POD —IDEA Center Learning Notes S e p t e m b e r 2 0 0 6 Michael Theall, Youngstown State University, Series Editor IDEA Learning Objective #10: “Developing a clearer understanding of, and commitment to, personal values” Victoria Bhavsar, University of Kentucky, [email protected] Jeff King, Kaplan University, [email protected] Karen Becker, Youngstown State University, [email protected] Background “Value theory” in philosophy and psychology literature explores the development, articulation, and manifestation of values at the individual and social level. This IDEA Note describes the pedagogical importance of dealing with personal and societal values in the classroom. We also suggest ways for instructors to help students to consider their own values with rigorous critical thinking and to communicate about those values. One of the ideal purposes of a college education is to educate the whole person (1). To be wholly educated, students must define, understand, refine, and commit to their own personal values. One definition of values (2) makes clear why clarification of, and commitment to, personal values serves students and the educational process: Once a value is internalized it becomes, consciously or unconsciously, a standard or criterion for guiding action, for developing and maintaining attitudes toward relevant objects and situations, for justifying one’s own and others’ actions and attitudes, for morally judging self and others, and for comparing self with others (p. 160). While students should not forego thinking in favor of emotional attachment, emotions are part of brain function and are very much connected to learning (3). Discussing values engages students’ emotions and uses different parts of their brains beyond those employed in memorization or even problem solving. Using more of the brain thus leads to deeper learning and to the development of a wider range of academic skills. Different disciplines lend themselves to different values. For example, although surgery and psychiatry are both helping professions, practitioners approach these professions differently and value different things. These disciplines must be learned differently and require students to learn different skills: surgeons value manual dexterity and precise surgical skills while psychiatrists value the ability to empathize with clients and deal with their emotions objectively. Individual differences can lead students to choose one career or the other and sometimes to succeed or fail based on the match between the individual and the demands and values of the field (4). Percentages of faculty in different disciplines choosing IDEA Objective 10 as “Essential” or ”Important” vary (5), but instructors in all disciplines facilitate student thinking about personal and professional values at some level. Even in disciplines with a relatively small numbers of courses emphasizing Objective 10 values, such consideration is important, (for example, Biology/Life Science, as recent stem cell research controversies indicate). Dealing with values and learning styles together can help students choose likely disciplines for success, or help them find ways to investigate the professions to which they aspire. Without guidance in developing values and choosing disciplines, students may become discouraged, perceiving a mismatch between their dreams and their ability to learn. Learning about their own values and the source of their values may help students to develop tolerance for different values, increasing their capacity for collegiality and civility in the workplace and in community life. Johnson and Johnson write, “There are three types of social interdependence: cooperation, competition, and neutrality. Each…teaches an inherent set of values. These values influence whether diversity results in positive or negative outcomes” (6). Learning implies progress in cognitive and moral developmental stages. Values and emotions are closely linked, especially at the less mature developmental stages (7, 8). At their least mature, people make decisions based on what feels good. At higher levels of moral and cognitive development we make decisions based on abstract reasoning and principles beyond our own self-interest. This requires both content knowledge (to operationalize abstract reasoning) and a value system (as a structure for making decisions consistent with personal and societal values). Deliberately measuring personal values against peers’ values can be challenging for college students. Antonio (9) points out that college students’ norms, or values, can “change under the pressure of direct approval (or disapproval) of valued, trusted peers” (p. 448). Peer pressure can be mediated by interpersonal interactions – friends strongly affect students’ values. Students can benefit from information and teaching which helps them sort through peer pressure issues and make more mature decisions beyond immediate gratification. Values fall along a continuum from personal preferences (morning classes, apples vs. oranges) to criterion-based choices (robust experimental design, high-quality fruit vs. low quality fruit) to choices based on universal principles generalizable across situations, such as fairness, justice, and respect (10). Effective teaching can help students figure out which are which. Helpful Hints Help students make connections between content and their own value systems. Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning (11) presents three types of learning outcomes directly related to values: Caring, Human Dimension, and Learning How to Learn. Fink says that learning is more effective when learning activities address more than one outcome at a time. When foundational content knowledge is carefully and appropriately applied to issues of personal importance, it is learned more deeply. Demonstrating this relevance is also a useful motivational tool (12). A model for information processing will illustrate this point. Moving information from short-term to long-term memory happens in three primary ways: rehearsal, organization, and creating meaningful connections. Even older students enter college thinking that the primary and most efficient way to learn is to commit concepts to memory (13). When students meaningfully connect content with topics they care about or have prior knowledge about, rehearsal (repetition and memorization) and organization (pattern seeking) become more compelling and useful. Students realizing this can move beyond the idea that “learning = memorizing,” and gain understanding that leads to “meta-valuing,” that is, valuing the process of learning itself rather than simply valuing the memorization of information. (See also POD-IDEA Center Note #6: Made