That “ah-hah” moment: Teachers talk Transformative Learning @MoAD_Canberra #musdigi

IMG_0302Back again with more on our Transformative Learning (TL) project with the Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House (start here for our previous work). We conducted a workshop in August with 22 teachers from the ACT, and prior to this they completed a survey asking them a series of questions around student learning generally and TL specifically. Here’s what they said.

In your own words, please describe what you think transformative learning is in the context of your teaching practice:

  • Finding a way to make content as interesting and relevant as possible, from my own personal experiences and the experiences of students in the classroom to make learning more relatable and real.
  • I would guess that it is a different style of learning that enables students of all learning styles to demonstrate what they know.
  • Adjusting my views, beliefs and perceptions with regards to how I teach. The methods and strategies used 20 years [ago] is different to today. Students and curriculum changes all the time, so it is a matter of keeping up and adjusting to these changes and adding extra stress into our lives.
  • Transforming the learning process for students.
  • Not really sure. I believe it is to do with the way people process learning. In my teaching I ensure that I provide different learning models.
  • Learning that gets students to question the world and their place in it.
  • Changing knowledge attitudes and motivation in the children I teach.
  • The opportunity to investigate a concept in a way that impacts perspectives, attitudes and actions.
  • Learning that opens ‘new vistas’ for students and may even be ‘life changing’.
  • It is a theory that a student’s perspective has three dimensions; a psychological, a convictional and behavioural.
  • Students understanding their personal strengths and recognising that they can be good at anything. Seeing themselves develop academically, socially and physically into mature beings.
  • Critical analysis, self-reflection and potentially changing ones approach.
  • Deepening/transforming the students’ understanding of history by developing perspectives, then, now and how they change over time, in all domains.
  • Learning that is not just about content or skills, but getting you to think and assess your own place in the world and the type of person you want to be in it.
  • Students leaving lesson/course with changed knowledge and understanding of their world.
  • Learning that transforms the way you think and learn.
  • Transformative learning builds on and extends my student insights so that they understand how their needs and interests are linked with the common good and the wider world.
  • When students can connect learning ‘to self’ and to their own experience, which creates a change in their beliefs about something.

Similar to the literature cited previously the themes of change, better understanding, self-reflection and identity all emerged. A second question asked them what indicators they look for when students are having a TL experience:

  • Engagement, contribution, excitement and being able to relate the content being taught to their own life or scenarios that exist in the real world without direction.
  • They would display satisfaction at being able to demonstrate what they have learned. The confidence to participate in discussions on the topic/s.
  • “Moods” and behaviours.
  • They are becoming more academic and studious.
  • Engagement, enthusiasm, improved outcomes.
  • They are highly engaged! They verbalise their “ahaha!” moments. You can see the penny drop or a new understanding blossom.
  • Engagement and a depth of understanding which can be applied, analysed and synthesised.
  • Either immediate feedback, feedback via assessment items, or hearing later from students about directions taken after leaving college.
  • Engagement in class work and discussion and debate, positive feedback after the lesson. Evolved or matured perspectives or opinions into future lessons.
  • A ‘wow!’ A ‘oh, that’s cool!’ Thank you Miss!’ Showing respect for other students. Taking pride in their results.
  • When you see the “A-ha” moment when they make connections about historical events and how they affect their lives today.
  • When students are able to analyse and synthesize the information, discuss and explain their understanding from different viewpoints, empathize with and interpret how others might have felt and responded, incorporate their own background information/knowledge, understand/justify why they, (or others) may think the way they do.
  • They’re excited about being in class, they participate actively and they are sharing things about themselves.
  • The quality of what they know and understand at the end.
  • Light-bulb moment.
  • Student directed, self-reflection and self-awareness shown through discussion, written reflections and small group responses. Understanding of diversity and a sense of how knowledge is constructed as shown through interactions in group discussions and written responses.
  • Evidence of examples from their own experience.
  • Able to relate the concept or idea to the wider world.
  • Independently identify the concept or idea in other contexts.

IMG_0299We also got them to rate 23 statements in relation to how important each was to student learning. These were based on research we had done looking at rating scales previously used to measure museum learning generally and TL specifically. The teachers unanimously chose the following 11 statements as very important / important:

  • Discovering things they didn’t know
  • Stimulating their curiosity
  • Being reminded of the importance of some issues
  • When information is presented in an interesting way
  • Opportunities to actively participate
  • Topics that “click” with personal interests
  • Information that is relevant to their life
  • Providing “food for thought”
  • Having opportunities to ask questions
  • Thinking differently about a topic / issue
  • Becoming open to new ideas

We’ll be testing these further with a broader sample over the next few weeks so will report back as we go.


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