Integral Learning and its effects on students

Year: 1994

Author: Gardner, Jenny, Williamson, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Professional development for teachers, frequently in the form of inservice workshops, appropriates a large slice of educational funding. Much of this professional development is aimed at improving the quality of student education, cognitively, affectively and socially. However little research has been conducted in Australia to ascertain the outcomes for students as a result of their teachers attending inservice workshops. A PhD study conducted in Tasmania over a three-year period (1992-4) examined a model of professional development, the Atkin Model of Integral Learning (Atkin, 1992), the level of its implementation by six teachers, and the extent to which they adapted and refined the model to suit their special needs. Student learning was also examined in two classrooms where the model was implemented at a significant level.

Atkin claims that use of her model will lead to "effective learning". Therefore two other teachers, unfamiliar with the Atkin model but matched on grade levels taught, were also studied. The purpose was to ascertain whether they, recommended as "best practice" teachers, would be using similar strategies, and achieve similar student outcomes, as those who had attended the Atkin workshops, or whether Atkin was, in fact, introducing new and more effective learning experiences.

Preliminary results show that the Atkin Model of Integral Learning, "a general model of the process of learning: a deliberate design of learning experiences for integrative whole brain learning" (Atkin, 1992), has been positively received by teachers. Levels of implementation, however, varied from use to non-use. When implemented, some learning experiences do appear to have positive results for student learning.