it clear how each topic fit into the course.) Introduce stimulating ideas about the topic (see POD-IDEA Center Notes #8 and #13). Many traditional-age college students are at a developmental stage in which they are concerned about themselves; they are trying to figure out their own place in the world and who they are (7). Consequently, addressing values engages students’ interest. Carefully designed learning activities involving values can focus students’ learning on content and sharpen critical thinking skills. Students who become familiar with this deeper learning find learning more rewarding – and possibly easier. Relate course material to real-life situations (see POD-IDEA Center Note #11). Students must think carefully and rationally about exactly what they believe and find valuable. They must identify and analyze the information or influences upon which they base their beliefs and values, describe how their beliefs and values operate in their lives, and begin to take responsible steps when their actions are not congruent with their beliefs and values. Dealing with values can help students learn to make complex decisions in other areas. Examine student learning styles and use a variety of learning exercises to address different learning styles. Teachers can help students become aware of differences in learning styles – and teaching styles. Teachers can deliberately explain how they themselves learn and offer suggestions if students’ styles or preferences differ. Creating opportunities to verbalize their thinking processes – describing different but appropriate paths that can lead to the same answer – allows students to explore a variety of “right ways” to work through a problem and access information. As students become familiar with their own learning preferences, they can develop a better understanding of their own choices ranging from study techniques to career decisions. Finally, students can come to find value not only in how they process and learn information, but in the preferred styles of their peers and superiors – a necessary mindset for career success. Ask students to share ideas with others (see PODIDEA Center Notes #16 and #18). IDEA research has found that IDEA method #16 – Sharing ideas with those holding differing backgrounds and viewpoints – is most important to Objective 10. Hearing others describe their perspectives and views helps students to grasp complex issues and to better understand themselves, and this weighing of ideas promotes deeper learning and makes it more engaging. Structuring group work in which students engage with those holding different values is beneficial for students’ values development. As with any group work exercise, carefully designed rubrics are necessary (14). In this case, you must ensure that your groups define values-difference issues that may affect the group’s ability to work effectively and thus, the quality of the work output. Explore and be aware of your own disciplinary and course values. • Be “up front” about the values you hold in the discipline. Do you expect rigor, creativity, standardized methods, or self-expression? Research indicates that students prefer teachers who know and clearly communicate their own values, yet who also can express differences between personally held values and values held by others (15). You can explicitly identify the discipline’s values (course content related to process of inquiry, for example) as well as implicitly transfer those values (modeling and acting congruently with the values). • Figure out what hidden values you are teaching. One law school, for example, tried to reduce grade inflation by grading on a strict bell curve. • Rampant cheating resulted – because the grading scheme taught competitive values. Take care that your own values do not bias you against a student whose values do not match your own, outside of disciplinary requirements. For example, if good writing is the disciplinary value, it is wrong to downgrade a student whose excellent writing is put to the service of a distasteful value. Open discussion, though, might be fully appropriate. Use critical thinking assignments. Well-constructed critical thinking exercises often require students to identify and compare their values with the values of others. Good instructional strategies for critical thinking assignments are to “teach cognitive strategies, stimulate specific values as part of the pedagogical task, and still show respect for students’ own opinions” (16). Be available through office hours and other means as possible. Values discussions need not arise solely in class. IDEA research has shown that method #1 – Displayed a personal interest in students and their learning – is important to this objective (see POD-IDEA Center Note #1). Additionally, interacting with students to help them find “ways to answer their own questions” is important (see POD-IDEA Center Note #2). Additional specific techniques. There are several techniques for bringing values issues into your teaching. These generally include strategies such as critical thinking exercises; case studies; service learning; and the use of ethical dilemmas. • An interesting example of a values exercise based on William James’ essay, “The Will to Believe,” is described in the Journal of College and Character (17). • Journaling – double-entry journals are particularly effective (18). Students’ first entry notes any concept they find meaningful or controversial; the second entry notes the personal significance of any changes in values. • Formal debates with rules, followed by selfreflective writing. • In large classes, the use of remote response systems (“clickers”) that allow you to receive immediate feedback about student opinions on a given topic and gauge how to proceed with the class. • Choice of assignments, with a minor part of the assignment being to describe why the assignment was chosen. • • Learning style inventories that help students identify their best learning strategies (e.g., Right-brain/Left-brain preferences, Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic, Gregorc Style Delineator, etc.; see Additional Resources). Type surveys such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Multiple Intelligences survey, that help students get perspective on their modes of thinking (see Additional Resources). (4) (5) (6) Assessment Issues Assessment is most necessary, and most readily incorporated, when learning about values is explicitly stated as a desired outcome of the course. Instruments such as knowledge-skills-values surveys are available. Rubrics are another good way to make grading standards explicit while controlling for personal bias on the part of the grader (14). One measurement