Get Paid for Learning?

money.gifTeachers are the only ones who get paid for learning.

I learn from my students every single day. If a teacher does not learn from his/her students, then there is something wrong!

Teaching is an interactional process and it affects students and teachers alike. Everyone involved in the process of teaching and learning benefit equally.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com

Let ’em be…

Fatherhood is teaching me many things; things that are beneficial both at home and in the classroom. For example, when my son Michael (who is now 9 months ‘young’) was younger, I used to long for him to start crawling. I wanted him to start exploring things around him and be more mobile. After many months of struggle and hard work, he has finally started to crawl. This began just last week. But now that he crawls, I realize that there are many hazards that he is exposed to and I do not necessarily have the time to be with him ALL of the time to ensure his safety. Now that he has started crawling, I am tempted to tell him, “Michael, why don’t you slow down and try not to move around so much!!!???” But when I reflect on my thoughts, I realize the danger in restricting Michael from his new-found passion and joy – crawling.

Children like to explore and learn (very informally) from everything and everyone around them. We have no choice but to admit that this is the kind of learning that is most effective and natural to humans. However, as children grow, adults introduce many restrictions that eventually serve to discourage and de-motivate the tendency and longing (of the child) to explore and learn about things around them. The moment a child steps out of his/her home, more restrictions are imposed on him/her by the society, the school, the church, friends, etc. Soon, the child senses that there is no point in trying to feed his/her curious mind with food from his/her own learning experiences.

As a parent, I have decided that I will NOT restrict my son from obtaining a wealth of experiences from his surroundings. If I restrict him (especially during his childhood), where and when else will he get a chance to learn and grow from the experiences that he’s having now? I can’t control the society, the school, the church, his friends, etc., but I can control myself and allow him this great and important opportunity to interact freely with his surroundings to gain mastery over them. Michael will have to face many restrictions later on in his life. This can be both positive and negative. But until then, he will be allowed to be himself (a baby exploring and enjoying a ‘new’ world)!

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In the classroom, caring teachers allow students to be themselves. Caring teachers are aware of the fact that too much of restrictions hamper learning significantly. When I was in the elementary school, my teachers dictated and imposed a variety of ‘acceptable behaviors’ as requirements to adhere. Basically, we were asked to sit quietly and do nothing apart from the things teachers told us to do. Sadly, most of the ‘acceptable behaviors’ were not acceptable to us, the students. They simply crushed us into dullness, injured our creativity, and shrunk our self-esteem. I bet all my classmates were silently crying and pleading for freedom to explore and learn for themselves. I did too. So many things remained a mystery to us because our teachers restricted us from exercising our natural inclination to search for knowledge through simple, yet concrete experiences in classroom.

Teachers wonder why students lack the zest to learn. But if they really examine their teaching approaches and reflect on their attitude toward teaching-learning processes in the classroom, they will realize that they are the number one cause for the inception and perpetuation of a dreadful phenomenon called ‘de-motivation in students’. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist and his complex action plans to solve this problem. All that teachers need to do is to let students be themselves.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com


Learning CAN be Fun!

I find courage and motivation to become a caring teacher from the testimonies and experiences of students (like Shimona!). These students directly influence my approach to teaching. If they testify to the fact that having fun while learning is a possibility, then I am convinced that affective teaching is the answer to the many questions that teachers have always had about pedagogical ineffectiveness. My question to all teachers is: ARE WE WILLING TO GIVE OURSELVES A CHANCE TO LEARN and CHANGE? The following is a testimony of a student posted on her blog. Thank you Shimona!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Morning Ekspress – ME move U!

Social Psyc class is so fun…
Not only do we have the funniest teacher in the department teaching it, there’s always room for lotsa self-reflection, and we even got to create our own product and ad for it yesterday as a part of learning about persuasion.

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Storyboard for a Video Clip (Advertisement)



Shortsightedness Cripples Teaching

Have you ever imagined wanting to become a millionaire in a matter of a few weeks? I bet you did. All of us, at some point in life, fantasize becoming very wealthy in a short period of time. We might have different reasons for doing so, but the fact remains, all humans possess a natural tendency to obtain successes as quickly as they can. We simply can’t wait.

