A Journal on Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education by Sandra Schneider
A Journal on Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education by Sandra Schneider written by Sharo Dickerson
The conflicts arising between the pedagogical preferences of the fields of instructional design and technology (IDT) and social foundations of education are substantial. This conflict is primarily one of pedagogical values separating the Social Foundations with its emphasis on critical and creative thinking and the presumption of value and theory neutrality inherent in IDT. This is a serious issue because, increasingly, educators use IDT models to translate Social Foundations courses with social justice and equity outcomes into online formats. Much is lost. This article offers a discussion of the theoretical grounding of IDT (task-analysis) versus social foundations in regards to implications for the instructional social organization of online social foundations classrooms. This article uses the notion of signature pedagogy to describe socio-cultural literacies as a basic tenet in social foundations of education. By doing so, it is demonstrated how these important theoretical positions are currently playing out in online instruction and space, to extend their relevance by introducing newer concepts such as Digital Cartesianism and co-presence, and to provide a concrete example of what these concerns look like in the current push towards digital formats. In the current context of the use of electronic, social, communication, and mobile technologies in education, we find a new site to continue challenging the assumed neutrality of the technological model for education.
Literature Review and Discussion
The transfer of critical theory and building of relationships through co-presence in signature pedagogies have raised conflicts between the fields of social foundations and instructional design and technology (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). Social foundations entails in-depth understanding of socio-cultural views, literacy, justice, and the like, that may include the development of different human characteristics: (a) appropriate behavior, (b) values, (c) human nature, (d) coping mechanisms, (e) tolerance (Ornstein, Pajak, & Ornstein, 2011). In doing so, there is concern on the effectiveness of developing and implementing critical pedagogies of social foundations in an online learning environment (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). An online or web-based learning environment has course instructors use both asynchronous and synchronous tools to deliver atypical online curriculum (Revere & Kovach, 2011). The learning environment is primarily conducted in a virtual space where both online teachers and students communicate, collaborate, and interact in a learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard, MOODLE, and Angel (Revere & Kovach, 2011). Social foundations content, in this type of environment, is provided through similar curricular and instructional practices as accomplished in a face-to-face environment (Schneider, 2010, p. 416). Meanwhile, in a face-to-face course, social foundations is presented with a special emphasis on social justice and equity outcomes using socio-cultural lens, particularly with the implementation of strategies based on ecological views of classroom community and spatial proximity (p. 425). For this reason, instructional design and technology has to provide valuable and meaningful evidences that online learning is an effective medium in imparting social foundations content to students.
Co-presence in the same space is highly essential in the successful delivery of social foundations pedagogies (p. 418). This provides teachers and students with “informal, intuitive, local, knack-oriented, improvisational, and ad hoc nature” of meaningful learning experiences. Social foundations, based on face-to-face instruction, provide students with opportunities to process learning through (a) interdependence of individual minds and (b) interpersonal relations and social situations (p. 419). According to John Dewey (1980), growth is defined as an articulation of “visceral, affective, semiotic, and deeply embodied codependent experiences”, with resulting changes occurring throughout the course of learning, which is identified as “habit reconstruction” (p. 419). Signature pedagogies in social foundations are critical to the understanding of socio-cultural views on literacy and justice, which include the use of teaching characteristics and views about knowledge to construct new ideas among students (p. 420). As socially dependent beings, students gain better understanding with peers when learning involves support and respect from teachers, and significant amounts of human socialization is cultivated in a mutual space (p. 421).
On the other hand, content delivery, task analysis, formalization, and codification of knowledge are key methodologies used in computer-mediated instruction in the field of instructional design and technology (p. 418). Many computer-mediated instruction is presented in images and text, together with web-based manipulative and virtual interactions (P. 419). Likewise, there is significant emphasis placed on task analysis, particularly with its paramount role in instructional design (p. 422). The understanding of social foundations context in this type of learning environment is made through a pre-specified process of analytical activities, which are defined within the parameters of the learning situation (p. 422). In addition, task analysis provides direct instruction, performance support, and constructivist learning environments as part of the pre-specified process (ibid).
These differences (i.e. on teaching and learning through co-presence in a mutual space and on computer-mediated instruction through a virtual learning environment) are demonstrated in the disconnection of “practiced responsiveness” and making of meaning (p. 418). This includes the limitations (i.e. lack of emphasis on: cohort groups collaboration, peer-journaling partnerships, diversity brought in face-to-face learning, grappling as part of student learning) of computer-mediated instruction that concerns many face-to-face social foundations teachers (p. 419). In other words, computer-mediated instruction in the instructional design and technology model restricts the structure of participation and intimate communication that originally occurs in a face-to-face social foundations course (p. 423).
These constraints can be associated with Lawrence Kohlberg’s (1975) identification and explanation of the different stages of morality, namely: (a) Stage 1: the punishment-and-obedience, (b) Stage 2: the instrumental-relativist orientation, (c) Stage 3: the interpersonal concordance or “good boy-nice girl” orientation, (d) Stage 4: the “law and order” orientation, (e) Stage 5: the social-contract, legalistic orientation, and (f) Stage 6: the universal-ethical-principle orientation (Ornstein et al, 2011). In a social foundations course, where socio-cultural views on literacy and justice are developed, students can be led to experience these different stages of morality through supportive and effective contextual delivery and methodological practices by teachers in a face-to-face learning environment (Schneider, 2010). The valuable contributions that social foundations teachers can provide through face-to-face discussions, collaborative groupings of students, relevant and real-world situational experiences, and the like, can lead to more opportunities of meaningful and critical teaching and learning experiences (Ornstein et al, 2011). In an online learning environment, these experiences may be more challenging and difficult to achieve based on limited possibilities of human interaction and internalization in a mutual space, and with a greater emphasis on the use of computer-mediated instruction in delivering content (Schneider, 2010).
In today’s classroom, there is continuous evidence on the reluctance of regular classroom teachers, parents, and district/campus administrators to allow students to take different courses in a full online learning environment. This reluctance may include the lack of understanding about online course instruction and curriculum development, and the difference between online teacher-led instructions versus a completely computer-mediated instruction. As discussed in previous paragraphs, there is a greater preference to develop understanding and deliver meaningful learning activities of social foundations in a face-to-face learning environment (Schneider, 2010). It is difficult to identify and implement specific methods of instruction that will truly work successfully in any curriculum, particularly when it involves a more complex and elaborate content such as social foundations (Ornstein et al, 2011). Though social foundations context may be more ideal in a face-to-face learning environment, teachers may find it valuable to blend such learning with educational technology and facilitate the strengths that can be obtained in an online learning environment (Ornstein et al, 2011). There have often been discussions on the importance of addressing the development of every student as a whole. In doing so, students cannot be denied with opportunities to construct new knowledge and skills using methodologies aside from face-to-face classroom activities. There is immense power in combining different instructional methodologies to produce the most number of benefits in appropriate teaching, meaningful student learning experiences, and relevant curriculum development (Ornstein et al, 2011).
Ornstein, A., Pajak, E., & Ornstein, S. (2011). Contemporary Issues in Curriculum. (5th ed.). Upple Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Revere, L., & Kovach, J. V. (2011). Online Technologies For Engaged Learning: A Meaningful Synthesis for Educators. Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, 12(2), 113-124.
Schneider, S. B. (2010). Signature Pedagogies for Social Foundations: Negotiating Social Foundations Teaching Practices in the Field of Education. Educational Studies, 46(4), 416-428. doi:10.1080/00131946.2010.496349
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