TEP SIG sessions Saturday, April 5, 2014

Time:  10:35 AM - 12:05 PM
Location:  Marriott, 4th Level, Franklin 8
Session Type:  Working Group Roundtable
Chair:  Lynley H. Anderman,
The Ohio State University

Iron Instructor: Educational Psychology—Harnessing the

Power of Educational Research

for Practice

Abstract:  Modeled after the television show Iron Chef, our symposium offers Iron Instructor – Educational Psychology, which challenges four educational psychology instructors (EPIs) to use three not-so-secret ingredients to revitalize their courses. Ingredients consist of key articles from the educational psychology literature that each EPI selected based on its potential to transform current instructional practices and to serve as models of best practice. EPIs will bring three “courses” to the competition: a syllabus, a sample lesson, and an assessment. Our chair will facilitate a discussion among the audience members who will judge how well EPIs integrated secret ingredients into each course. The intent of this symposium is to communicate ways that EPIs are using the power of educational research to influence practice


Creating an Issues-Based Course in Educational Psychology:  Utilizing Case Studies and Current Events as a Catalyst for Learning

Authors:  Sandra A. Deemer, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and Laurie B. Hanich, Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Abstract:  Although the importance of educational psychology is implied because of its inclusion in most teacher education programs, the struggle over how to create a meaningful course for preservice teacher candidates has often resulted in learning experiences that do not best meet the needs of preservice educators. Dembo (2001) suggested that the major controversy centers on both the objectives and the methodology used by instructors to reach their intended objectives. Specifically, the difficulties may arise because educators often want answers to specific problems that may occur in the classroom and explicit examples as to when they will use educational psychology in the classroom, whereas professors want to emphasize somewhat esoteric theoretical explanations of teaching and learning, (Aspy, 1970; Clinefelter, 1979; Sternberg, 1996). Considering these opposing perspectives can make the task of structuring a meaningful educational psychology course a daunting task.
One promising approach to bridge this chasm is to use case studies and current events to frame the pivotal content in the field of educational psychology. Although this approach is not new in higher education and is often used in law, medicine and business, using case studies and current events as the foundation of an educational psychology course is not typically seen. Instead what is more common is for instructors of educational psychology to present key theories in the field and then utilize case studies and current events to apply that theoretical information (Engle & Faux, 2006). Our goal is to create an undergraduate course in educational psychology where the case studies and issues are the driving force of the discussion of theory, rather than the afterthought in applying the theory. This approach will more closely resemble the actual PK-12 classroom where teachers are presented with an issue (e.g., bullying) and then must consider what knowledge will be most helpful in resolving it.
The course being revamped in this way is taught to education majors typically in their sophomore year at a comprehensive state university where field components are integral to our teacher education programs. In fact, students in this course spend eight half-days or eight full-days (depends on whether the students are in our secondary or elementary/special education sections of the course) in a local urban classroom.
Even though our students are immersed in classrooms during their field experiences, using constructivist pedagogy in this way can still pose its’ own set of challenges and often can result in confusion if students do not perceive a logical flow to the course. As discussed by Sudzina (1997), the challenges can be overcome if certain aspects of this constructivist problem-based approach are evident in the design of the course. As she discusses in her review related to case based teaching, careful planning, adhering to a schedule, and allowing adequate time for content and case discussion can aid students in both learning and transferring content in educational psychology to the PK-12 classroom.
Skate By? Not on My Watch:  Redesign to Promote Conceptual Change in an Educational Psychology Course
Author:  Michael Yough, Purdue University
Abstract:  Prospective teachers possess well-developed beliefs about knowing and the nature of learning complete with a complementary repertoire of strategies to assist in navigation of their education programs. While these views and subsequent strategies have been adaptive for taking classes that promote rote memorization, these conceptions of learning are in conflict with findings in educational psychology. That is, they are at odds with the content of their educational psychology course. Unfortunately, budget constraints, administrative barriers, and a lack of risk-taking by instructors result in classrooms and structures that act to reinforce these beliefs rather than challenge them. Courses in education are unique in that the structure of the course sends messages to students about the nature of knowing and learning. An educational psychology course structured in such a way so as to be at odds with principals of learning has the potential to undermine the content of the course.
Using Patrick and Pintrich’s (2001) model of conceptual change for teachers as a guide, the present study will examine a redesign of one of two sections of a large (>70) educational psychology course during autumn of 2013. Patrick and Pintrich’s model acknowledged the role of motivational factors such as goals, interest and value, efficacy and control beliefs, and epistemological beliefs in conceptual change. They recommend that teachers of educational psychology be aware of the misconceptions students may be bringing to the course, provide opportunities for students to be aware of their own beliefs, promote mastery and understanding, and facilitate explicit discussion regarding the various epistemological factors that play a role in students’ beliefs.
The current structure of the course consists of two lectures and a shared recitation with another foundations course (special education). Also shared is an early field experience where students have an opportunity to put “theory into practice” under the guidance of a local cooperating teacher. Though attempts are made to make lecture interactive, the large class size makes it prohibitive to conduct activities that promote deeper understanding of the material. Thus, lectures generally consist of reviewing some of the main themes in the text, synthesis of readings, expansion of concepts, etc. The course is where the program addresses many of the state and national standards of teacher education, thus there is added pressure to “cover a lot of material.”
The proposed structure of the course moves the lectures online. Students can explore their conceptual understanding by making contributions to discussion boards. This positions students to have more control over their own learning and promotes the self-regulated learning strategies they will be expected to foster in their future students in preparing them for navigating a rapidly changing world. This also frees up class time to allow for a broader array of active learning strategies to identify and challenge students’ conceptions of learning, promote a deeper conceptual understanding of the material, and a greater exploration of what it means in their own classrooms.

