How to Establish States of Disjuncture in Your Teaching
Feb 4, 2017 Teaching Methodology 1095 Views
According to professor Jarvis in his (2012) work, "A state of disjuncture occurs when we can no longer presume upon our world and act upon it in an almost unthinking manner". Linking this idea to teaching in its varied forms (group, 1-2-1 and Online) suggests the need to provide or create conditions that cause learners to experience a state of uncertainty or dissonance in knowledge, skills, sense, emotions or beliefs. Conditions which cause them to reflect and question, in order to find solutions or accept the fact that they are willing to live with being ignorant about a particular topic or discipline. Here are two ways this could be accomplished.
One, the work of Lygo-Baker, Jones and Reedy (2013) - while it was partially about exposing participants to the experience of disjuncture - provides proof that problem-based teaching experiences (Vignette, Case studies, Scenario) are effective ways to create states of uncertainty or disjuncture and can be utilised with good effect by teachers.
How is this implemented?
In a workshop, utilising Higher Education Teachers and other participants, Lygo-Baker, Jones and Reedy engaged learners in resolving unfamiliar problem situations, through reflection, discussion and actions and decision-making. The problems set, placed learners into areas of uncertainty and discomfort.
Aside from creating a state of disjuncture, the problem based teaching approach also allowed learners to use soft skills such as communication and to work across disciplinary/professional boundaries and identities and actively engaged them in the learning process via discussion and decision-making.
Challenge and how to resolve it.
The success of such an approach rests on ensuring that the problem to be resolved or new material to be learned can be anchored into the learners' biography. The problems created should not conflict too strongly, or be so unrelated that no link can be made. For example, it might be inappropriate to provide elementary teachers with problems or vignettes or Case Studies or a scenario requiring a deep knowledge of nuclear physics! I know this is an extreme example, but the point is made.
Two, I use the KWL chart, (What you know, what you would like to know and what have you learned) as a tool in the process of getting learners to identify personal disjuncture or dissonance. This is so because, it is during the filling in of the 'W' column i.e., what I would like to know, that gaps in knowledge, skills, beliefs are identify, in other words, it is during this process that disjuncture is identified and brought to the fore by learners.
How is this implemented?
During the first lesson in a module, learners are asked to fill in only the K and W sections and give the papers to me. I then incorporate their questions and concerns into the lessons I teach. For example, after looking at issues learners identified in the first class I would say -- during the next session-- "Tony asked the following question or wrote the following statement", restate the question or statement and proceed to provide or engage the entire class in a discussion that would aid in answering the question or address the statement thus filling the gap in knowledge or skills identified.
Challenges and how to resolve them
Challenges may involve learners' unwilling to disclose what they don't know, others may be the need to promise a learner anonymity when his or her disjuncture is being addressed in a whole class setting. If learners are unwilling to disclose disjuncture, they are not forced to do so, and for those who ask for anonymity, this is granted.
Two positive 'side effects' of employing this teaching approach. One, while individual learners become more attentive, especially when their questions or concerns are being addressed, on a whole, they all seem to remain attentive and enthused throughout the module and seem to learn, because of the perception that the module content is addressing their disjuncture. Two, this approach and tool also actively engage learners in the learning process.
Lygo-Baker, S., Jones, A, & Reedy, G. (2013). Using Disjuncture to Understand Teaching in a Simulation Environment. Canada.
Peter Jarvis, Learning from Everyday Life HSSRP, vol. I, no. 1 (2012): 1-20.