The no-teacher-training-for-college-professors problem

College classrooms are supposed to be spaces where learning happens. However, far too often, neither college professors nor their students explore fundamental questions about the nature of teaching and learning in college, questions like:

  1. What is learning?
  2. How do people learn?
  3. What models for learning inform the design of my college classes?
  4. What types of instructional methods lead to significant learning experiences?
  5. How can teachers and students work together to create highly engaging learning environments?

That these questions frequently go unexamined in college courses relates to a series of problems within many U.S. higher education systems. In this post, we name and identify one such problem that results from the fact that most college professors have almost no training in the science of learning and have little experience with effective teaching practices.

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To thrive in college, become a scapper

In many colleges in the United States, almost half of first-year college students do not make it to graduation. Stop and think about this for a minute. Our current US higher education system is designed in such a way that it kills the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of almost 50% of the students who enter through its gates. As you meditate on this reality, let’s run a related thought experiment. What would you say about an airline company that designs and flies planes that kill 50% of it’s passenger? Would you buy a ticket from that company? Would you support letting that company maintain the status quo?

To me, when I think about how our current policy choices fail to support so many students, I see a need for major reforms. I want to avoid blaming students and faculty for this failure. While I believe each of us has a moral responsibility to challenge current policies and advocate for reform, I also realize that no individual shoulders the entire weight of the injustices that are baked into our current system. Instead, I believe we should learn to focus our collective energies on policy changes to better support our local communities in creating significant learning experiences in college and beyond. Such policy changes will require decades (if not centuries) of sustain activism at the grass-roots level.

In the meantime, if you are part of the current generation of college students, our community here at The Learning Code wants to help you develop and refine system-navigation skills so that you can thrive in an environment that is designed to weed you out. As part of this effort, I want to help you develop a scrapper’s mindset, which is exactly what we explore in this post.

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Get Paid to Learn

This post is a landing page for The Learning Code’s Get Paid to Learn project. Our mission at the TLC is to empower you to thrive in your education. One way we do this is to support you in learning how to navigate your degree at whatever institution you choose. We provide ideas, support, training, and stories to help you figure out how to learn in strategic and effective ways so that you make the most of your college experience. We focus on helping you tap into your intrinsic motivations and to center the values you hold most dear in your heart. We also encourage you to develop critical consciousness and identify ineffective policies that inhibit your growth as you work to earn your college degree.

One incredibly harmful set of policy choices that we’ve made in the United States is to transform college education from a public good into a private benefit. These policies results from a sustained neoliberal attack on public investment in education. The result is a system that financially benefits a very small number of super rich, Protestant, heterosexual, non-immigrant, White, Anglo-Saxon males at the expense of everyone else in society.

To counteract these policy choices, we believe the best remedy is to get educated and engage in democratic processes at your local, state, national, and even international levels . As you do so, we encourage you to advocate for more learner-friendly policies and to act in solidarity with others who share this vision. However, the process of policy reform will be difficult and require decades (or even centuries) of sustained activism. In the meantime, we want to help you find ways to pay for college and minimize your student debt. That is exactly what our Get Paid to Learn project is focused on.

On this Get Paid to Learn project homepage, you will find a number of resources to help you learn how to make money in college and minimize your debt while earning your degree. We provide blog posts, interviews, handouts, exercises, YouTube videos, spreadsheets, and many other resources. All of this work is designed to make the process of earning scholarships easier and less intense. Remember though, scholarships are a stop-gap measure to counteract under-investment in education. The real fix happens when we act together to force our democratically-elected representatives to invest more in education. Cheers to that journey and the struggle. Remember always: we are here to support you!

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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a horrible question

Want to hear this instead? Here is narration of the post.

I hate the question that we often ask kids: “what do you want to be when you grow up?” An equally obnoxious question is “what do you want to do for the rest of your life?” My objections to these questions are not based on a distaste for planning or career-focused introspection. I love to create, develop, and refine my vision for the future and I spend lots of time in my work as a teacher helping my students do the same.

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Make Learning Meaningful: What is Foundational Knowledge?

Figure 1: Learner-centered revision of L. Dee Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning. In Fink’s original model, there are six categories of significant learning. In this revised version, we include ten categories of significant learning that are grouped together into larger categories of learning including Content, Character, Community, and Learning.

Our mission at The Learning Code is to encourage, support, and inspire you to create value in your college education. We know that you can succeed in your classes, earn your degree, and build a foundation for a career that you love. The Learning Code community is here to help you in that journey. However, we can only show you the door. You’re the one that needs to walk through it. To really build the type of college education that you value, you need to take ownership over your own learning. As we’ve stated previously, learning is all about change. To create significant learning experiences in college, you need to change the way you think about yourself, your goals, and your own learning. This includes developing a nuanced understanding of what it means to learn and figuring out the type of learning you want to do. In this post, we explore foundational knowledge which is one of eight different types of learning that you can create in college. This post is part of our Make Learning Meaningful series. The next seven posts in this series explore seven other types of learning you can engage in as you navigate your college degree. By expanding your understanding of what it means to learn, you can more easily seek out the types of learning you believe are right for your life and your future.

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Get Paid to Learn: Six Practices to Earn Scholarships

Our mission at The Learning Code is to empower you to thrive in college and beyond. We want to support you in becoming a strategic deep learner. But we know that one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of college is the expensive price tag attached to the college experience. This Get Paid to Learn series is designed to help you earn money to pay for college. We want to help you graduate with minimal or no student debt. We want to guide you to find ways to get paid to learn and to prepare for the next stages of your life. This blog post highlights six practices you can use to earn scholarships, internships, fellowships, paid work-study programs, and other opportunities aligned with your academic and career interests.

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Get Paid to Learn: Advocate for Change

In the Get Paid to Learn series, I share ideas about how you can get paid to learn. In each post in this series, I explore strategies you can use to earn scholarships, internships, and get financial aid as you navigate your college experience. My hope is to help you minimize your college debt, alleviate your financial stress associated with paying for college, and stay focused on your learning. In my ten years as a student in higher education, I earned more than $300,000 of scholarships, internships, research fellowships, and financial support. During my last eight years as a full-time college professor, I have helped many students earn tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Throughout this mentorship process, I’ve develop strategies you can use to get paid to learn. I plan to share these resources and ideas with you so that you can earn scholarship money. In this first post of our series, we explore one idea that underpins all this work on helping you earn scholarship money. That ideas is simple: in the richest nation in the world, you should not have to earn scholarships to pay for your education. Tuition should be free and we should subsidize your living costs while you work to finish your college degree. The Get Paid to Learn Series is designed as a stop-gap measure to help current generations of students while we work to advocate for larger system transformation for the future.

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Progress Through the Five Stages of Deep Learning

In this article, we expand our previous discussion of the five stages of deep learning. Specifically, we explore techniques you can use to accelerate your progress through each stage of your learning. Moving from stage 0 into stage 1 requires different type of practice routines than moving from stage 1 into stage 2, and so on. With each bit of progress, the learning skills you employ need to adapt to your growing level of expertise. Here, we explore what you can do to propel your transition from your current stage of learning into the next stages of your development.

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The five stages of deep learning

In this post, we develop a model for five stages of deep learning. Remember that we defined learning as a process that leads to change. The 5-phase model we explore in this article helps identify distinct stages in this process of deep learning. This model will help you figure out how to push your learning deeper and develop your expertise in any skill or knowledge that you want to master.

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