Loyalist College’s commitment to enhancing students’ learning experiences is backed by the ongoing exploration and evaluation of learning and teaching methods. The College presented the Carving New Pathways conference in partnership with Pearson Education Canada on May 31st and June 1st. The conference provided educators with the opportunity to share information on creating learning-centred environments, environments that harmonize the needs and goals of students, with the learning processes, and the college environment. There were 160 registrants from across the province, including educators from several Ontario colleges, the University of Toronto and Brock University. Participants explored ways to act in more of a facilitative role, encouraging the student to be an active participant and develop skill sets that will lead to life-long learning.
Mr. John Tagg, professor of English at Palomar College in California, was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. He is co-author of Teaching to Learning: a New Paradigm for Higher Education and author of The Learning Paradigm College. "We need a fundamental paradigm shift from the framework that we offer instructors," he explained. "Students have a tendency to forget the information they are learning. They need a deeper learning experience; one that connects with their life, that they invest in and take responsibility for. They need to be able to continue to use what they have learned in order to retain it. Getting people to embrace a change is a real challenge. It’s very encouraging to see so many educators here. They are obviously interested in doing the very best that they can for their students."
Keynote speaker, Dr. Maryellen Weimer, associate professor of teaching and learning at Berks-Lehigh Valley College of the Pennsylvania State University and editor-in-chief of the Teaching Professor newspaper, described the interest in this shift in teaching as "coming from the bottom up". "A lot of faculty are having difficulty teaching students today," she said. "They are finding a lack of focus and responsibility with many students and the old teaching methods are not working. Learner-centred methods create an environment in which learners take responsibility for their education, and have the confidence to take that control. They are guided in discovering for themselves how to do things, and research shows these methods work." Dr. Weimer has authored and co-authored numerous books, including Teaching on Solid Ground and Learner Centered Teaching.
"This conference was amazing," said participant Barry Botham, professor of Skilled Trades from St. Lawrence College. "I am walking away with so much information and it is information that I will be able to apply. It’s exciting to see proof that this approach is working and resulting in great benefits for the learner."
"The College views the professor-student relationship as an equal partnership, with the faculty member as the facilitator and the student as an active participant, taking their learning to a deeper level," added George Burton, Vice-President Enrolment Management and Student Services. "This philosophy has shaped adult education for some time, but the benefits it offers to learners of all ages are now being recognized. We are providing the framework and tools to all of our professors, encouraging them to reflect on their approaches and integrate these methods in whatever ways they feel would enhance their students’ learning experience."
Media Contact: Marilyn Warren, Communications, Loyalist College, (613) 969-1913, ext. 2332; Fax: (613) 962-0937, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or George Burton, VP Enrolment Management & Student Services, ext. 2355