Thursday, February 3, 2022

Do theories of teaching help?

Fox (1983) suggests four ways to think about teaching: transfer, shaping, travelling, and building. The first is bout transferring knowledge (and presumably skills, although Fox doesn't mention them), from teacher to student. The second is shaping the student in some way, which I guess might be about skills. The third is about having the teacher as a guide on a learning journey (a bit too metaphorical?). Building theory I did not really understand: perhaps constructionist? Experiential Learning, and growing theory were also mentioned.

It wasn't clear to me how this laundry list of theories was helpful. There was no attempt to conduct an experiment to see if these were actually evident in the way teachers teach, or was useful in practice. Also there was not attempt to see if one theory, or another, improved student outcomes.

The European HoTEL (Holistic Approach to Technology Enhanced Learning) project has an even larger list of learning theories. Here 24 theories are related to practice, but again not in a way which is useful to a practitioner wanting to improve their teaching: 

HoTEL Learning Theory Map
Richard Millwood, 2002 


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