My colleague, Ghada Awada, and I share similar educational philosophies. We believe that people learn best when actively engaged in their own learning. We also value the provision of personal and academic support from teachers and peers in order to scaffold challenges, motivate learners, and achieve better gains in the cognitive and affective domains of schooling.
We both reflect on our teaching, adopt an open-door policy, and encourage students to express their needs in a stress-reduced and supportive class climate. Likewise, we consider assessment an important act of learning, and we use the results to inform our teaching practices and to enhance the effectiveness of our classroom activities.
Working together with diverse learners from Lebanon, Syria, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and other MENA region countries, was an eye-opening experience for us. Ghada and I experienced firsthand that learners are quite diverse in terms of their background knowledge, levels of motivation, and degrees of readiness to perform expected tasks and achieve intended learning outcomes. This strengthened our conviction that it is important to know our students better, to differentiate instruction, and to encourage reflection and self-regulated learning.
Consequently, we started reading and doing SoTL research. Our project explored the effectiveness of a critical reading instructional intervention in improving the participants’ understanding and evaluation of published educational research. We found out that teacher/student conferencing (TSC) and differentiated instruction (DI) transforms learners’ initial feelings of apprehension and anxiety into growth in their self-efficacy as consumers and designers of educational research. Likewise, the participants benefited from the instructional intervention under study because they became more proficient readers and developed supportive relationships. We suggest that further research is needed to explicate what specific teaching strategies categorized under TSC and DI were most effective in achieving the study outcomes.
To read the full TLI article, please visit here.