Transforming learning is certainly not the easiest task, especially in larger lecture courses where there aren’t as many opportunities to provide more application of the information. One easy way to do this is to add Knowledge – Question – Response charts to your classes. They look like this:
|Knowledge (or Argument)||Question||Respnse|
|Something the students learned (or an argument that emerged in the discussion, lecture material, or text)||A question students ask about the knowledge or argument||Student responses to the knowledge and question columns; integration of personal experience|
The charts comprise three pieces of information: knowledge/argument, question, and response.
- Knowledge: Significant knowledge learned; what is “need to know.” This isn’t a recitation of facts but incorporating what pieces are the most important parts of a text, discussion, or lecture. / Argument: Delineating an argument’s core premises and what matters most to the overarching thesis or claim of a text, discussion, or lecture.
- It may help the first time you introduce this activity to do it aloud together. This will give students an opportunity to see how you think about a text, which means providing them dialogue for how you selected the most important information to include in the chart.
- You can have students talk as a group about what is important to the list and what isn’t, which can also help students to defend their decisions and think more critically about texts in different contexts.
- I encourage students not to write directly in this chart initially but to review their notes and identify what should go in it.
- Question: What are you still wondering about? What does the knowledge you wrote down in the first column get you to ask about? This section helps students to recognize that learning is constant and that some answers will likely lead to more questions.
- Response: Using personal experience and additional research, students share how they interpret the knowledge or respond to the question. This creates opportunities for synthesis of ideas, but also challenging assumptions.
Why this can help?
Oftentimes, at first glance, we can only glean some information. On top of that, we have to do so quickly in the confines of a classroom. This strategy will allow students to question the text further and make sense of it using their personal experience or searching for additional information. The three phases of this activity allow students to use inquiry and reflection to understand complex or complicated information and construct their knowledge about the topic.
Can I modify this?
Indeed, if you are looking to help students see what’s important, maybe you provide some of knowledge examples at the beginning. You can then gradually release the support to encourage student autonomy and personal growth.
You also can ask students to group knowledge by argument, thus adding another layer of analysis and evaluation to the process.