In 1998, my friend and I embarked on a mission (I would rather call it a ‘mission impossible’). We wanted to become millionaires by holding huge seminar on ‘personal-development’ and related topics. Our aim was to have at least 10,000 people per seminar session, and we planned on having a few such seminar. We were just completing our Bachelor’s degree at that time. We thought that the world would recognize us as experts and authorities in the field of ‘personal development’ and support us by getting excited about what we have to offer them. In short, we were overwhelmed by our intentions to make lots of money and were misguided into believing that this was a sure success plan.

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The time came to implement our action plan. To our surprise, we failed miserably. We ended up conducting NO seminar at all. It finally dawned on us that wanting to become wealthy isn’t a matter of a few weeks effort and planning (especially to become wealthy from scratch, without having any money or properties passed down to us from our fathers and forefathers). From this experience, I learned a vital lesson, the hard way (we did lose lots of money because we had invested a lot in preparation for the seminars): Shortsightedness Cripples Our Vision and Obstructs the Attainment of True Success!

How does this experience relate to teaching? Well, most teachers get frustrated (rather quickly) with students (especially the ones who are not performing so well) and admit defeat prematurely. They lose motivation to provide contructive intervention to these students because in their minds, “It doesn’t matter anyway…it won’t make a difference if I do this or that to help to improve the student.” A sense of hopelessness is directly or indirectly communicated with students and this serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end, students who do poorly continue in that state because they are expected to do so.

Social psychology calls this the ‘stereotype threat’. When students become aware of a negative stereotype that teachers hold of themselves, they will be unfavorably/negatively affected by this thought. Their performance worsens. All doors for improvement are closed when a teacher communicates shortsighted viewpoints about students in the classroom.

Instead, a caring teacher focuses on the long term outcomes and gains of educational and psychological interventions administered in the classroom. He/she is farsighted and knows that students, when given the chance, support, and encouragement, can improve and excel in all areas of life. Some students take more time than others in the achievement of success. However, a good teacher is fully aware about the importance of communicating ‘farsighted-messages’ (messages of hope and limitless possibilities) with students. By doing so, a caring teacher taps into the hidden resources of students’ potential and maximize their abilities and accomplishments. Farsightedness is a mental attitude that effective teachers possess and it is reflected through their daily behavior, thoughts, and words toward students.

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Teachers who look for quick-fixes and short-term gains in the classroom communicate a sense of hopelessness to students. However, teachers who look for possibilities and long-terms gains communicate a sense of hopefulness and accomplish a greater deal as educators! From my experience in teaching, I can testify to the fact that students love teachers who are farsighted, because these teachers are perceived to be understanding, practical, generous, and optimistic.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com

Writing a Research Proposal

Writing a research proposal requires specialized skills and attention to intricate details. Neglect in these areas can result in the presentation of a paper that lacks quality and technical soundness (from a research viewpoint). One can find many tips to improve proposal writing from research textbooks and myriad of website articles. However, there is one thing that I personally would like to emphasize and encourage researchers to remember:

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A researcher should consider the possible questions readers might have (if they had to read and examine the proposal) and answer all these questions, as accurately and comprehensively as possible. Anticipating the doubts others might have about the research framework allows a researcher to touch base with all aspects of an investigation prior to executing the actual plan.

The following is a format for writing a research proposal (explanation for each sub-heading is given for clarity):

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION
You start off by giving readers a general idea about your topic. Be brief. Your introduction should be engaging and stimulating in a way that readers will be interested and attracted to read further. A lengthy introduction might result in unfavorable ‘first impression’. Do not use factual statements (as yet). Avoid references at this juncture. Write the introduction in your own words. Imagine you are starting a conversation with someone and you desire to keep the one listening to you attentive all through.

Background of the StudyPresent the motivation for doing the research. Indicate what made you become interested in the topic in the first place. Is the topic directly related to you? Or is it a phenomenon that you observed to be prevalent in your surrounding? Why are you driven to investigate and study the topic?

Statement of the ProblemThis is where you explain your topic. You will recall that in the title page, your statement of the topic is very brief and non-explanatory. So, this is where you get to expound on your topic. You can narrow the area of investigation by pointing out your concerns and focus in the research. For example, you can write, “For the purpose of this research, the researcher will investigate the effects of extrinsic motivation on math performance of third graders…” Here, the researcher is narrowing down the construct – motivation – to ‘extrinsic motivation’…this means that the researcher is not interested in studying the effects of intrinsic motivation on math performance. You can also state the variables (dependent and independent variables) involved in the study under this section. Many scholars say that ‘Statement of the Problem’ is the HEART of any research proposal. So, make sure that you are specific, concise, and distinctive in elaborating the topic under investigation.

