As an educator, a physical therapist plays various roles, as a clinician, as a clinical instructor, or as a health consultant. Educating patients about their disease, teaching them interventions, and giving home instructions has been part of the practice for a long time (Dreeben, 2010).
But through the years and with the advancement of the healthcare system, PT’s role has also evolved. Their role in giving education to patients has become more important now that patient education is given more emphasis. It has grown from simply giving instructions to a well organized giving and acquiring knowledge given in clinics, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers and health education which is geared more towards advocacy of good health and well being (Dreeben, 2010).
As clinical instructors, they are expected to be able to mentor the students, create an environment conducive to gaining experiences and professional advancement (APTA Physical therapist clinical education principle, 2010). APTA also provides a course for those who want to be clinical instructors or coordinators that aims to tackle the roles and needed skills a Clinical instructor must have.
Physical therapists teach students, colleagues, and other health workers. They also participate in creating and organizing educational programs, and in providing advice to different institutions, occupational fields, companies, and society (APTA, 2001).
With all these roles the demand for PTs to be a more skillful clinician, teacher or consultant is also growing especially in the aspect of being an educator. One should be well versed in the different theories of teaching and learning strategies in order to fulfill what is expected from them.
Concepts and Theories of Teaching and Learnings
“I’m a visual learner”, “I want to know how a subject feels first”, “I there a manual for this?”. Each learns differently, and I believe teachers should recognize this to know how to teach someone.
According to UNESCO, the most influential theories of learning are behaviorism is where the student’s learning behavior is affected by stimuli and where reinforcement plays an important role. Cognitive psychology is where learners acquire information, process it, and store it in memory. Constructivism meanwhile brings about the idea that learners are the constructor of knowledge. They make sense and interpret the information given. On the other hand, experiential learning is where the alteration in a person’s knowledge and behavior is lead by meaningful experience (Most Influential…n.d) (http://www.ibe.unesco.org/en/geqaf/annexes/technical-notes/most-influential-theories-learning)
However, in this article, I will focus more on rote learning vs meaningful learning and the importance of metacognitive knowledge as discussed in the Revised Taxonomy and its effect on the choices a teacher makes and how a student learns.
What is Metacognitive knowledge?
Metacognitive knowledge is the understanding of one’s process of thinking and the process of understanding in general,. It involves the knowledge in what oneself is good and not good at, knowing different approaches to different undertakings, where these approaches can be used, and until when it is working for a given task. Metacognition can affect how a student learns and how a teacher teaches. For example, if a student has exams in math and English.
If the student is aware that he is better in English he will put in more effort in studying math instead, or if the student knows that she is not able to understand something by using one approach he might use a different approach in order to learn something. In connection to this if the teacher knows how his students learn or their capacity to learn, the teacher will be able to adjust the way she plans and execute her lessons, goal setting, and assessment for the class or individual student accordingly.
Rote learning is defined as the memorization of information based on repetition potland.edu, 2010). It is based mainly on retaining and remembering information in its original form. (Krathwal).
Meaningful learning on the other hand combines the capacity to recall information in its original form and use it to deal with new challenges and promote new learning. (Krathwol, et al, 2002) this type of learning incorporates the six cognitive processes that follow:
- Remember: the ability to recover knowledge from memory
- Understand: the ability to connect what is being learned to previous learning
- Apply: the ability to use learning to resolve tasks
- Analyze: the ability to see the relationship between different parts of a whole
- Evaluate: the ability to assess the worth of something based on the norms
- Create: the ability to link different components to make a new product
Rather than just focusing on the basic remembering method of teaching and learning experts agree that education should focus more on attaining a more complete understanding and learning. (Krath). This does not mean that rote learning is not useful. Even though “memorization isn’t the most effective way to learn” (Oxford) and despite being overshadowed by newer ways of learning, rote learning is still important in order to achieve a higher level of thinking by serving as a basic element for learning (potland.edu, 2012).
For example, if a student needs to solve a math problem, it is useful to be able to remember the formula for the said problem. Depending on what the teacher wants the student to achieve, the focus of instruction and assessment can be directed on achieving either just remembering or meaningful learning. (Krath)
Educating and learning is truly an intricate web of different components that need to align with each other in order to attain maximal results. An educator, therefore, needs the right tool in other not to get lost in this important task. One tool that an educator can rely on is a Taxonomy on education. A popular one that has long been relied on is the original work of Benjamin Bloom. Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of different cognitive processes arrange in order based on its importance (Forehand) (Wilson).
While both Forhand and Wilson recognize the importance of the original Bloom’s taxonomy they both agree that the revised version by Anderson and Krathwohl is worth looking at and utilizing. While Owens contradict Forhand’s statement that the most striking change between the two works is the renaming from noun to verbs of each level and change in position of the last two-level, they both agree that the meeting of the taxonomy and different type and level of knowledge: factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive is the most important development in the revised edition.(Owens) (Forhand).
This table “provides a clear, concise visual representation of the alignment between standards and educational goals, objectives, products, and activities” (Forhand).
With its great use in aligning objectives, activities, and assessment this can also be a valuable tool to be utilized by PT in patient education.