, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One of my PIDP classmates posted this question in the Motivation discussion forum.  This is an example of visible learning in self-reflection on metacognitive strategies.

I would also like to reflect and promote   John Hattie’s  No #8 Mindframe“I inform all about the language of learning”.  A great instructor shares their wealth of knowledge to not just their students but to other instructors.

  1. How motivated have you been in this course and the PIDP?

When I took my first ever online course (PIDP 3240), the fear of failure was so immense that I promised myself that I would work so hard at this course that I would not fail.  To my surprise, I scored my first 100 percent mark in the PID program on my final mark of PIDP 3240.  But I realized after, it wasn’t fear that motivated me.  It was my nature of being a lifelong/self directed learner and doing things “meta” or beyond what was necessary.  Thanks to my PIDP 3250 instructor, I learned about the model of single-loop and double-loop learning, where a learner connects a strategy with a result.

I relate that situation when students tell me that they have to pass this course or it’s over for them.  They tell me the subject material is challenging and are unable to learn it in such a short amount of time. This is where my role as an instructor can teach the learner metacognition skills to succeed in a course. By teaching the learner to use different strategies when learning is not successful, is a metacognitive strategy where learners are forced to think about their learning and their effectiveness. If learners think about their thinking, they can learn how to re-learn course material and be successful. Each student may respond differently to each strategy so there is no quick recipe for success. As students think about their thinking, this will prompt them to be more self-directed in their learning.   By using different strategies may yield different results. Learners will be taught to try a different strategy especially when one particular strategy is not working. Perhaps they will be successful in a new strategy.

AFS.org (Nov. 2012, on-line) states, “if an action we take yields results that are different to what we expected, through single-loop learning, we will observe the results, automatically take feedback and try a different approach”.

This is called single-loop learning where learners apply new strategies to achieve an expected outcome that may occur several times and still never succeed.  This is the most common learning style and is an example of problem solving. I see many of my learners perform this style and even myself perform. It can be frustrating and many just give up.

I used this type of learning when I was re-learning a new language travelling in Central America. I was travelling solo; backpacking in the remote amazon forest of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I did not see one English-speaking person in-land.  To my surprise, the language spoken was not Spanish but a dialect known as Costa Rican Spanish. Costa Rican Spanish was a form of Central American Spanish.  What did this mean?  It meant that I had to find out what that was.  No book prepared me for this.  I was alone and scared that I would be unable to communicate with the Ticos/Ticas (locals).   I had previously travelled in the Northern part of Mexico and Southern tip of the Dominican Republic; and my Spanish was well versed. But when I arrived in the outskirts of Nicoya, Costa Rica, nothing prepared me for a culture shock and language barriers. I knew I was in trouble by arriving at this quaint town and there was no visible tourism. I was re-thinking if travelling solo into these remote areas was a wise choice. In fact, I was quite upset with myself for putting myself in this predicament. I was speaking a northern Spanish language and it was not being understood by the locals. I realized I had to change.  I had to change my strategy.  So in order to survive, to get the things that I needed, like food, water, shelter, I had to go “meta”.  How am I going to re-learn Costa Rican Spanish in a remote area that barely understood my northern Spanish?

It was a rough few days but I realized the more word associations I made, the quicker I was able to translate northern Spanish words into Costa Rican Spanish words.   By breaking up the word, I was able to figure out its prefix and define the prefix and make guesses at the stem. This was a good strategy to find the root definition of certain words. Another strategy I used was to use clues to help guess the meaning of a word. For example: in menus, the Spanish words had pictures of their food items so I could choose which dish I wanted just by looking at the picture. Sometimes I just had to use my hands to describe to locals what I wanted.  I used single loop learning when I was not successful interpreting a word so I used a different strategy to interpret that word.

Some learners find the path of failure much easier to accept than keep trying. Perhaps the frustration is so overwhelming that learners find it easier to give up. This is where an instructor can facilitate learners to step back and look at the bigger picture. You keep trying different strategies but still get the same results. Some give up but others may take a step back and re-evaluate their core values and beliefs. Double-loop learning is where learners look at the big picture and reflect back on their learning by indicating what change will occur in reaction to their thinking. This approach is much more holistic and exams why we act a certain way.

AFS.org (Nov 2012, on-line) states “Re-evaluating and reframing our goals, values and beliefs is a more complex way of processing information and involves a more sophisticated way of engaging with an experience.  This is called double-loop learning and looks at consequences from a wider perspective”. 

By understanding this model, required me to dig in deeper within myself and evaluate my goals and my beliefs but also of those of the people I interact with.  This is a more effective paradigm to pattern your thinking and your learners’ thinking, and utilizes higher order thinking in the double-loop learning model.  Double-loop learning motivates me and increases my motivation tenfold as I know I will be a better instructor and learner with these higher thought processes. In double-loop learning, I come back and indicate what change will occur in reaction to my thinking.

Perhaps if students battled less with the thought of failure, and used metacognitive learning skills to achieve their goal which is to learn course content, they would achieve success. Metacognition combines higher order thinking and reflective processes. Teaching students to go “meta” is part of an instructor’s skills.

If I can go “meta” in Costa Rica, I can teach my learners strategies so they can go “meta” in their learning.


AFS.org. (Nov. 2012, 0n-line).  Argyris, C:  Single-loop and Double-Loop Learning.  Retrieved on Oct 19, 2014, from http://www.afs.org/blog/icl/?p=2653