Today I drove up to TESC for the CIEL conference (CIEL is the Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning), a gathering of about 12 schools that have a “progressive” bent in education innovation, according to the webstie — not sure how specific the word “progressive” is… does that actually mean something? Or does it just mean not traditional?
Anyway I had a chance to ask several students about their experiences with learning contracts, and listen in on a few sessions during which I heard faculty and others comment on student-directed learning.
Attributes of successful learning-contract students:
- Students succeed who are self directed (everyone says this so I asked what does this mean…)
- Students who know themselves do better.
- Students succeed who have a gap between high school and college, who have been out in the world working and come back knowing what they want out of a college education. At TESC it’s common for students to be a bit older than at most colleges.
- Intrinsic motivation.
- A faculty member from a visiting school said that in “our schools” you [students] bring yourself, your identity, your feelings and passion to the work.
- Self selection of learning contract opportunities. Dennis (a Masters of Environmental Science student who also did his undergrad at TESC) said he didn’t see fellow undergrads struggling because contracts were optional, people chose them who wanted to tackle them.
- Sarah (a grad student in the Masters of Environmental Science program) said she and another student did the exact same internship but she got a lot more out of it while the other kid was going through the motions just to get the credit.
— D. Aubrey and S. Weber, personal communications, Oct. 21, 2011.
How I’m feeling
The trip to TESC was fun. I wish I had taken some time to walk around and look at classroom buildings and such — it was a quick in and out trip during which I sat in on a session about a prison program that the MES program is operating in Washington prisons, and another on the need for/how to integrate social justice in the curriculum.
I met an MES student Sarah who is learning about adult education on her own for her thesis — if she emails I’d like to give her a bibliography of some of my favorite adult ed books to date from our program.