Using problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching is likely to be ineffective with novices.
My last post explored the difference between novices and experts, demonstrating that they think and act very differently due to a contrast in their knowledge and experience in a subject area.
In Further Education, specifically in vocational areas, learners arrive with little to no knowledge/experience in their subject. Take Engineering, Automotive, Hair and Beauty and Construction for example – likely to have never been studied previously. Then there are subjects where there may be prior knowledge/experience but many misconceptions, for example English and maths. Therefore, learners are arguably still novices when they join us…
The thing is, there seems to be an obsession in FE to teach learners as if they are experts. CPD sessions across the country are riddled with the promotion of minimal guided instruction methods such as: discovery based, problem based, experiential and inquiry-based learning. I get it, I really do. We are trying to reach an audience that is getting harder to reach, so if we can make the learning interesting and give learners more autonomy, then we might just crack the problem…
‘You will assume the role of a Wella colour expert and figure out what is wrong with Deirdre’s highlights’
The problem is, we are not doing them any favours by doing this. Once learners have a solid foundation and begin to develop expertise, then these approaches to learning may be very effective, as they can draw upon prior knowledge/experiences to assist them with their learning. Novices on the other hand don’t have this knowledge and experience to draw upon. In fact, it is likely that they will have misconceptions about the subject that, when applied to a problem based activity, may result in further confusion.
Future posts will examine effective methods of guided instruction, but for now I introduce you to a paper by Kirscher and colleagues explains in greater depth why minimally guided instruction is not an effective instructional design for those with limited knowledge. I have attempted to summarise this visually below:
So to end my post. Many of our learners are novices and need guided instruction. When they are experts, we can reduce the guidance we give.