Faculty in the School of Education believe that programs should provide professional education candidates with instruction consistent with sound theory and research about learning.
One of the most pervasive myths in teaching is that knowledge of subject matter is all that is necessary to teach effectively. While knowledge of content is critical, of course, understanding how to make that content meaningful to students requires an additional kind of knowledge, knowledge that educational psychology helps us to acquire (Eggen & Kauchak, 2001, p. 7).
Knowledge of learners and learning, as Eggen and Kauchak (2001) argued in their book, is the most essential knowledge a teacher can have. The UAB School of Education is committed to the promotion of excellence in instruction and program delivery. The emphasis across all of its programs is to foster student learning and prepare professional education candidates to support the learning of others. To accomplish this responsibility, faculty in the School of Education embrace diverse approaches to instruction and program delivery consistent with sound theory and research about learning by keeping abreast of the latest developments in these areas and integrating them into their teaching. “Instructional design and development must be based upon some theory of learning and/or cognition; effective design is possible only if the developer has developed reflexive awareness of the theoretical basis underlying the design” (Bednar, Cunningham, Duffy, & Perry, 1992, p. 19).
The insight into learning that is derived from theory and empirical evidence about learning forms the basis of our instruction and program delivery. We believe that in being explicit about our approaches to learning, students’ knowledge of theory and research will expand, their understanding of the relationships between theory and its application will deepen, and ultimately they will become more reflective about their own learning process.
The field of learning theory is very active and numerous theories have emerged over the years. Each attempts to explain particular aspects of human learning because “No one learning theory can completely cover all aspects of human learning and behaviors. (Thus) educators should draw from various theories and formulate their own theories relevant to the learning process” (Taylor, 2002). It follows, then, that candidates will be exposed to multiple theories of learning and be guided to explore the strengths, limitations, and connections between learning theories and their application in educational contexts. The primary goal is that candidates master the fundamentals of a variety of learning theories, develop and evaluate their personal beliefs about the nature of learning based on their understanding of learning theories, and formulate learning and teaching strategies accordingly.
As learning is an active process of acquiring, constructing, and applying knowledge, experiences that allow practical applications of knowledge should constitute a major part of student learning. Lave & Wenger (1991) have “argued that learning must be understood with respect to practice as a whole, with its multiplicity of relations – both within the community and with the world at large” (p. 114). In this context it is inevitable that field experiences be a crucial component across our programs. We will offer opportunities to immerse our students in various real world professional situations where they will need to apply theory to their professional practice, thus bridging the gap between the classrooms in which they are students and to the ones in which they are teachers.