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Theory of the self-monitored students and CSCL
Another popular theory associated with the concept of CSCL is the self-monitored student s (Benbunan-Fich, 2002
). Benbunan-Fich (2002
) in their study give students the chance to explore and discover their abilities and then guide through ways that they can polish them. In the case of CSCL, the students realize that they will need guidelines and principles in order to attain a set objective and is not hesitant in instigating the process of learning whether collaboratively or individually. This is usually possible only for the students who are extremely gifted. This theory of self-monitoring or self-regulating has had either a direct or an indirect impact on all related educational theories like the students behavioural theory and constructivism theory (Benbunan-Fich, 2002
Theory of problem-based learning and CSCL
Problem-based learning (PBL) is another popular theory that has had an effect on the CSCL setup
. For instanc, Benbunan-Fich (2002
) in their study point out that PBL helps the students develop problem-solving skills as each task begins with the identification of problem and work is done on finding the solution to the problem instead of giving students a list of facts to analyse. This phenomenon has grown in popularity in the modern era as again the forefront of all the education effort lies in the hands of the students and not the teachers. This is usually called anchored education as the students steer the ship the way they see fit and the step in whenever it is necessary or appropriate for them to do so. However, the problem with this method is that the students will only be able to remember and recollect what they have learned from the perspective that they have learned it and will not be able to relate it with another point-of-view. Hence, the main issue that needs to be dealt with in this particular notion is to create opportunities for students to not only learn something, but to also be able to find its connection with other points-of-view (Benbunan-Fich, 2002
Since behaviourists view the learning process as a change in behaviour, CSCL educators arrange the environment to elicit desired responses through such devices as behavioural objectives, competency-based education, and skill development and training. The level of improvement must be measured by evaluating the outcome of teaching and learning experience (Grygoryev & Karapetrovic, 2005). Nonetheless, it is not easy to identify and assess the CSCL teaching methods (Tam, 2001). According to Tam (2001), it is very difficult to measure students' level of learning at the start and end of a CSCL program as these levels are spread over a time period and as such many superseding factors are also involved. In 2005, a theory was presented by Grygoryev and Karapetrovic, for the measurement of learning levels of an online music theory classroom. They suggested a "Classroom Assessment Technique" or "CAT" and made a "Modified Background Knowledge Probe" (MBKP
) to estimate the knowledge transferred by the teachers as input to the students' level of learning. Although this strategy requires a lot of hard work by the teachers and it may be difficult to follow in each session, it still provides food for thought for creating a student-focused strategy for learning which marks the weaker areas so that they can be addressed in time.
Behaviourism, constructivism and CSCL
Bostrum and Lassen in one of their recent studies (2006) asserted that the concepts related to learning are quite often anchored in the work of educational and cognitive psychologists. Before the 1970s, the highly preferred theory was that of the behaviourists. In a nutshell, behaviourists tried to measure learning output. This was done by allowing the learners to imitate facts. However, they did not focus on the cognitive processes that led to the imitation. On the other hand, educational and cognitive psychologists focused more on the process that led to the imitation. This was primarily because of the growth and development of fields like neuroscience and cognitive psychology. This paved way to the development of constructivist theory, which presupposes that information is "constructed" by the students (Bostrum and Lassen, 2006).
When talking about the conversation theory, it is important to first understand that there are quite a variety of opinions that exist on whether knowledge is an independent variable and is merely transferred or whether it has a pre-existence in the mind of the learner. This is where the focus on the constructivist school of thought increases in order to answer the overall activities in the learner's mind (Bostrum & Lassen, 2006). This is most obvious in the realm of teaching and learning, and on a lesser scale in the business world. This is where the conversation theory comes in as focus rests on active learning procedures within the workplace. Pask was the pioneer of the conversation theory and in his study in 1976, he wrote that this theory is based around the exchange of knowledge that takes place during a casual conversation between the teachers and the learners (as cited in Bostrum & Lassen, 2006). This is a very important aspect for managers to pay attention to as casual conversations, everyday decisions and reactions can influence the way the employees react to training and learning activities within the office.
A competency approach to learning
A new theory was suggested by Chambers and Fernandez (2004) wherein progress is achieved by the students in steps, namely beginner, trainee and competent steps. This study was carried out at the School of Dentistry, but still much information can be treated as general and applied to other learning areas as well. It is compulsory for the students to show skills and understanding of the subject before graduating. They are assessed on the basis of tests, grades, exercises, marking by teachers and performance in the exams. However, important information is considered before promoting the students to the next higher level by asking, "is the student capable enough to follow the requirement of the next level of education?" (Chambers & Fernandez, 2004, p. 52).
In the competency approach, attention is given to calculating the performance of the students and the educational methods applied, whereas in the traditional approach grading is given more importance. The teachers also evaluate the teaching methods and when they are giving better results and enabling the students to move to the next level (p.54). By using this method, quality education can be given to students for better results (Hannay et al., 2010).
The teachers must ensure that the students are consistently participating in applying the techniques and theories taught to them. This active learning theory provides an opportunity for the computer tutor to maintain a student-friendly environment for better results.
Active learning in the classroom
When new computer teachers are inducted in the faculty, they use their past experiences and teach the class as they were taught, but there are a few capable teachers who believe in class participation. Many computer teachers conventionally present the study text and then the students prepare for the exams. After some years of teaching in the same institution, the computer teachers feel at ease and barely have to overcome any challenges in delivering their lectures to the students (Hannay et al., 2010).
Due to these traditional methods, self-assessment of the teachers, unease that will be created due to change and counter-checking of teachers, it is difficult to change the modes of instruction. When knowledge is created and experiences are shared, active learning results (Hannay et al., 2010). Difficulties in enforcement of active learning include:
a. Limited time is available for covering the whole course.
b. Increase in time demanded by the students for preparing for exams.
c. Large number of students in class.
d. Online classes.
e. Scarcity of resources.
There is a risk that students will not actively participate in the lecture due to the nature of the content, the teachers will feel inferior, or will be criticized for not using the old methods. This is precisely why the active participation model is difficult to follow. Hannay (2010) argues that a particular persona of the teachers is formed. The teachers themselves have studied by the conventional methods; therefore, only some teachers use their own minds in evolving a new strategy and become a role model for an active learning session for study. It is not easy for teachers to adapt methods of active learning (Hannay et al.
Similarly, Hannay found that many students also dislike the ways of active learning as they are more used to the common listening part of the session. As the listening strategy is easier for the students than the active participation, they prefer the old method of study. The students want the class to be well controlled so that they can follow, note down the facts delivered and learn them. However, the advanced learners focus on their own learning through class participation and exchanging views (Hannay et al., 2010).
Development of cognitive skills…[continue]
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