The PhD: The Guide To Greater Understanding Cont.
Teaching and instruction in partnership with this diversity, also finds itself looking for new ways to augment and integrate new models and ideals in their specific classrooms. Their own assessments now reach across both qualitative and quantitative tools and require a different type of collaboration. Moving discovery into cognitive understanding through reflective models requires a more cooperative learning and teaching style. The use of the traditional lecture may find itself giving way to more discussion and reflective essay and conversations. The role of the instructor becomes one of a helmsman steering the boat. The challenge is letting go of the rudder and allowing the boat to drift a little in the interest of collaborative discovery. The models discussed above allow for both reflective and morally directed discovery that makes the student more accountable for their learning. Yet within this accountability comes a sense of ownership which encourages new discovery and collaboration. In the end allowing this type of discovery is as King and Kitchener’s (Evans et al 1998) model asserts, “one of the most important responsibilities educators have is helping students learn to make defensible judgments." (pg. 161)
All of this leads us to teaching and learning in general. It is all part of an evolutionary process which is both cognitive and reflective. Lessons taught and lessons learned find themselves intertwined in both development and delivery. From the high stakes testing of secondary education through the knowing and reflective cognitions of post secondary education the educational journey is both collaborative and guided. Academic freedom within the post-secondary environment needs to embrace the idea that moving outside of the box is both advantageous and necessary for the continued development of both the student and the overall environment. The fact that more adults are returning to college via both the online and traditional routes has added a new dynamic to both teaching and learning. Advances in technology have changed delivery of content as well as overall development. Diversity in the climate in all demographic areas has moved change as well. Magolda (2001) states that, “Piaget described intelligence in terms of qualitatively different structures through which persons made meaning of their experience." (pg. 16) It is this understanding that moves the various models within in learning environment and as such understanding in the development of the learning environment.
Learning and teaching will continue to develop and transform themselves because the cognitions and development models will continue to develop and transform. Technology will continue to flatten our world and engage our educational practices. This in turn will augment and engage new populations of learners. Why then a PhD? As the complexity of our learning environments increase so do the skills needed in the everyday world for the individual to integrate and engage the diversity present. The new world of collaboration and shared practice will demand higher education from all involved. The end result may be a learning environment where the line between teacher and learner becomes less well defined. The teacher however, will always be there to steer our boat into a safe harbor and like Columbus into new worlds. The PhD can smooth the rough waters while engaging the learner in new and greater depths of understanding. Can you do it? Can you afford not to.
Baxter Magolda, Marcia B. (2001). Making their own way; narratives for transforming higher education to promote self-development. Sterling, VA. Stylus Publishing.
Evans, Nancy J., Forney, Deanna S., Guido-DiBrito, Florence (1998). Student development in college; theory, research and practice. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass Publications.