Students’ Personal Learning Objectives

Linda Epps

In the technology field, sometimes we find it difficult to incorporate diversity and inclusion within our organization. So now also adding social justice to the platform in the information technology field may seem an uphill battle for some IT professionals. We need to communicate explicitly to students via writing or verbally making sure to call attention to social justice in each module–how the content aligns to social justice, inclusion, and diversity, within the organization or the field. It truly does give the student a firmer grasp and understanding of why we are focusing attention on a particular instance, and how we handle difficult conversations.

I think that one of the other factors or skills that I use in my lesson planning or developing of course material is engaging students to set their personal learning objectives within every course. Just because I have defined the learning objectives for a particular course does not mean that we cannot include or add the necessary resources so that the students can evaluate, provide feedback, and incorporate the additional objectives that they have defined for themselves in my class. I ask questions like, “In this class you will learn… but I would like you to know more about… ” and “I want to know if… ” Sometimes I use what I learned from my earlier educational years. You’d be surprised at how many students get a kick out of writing “I can” or “I will” statements, even at the undergraduate level.

Also pulled from my earlier educational years, I sometimes will have first-year students complete a K-W-L chart to record what they know (K) about the topic, what they want (W) to know because of the unit or lesson, and what they learned (L) because of the unit or lesson. Students can complete the L section throughout the module. Adding a column labeled “What I Think I Know” reduces stress about being correct and expands students’ thinking.

Within our computer science and IT fields, we do a lot of hands-on learning via labs simulations through computer programs and don’t necessarily have time for some of the earlier suggested items like the games, but I do think moving forward I am going to try to implement something similar, where I have them design their own assignment. Maybe even start collecting questions with answers and brief descriptions on why the answer and solution is provided. I have seen that in the past from another professor. They actually made the students read the material and then create quiz questions essay questions based on the material and I thought that was an interesting way to teach and then have the student reiterate or reteach what they’ve learned through an explanation of those quiz questions.

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