skill and a holistic attention to personal development, intellectual and emotional." A member of the group added that curriculum should not require that an entire self assessment framework for learning be laid over every self assessment. For example, planning future performance is not appropriate to every self assessment. Commented another, "Because intuition and intuitive actions are based on integration of past learning, a series of disciplinary frameworks to draw on is essential in order for a student to arrive at a performance."
Learning is an ongoing, advancing process. Learners build on what they already know and can do, reconstructing their knowledge and ability with new learning, then carrying it forward to another level, which becomes a next potential starting place. This calls for a sequencing of learning goals, outcomes, and tasks, as well as a developmental, coherent course structure. Since this structure is a pedagogical framework and not a matter of how each student learns, it also means building in the kind of flexibility that enables a student to find and fashion an individual pattern of learning. That learning is developmental is a self-evident idea for educators. This means that they take responsibility for making learning meaningfully developmental in the curriculum. In part, that means clarifying outcomes to create multiple points of entry into the learning process for varied learners at varied stages and styles. Individualizing learning requires ensuring that students actively participate in the process by creating learning experiences that demand their individual involvement and their explicit incorporation of how new learning builds on existing knowledge and understanding.
Insights from the discussion of action principles support the idea that student performance is guided so that it becomes more sophisticated and complex by attending to the specific prerequisites and conditions for growth. "Teachers must understand the role of core skills in the discipline, how to teach these as developing abilities, and then model these as ways to take up academic work-often in advance of current learning activities." Another noted that "The curriculum must enable a student to begin education where he or she is in terms of prior experiences, ability, knowledge, attitudes, emotions, and expectations. Learning calls for faculty to recognize the developmental needs and knowledge of individual students in order to create learning opportunities that are useful to each student. This means that teachers need to ask how criteria make explicit the kinds of scaffolds, transitions, and leaps that students need at various points." Said another, "Teachers may be dealing with performances that represent the lower edge of an ability level, and students may not be ready to move to the next level, even though they meet criteria for a particular performance. Teacher expertise involves knowing the extent of performance data that warrants judgment or validation." At the same time, this faculty and staff also commit to supporting students' overall capacity to take responsibility for their own learning. Faculty and staff take on a role in guiding students toward confronting their obligation for this-a kind of transformative development in the learner's way of being in the world. A faculty member noted, "Learning is a responsibility shared with students. How that plays out is very individual." An advisor replied, "Students must learn to work in self-directed ways."
Another principle central for student development of ability is that learning is active. Students cannot learn to think or solve problems just by listening to the most informed professor or reading the most erudite text. They test and develop their thinking by thinking aloud; that is, they learn principles of effective problem solving by addressing business problems or designing plans for civic action.
and think critically and argue their own positions. For alumnae, breadth of activities serves a similar role. More recent studies at Alverno have underscored the significance that students and faculty place on class discussions and other group work as a basis for thinking critically and working with diverse frameworks.
Faculty explicitly balance their goals for students' collaborative learning-and related skills and orientations-with independent learning. "Teachers must provide opportunities for students to set goals for their own learning." Another said, "Faculty need to create opportunities for students to give service, and help them to understand both the value of service and its potential for learning." In contrast to the call for independence, some said, "We must foster a capacity for connectedness among teacher, subject matter, client, and student. Students need to develop social interaction skills for collaboration and learn to value collaboration, while teachers need to be flexible in activity design and physical class space and frame the learners' collaborative work to help them make connections beyond immediate tasks."
Learning is most secure when it is situated in the context of its ultimate use. Practice settings, internships, apprenticeships, mentorships, and simulations can embody needed rationales, means-ends relations, and other situational dynamics that become particularized resources for the learner. In situated learning, learners learn strategies that effectively use the concrete resources of particular settings. They draw on their relationships with other learners to create valued contributions in recognizable fields of practice and construct professional identities that are emotionally and intellectually sustaining. the learner's perception of the whole array of abilities. An advanced learner has developed a criterion-specific picture of his or her effectiveness in demonstrating ability, a picture that is congruent with external standards while highlighting what is unique to the individual.
As we have reviewed and extended these principles, a prominent theme began to unfold that we introduce here as an emerging learning principle: Learning that lasts is deep and expansive, purposeful and responsible. When learning endures, a learner has the habits of deep inquiry, delving into meaning, developing further levels of expertise, and letting imagination serve productive creativity. Such learning means looking beneath the surface for hidden causes, exploring larger systems, and appreciating nuances. Learning is also expansive when learners broaden their horizons by inquiring into different purposes and perspectives, trying out different approaches, and diversifying their contributions. From such learning comes commitment with integrity to their own and other purposes, which translates into integrating the self after college.
Using each of the seven learning principles to generate examples of action principles is a bridge to taking more concrete actions in a particular setting. Generating action principles within and across roles is a necessary next step in moving from abstract principles to considering how an educational program on any campus is learning-centered.
On any campus, a conversation about learning-to-teaching is especially useful for improving student learning when faculty and staff join it from across diverse roles and disciplines. The resulting dynamic prompts them to engage and influence policy within and across departments, expanding their role as educational policymaker beyond the classroom, advising department, residence hall, or dean's office. Generating joint action principles is a way of constructing educational policy that can lead to improving educational programs. The dialectic of strengthening within roles and connecting across them through conversation can lead to crucial insights about program elements that make changes probable.
In the previous section, how faculty, academic, and student services personnel shape their roles in a cross-disciplinary conversation about learning that bears on teaching is a subtext. Most conversations about learning-to-teaching begin in a particular department. Often they are more informal, targeted, and in depth than a conversation across roles. For example, when generating action principles at a department meeting, faculty in cognitive or developmental psychology will bring forward a depth of understanding about a learning or action principle, both as it affects their teaching and as it reflects their understanding of learning as a specialty in their discipline.
