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Students are more likely to be successful if they

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Unformatted text preview: s the process of motivation more fully in Chapter 6. Manuscript 9/28/03 30 Aligning Learning and Performance. Alignment refers to the degree to which a learning situation is similar to a specific performance situation. Students are more likely to be successful if they align their encoding and compilation processes with the way they will be expected to retrieve and use the knowledge. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Tulving and his associates first found that if the encoding task was similar to the retrieval task, students were more likely to remember what they had encoded (Tulving & Osler, 1968; Tulving 1974). Tulving referred to this phenomenon as encoding specificity. The concept of encoding specificity highlights the importance of having students encode knowledge in a way that is appropriate to the way in which students will be asked to recall and use the knowledge. Similar findings have emerged from the study of transfer. Transfer is applying what is learned to other related situations. Transfer is often more likely to occur if the learning and transfer situations are similar (Detterman, 1993). For instance, learners are more likely to be able to recall and apply a problem-solving strategy to problems that are similar to those they have already solved. As new problems become less like previously solved problems, problem-solving performance is degraded. This is the idea behind the concept of transfer appropriate processing, proposed by Morris, Bransford and Franks (1977). The idea here is that retrieval of information from long-term memory is to some degree a reconstruction process, and when the processes of a task are similar to the processes that occurred at the time of learning retrieval is improved (Baguley and Payne, 2000). For teachers this means that the best method of teaching students facts or skills will depend on the way learners will be expected to use the information in the future. As a teacher you must think of how your students will need to use the knowledge they are Manuscript 9/28/03 31 learning, and create encoding opportunities matched to those uses. Consider the how teachers might be applying this concept in the following examples: ⇒ Mr. Sanders, a geometry teacher, asks the shop teacher, the physics teacher and the calculus teacher for examples of the kinds of problems students might encounter in their classes that would require the to use of geometry knowledge. Mr. Sandes then uses the information to create problems for his students to solve. ⇒ Ms. Kellogg, an elementary teacher, wants her students to be able to use their reading skills to help them solve problems. She designs reading activities around examples of operating instructions for interesting electronic devices, rules for games and directions for simple science projects. In both of these cases the teachers have anticipated the context in which their course content might be useful to their students. They then used this knowledge to design learning activities that provide a context similar to the anticipated future uses. A key concept that is related to both active learning and alignment is metacognition. Metacognition is the knowledge students have ab...
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