Educ 205: Analytical Reflection #2
Observing Mr. Dís eleventh grade Chemistry class has provided me with further insight into the teaching profession. Not only have I been able to see a teacher in action, I have also witnessed many of the critical terms Anita Woolfolk identifies in her textbook, Educational Psychology. In particular, Mr. D has illustrated terms including critical thinking, motivation, and Bloomís taxonomy. Through observing Mr. Dís classroom, I was able to gain a better understanding of these terms and how they are used in the classroom.
To begin, critical thinking refers to evaluating conclusions through examining a problem, the evidence, and possible solutions (Woolfolk, 338). Critical thinking allows students to define and clarify a problem through judging information related to a problem and then identifying possible conclusions to the problem. Mr. D does a good job in promoting critical thinking in his classroom.
One example of Mr. D promoting critical thinking in his classroom is when he has his students do labs. In one particular lab, the students were to identify a chemical and then balance an equation using the chemical they identified, as well as compare one chemical to another chemical. This is a good example of critical thinking because it allows students the opportunity to compare similarities and differences, an important element to critical thinking (Woolfolk, 338).
Another example of Mr. D asking his students to use critical thinking is he has his students do a lab report after conducting a lab. In their lab report, students must identify a hypothesis, methodology, findings and data, and conclusions. The most important part of the lab report that allows students to use critical thinking is the conclusions portion of the report. Having students write their conclusions enables them to think critically about the lab. That is, the students must reflect on the lab by using what they learned and making conclusions about the process of the lab.
Mr. Dís use of critical thinking will benefit his students. Students provided with classroom instances where they have to use critical thinking allow them to think more deeply about certain issues (Woolfolk, 339). Because Mr. D asks his students to think critically about the labs they do, through comparing chemicals and writing a lab report, he teaches the students to understand the material in a better way. That is, Mr. Dís students, in the future, will be able to analyze issues in a complex way because they had to practice these skills in their chemistry labs. Furthermore, Woolfolk explains that students learn more when they analyze and explain interpretations (Woolfolk, 339). Mr. Dís students will be able to learn more about the labs because they have to explain their findings in a report, thus illustrating that they will benefit from Mr. Dís labs. Also, with critical thinking, it is important to follow up with additional practice (Woolfolk, 338). The teacher does this because he has the students write lab reports that ask them to reflect on their findings about the lab. Therefore, Mr. D is benefiting his students because he is teaching students to analyze problems in a complex way through having his students do comparative labs and then follow up the labs by writing a report.
Motivation is another critical term Woolfolk discusses. Motivation refers to an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains oneís behavior (Woolfolk, 350). For instance, motivation is what enables me to continue to write this paper even though I may want to go out with my friends. However, because I am motivated, I will stay at my desk and continue to write this paper. There are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is motivation associated with activities that are their own reward (Woolfolk, 351); it is the natural tendency to seek out and perform challenges because they are personally interesting. Intrinsic motivation does not need any outside incentives or punishment because the activity, itself, is rewarding. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is motivation that is created through external factors such as rewards and punishment (Woolfolk, 351). For example, when a student does something in order to receive a good grade, please the teacher, or avoid punishment, they are extrinsically motivated. Mr. D is good at motivating his students extrinsically. However, he does not use intrinsic motivation to motivate his students.
Mr. D uses good grades as a form of extrinsic motivation. For example, before he started a lesson, the teacher told the students that they will, ďOnly need to know the first three sections of this chapterĒ for the test. This statement basically told the students that they do not need to know information for the sake of learning, but rather, only know certain information for the test in order to get a good grade. Here, the teacher used no form of intrinsic motivation, such as getting the students excited to fully understand the material. Although Mr. D was able to get his students to review the certain material of the textbook, the students will not benefit from Mr. Dís use of extrinsic motivation because, in the future, they will not be motivated to do their work by themselves, but rather have to have some type of reward for finishing their assignment.
Another example of the teacher only using extrinsic motivation is that he offered the students extra credit if they came in during lunch or nutrition and performed an experiment in front of him. Mr. D told his students to, ďPay attention because this is the exact procedure you will have to do for the extra credit.Ē Here, Mr. D does not even allow his students to learn the material on their own, which would make good use of intrinsic motivation. Instead, he performs the experiment in front of them, thus not allowing his students to use their own intrinsic motivation to learn the required material. Mr. D is not using any type of intrinsic motivation because he is basically bribing his students to learn the lab procedures in order to earn extra credit and, in turn, get a better grade. This form of motivation can harm the students.
Mr. D will harm his students because he used no form of intrinsic motivation in his classroom. The students can become harmed from extrinsic motivation because it teaches students to only do the ďbare minimumĒ in order to receive good grades. Furthermore, the teacherís motivation does not encourage students to take more time and learn the material for the sake of learning. He does not challenge the students to understand all the material, but rather tells them the material that they will need to know for the test. Mr. D is also harming his students because he is lowering their self-esteem. Because Mr. D told his students that they will only need to know certain parts of the chapter for the exam, he is basically telling his students that he doesnít think they are smart enough or capable of learning the entire chapter. Students can then internalize Mr. Dís message, thus lowering their self-esteem. Mr. Dís lack of using intrinsic motivation will also affect his students in the future. Mr. Dís students will become dependent on earning a reward for doing a specific activity. Therefore, students may only do the required curriculum in college, instead of mastering the subject. Also, students may only work in order to receive a paycheck, instead of working to fulfill personal goals. Mr. D does not encourage intrinsic motivation; he only uses extrinsic motivation to motivate his students.