of student achievement in this affective domain can be made by gauging how well students adopt and integrate the values of the profession (19). For example, students could be required to define acceptable courses of action within case study scenarios, defending their choices within the parameters of professional expectations. While there may be a debate about whether the college classroom should be a place to teach specific values, teaching students the tools and processes that can be used to examine their own values is far less controversial. As you assess your effectiveness in helping students know how to examine, select, and live congruently with their values, remember that student self-reporting is qualitative assessment that can be highly informative for your teaching practice as well as for determining your success in assisting students to develop this important skill. (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) References and Resources (13) (1) Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. New York: The MacMillan Company. Chapter 24: Philosophy of Education. Retrieved September 20, 2006, from http://www.ilt.columbia.edu/publications/Projec ts/digitexts/dewey/d_e/chapter24.html. (2) Rokeach, M. (1968). Beliefs, attitudes and values: A theory of organization and change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (3) Zull, J. E. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. (14) (15) Smart, J. C., Feldman, K. A., & Ethington, C. A. (2000). Academic disciplines: Holland’s theory and the study of college students and faculty. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press. The IDEA Center (2002). Disciplinary selection of learning objectives: Percent of classes selecting objectives as essential or important. Retrieved September 20, 2006 from http://www.idea.ksu.edu/resources/index.html Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Interactive Book Company. Edina, MN. Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Crain, W. C. (1985). Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, In Heffner, C. L. (Ed.) Theories of development. Chapter 7, (pp. 118-136). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: PrenticeHall. Antonio, A. L. (2004). The influence of friendship groups on intellectual selfconfidence and educational aspirations in college. Journal of Higher Education, 75 (4), 446-471. Schrader, D. E., & Millman, J. (1997). Three perspectives on teaching moral values. College Teaching 39, 72-75. Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Theall, M. (1999). What have we learned? A synthesis and some guidelines for effective motivation in higher education. In M. Theall (Ed.) "Motivation from within: Encouraging faculty and students to excel." New Directions for Teaching and Learning # 78. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Becker, K. A. (1993). The development of learning for non-traditional adult students: An investigation of personal meaning-making in a community college reading and study skills course. The Ohio State University. UMI #9411904. For a rubrics guide, see: http://its.monmouth.edu/facultyresourcecenter/ rubrics.htm Retrieved September 20, 2006. Veugelers, W. (2000). Different ways of teaching values. Educational Review 52, 3746. (16) Veugelers, W. (1996). Teaching values and critical thinking. Paper presented at the 76th Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. New York: April 12. (17) Frieden, G. L., & Pawelski, J. (2003). Affective development in college students: Strategies that promote ethical decision-making and compassionate choice. Journal of College and Character, 2. Online journal available at: http://www.collegevalues.org/journal.cfm Retrieved September 20, 2006. (18) Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: a handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. See pages 263-266. (19) Cullen, C. L. (1990). Defining and assessing affective outcomes in undergraduate pediatric dentistry. Journal of Dental Education, 53 (3), 184-187. Related POD-IDEA Center Notes IDEA Item #1 "Displayed a personal interest in students and their learning," Virginia S. Lee IDEA Item #2 "Found ways to help students answer their own questions," Nancy McClure IDEA Item #6 “Made it clear how each topic fit into the course," Michael Theall IDEA Item #8 “Stimulated students to intellectual effort beyond that required by most courses,” Nancy McClure IDEA Item #11 "Related course material to real life situations," Michael Theall IDEA Item #13 "Introduced stimulating ideas about the subject," Michael Theall IDEA Item #15 "Inspired students to set and achieve goals which really challenged them," Todd Zakrajsek IDEA Item #16 "Asked students to share ideas and experiences with others whose backgrounds and viewpoints differ from their own," Jeff King IDEA Item #18 "Asked students to help each other understand ideas or concepts," Jeff King Additional Resources IDEA Paper No. 37: Helping Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills, Lynch and Wolcott IDEA Paper No. 39: Establishing Rapport: Personal Interaction and Learning, Fleming IDEA Paper No. 41: Student Goal Orientation, Motivation, and Learning, Svinicki IDEA Paper No. 42: Integrated Course Design, Fink IDEA Paper No. 43: The Technology Literate Professorate: Are We There Yet? Madigan Learning Styles Claxton, C.S., & Murrell, P.H. (1987). Learning styles: Implications for improving educational practice. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. Washington, DC: George Washington University. Hemispheric Dominance Learning Style Survey from Middle Tennessee State Univ site: http://www.mtsu.edu/~studskl/hd/learn.html Institute of Learning Styles Research (multiple university researchers): http://www.learningstyles.org/ Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire, Solomon and Felder: http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html Learning Style Survey developed at Diablo Valley College: http://www.metamath.com/lsweb/dvclearn.htm Marion, T. (2002). Translating learning style theory into university teaching practices: An article based on Kolb’s experiential learning model. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 32(2), 154–176. Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences Excellent overview site providing many resources for Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences: http://www.support4learning.org.uk/education/learni ng_styles.cfm ©2006 The IDEA Center This document may be reproduced for educational/training activities. Reproduction for publication or sale may be done only with prior written permission of The IDEA Center.
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