If We Only Knew We Could Predict Behavior

If We Only Knew We Could Predict Behavior

Learning and teaching are complicated endeavors. Every component of a purposeful learning process is important to achieve results. However, there are so many factors and variables to consider that it is almost impossible to count them all. As educator and instructional designer I aim to provide effective learning solutions. Some people might think that an effective learning solution is to provide all the possible answers to a given problem. I prefer to think that guiding people to find the answers for themselves is a better approach.How can we accomplish this? We must draw knowledge and tools from other disciplines. Psychology for example provides information to facilitate learning, or as Howard Gardner suggested, it provides an understanding of the conditions where education takes place and of the recipients and practitioners of knowledge. If we only knew how people would behave in a specific learning environment, won't we make sure to be ready to suit the needs accordingly? Understanding what people think of themselves and their skills to succeed in specific learning endeavors can provide instructional designers with direction to design learning goals and instructional strategies that aim not only for the acquisition of knowledge but also providing for a transformative learning experience. Knowing how learners perceived their likelihood to achieve success also provides for a better understanding of the constraints and opportunities of a proposed learning solution.

In my research ("Exploring Self Efficacy Believes as Entry Behavior For Participation in an Online Peer Tutoring Learning Environment"), I explore self-efficacy beliefs as entry behaviors. Self-efficacy beliefs are personal perceptions of the skills to achieve a goal. If we only knew that self-efficacy beliefs could provide hints not only in how people will approach a learning situation, but to be prepared to teach or guide accordingly, won't we take time to know our students better? According to the results of the study, people not only approach a task according to their self-efficacy, but they also behave as predicted. This provides a better idea of opportunities and constrains in proposed learning solutions.

Confronting new challenges brings consciously or unconsciously the need to assess and balance skills with requirements. Individuals consider what is required to achieve a goal and examine if they have the skills to achieve it. They also consider if they have the skill to learn the skills required to achieve the goal. Task engagement, performance, anxiety, stress, persistence, and coping skills are also affected by self-efficacy. Knowing this before hands prepares instructional designers to create learning solutions accordingly and to provide a transformative experience through the learning process.

In order to provide learning solutions of transformation it is necessary to know what needs to change. This is another way to measure success. Let's call it "base line". Assessing previous knowledge is important. However, knowing how people feel about the knowledge and skill they possess can make a great difference in how the act of teaching and guidance is approached according to learning strategies design according to the specific needs. Instructional designers could be helping improve self-efficacy along with providing effective learning solutions.

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