In our experience, educators both initiate and extend their conversations by raising specific questions that relate most often to instructional design or the problems they see regularly in the classroom. These practical problems vary depending on the way educators understand and experience them in a particular role and context. Such questions often say a good deal about an educator's learning theory, and a group can quickly probe for it. To discuss learning as it bears on teaching releases the educator's creative flow. For example, a conversation that starts with, "How can we improve class atmosphere so that more students come to class and turn work in on time?" can advance to, "How do students develop responsibility for learning to learn-and to unlearn?" The concern "Why do so many students resist moving into groups?" can lead to, "How do students develop skills and dispositions for working together?" The concrete question, "How do we assist students to show their thinking behind their project design so we can facilitate more creativity?" might benefit from asking a more abstract one: "What is the role of practice, performance, insight, assessment, and reflection in learning?" The evaluative concern, "Why do so few theoretical frameworks from courses show up in student experiential logs?" can become, "What is the nature of transfer of knowledge and skills to internships and service?"
Educators who are asking each other what they know about the learning-to-teaching connection care deeply about the nature of learning ("What is learning?"). From their understanding of human potential, they constantly ponder, "What is learned?" in relation to the dialectic between "What can be learned?" and "What is being learned?" by students in their care (now, over a semester, in a major, in college, after college). This leads to thinking through learning principles that are bridges to action and to influencing policy.
If learning that lasts is developmental, then educators have responsibility for knowing where the learner is beginning. But learning is an interactive process. Advisors argued that it is important to communicate to learners that "you are at this level, and now you're going to try to get to the next level"-but that "you will not experience this as chiseled, continuous steps up a mountain." Advisors are particularly aware that different learners blossom at different points in the process. One learner will make progress in a short time at one level, and then "it may take a very, very long time to get where she can make the next leap." For other students, "you can see the light bulb go on-for example, for a transfer student who did poorly in another setting and then finds this curriculum a good fit." Since learning is not linear, advisors need to "celebrate persons where they are, recognize that there's a fuzzy and not distinct starting point, that students are at different points. If something clicks, the learner makes quick progress, but then might plateau, or cycle back through earlier ways of learning."
If learning that lasts is individual, then educators help the learner to think about various consequences to potential actions a student plans to take, rather than direct that learner in one direction instead of another. For each student (direct from high school, or older and work experienced), taking on responsibility for her own learning-whatever shape that responsibility takes-may mean coming to the advising office and saying, "I can't handle this." Advisors don't say, "No, you can't drop that class," or "You have to take this other course first," nor do they turn to the computer and enter a corresponding change in the student information system. Having a conversation about consequences means helping learners find information for making their decisions. Advisors also take responsibility for helping the learner to move on if this setting is really not a good fit. Learning that is individual calls students to take control of their education in relation to the realities of their whole lives, "in spite of external forces that might undermine or even devastate them." Learners, not advisors, ultimately have to make choices in relation to events in their lives and their own values, and "those values may be quite different from ours. What we hope to do is strengthen them in thinking through all of their options instead of limiting themselves to other people's opinions entirely, including ours!"
If learning that lasts is transitional, then educators who are trustworthy themselves develop trust in the learner. They continually recognize that, at some point, students do have to have confidence in this kind of learning. If students imagine that they are just going to take classes-sort of "renting seat time"-they will have to make more of a leap of faith in a curriculum that rests on the idea that learning is transitional but ultimately transformative. "Students who struggle with this idea might be especially bright or experienced, but not able to deal with the kind of dissonance that demonstrating abilities along with content implies: ÔBut I have always gotten A's in English,' or ÔI give training workshops across my organization, so why do I have to demonstrate my public speaking in this science course?'" The advisor looks for the danger that students might leave college altogether, or return to a learning environment that's more comfortable but where they have not been successful. For a learner who has had particularly harmful experiences in early education, combined with deleterious life events, advisors expect changes in the way the learner views her world, but this can be much too challenging at first. "She may not be used to having a voice and the faculty expect that she develop that, and gradually learn to self assess and talk about her performance-that is very hard. But when she does find her voice, she makes a developmental leap." In seminars for new learners, advisors try to create opportunities to gain students' confidence, to talk directly to them about trusting. "One aspect of this trust comes when staff advisors successfully move students on to a faculty advisor in their major field." However, as another observed, "Some intermediate students have difficulty transferring their abilities from one context to another; they failed to grasp significant connections among concepts. Sometimes we leave them too early." Even as learners become both increasingly independent and collaborative in their learning, they usually begin with structured opportunities, modeling, coaching, and a supportive atmosphere.
If learning that lasts is transformative, then educators help students take an active role, rather than passively select-not just in their studies but also in student organizations, in meetings with faculty and other students, and in life events that happen on campus or in the community that could stunt or stimulate personal learning and growth. Learning that is transformative calls on learners to take up reflection and introspection around the quality of their Valuing in Decision-Making, and for advisors to elicit and support that. There has to be a payoff for spending time self assessing, for gaining knowledge, for improving yourself, if learning is to endure. "If learning that lasts works that way, then it implies that learners can easily have sensory overload because of the variety and depth of what they feel is thrown at them, and what they must wade through-how to make sense of it themselves." That means providing opportunities for learning those skills. Expect students to participate. If they are not engaged in learning that is transformative, they will not succeed. Provide students with structured experiences where learners take active roles, and where learners become seekers, committed to learning new knowledge that is difficult. There are students who do not succeed, at least at that point in time. At registration, advisors often see students who have gone on leave, return, and say, "Now, I'm ready." Advisors admit that there are still some students who might graduate without fully developing learning that is lasting: "That can be painful for the learner and for the faculty. A more transformative kind of learning may not happen until later, well after college."