In the previous parts on knowledge organisations, we discussed the characteristics of knowledge organisations and their importance in learning. Today, we are going to talk about the strategies to enhance students’ knowledge organisations.
Analyse your own knowledge organisations
As subject-matter experts, teachers play an important role in enhancing the knowledge organisations of their students. Even though they have a well-developed system, it may become difficult to recognise how they organise their own knowledge. In turn, this makes it difficult for teachers to communicate these organisations to their students. Therefore, it becomes important for teachers to analyse their own knowledge using a concept map.
Concept mapping is a tool that helps people represent their knowledge visually. Creating a concept map will help recognise central organising principles and key features of your knowledge. Presenting this concept map to the students will help them understand the features and principles around which you want your students to organise their own knowledge.
Identify the most appropriate knowledge organisation
From the previous parts on knowledge organisation, we already understood that different tasks draw on different knowledge organisations. Providing students with a skeletal outline or template for organising knowledge might produce desired results. For example, if you want your students to analyse theoretical perspectives of different authors, you might consider giving them an empty table in which you ask to categorise different theoretical schools in one column, its key characteristics in the next column, and the list of authors who fall into that category in another column.
Using contrasting cases to highlight organising features
Presenting contrasting cases that share similar features but differ in critical ways is useful in helping students develop more sophisticated ways of organising knowledge. Even though case studies are often used in teaching, it is most effective when it is used with some compare-and-contrast analysis.
Giving students organisational structure of the course
Students who are new to a course may not see the logical organisation of material presented in the class. They may not see the basic relationships or category structures. It is important to give students a bigger picture on the course. Giving them key concepts or topics in the course and highlighting their inter-relationships beforehand will help the students learn better. In addition to this, reminding students of the larger organisational framework every now and then will keep students on track.
Sharing the organisational structures of each lecture
Knowledge organisations guide students in retrieving information and using them effectively. It is beneficial for students to create a useful organisation as they learn. Providing an outline or a visual representation of each lecture, laboratory or discussion session will give students an effective framework for organising knowledge that they are about to learn.
Highlight deep features
We know that superficial knowledge organisations will negatively impact a student’s learning process. Highlighting deep features of problems and theories will help students have more meaningful and less superficial knowledge organisations. We can provide examples that share deep features but differ superficially. This will enable students to identify underlying features and principles and teach them to organise their knowledge meaningfully.
Motivate students to work with multiple organising structures
As different tasks draw on different knowledge organisations, it is important for students to develop multiple knowledge organisations. Asking them to categorise a set of items according to more than one organisational scheme is one way to help them develop multiple representations. For example, teachers might ask students to classify plants based on their evolutionary history as well as on the basis of their native habitats. This will enable students to draw on the relevant knowledge organisations based on tasks.
Monitor problems in students’ organisational structure
We should always pay attention to the patterns of mistakes that students make in their work. It will help us understand whether they are making any inappropriate connections or categorisations that are negatively affecting their learning.
Today, we discussed the strategies to enhance the knowledge organisations of students. In the next part, we can talk about a new learning principle.
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