Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Why Improving Student Learning is So Hard

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

David Wiley offers convincing reasons to explain why it's so hard to improve learning, but I find myself frustrated by both the lack of precision and the paucity of imagination. To begin with the former: how are we measuring 'improve learning' or the 'difficulty' of it? While this may seem a pedantic question, it's Wiley who offers a formula ("the difficulty of making meaningful improvements in student learning is roughly equivalent to the difficulty of helping students change the way they study multiplied times the difficulty of helping faculty change the way they teach") with no data to support it nor even the units in which that data would be expressed. And this reflects the paucity of imagination. If we knew what counts as improvement, we could think beyond such tried and true solutions as "assigning students interactive courseware" or "helping students engage in more effective learning activities", as though there were no other variables we could consider or manipulate.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 21, 2024 12:52 p.m.

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