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A Learning Portfolio and Its Role in Educational Process

Education is a rather difficult and psychological process, which involves not either a teacher, or a student, but both of them. Learning portfolio is “a representative or selective collection of one’s work [in a student’s case, usually drawn from classroom work] often amounting to a documentation for a personal resume” (My Learning and Class Portfolio). It is important to have it as it shows all the achievements of a student.

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Having learned the course, I have found a lot of new information that turned to be very useful in further researches and working experience. Nature of students’ learning has many sides and each of them is important in forming the educational process.

Educational and learning processes are based on different ways of learning. First of all, it should be defined what differs school learning from everyday learning. Well, as for me, I think that school learning is a much more organized process than everyday learning. Every day a student gets new information about various things without any system of learning and too little of this information is left in his head. In the work by Biggs I discovered that there are six distinctions between school and everyday learning.

The first is direct and indirect relevance. It means that everyday learning concerns only those things which were experienced and discovered personally, on the intentions of a student. But school learning mostly concerns “what have others have discovered and it is expressed in abstract, remote way” (Biggs, 200).

Another point to differ is the way of learning abstract symbol system. This statement is urgent for those whose written language consists pictures and symbols, not letters. This is urgent for Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, and other languages. In this case, a student while learning must remember ot only the facts that are told, but also the things they describe and work with these things through the symbol system of the language.

Biggs describes interesting experiment held in Hong-Kong, which results really surprised me. They researched English-speaking schools there, where students were supposed to deal English with each other. Though the results were rather shocking, as pure English was used only in five schools of all the researched, and in others people tended to use so-called “Chinglish” (Biggs, 200). It’s a symbiosis of English and Chinese languages that creates a totally new symbol system.

Another difference is motivation. Motivation in everyday learning depends on personal desires and inclinations. That means that the role of motivator in this case is represented by personal wishes, for example, learning of how to drive a car needs no external motivation for a teenage boy. At school the situation is rather different and I have seen it from my own experience. Motivating a student to receive knowledge discovered by someone else is rather hard, but interesting work.

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The first reason that motivates students is achieving higher grades. Here concept of “the higher mark is receive, the better the knowledge” (Biggs, 200) plays the biggest role. Students tend to learn more to have higher grades and that is really good, as teacher is not supposed to motivate them somehow else, if their own aim is good marks. Students of that type are known for studying and perceiving the information on the necessary level.

Another type of motivation for students is reaching some bright aims in life, with the help of knowledge, of course. And here the teacher must assure students that the knowledge that is going to be taught will provide them easier career growth and other life benefits. In this case it was rather interesting to make students curious about the things taught, as the teacher created certain level to achieve. And students, inspired by future benefits try to learn the given material in the full volume.

And the last type of motivation is “need to learn”. Students having such kind of motivation learn because of some need. And these need vary – someone needs good diploma, someone needs to get good education to enter the university of his/hers dream and many other. In this case motivation from the side of teacher should be provided in the level needed by every student personally. In any case, motivation of learning in school is very important. As how else should we make our students be interested in learning?!

Individual and social learning conditions also distinct school learning from everyday learning. In school learning the major importance play individual learning conditions. As all the marks and results received by student depend on his own perception of the material and how student can recall and represent it. In everyday learning, social learning conditions are more important. It is so called “collective mind” where all the knowledge from several people are gathered together and people discuss the way of how this or that thing should be done. But these two conditions are closely related. It is clear from the fact that students tend to study together, in cooperation. They gather together and do their homework and other tasks, believing that altogether they will be able to find the right conclusion or solving of a problem.

To my mind, the most important difference of school learning from everyday learning is in assessment and accreditation. “Evaluation is of course present in everyday life, but not at the ever present shadow that dominates school life” (Bloom, 1971). Well, marks are the degree that shows the quantity and quality of knowledge of the student. They show how well the student perceived the material and on which level it is recalled.

And the last different point is metacognition. “We reflect critically on what we are doing, to help us cope with new and complex situations of all kinds” (Biggs, 200). Everyday life makes us make goals and tend to them, trying to reach them in order to get results and here we are – studying and learning a lot of new things in order to receive the benefits of the goals. In school the situation differs a bit. Students must be set with these goals.

For example, every day small monitoring test should be provided at the beginning of the class in order to check the level of how the previous material was understood and another small test at the end of the class in order to see how students learned the new given material. These small tests will encourage students to understand better what the teacher says. Students, whose these small tests were followed by good results, can be free from weekly test or monthly test, as their results are bright and firm. This also will create an extra goal to reach.