Purpose of the Study (Objectives of the Study)What is to be accomplished by the research? What is your research going to accomplish that other researches didn’t accomplish? These objectives are specific aims of the research, often broken down according to what is to be accomplished into smaller logical components. In other words, specific objectives relate to the specific research question/hypothesis the investigator wants to answer through a proposed study. It is advisable to work on a few specific objectives; an average of three and a maximum of five are appropriate. E.g., The study will ascertain/measure the degree and direction of relationship between variable A and variable B; The study will examine and describe and the type of attitude male prisoners hold toward female counselors; The study will compare the learning styles of individuals from various cultural groups; etc. (the verbs used in the statement of objectives must be specific, measurable, and to a certain extend, observable).

Significance of the StudyDon’t confuse this section with the previous one. Under this section, you are supposed to elaborate on the benefits of your research and indicate to whom the benefits are directed at. For example, an educational research may benefit teachers, parents, school administrators, school counselors, and students. Explain how (exactly) each of these persons would benefit from the findings and results of your study. In other words, you get to defend your research (why is it essential or crucial?). Why will the world be a less better place if your research was not carried out? In other words, you justify the execution of your research under this section. To be convincing, you must write from your heart. Remember, effective persuasion is a matter of the heart as well as the mind. So, it is essential that you sound personal in this section. This is the main thrust of this section.

Statement of Hypotheses or Questions Guiding the StudyHypotheses are meant for a quantitative study, while Questions are meant for a qualitative study. Hypotheses can be stated in null, or directional, or non-directional forms. Questions must be stated as questions (not as statements that may sound like questions!). Remember, questions here are not similar to your interview or survey questions. These are questions that will guide your study until its completion. So, they must be broad questions that would explore different aspects of the problem under investigation. Do not formulate too many or too few hypotheses or questions. This section of your proposal must correspond to whatever you write under the ‘statement of the problem’ and ‘objectives of the study’ sections. These three sections are closely related.

Basic AssumptionsAssumptions are beliefs or feelings that something is true or that something will happen, although you have no direct way of proving that it is/will. In this section, you have to elucidate the assumptions that you hold while conducting the study. One common assumption that every researcher states in his/her research paper is that he/she assumes that the participants of the study responded to the questionnaire administered to them honestly. Here, ‘honesty’ is something we assume to be present. However, we do not have a way of proving if the participants were indeed honest or otherwise. Writing this section may take a while and requires a lot of thinking. But it is important to present your assumptions so that readers will understand the context of the research and will not use the findings and results of the study carelessly.

LimitationsEvery research has its own limitations. Some researches have more limitations than others. It is the duty of the researcher to list down the limitations (of his/her study) to prevent later misuse of research findings and results. Limitations are factors, beyond the control and intent of the researcher, that negatively affect the study. Examples of limitations of a study can be: researcher bias (esp. in a qualitative research), inappropriateness of the interpretive methods utilized, and insufficiency in the selection of sample (small sample size), time constraint, financial constraint, etc.

DelimitationsThese are boundaries or scope of the research. In this section, you will talk about generalizability of your study (to what extent can your research findings and results be applied to other similar settings?). You can also write about the scope of the contributions (usefulness) of your research. By doing so, you are actually guarding yourself from being misquoted (unethically) by other researchers or readers in the future.

Definition of TermsDefining key concepts or terms – clarifying terms that carry specific meaning for the purpose of research – This is where you operationalize your constructs, making them measurable variables (for example, ‘motivation’ is a construct until you define it in measurable terms…so, in your research, you might refer to ‘extrinsic motivation’ as measured by a particular standardized tool when you talk about ‘motivation’). Other terms that need clarification must be defined too. The purpose of defining is to let others know that certain terms mean something very specific in your research. This helps narrow down the breadth of your research.

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CHAPTER 2

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
A summary of the writings of recognized authorities and of previous research provides evidence that the researcher is familiar with what is already known and what is still unknown and untested. Since effective research is based upon past knowledge, this step helps to eliminate the duplication of what has been done and provides useful hypotheses/questions and helpful suggestions for significant investigation. Citing studies that show substantial agreement and those that seem to present conflicting conclusions helps to sharpen and define understanding of existing knowledge in the problem area, provides a background for the research project, and makes the reader aware of the status of the issue. Parading a long list of annoted studies relating to the problem is ineffective and inappropriate. Only those studies that are plainly relevant, competently executed, and clearly reported should be included under this section (be selective; include supporting and contradictory literature related to your topic; incorporate new and old literature) – always end this section with a short summary (your reflection).

