Wednesday, April 29, 2009

EDC May/June 2008 Resource Review

Resource Reviews from the Educational Developers Caucus
May/June 2008


In this issue:
*Book Review:*
Svinicki, M. D. (2004).

Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

*Website Review: *
Discovering Psychology
http://www.learner.org/discoveringpsychology/index.html

**************************************************************************
Book Review
Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing.

Nicola Simmons, Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo

Svinicki's book is a lovely overview of cognition theory as it applies to student learning. Although many of the ideas seem simple (the best ideas always are!), the well-researched theories prevent it from being just a `how to' book. Svinicki includes sections that go into greater depth ("For those who want to go beyond the basics"), as well as a section at the end that gives the "theories in a nutshell". While rich with theory, the book is equally rich with strategies for theory implementation: a fine example of praxis in action. Svinicki even walks the talk on motivation, beginning with a chapter aimed at motivating the reader to learn about the theories. Specific highlights include her use of numerous examples and analogies (e.g., how learning about learning theory is like maximizing your car's fuel efficiency), and her suggestions for application of the theory to classroom practice. She elaborates on the difference between novices and experts in a discipline (experts have a more structured understanding of discipline concepts and more quickly see what's missing). She discusses retention and transfer of learning, recommending linking new knowledge to existing structures and using examples to facilitate recall. A variety of strategies are given for developing structures for the discipline, such as concepts maps, comparative organizers, and sequencing examples.

While for some this book may be a reminder of what is already known, it would be an excellent entry point for faculty members interested in exploring an overview of some of the theory behind student learning and motivation.

Keywords: /cognition and learning, motivation, developing expertise, scaffolding/


*Website Review*
Discovering Psychology
http://www.learner.org/discoveringpsychology/index.html

Reviewed by Linda B. Nilson, Clemson University "The Discovering Psychology" telecourse and educational video series premiered in 1990 as a visual resource for teaching introductory psychology. The 26 video programs review the history of the field, from early to contemporary researchers and research studies, showing classic experiments and modern studies. Of interest to educational developers are the topics related to learning and cognition: conditioning, retention and retrieval, motivation and emotion, testing and intelligence, constructivism, and visual perception. If we lack a strong background in the field of learning and cognition, the videos can teach us a lot very quickly. They can also make entertaining additions to workshops and online resource collections on how students learn.

Keywords:/ cognitive processes, cognitive psychology, intelligence, learning, memory, motivation, testing /

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