Reflection of PIDP 3230 Evaluation of Learning

I took the Evaluation of Learning course at VCC about a month ago. I found I gained the most knowledge out of this course in the PIDP program out of all the courses I’ve taken so far. The reason I believe I have gotten the most out of it is because, unlike other courses, I actually write exams for my course.

I’d like to first reflect on the concept of self-assessment. I chose self assessment since I haven’t done much of it in my life and I am uncertain how I feel about it. “Many learners are uncomfortable when asked to assess their own learning. They don’t know how to begin.” p. 111(Fenwick and Parsons 2009). Dr. Lori Desautels states that “Self-reflection is self-assessment, and one of the most significant learning tools we can model for our students.”. As I read some articles about self-assessment I came to the conclusion that reflection is a form of self-assessment. I have found the reflective writing through the PIDP to be challenging, but looking back I believe it has helped me to self-assess my progress through the course.

For one of the hot potato topics I’d like to reflect on group grades. I personally like group grades, but I have had push-back from students when I use group grades. I believe group grades flame cooperation between partners and encourage everyone withing the group to work that much harder. When it comes to group grades it takes a lot more form the instructor. The projects and participation need to be monitored more closely to ensure everyone is pulling their weight. I believe the reason I have had push-back from my students is due to the fact that the more diligent students end up doing most of the work, that’s where an attentive instructor comes in. I’m sure my students have had a bad experience with group grades in the past. Some interesting ways of marking group projects can be found HERE.

Finally I would like to reflect on how this course has impacted my thoughts on evaluation. Before this course I hadn’t given much thought to evaluation. While taking the course I came to realize how much of an impact evaluation has on a student. I can recall myself as a student in my apprenticeship and how stressed I was about the exam, oddly enough I wasn’t stressed about the actual learning taking place. I realize now how much of an effect I can have on my students. I need to stress that it is the learning that counts, not the evaluation. “High challenge, low threat” – Said by Bob Aitken (as far as I know).

Reflection of PIDP 3230 Evaluation of Learning

Reflection of PIDP 3210, Curriculum Development

I took the Curriculum Development course at VCC about a month ago. It was a good course; although the curriculum in my course is set by government agencies, I learned a lot in the course. Particularly how to understand how the curriculum was written and what the different section reference.

The first quote I would like to discuss is “For the best learning environment, it is critical that the instructor be a subject matter expert.”. This quote almost jumped off the page at me; being a tradesperson this quote makes a lot of sense. Or so it would seem.

A recent conversation comes to mind. A colleague of mine recently said he has given up specializing in their trade and they are going to specialize in education. Should he not specialize in his trade? Maybe not, as Keith Heggart said in his article on, “…nothing is ever simple in education.”. Thinking of my colleague reminds me of how Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers (2011), discussed how someone specializing in education enables them to adapt to the needs of the students and better help any students having difficulties. Being more fluid in their delivery and being able to change delivery methods if needed. Maybe specializing in education isn’t such a bad thing, especially with the challenges that adult education can bring.

The second quote I would like to discuss is “It’s easier to change the location of a cemetery, than to change a school’s curriculum.” – Woodrow T Wilson. I found this quote interesting, I had to do some research to realize what it meant.

Is it really that hard to change curriculum? Or is it the teacher that does not want to change what they are doing and how they are doing it? I believe it can be very difficult to change curriculum; partly due to teachers being comfortable and familiar with what they are teaching but as well with the governing bodies that surround most educational institutions. In his article Olaf Jorgenson states “Schools and educators are suited to slow change.”. Currently I am working on developing content for my course. I am working with new curriculum from the government; I can see why some teachers resist  change to their curriculum, it is very challenging. Wagner states “most educators are risk-averse by temperament…. Most people have entered the teaching profession because it promises a high degree of order, security, and stability” (2001, 378).

Finally I would like to discuss the following quote: “Education should be exercise; it has become massage.” – Martin H. Fischer.

I like this line, it resonates with me. I have heard it all to often in my, so far, short career in education – “They are just teaching to the exam”. Is there any value in just teaching to an exam in order to get as many students to pass as possible? Is that what industry wants, people that can write a multiple choice exam but haven’t learned anything? I hope not!

Ben Johnson states ” …this traditional method does not help the teacher, or the students, to maintain a laser-like focus on what really needs to be learned.”. I don’t think being able to choose the correct answer for an irrelevant piece of information relevant. I have had to write some multiple choice exams in my course, it is tough. Not only is writing the question tough but so is coming up with three plausible “wrong” answers; every question cannot just be a gimme. Ben Johnson also says “Formative assessments done repeatedly with specific, timely feedback, will drive the knowledge and skills deep into your students’ realm of acquired knowledge and skills.”. I want to be a good trades instructor and assess my students fairly and be able to give good reliable feedback. I look at the final government administered exam they take as a “minimum” requirement. Why can’t I go above and beyond? Does it mean extra workload? Most definitely. Do I take pride in my trade? Of course. Do I want to educate the best tradespeople that I can? That’s why I got into education.

