Personal Learning Trajectories in Collaborative Learning Design: Developing the Intellectual, Social and Emotional Identities of Students in the Middle Years

Year: 2016

Author: Quinn, Sarah

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Developing intrinsic motivation and deep engagement in learning in the Middle Years can be a complex and multidimensional task for educators. The personal, intellectual, social and emotional needs of adolescent students are diverse and uniquely related to their emerging sense of identity, as self and as learner. Moreover, rapid changes to the environmental, social and technological influences in adolescent students’ life world’s, both complicates and necessitates the attention given to this crucial time in identity formation and developmental growth. Prior research has identified the importance of intellectual rigor and relevance, as well as connection, independence, agency and autonomy for developing students’ identities, motivation and engagement in learning during their Middle Years. This presentation seeks to add to knowledge of how to design learning experiences which feature multiple developmental aims; the personal, intellectual, social and emotional. This presentation reports on a participatory research inquiry with four Middle Years teachers and eighty six students from across year levels and subject disciplines. The research approach was a critically pragmatic mixed methodology, incorporating a case study, participatory design methods and critical ethnography. During this study, educators, students and the researcher sought to generate classroom change through co-constructing a new, effective and whole teaching practice, called collaborative learning design (CLD), in an attempt to create new possibilities for student engagement and motivation in learning. The analysis followed seven iterations of CLD over two terms, as it was constructed, implemented and evaluated across the four participating classrooms. During these seven iterations students consented to having their personal learning journeys qualitatively monitored, to understand how their feelings of motivation, engagement, agency and autonomy manifested in the course of the learning process. Sources for data collection included interviews with students, observations of their classroom learning, work samples, products and reflections. This presentation discusses three examples of personal learning trajectories under CLD and highlights the elements of this approach that contribute to the intellectual, social and emotional motivation and engagement of students. These include; the necessity of perceived choice, intrinsic personal connection to learning topics and purposes, spaces for the emergence of individual and collective knowledge, meaning and interaction in the pedagogical process and democratic forms of communication, dialogue and social relationships in the classroom community. These findings demonstrate how these elements helped students to develop their learning identities and dispositions, assisted them in regulating their own learning and the implications for learning and motivation in the Middle Years.