Intent of Project
This mini-course is intended to fulfill the following goals:
- To promote educator's individual and collective understanding of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL), its concept and its practice
- To provide a meta-course that allow educators to adapt it to their own online courses of other subjects
Since the idea of meta-course, as far as I know, is new, I will explain what it means in this context. What I mean by meta-course is not the technical term in Moodle, which is synonymous with "cross-listed courses" that allows student enrollment database can be linked from one class to another. By meta-course I mean it's a partial, subject-neutral, and shell-like online course environment that is intended to achieve specific goals. It's like a vital organ of a living entity. It does not exist independent of a real course, but its existence and function is vital to the success of the entity.
Ideally, the meta-course is subject-neutral; it can be used to complement any online course design. It does not prescribe the full content of any module. What's listed in the meta-course is just the element necessary for the function to work. For instance, in Ice-Breaking module, it's perfectly fine that the instructor may want to ask students to use fancy Web 2.0 softwares, such as Voki or VoiceThreads, to introduce themselves. In other modules, it's also desirable that the instructor would assign more readings and ask them to discuss them, in addition to the web-quest-type of learning activity under Readings in those parts. The only constraint, for this specific meta-course, is that it's a project-based type of course design. So the instructor has to design its content accordingly. The parts of meta-course also do not appear in every module. Usually an online course has 7-8 modules, two weeks for each module. And SRL meta-course has only 4 parts.
By using the SRL meta-course, learners are expected to:
- Characterize the meaning of self-regulated learning, and to identify its key components.
- Plan ahead their learning objectives in this course.
- Carry out their learning plan.
- Reflect on their performance against their objectives, and devise plan for further improvement.
- Collaborate with others on a group project.
- Demonstrate skills in media literacy.
- Foster skills in critical thinking.
- Synthesize contents of different sources.
There are different ways to achieve the above mentioned goals, I choose to use project-based learning as the instructional model in design this meta-course. The project-based learning approach is learner-centered, it focuses on learner's prior knowledge, allows room for learners self-regulation, fosters team work and collaboration, and keeps learners engaged with the content. Accordingly, the general arc of the meta-course is a group project that its members of three students will have the whole semester to work on. The project, or the guiding question, comes from the group. Throughout the semester, there will be three modules addressing three phases of SRL: forethought/planning, performance, and reflection. The learning activities in each module are designed to foster the understanding of these phases and their meanings by actually doing them.
In addition to the group project, the gist of SRL is also built into the individual level of learning. Acknowledging that in working on group projects, what individuals bring to and expect from the class may not be fully addressed or answered, this meta-course also build in mini-sessions of SRL phases. At the beginning of the semester, learners are asked to state their learning goals and plans to achieve their goals. As the process of forming the group projects unfolds, learners will have plenty of opportunities to reflect on how their individual plan and group plan fit together, and with the help of the instructor, the learners will be able to find ways to make their learning plans on both levels coherent. By doing so, individual learners will experience several cycles of the three phases in SRL. (Zimmerman, 2002)
In other words, this meta-course is based on the following diagram.
This is the three phases of SRL. (Zimmerman, 2002)
This is how group level and individual level of SRL work together.
Scaffolding tips for the instructors
To make the SRL meta-course work, extensive use of scaffolding is essential. The role of the instructor as a coach needs to be fully exercised. I have indicated specific scaffolding tips in each part. Here are some general tips for instructors:
- Don't rely on emails. Be prepared to talk to your students, via Skype, phone, or Facetime. Make the communication personal. Research shows the personal tone in communication helps establish a sense of trust between instructor and learners.
- Do follow up. Our goal is to ensure two levels of SRL can develop in sync: personal level and group level. On the individual personal level, the instructor need to make sure learner's goal and plan laid out in the beginning may undergo revision as the group project unfolds, and it's up to the instructor to make sure a coherent development is still possible. On the group level, the collaborative efforts to ensure SRL rely primarily on learners themselves. The instructor needs to use innovative measures to make sure the group dynamics and collaboration are following the three phases of SRL.
- Response to reflective journal. This is the most important part.
- Remember. The more SRL they are, they more likely they will succeed in your courses.
Notes on the Readings section
There are no assigned readings in this meta-course. Instead, learners will be asked to perform web-quest type of activity. For each part, there will be different assigned topic: self-regulated learning, immersive/authentic learning, learning community, and project-based learning. Learners will be asked to search in and only in Google Scholars for one article and share it with the class. (For graduate courses, database such as PsychINFO instead of Google Scholars is preferred). They need to justify their choice. The activity is designed to: build up collaboratively bibliography on the specific topics, and to practice their skills in critical thinking and media literacy. The Synthesis assignment is meant to practice their skills in analyzing and synthesizing different sources of content into one single text.
Resources and References
Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory Into Practice, 41(2), 64-70.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2008). Investigating self-regulation and motivation: historical background, methodological development, and future prospects. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1), 166-183.