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As it is clear from everything said above, knowledge is the most important thing for students. “It is students, who construct their knowledge, not teachers who “transmit” knowledge to them” (Shuell, 1986). This idea can be compared to building a house. A teacher is a shop where students, “builders”, can buy bricks in order to build their houses. And if some bricks are missing the house will be not enough and it will look clumsy and untidy.

That will mean that the goal of student is not achieved, that he wasn’t motivated enough and he wasn’t eager to learn enough. Knowledge is made by people for themselves and it is people who determine the limits of their knowledge. It means that the teacher cannot teach more than a student wants or is intended to.

“Methods of teaching should be designed to stimulate students actively to construct meaning from their own experience rather than stimulating them to reproduce the knowledge of others” (Wittrock, 1977). It means that the teacher must teach students in that way that they were able to reproduce all the received knowledge in their own words as it will mean that they remembered a lot and they will apply their knowledge in the future life.

After learning the course, I found out that there is conception of learning provided in three levels (Marton, & Saljo, 1984). These levels are quantitative, institutional and qualitative.

The concept of learning in quantitative method is to learn as much as possible. Only facts, dates, ideas and no personal views or opinion. In this case teacher plays the role of a transmitter. He/she represents ideas and discoveries made by other people without asking any personal view or opinion (Humphrey, 2001). As for me, I suppose this concept of teaching almost useless, as simple remembering of the facts will lead to nothing.

They will totally mix up in head of a student and it would be rather hard for him/her to recollect the idea or date or fact or event well. It seems to e, that this way of teaching is totally terrible as it brings no good to students. Lections are boring, children write all the time and after the classes they are tired and exhausted and unwilling to study and learn, which is certainly not the goal of a teacher.

In institutional concept, the main role play marks and degrees received by students. No other factors are important, here works the principle that higher mark indicates higher degree of knowledge. In this concept a teacher is dependent upon students, as his task is to make all the students perceive the given information and to recall it on the necessary level. It means that a teacher must plan his lessons in such a way that every student understands the given data and can recall it. Well, as for my opinion, I can say that this method is much better than previous one, as it doesn’t imply remembering of only facts and dates, it implies the understanding by students the represented material and their ability to recall it. And if they fail, then, in some case, it is teacher’s fault.

And the last level of learning is qualitative. It “involves meaning, understanding, and a way if interpreting the world” (Biggs, 200). On this level students express their thoughts and opinion, which is much more precious for teacher than simple repeating of bookish phrases and events. Students figure out every fact and detail and this kind of learning remains with them for the whole life. As for me, I think that this method is the most productive both for students, and for teacher. Students learn the material making almost the same discoveries that have already been made on the basis of some facts provided by teacher.

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Classes are extremely interesting and students tend not to miss such classes. Children like personal experience and these classes give it to them. The role of teacher is the role of guide who corrects students and turns them to the right direction.

Learning is a hard but interesting process. And role of teacher in is of great importance. It is he/se who motivates students, who makes wonderful classes and who attracts students to learning. But also the role of students shouldn’t be avoided. Children came to school to receive qualified education. Some of them are eager and ready for this, others are still not. But at the end of the school they will graduate with the same knowledge level (at least, it is supposed so). If students are not motivated enough it is the fault of teacher. And if a student didn’t receive knowledge in the necessary quantity, it’s fault of both, as teacher, students and learning are undividable parts of one uniting system. And if one part is missing, the system will not work.

Reference List

Biggs, J. B. (1987). Students Approaches to Learning and Studying. Hawthorn, Vic.: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Biggs, J. B. (1987). The Learning Process Questionnaire. Hawthorn, Vic.: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Biggs, J. B. (1987). The Study Process Questionnaire. Hawthorn, Vic.: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Biggs, J. B. (1987). The Role of Metalearning in Studying Processes. The British Journal of Educational Psychology, 55, 185-212.

Bloom, B. S. (1971). The Effective Consequences of Mastery Learning. In J. Block (Ed). Mastery Learning. New York: Holt, Rineheart & Winston.

Econ & Bus Geog (2003). My Learning And Class Portfolio. Web.

Humphrey, G. (2001). The Nature Of Learning. London: Routledge.

Marton, F., & Saljo, R. (1976). On Qualitative Differences in Learning – I: Outcome And Process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4-11.

Shuell, T. J. (1986). Cognitive Conceptions of Learning. Review of Educational Research, 56, 411-436.

Wittrock, M. C. (1977). The Human Brain. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

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