Placing Learning, Beliefs, and Research at the Center of Teaching Educational Psychology

Author:  Helenrose Fives, Montclair State University

Abstract:  Two incidents caused me to rethink my overall approach to teaching educational psychology. The first incident occurred in undergraduate course. I organized a class session into a series of learning centers that the class transitioned through in teams. The session seemed to go well; one student even commented “This is like circuit training for your brain!” After the centers we took time to debrief and discuss the students’ with the learning centers. As I listened to my class, it occurred to me that something was amiss in the discussion. I asked the class “Did I teach today?” The immediate response from more than half the class was “Well, no.” and “Not really.” Silence. Then the discussion got good as the class dissected just what is teaching and whether I had taught that day or not. (Turns out I did). This unearthed a teaching problem, the need to be explicit about why I teach the way I do. I was able to bring the discussion around to “what is teaching” but this was due more to a happy accident than an intentional pedagogical decision. 
The second incident occurred while I was writing a theoretical chapter on the functions of teachers’ personal epistemologies as filters of information, frames for task analysis, and guides for decision making (Fives & Buehl, under review). At the end of the chapter we described three recommendations for teacher educators that I consider essential, and yet I have only implemented on a random or ad hoc basis in my own classes. Thus, I realized that in a very real way I was not using research (my own) to influence practice (my own) around concepts that I believe are central to teaching.
Renninger (1996) described the design of her educational psychology course in which she made “Learning as the Focus.” In this piece she describes how the course design and organizing questions were framed to centralize learning and its role in teaching. Further, her piece responded to Anderson et al.’s (1996) call for changes in how we teach educational psychology.
As I engage in the restructuring of my course, I am inspired by Renninger’s (1996) paper and my research. Thus, the class will be focused on learning, beliefs, and research with an eye to facilitating self-regulation for my students as first learners, then teachers (Dembo, 2001). Additional adaptations will address contextual differences, my course is a pre-requisite for students who wish to apply to our teacher education program, it fulfills a general-education requirement, and is taught without a field or laboratory experience embedded into the course. The diversity of students enrolled in the course, the lack of a field component, and the time between when this course is taken and when they enter the teacher education program often make it challenging for students to connect what they are learning with their own beliefs about learning and teaching and their potential future practice. Focusing on learning, beliefs, and research however may provide a lens that is relevant for all students.

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