Designing Transformative Learning Activities

How to best facilitate my learners’ processes in moving from a disciplinary novice to a practitioner? in shifting their default thought processes away from identifying context-specific information and more towards considering big picture principles/concepts at play whenever confronted with problems?

In our last GCP session on Disciplinary Transformation, we were invited to design participatory learning activities to help “transform” our learners from disciplinary novices to practitioners.

From my personal observation and learning experience, there is a tendency for disciplinary novices to be fixated on one macroscopic aspect of the disease, whether that is the pathogen or the most clinically affected organ system, thus often finding it difficult to explain the multifactorial process of pathogenesis and disease progression. The disciplinary problem I shared was: Explain the pathogenesis and disease progression of a given disease (e.g., atherosclerosis). The designed activities for each are as follow:

Notice Frame of Reference:
Large Group Brainstorm
1. What comes to mind when you hear the term, atherosclerosis?
2. What are some risk factors for atherosclerosis?

Learn Frame of Reference:
Expert Groups – assign each small group with a risk factor of said disease and ask them to explain how each risk factor contributes to the development of atherosclerosis.
1. high blood lipid content (hyperlipidemia)
2. endothelial damage
3. chronic inflammation (immune function and regulation)
4. thrombotic risk (coagulation and complement components)

Transform Point of View:
Creative individual assignment to integrate what they learned in the expert groups and to identify at least one other mechanism (with appropriate references/scientific evidence) that may contribute to the multifactorial processes of pathogenesis and disease progression of atherosclerosis (e.g., illustration of pathogenesis and disease progression with caption, review paper, or video)

Transform Habit:
Student led in-class group presentations and discussions on pathogenesis and disease progression of different diseases

I think this metacognitive process very useful in keeping my learner-centre focus when planning lessons and in aligning my teaching intention and actions. This is most definitely something I’d like to experiment and play more with!

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