My mind has been occupied by self-regulation, collaboration and expertise to a great deal lately, as we have been studying those issues, and I’ve been discussing these issues also outside classroom. I have been talking with some of my friends and my family members about what self-regulated learning comprises of, and how it and collaborative learning can enhance learning of expertise.
Enhancing SRL on traditional lectures
With a friend of mine, who teaches accounting in University of Oulu, we discussed how they have huge lectures with around 100 or more students. This is a typical situation in teaching in university, that you have mass lectures and at the end of the course you have an exam. And typically, the students start reading for the exam at the end of the course, not minding it too much during the course.
On the said accounting course, in addition to lectures, the students are given optional assignment (home work), and by doing those tasks they can earn extra points for the exam/final grade. The trick is that the students have to read the course material to be able to do the given tasks, so they engage in reading and learning the issues and applying them during the course, thus they also perform better in the exam. And that being said, based on the feedback from the students’ on that course they also themselves found the assignments to be really helpful in understanding better the theories taught on the mass lectures.
Teaching large groups is always a challenge, and I think adding the optional home work to complement the lectures is a good idea. But how could this be still improved? Perhaps giving the students feedback on the assignments and giving them a change to improve their home work tasks based on the comments. In addition, the assignments could be done in small groups instead of as solo work. Maybe also the students could be asked to set goals for themselves at the beginning of the course, and advising them to reflect on their progress during the course, and reflecting their success in attaining those goals after taking the exam and finishing the course.
As said, teaching large groups is a challenge, and sometimes you just have to have those mass lectures. But maybe by little additions to the mass lectures, as mentioned above, there is a change to support the students’ learning better, and to enhance their self-regulated – and collaborative learning.
Enhancing learning of expertise in work life
My husband works as a software developer and is a scrum team master. Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software product development in which development team works as a unit to reach a common goal. At the beginning of the sprint, that lasts for 2-4 weeks, the team chooses which features or components they are going to work on during that period. This method enables teams to self-organize by encouraging physical co-location or close online collaboration of all team members, as well as daily communication among all team members and disciplines in the project.
We discussed how at the beginning of each sprint (or iteration) the team chooses their goals for software development, discusses the progress during the sprint, and at the end of the sprint has a retrospective in which the team reflects on their success on reaching the goals.
So there are already some elements of self-regulation and socially shared regulation and/or co-regulation, as the team decides upon and commits to common goals, and they work together to reach those goals, the actual production process including both co-operative and collaborative phases.
But the goals are only limited to the development of the software. We were thinking that perhaps they could add also personal goals and even team goals to the process, and reflect also those at the end of the sprint; were the personal goals reached, were the team goals reached, what went well and what could be improved.
The team member obviously need to have at least some basic self-regulation skills as well as knowledge about working together, as without any it would be impossible for them to work in a scrum team. But I think that adding personal and team goals to the process would further advance their SR skills, team collaboration and most of all each team member’s development of expertise.
Of course, what each team member will learn depends on the goals they set for themselves, but I suspect that many of them would set such goals that are related to deeper knowledge and understanding of the functionality of the software they are building, thus this will promote their expertise in the field of software development. At least this is what I would do in my profession as a project manager (I’ve been doing that job for over 10 years); I would set myself goals through which I would gain more knowledge and deeper understanding about project management to be more skillful and efficient in my profession.
Learning of expertise is something that I’m very interested in, and I’m planning to write my thesis related to this. In addition, I’m hoping that in my future job I could be involved in promoting employees professional growth and path towards expertise somehow (maybe a job related to HR in some way).
In my previous post I talked about how I think SRL, CL, and learning of expertise are intertwined. I think good abilities in self-regulation and collaborative learning can be a pathway to expertise, not only in school environment, but can also be applied in working life. So, I’m eager to learn even more about these topics, and hope to be able to apply them in work life after my studies, not only personally, but to help other people in that in some way or another.