Mr. D is also harming his students because he is not allowing students to learn self-regulation. Self-regulation is the process we use to activate and maintain our actions, thoughts, and perceptions in order to reach a specific goal (Woolfolk, 478). Mr. D is not encouraging his students to learn, nor use, self-regulation because he only motivates his students using extrinsic forms. Because Mr. D does not encourage his students to become motivated on their own, his students are unable to use their self-regulated behavior in order to become interested in their work and, thus become a self-regulated learner. Instead, he only uses good grades to have his students do their assignments. Mr. Dís lack of allowing his students to use self-regulation also harms the students because they will not be able to know when to use their self-regulated behavior. Furthermore, Mr. Dís students will not be able to regulate their actions in order to reach a personal goal. Mr. D is preventing his students from using their self-regulation to do their work and learn the material thoroughly.
Mr. D uses Bloomís taxonomy in his classroom. Bloomís taxonomy refers to a classification system of educational objectives (Woolfolk, 435). Bloomís taxonomy is divided into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. The cognitive domain is the domain that is divided into six parts that deal with memory and reasoning objectives. The affective domain is objectives that focus on attitudes and feelings. The final domain, the psychomotor domain, is the domain dealing with physical abilities and coordination objectives. Mr. D does a good job using Bloomís taxonomy in his classroom. In particular, Mr. D uses the cognitive and psychomotor domains effectively.
One example of Mr. D using Bloomís taxonomy is when he had his students perform a lab. The labs in Mr. Dís classroom make good use of the cognitive domain. In one particular lab, Mr. D had the students perform a lab about balancing equations using the chemicals the students would use in the lab. First, Mr. D had the students do a series of balancing equations before they started the lab. Once the students were done with the equations, they were to use the knowledge they learned from balancing the equations and use the chemical equations in their lab. After the students had identified the chemicals, they were to balance the equations again, using what data they gathered by in the lab. Here, Mr. D is using the cognitive domain of Bloomís taxonomy because he has the students perform the six basic objectives associated with the cognitive domain: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Mr. D uses the lab as a tool to reach all levels of the cognitive domain. For instance, because Mr. D had the students balance equations before performing the lab, he was using the application objective because he was asking students to use knowledge they had previously learned about solving equations and then apply that knowledge in the lab. The lab, as well as the lab reports, allows Mr. Dís students to use the cognitive domain of Bloomís taxonomy.
Mr. D also uses the psychomotor domain in his classroom. For example, before the students started to do this lab, the teacher reminded them of the procedures they would have to use in the lab. Mr. D first told his students, ďRemember to wear your safety goggles and lab coats.Ē He then explained, ďYou have to use a plastic container to measure the Calcium Chloride.Ē Mr. D is using the psychomotor domain of Bloomís taxonomy in this example because he is reminding the students of the new movements he has taught them about lab safety and procedure. Because he has the students perform the labs, themselves, he is teaching them new movements associated with lab procedures, such as measuring chemicals and wearing protective gear, thus making good use of the psychomotor domain.
Mr. Dís students benefit from his use of Bloomís taxonomy. For example, because Mr. Dís labs focus on knowledge that students have previously learned about in his class, such as balancing equations, he allows his students to recall information (knowledge objective) and then apply that knowledge in order to perform the lab (application objective). Furthermore, Mr. D has his students write a lab report once they have finished a lab. The lab report allows students to use the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation objectives because Mr. Dís lab reports ask students to draw conclusions from the lab through analyzing their findings. Therefore, Mr. Dís students are able to reach higher levels of Bloomís taxonomy through conducting the lab and writing a lab report. Mr. Dís students will benefit from reaching high levels of Bloomís taxonomy because it teaches them to use the cognitive domain in everyday situations, not just in chemistry labs. As an outcome of reaching a high level of Bloomís taxonomy, Mr. Dís students will become better students because they are able to analyze information because they learned how to from writing their lab reports. Mr. Dís students will also benefit from his use of the psychomotor domain. Mr. Dís students will be able to learn new movements easier as a result of learning how to do specific physical lab procedures, such as measuring. Furthermore, Mr. D is using different ways of teaching material in order to reach different learning styles. For example, Mr. D is allowing kinesthetic learners to learn better through an interactive activity, like a lab. Therefore, Mr. D is also benefiting the students by teaching to different learning styles. Mr. D benefits his student by allowing them to reach higher levels of learning as well as teaching to the different learning styles of his students. Mr. Dís students greatly benefit from his use of Bloomís taxonomy.
In conclusion, observing Mr. Dís classroom has allowed me to identify certain instances where critical terms are used in the classroom. Mr. D provided good examples of critical thinking and Bloomís taxonomy, but did a poor job motivating his students. Through observing Mr. Dís classroom, I was able to see the terms used in the textbook in an everyday learning environment.