Angelo’s fourteen principles are described by Angelo as a “teacher’s dozen” (1993, p.2), with an almost humerous reference to a “teacher’s dozen” being one more that a bakers dozen, and are influenced by Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. They aim to provide principles for improving learning and Angelo recognises the debt to Chickering and Gamson, but adds that there were more specific principles he could not teach without (1993, p.2). It is from five of these fourteen principles that the rationale for using a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will draw on.
Active learning is more effective than passive learning (Angelo 1993, p.3).
To be remembered, new information must be meaningfully connected to prior knowledge and it must be remembered in order to be learned (ibid, p.4).
Both these principles of Angelo’s “teaching dozen” are served well by the use of the VLE in an integrated way, as it allows the creation of interactive exercises and tasks that draw on the learner’s own experience and knowledge; this cognitive and experiential capital is then applied to problems within the VLE at a time that is convenient to the learner. This is particularly important as much university teaching relies on a relatively passive relationship from the learner in lectures, with little seminar time to explore and apply concepts and ideas received from teaching in the chalk and talk tradition. Additionally, it is the application of the knowledge and experience that contributes to learning, Chickering and Gamson outlined the principle of active learning when they said learners must “…talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences and apply it to their daily lives.” (1987, p.4) Angelo develops this point further: “The more meaningful and appropriate connections students make between what they know and what they are learning, the more permanently they will anchor new information in long-term memory and the easier it will be for them to access that information when it’s needed.” (op cit, p.5).
The active learning tasks are designed around specific goals (as explained further below) related to the course learning objectives and this brings together the elements of good active learning, as set out by Angelo: “activity, in and of itself, doesn’t result in higher learning. Active learning occurs when students invest physical and mental energies in activities that help them make what they are learning meaningful, and when they are aware of that meaning-making.” (ibid, p.3-4).
Learning is more effective and efficient when learners have explicit, reasonable, positive goals, and when their goals fit well with the teacher’s goals (ibid, p.4).
The interactive tasks on the VLE can be designed around very specific goals. My intervention is designed around specific exercises that are based on the course learning objectives. The VLE allows multiple interactive tasks and thus I can break down more complex problems into much more manageable chunks with clear goals that relate to the wider learning objectives. This allows for clarity in task instruction, manageable workload and a clear link to the wider learning objectives. Additionally, given previous problems with writing style and plagiarism, there are specific goals for the students in referencing the material they produce in the tasks and building confidence in academic writing conventions.

Learners need feedback on their learning, early and often, to learn well; to become independent, they need to learn how and give themselves feedback (ibid, p.5).
Interaction between teachers and learners is one of the most powerful factors in promoting learning, interaction among learners is another (ibid, p.8).

The VLE allows teachers to give, and learners to receive, feedback at any time and any place (given access to the internet). It also allows more detailed feedback as learning objectives can be broken down into constituent goals suitable for tasks and exercises that are far less intense than a full academic essay. In terms of students providing peer feedback and general interaction, the VLE has excellent communication tools that can facilitate either live discussion, postings, email or written feedback on work. The need for students to provide peer comment on each others work is built into the tasks. With clear goals set for each task, learners can quickly become focussed on the key areas of importance for feedback under the general moderation of the teacher. This moderation allows for structured and open discussion and postings between participants with the teacher generating a good example of appropriate comment, feedback and etiquette (while addressing any inappropriate comments or behaviour). Such practice encourages independence in learning: “When students learn to internalize the voice of the “coach,” they can begin to give themselves corrective feedback.” (ibid, p.6). For the second of the principles here, it is important to emphasise the structured part of the tasks and interaction as Angelo points out that: “…it isn’t interaction in and of itself that promotes academic learning, it’s structured interaction.” (ibid, p.8).

 

Bibliography
Angelo, T. (1993) “A teacher’s dozen: Fourteen general, research-based principles for improving higher learning in our classrooms.” AAHE Bulletin April 1993: 3–13.
Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987) “Seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education.” AAHE Bulletin, March 1987: 3-7.

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