Do learning objectives stifle students' learning?!
Submitted by Susan Finn Miller on January 18, 2019 - 10:41am
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Hello colleagues, A recent blog post by Melanie Ralph, a high school English teacher in Australia, suggests that making learning goals explicit to students has the potential to stifle learning. Aren't we supposed to make learning objectives explicit? Do you make the objectives clear to learners at the outset of your instruction?
Ralph's ideas are interesting, and I appreciated some of the quotes included in this article. For example:
Researcher, Shirley Clarke: “Although the learning objective might be appropriate at the beginning of the lesson (often in mathematics), its appearance before [learners'] interest is captured can kill their interest.”
Author and lecturer, Alfie Kohn: "Learning Goals 'resemble ‘training’ rather than genuine education' and that 'even if a teacher has specific learning goals in mind before a lesson, which any good teacher does, why in the world would we dictate them to students rather than having students participate in the process of formulating them and deciding together what we’re going to explore?'”
Education philosopher, John Dewey: "...the role of the teacher is 'to keep alive the sacred spark of wonder and to fan the flame that already glows…to protect the spirit of inquiry, to keep it from becoming blasé from overexcitement, wooden from routine, fossilized through dogmatic instruction, or dissipated by random exercise upon trivial things.'"
You can also find a funny video on the site which parodies what can happen when teachers do not state learning objectives up front.
Check out this provocative article and let us know what you think.
Cheers, Susan Finn Miller
Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP