This website contains highlights of my participatory action research begining in the '04-'05 school year. I searched for and experimented with ways to both improve retention and innovate the pedagogy traditionally used to mediate learning with technology. I felt the need to do something because the attrition in my General Psychology Hybrid courses had been awful, and my analysis of student learning has shown me the errors of my ways. I was instructing rather than constructing. The former is directed and often takes the form of monologue, which fosters a deference to authority; the latter is dialogic and far more conducive to shared meaning-making and relationship building. People build, or construct, their knowledge and technology can be a profound means for facilitating this process. The first three cycles presented here document the development of my praxis as an emerging constructivist educator.
Cycle one was characterized most clearly by the use of new software and hardware. I adopted wiki and blog technology as a means of creating community among my students. I had hoped this sense of community would frame my attempts at learning how to be a constructivist, as well as increase retention in my class. Retention improved dramatically, but my grade distribution also shifted wildly. I gave many more As and Bs than I ever have before! Consequently, my next cycle examined my student's perception of the course and the basis used to assign grades/evaluate learning.
Cycle two was inspired by an analysis of student evaluations over the past 4 years as a means of defining my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. The cycle is characterized by an awakening. By examining myself using the wisdom of Margaret Riel, John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, and others, I discovered the places in my practices where constructivism best fit. This lead to a blooming of revisions both in curiculla and assessment, and this inspired the third cycle.
In cycle three, I tried to develop a community model for professional development to share my lessons learned. The focus of these staff development sessions was on community building and the appropriate use of educational technology. My hope was that I could share my trials and tribulations with educational technology, but these hopes were challenged by a fall off in participation and activity in the community model I had hoped to build. These seeming lack of success has inspired future cycles, which will begin in September 2005.
M D, 06/2005