Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Brookfield Chapter 12- Responding to Resistance

For this weeks required posting I have decided to provide an overview of the chapter as a future resource for myself when I encounter student resistance to learning.  In this chapter Brookfield examines some possibilities for why students may resist learning and provides multiple responses for instructors to attempt in order to minimize the resistance or its effects.

Firstly lets look at some possibilities from Brookfield as to why students may resist learning. p.217-224
  • Poor self-image as learners - due to previous failure or humiliation, or ongoing self-doubt.
  • Fear of the unknown - the process of learning requires a person to enter into a period of an unknown or altered state for a time.
  • The normal rhythm of learning - the enthusiasm experienced when something new is learned is followed by a dip as the students understands how complex and unfamiliar the new territory they have entered is. 
  • Disjunction of learning and teaching styles
  • Apparent irrelevance of the learning activity
  • Level of  required learning is inappropriate - misinterpretation of students learning readiness due to use of unclear language to describe a new activity or confusion or misunderstanding of course content.
  • Fear of looking foolish in public - sometimes people will only attempt a new skill or task in public which they know they can do well.   
  • Cultural suicide - some cultures may not tolerate higher education unless it supports that culture.  Participants may not be supported by their families in pursuing a higher education and thus will refrain from learning
  • Lack of clarity in teachers instructions - confusion is created when instructors do not use clear language to communicate their intentions or criteria for evaluation.
  • Students dislike of teachers
 Brookfield outlines some responses to attempt when faced with resistance to learning. p.224-233
  • Try to sort out the cause of resistance - thru the use of CIQ, one minute paper, one on one meeting, or asking a colleague for their take on a situation
  •  Ask yourself if the resistance is justified - check for possibilities like the ones listed above
  •  Research your students backgrounds - get to know students and be willing to make adjusts to teaching approaches when appropriate
  •  Involve former resisters - organize for past students to come in for a short talk on their experience of the course
  • Model - exhibit the behaviors we'd like student to show
  • When appropriate, involve students in educational planning - as it increases the connections to learning
  • Use a variety of teaching methods and approaches - more effective learning for all students
  • Assess learning incrementally - to show where students are in their learning  and see what needs to occur to move forward
  • Check that your intentions are clearly understood - check, check and check again
  • Build a case for learning - share why it's important for students to learn the task or skill and how it will benefit them
  • Create situations in which students succeed - "scaffolding learning into logical, sequential and small increments"
  • Don't push too fast - be aware of rhythms of learning
  • Admit resistance is normal - talk about personal resistance to learning or past students reason for resistance, some may be applicable to present students and they may relax when they realize their feelings are normal
  • Acknowledge the right to resist- the learner has to make the internal commitment to learning
Finally Brookfield states
" Remember that resistance to learning is normal , natural and inevitable.  The trick is make sure it interferes as little as possible with classroom activities that others see as important and helpful." p. 233

Brookfield, S., (2006). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the        Classroom {Jossey-bass Higher and Adult Education Series; 2nd Ed.}. John Wiley & Sons, (US).


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