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CHAPTER 3

METHODOLOGY AND PROCEDURES
This part of the research proposal usually consists of two parts: Type of Research and Research Design

Type of Research State and explain the type of research you are currently carrying out. Research is broadly categorized as quantitative or qualitative. However, mentioning whether a research is quantitative or qualitative is not sufficient. It is also important that the researcher specifies the specific type of research method that will be utilized to investigate the topic of his/her interest. Examples of methods you might use for a psychological research are: causal-comparative, correlational, survey, descriptive study, experimental or quasi-experimental, historical, ethnography, action research, etc. You might even want to mention why you are choosing to stick to a particular type of research (why is this more appropriate than other types of research?). Brief explanation of the type of research is also essential (in your own words).

Research Design This is said to be the blueprint or foundation of the whole research project. It gives information about the manner in which the study will be conducted in order to successfully collect and analyze the necessary data. Research Design consists of the following sub-sections:

Subjects (Participants of the Study)important things to note here: age, gender, grade level, socioeconomic status, race, IQ, mental age, academic achievement level, and other demographics (depending on the nature of the study). The researcher must indicate why a particular population was selected, and justify his/her choice with sufficient proposition in relation to his/her investigation. In a qualitative study, the researcher writes about The Participants of the Study. However, in a quantitative study, the researcher elaborates this section in terms of two other sub-sections called:

Population (how big? why use this population? what are the characteristics of the population?)

Sample (how big? what sampling technique is to obtain the sample group? why this particular size and group? what are the characteristics of the sample?)

InstrumentationDescribe the tools that will be used for the purpose of data collection. Also, defend why you choose to use a particular type of tool or tools and not others. Examples of data collection tools are as follows: Questionnaires, psychological inventories and scales (self-constructed or standardized), observation, interview, etc.

Procedures for Data CollectionThis section describes in detail what will be done, how it will be done, what data will be needed, and how the researcher will go about obtaining what is needed. It lists down all the procedures (step-by-step) involved in the process of data collection, from securing permission to enter into research site, until the data is finally collated.

Data AnalysisUnder this section, the researcher will write about his/her plan of action to treat the ‘raw’ data collated from research site. In a quantitative study, statistical testing makes up the major part of data analysis. Meanwhile, in a qualitative study, content analysis, meta-analysis, theme-building, pattern-finding, etc. kind of techniques are used to analyze the field notes collated over a period of time.

Time ScheduleThis is an important section to write because it will help the researcher to budget his/her time and energy effectively. Dividing the project into manageable parts and assigning dates for their completion helps to systematize the study and minimize the natural tendency to procrastinate.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com



The Power of Continual Learning

“A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.”

-Herbie-Hancock-


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How can teachers grow if they don’t engage in continual learning? When teachers stop learning, they become estranged to the experiences of learning. Affective teachers identify with their students’ struggles, challenges, and excitements in the process of learning because they experience all these emotions on a daily basis…because they too, are LEARNERS!

New ideas are the keys to GROWTH! To obtain new ideas, one needs to constantly learn, be it in the classroom or outside of the classroom (exposure to new learning opportunities and environments).

The day a teacher stops learning is the day when he/she starts decreasing in value, expertise, and contribution. Since learning is a dynamic process, it is sustained by constructive and continuous effort. But to understand learning, one has to be a student (who knows better about learning than a learner him/herself?). Thus, a caring teacher strives to be a student first, before he/she attempts to play the role of a teacher! Needless to say, a good student always make an excellent teacher!

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com

I want to thank Mr. Marthonoh Jessen for allowing me to use the quotation by Herbie Hancock posted on his site.