I have my work cut out ahead of me.


Reflection of PIDP 3210, Curriculum Development

Experiential Learning

I decided to talk about experiential learning today. I think it best suites the apprenticeship model of learning in the trades. In the classroom portion of the apprenticeship we dedicate a lot of time to hands on learning which, in essence, is experiential learning. We give the students the information they need and they build a project out of real materials they would use out in the field. The University of Waterloo has an interesting article about experiential learning.

Kolb’s learning cycle in an apprenticeship class would look like this: First we have concrete experience, this is where the students build their piping project. Second we have reflective observation, this is typically where they say they are ready for marking. Together we will have a look at the project and discuss where they can make improvements, typically the students will want to make slight modifications. Then we have abstract conceptualization, now the students know what to do and what not to do in the field when they are fabricating piping. Lastly we have active experimentation, this is where the students “fine tune” their projects so they can try for the best marks possible.


For more on experiential learning please visit: Best Practices in Experiential Learning from The Learning & Teaching Office.

Experiential Learning

Memory Strategies

I am finding it hard to enable students to memorize just about anything in my class. That is why I decided on strategies for memory as my topic today. From fabrication formulas to simple code clauses I can’t seem to be able to get anything to stick. I have read a few articles on memory strategies but only one on the core issue of what I can do as an instructor to help my students. Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing by Benedict Carey, was very insightful to me. Carey uses a strategy I could easily see myself adopting and implementing. He gives his students an exam on the first day of class. Very much like the final exam, only not the same questions as the final exam. As Carey says:

You would bomb the thing, for sure. You might not understand a single question. And yet as disorienting as that experience might feel, it would alter how you subsequently tuned into the course itself — and could sharply improve your overall performance.

I have some time this coming summer to develop my course. I would very much like to create a “first day” exam for my students. Of course they will flunk it, but they may be all the better students because of it.


For some great memory techniques please visit What Strategies Can Be Used To Increase Memory? or 12 Great Memory Strategies For Better Grades

Memory Strategies


In order to motivate adult learners there are a few things that must happen. As the instructor you must; set the environment, establish inclusion, have a positive attitude and you must acknowledge the learning that is taking place.

By setting the environment you are welcoming the students into the class, they want to be there.

By respecting the students opinions ,and making sure they know that their opinions matter,  as an instructor you establish inclusion.

One way to have a positive attitude is to create some personal relevance. In my class I like to create personal relevance by letting the students know about some of the sites I have worked on, I usually find out that one or more student has worked on those same sites. I also talk about some of the people I have worked with over the years, chances are some of my students have worked with those same people.

One way I acknowledge that learning is taking place is by a small reward or treat, especially when we are covering dry material such as “codes and standards”. I find that making a small game of reading the code book makes a difference. Whoever finds the code in the code book first gets the candy. Usually it is just some small hard candy, but it makes it fun and creates some competition.

For more information on motivating adult learners feel free to visit the following link: Motivation Adult Learners


Creating a Positive Learning Environment

Creating a positive learning environment will help motivate as well as keep the students engaged. A positive learning environment is very different for adults as opposed to children. As an adult educator you must set clear expectations, avoid creating a hostile environment and address students mistakes privately and above all respectfully. Adult students like to be treated like adults. They want to know the layout of class and expectations of the classroom. As the instructor you must create an environment that has clear expectations, open dialogue and professional feedback.

In my classroom I give the students a class schedule so they know what their six weeks in my class will look like. They know what a passing mark is and they know what is expected to complete their projects.

For more information on creating a positive learning environment please follow these links; Classroom managment tipsMotivating adult learners.

Creating a Positive Learning Environment

Conversation with my Learning Partner

I had a very good conversation with Jelena, my learning partner, on Tuesday.
Jelena works in a sugar refinery here in Vancouver. She is taking the PIDP to
be able to better train her workers in food safety. She would like to develop a
training program for her employees to better engage them. She is doing some
research about different ways to engage her students. As opposed to just
listing off rules of do’s and don’ts tends to not be very engaging. She
tries to engage her workers by using examples with people they may know. For
instance: What if someone you know has a nut allergy, you wouldn’t want them
to get nuts in their sugar at home.

I also learned that food safety has taken a turn for the better. They are
getting very strict with regulations. The government wants all food to be
“farm to fork” safe. Did you know that at Jelena’s refinery they pass
every bag of sugar through a metal detector before it leaves to make 100% sure
it is free from any metal debris!

Conversation with my Learning Partner