Beyond the visual: learning through evidence

Connolly, Tracey (2010) Beyond the visual: learning through evidence. [Conference Proceedings]


Gardner (1983) in his theory of Multiple Intelligences challenges intelligence as a unitary fixed capacity measurable by IQ tests and highlights the need for the education system to be inclusive of all intelligences. By matching learners’ minds to congenial approaches to teaching, it is argued that prospects for educational success are greatly enhanced. Gardner (1995) argues that learners should be provided with different ‘entry points’ to learning, enabling explicit educational goals to be reached by multiple means. This paper focuses on research led teaching and learning in the context of a unit on the History of Irish Education through which the focus is on learning through evidence. The central question in this paper asks: how can historical research be harnessed visually to provide ‘entry points’ for students’ active engagement so that learning through evidence takes place? The use of visual material in teaching provides us with a means to promote student learning by engaging in meaningful dialogue and discussion. Thus, enabling students to learn from each other, which, as Boyer points out in relation to the scholarship of teaching ‘teaching at its best, means not only transmitting knowledge, but transforming and extending it as well’ (Boyer, 1990). This paper will discuss how a culture of thinking was developed and how a diversity of learning experiences was provided. It will show the use of visual material in enhancing learners’ abilities to question, explore, collaborate, and extend their ideas, and the ideas of peers, which are central to the disciplinary thinking in education and history. In developing the curriculum of this unit the question ‘what should learners know and be able to do?’ is key to make content meaningful to students. Visual material harnessed as an entry point allows learning to take place through evidence, and within a constructivist approach starts where the student is at. As Bligh puts it ‘what the lecturer says only has meaning for the student if they can relate it to ideas they already possess’ (2000).

[thumbnail of Research Teaching Linkages 3rd Annual Conference 2010.pdf]
Research Teaching Linkages 3rd Annual Conference 2010.pdf

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