Engaged Learning

Last week, I attended an event hosted by the ODK Leadership Honor Society.  The topic was education and the event started with showing a speech by Ken Robinson entitled Changing Education Paradigms that an animator illustrated as he spoke; EHHS faculty and staff watched a select portion of this video during our fall 2011 community gathering.  It was good to hear Ken Robinson’s talk again, but most importantly it was exciting to hear students’ responses.  There was some discussion about the pitfalls of standardized testing.  Most students didn’t feel standardized tests represented their true ability.  One student cited a study that found high school GPA to be the best predictor of college academic success.  I shared results from studies I helped conduct that showed GRE scores did not predict success of graduate speech-language pathology students unless scores were very high or very low (Ryan, W., Morgan. M, & Wacker-Mundy, R., 1998, 2002).  Given the rapid growth of information, a number of the students felt it was the job of professors to teaching them how to learn rather than just teaching them information.  Critical thinking and problem solving were discussed in contrast to educational methods that prepared this no-child-left-behind-generation to pass tests.  It was a lively discussion that touched on the core of students’ beliefs about their educational journey and expectations of employers.  

The discussion then turned to what constitutes a good education.  The students agreed that experiential work had to be part of a good education.  This is in line with employers’ responses for a survey in The Chronicle of Higher Education that showed, “employers prefer experience over academic record” (Berrett, p. A29).  One student stated that the worst classes are the ones where professors just lecture.  There was agreement that engagement is low and learning is minimal if students are only listening to lectures.  Engaging students’ learning is highlighted in a powerful video entitled 5 Steps to Overhaul Teaching by Dr. Christopher Emdin, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University (Dr. Emdin is a graduate professor of one of SUNY Plattsburgh’s former students, Edmund Adjapong, who sent me the video). 

I hope you click on the link to Dr. Emdin’s video.  He speaks passionately about engaging urban youth in their education, particularly in the areas of science and math.   I feel his points are valid for all youth.  He speaks directly to our shared value of Excellence in Teaching and our commitment to engage our students.  Chickering and Gamson (1987) stated, “Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves” (See Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.)     

Our commitment to engaging students in deep learning is paramount.  Making the acquisition of knowledge and skills come alive in and out of the classroom requires deep engagement and planning with each other.  The quality of our work together makes the achievement of all other “standards” possible.   If you have ideas or need support from me to do this work, please let me know.



Berrett, D. (2013, March 8).  Internships offer tickets to jobs and lessons in unpredictability.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. A29, A30.

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 3-7.

Emdin, C. (2013). Retrieved March 10, 2013 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS85liJHVeo

Image (2011). Retrieved March 10, 2013 from: http://ni.oc.edu/2011/03/what-does-student-engagement-mean-to-you/

Robinson, K. (2010). RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved March 10, 2013 from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Ryan, W.J., Morgan., & Wacker-Mundy, R. (2002).  Graduate admissions in speech-language pathology: Predicting outcomes from selected preadmission criteria. Texas Journal of Audiology and Speech Pathology, 26, 28-31. 

Ryan, W.J., Morgan, M.D., & Wacker-Mundy, R. (1998).  Pre-admission criteria as
predictors of selected outcome measures for speech-language pathology graduate students.  Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, 25, 54-61.