Learning to Take Responsibility

I am sure that we have heard the story about Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody time and again, at different occasions. We laugh and enjoy the humorous word play presented ingeniously in the story everytime we hear it. Let me just refresh your minds of the same story at this juncture.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

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I bet you laughed reading the story yet another time. However, the application of this story to the realities of the school system is startling. I would imagine that Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody represent different social catalysts responsible for the establishment and sustenance of the school system. Teachers, parents, school administrators, and the society, all know for fact that the most important job to be done is to empower and nurture individual students to discover and maximize their potential to become constructive contributors to life on earth. However, experiences like anger, guilt, regret, and blame constantly influence educational scenarios in many societies. In the case of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody, at least they knew what their job was. Sadly, teachers, parents, administrators, and the society are not even aware of their job (in the first place) to be able to move on to the next level of action. As such, the school system has been “existent” for many decades, but have always failed to “live”.

The Existence of a school connotes a desire of its members to survive (in which case, the quality of the survival is not as important as the survival itself), while a school that is Living does not merely survive but also strives to make a genuine difference in all of its members! As far as I see it, the school and every member involved in the functioning therein are responsible for one thing and one thing alone…

To establish a caring and passionate ‘working-relationship’ with students so that the teaching-learning experiences at school become meaningful and personal – leading to increased assimilation of what is taught – useful for the present as well as the future. Of course this is not accomplished by some magic tricks. It takes a lot of time, effort, intelligent thinking and planning, and commitment to ensure this outcome.

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Nevertheless, the possibility or impossibility of the above mentioned goals are significantly dependent on how well the four main catalysts of the school system work toward (collaboratively) making this a reality. Instead of ‘passing the baton without running the race,’ (or engaging in social loafing) – teachers, parents, school administrators, and the society might want to re-consider and accept the crucial responsibilities placed in their hands to effect positive changes in the lives of students who would someday, become the future. Let us not forget that we care for our students because someday soon, they too will CARE for us! (now you know why many parents end up in old-folk-homes instead of cherishing the remaining days of their lives with children and grandchildren???)

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com



Learning IS Experiencing!

Thought for the Day: A Direct Quote from MeaningfulLearning

Everyone can learn anything as long as it is meaningful. Learning can be made meaningful. Support and encouraging words will make any learning a challenging and creative experience. The freedom of choice is of all importance but the choice of words is a freedom we can all share. Our kind words can contribute in making learning meaningful.

I have discovered in my own teaching that learning is most effective when it is experiential in nature! When concepts, ideals, and principles are taught in a way that students can relate to them in a personal manner, learning increases exponentially. This implies that teachers who stimulate both the intellectual as well as the emotional faculties of students do a better job in assisting them to assimilate and internalize learning materials. This is accomplished by utilizing teaching strategies that allow students become active participants and contributors (in the learning process) rather than remaining passive and fed with information all through the teaching-learning process.

The Engines for Education Team advocates this very idea most aptly in the following manner…

There is really only one way to learn how to do something and that is to do it. If you want to learn to throw a football, drive a car, build a mousetrap, design a building, cook a stir-fry, or be a management consultant, you must have a go at doing it. Throughout history, youths have been apprenticed to masters in order to learn a trade. We understand that learning a skill means eventually trying your hand at the skill. When there is no real harm in simply trying we allow novices to “give it a shot.”

Parents usually teach children in this way. They don’t give a series of lectures to their children to prepare them to walk, talk, climb, run, play a game, or learn how to behave. They just let their children do these things. We hand a child a ball to teach him to throw. If he throws poorly, he simply tries again. Parents tolerate sitting in the passenger seat while their teenager tries out the driver’s seat for the first time. It’s nerve-wracking, but parents put up with it, because they know there’s no better way.

When it comes to school, however, instead of allowing students to learn by doing, we create courses of instruction that tell students about the theory of the task without concentrating on the doing of the task. It’s not easy to see how to apply apprenticeship to mass education. So in its place, we lecture.

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com

Personal Testimony of a Student (Ms. Sara Saunders)

Class: PSYC 315 Psychology of the Exceptional Child

This is the last journal entry (April 21, 2006) of Ms. Sara Saunders in the above mentioned class. She has transfered to a university in the US after successfully completing her first year of college education in Thailand. The following jounal entry is published with Sara’s permission.

In Sara’s own words

Journal [ last one! 🙁 ]

Dr. Roy, thank you for this class. I really appreciate your teaching, especially how you make students feel like they have something meaningful to contribute. Some teachers tend to give the impression that they are the bottomless well of knowledge while we are ignorant children. Thanks for making this class more inspiring. Try some fieldtrips next year! God bless!

Copyright June 2006 by Dr. Edward Roy Krishnan, www.affectiveteaching.com