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1 2 Change • November/December i 995 From Teachingto

Learning- A New Paradigm for UndergraduateEducation

By Robert B. Barr and John Tagg

Thesignificant problems weface Under it, have createdcomplex from increasingly diverse cannot be solved at the same level of structuresto provide for the activity of students. Under the of the Instruc- thinkingwe were at when we created teaching conceived primarilyas deliv- tion Paradigm,colleges suffer from a them. ering 50-minute lectures- the mission serious design flaw: it is not possible to - of a is to deliver instruction. increase outputs without a correspond- Now, however, we are beginning to ing increase in costs, because any at- paradigmshift is tak- recognize thatour dominantparadigm tempt to increase outputs without ing hold in American mistakes a means for an end. It takes the increasing resources is a threatto quali- highereducation. In means or method- called "instruction" ty. If a college attemptsto increase its its briefest form, the or "teaching"- and makes it the col- productivityby increasingeither class paradigmthat has lege' s end or purpose.To say thatthe sizes or faculty workloads,for exam- governedour colleges purposeof colleges is to provide in- ple, academics will be quick to assume is this: A college is an institutionthat structionis like saying that GeneralMo- inexorable negative consequences for exists to provide instruction.Subtly but tors' business is to operateassembly educationalquality. profoundlywe are shifting to a new lines or that the purposeof medical care Just as importantly,the Instruction paradigm:A college is an is to fill hospital beds. We now see that Paradigmrests on conceptionsof teach- thatexists to produce learning. This our mission is not instructionbut rather ing thatare increasinglyrecognized as shift changes .It is both thatof producinglearning with every ineffective. As Alan Guskinpointed out needed and wanted. studentby whatevermeans work best. in a September/October1994 Change We call the traditional,dominant The shift to a "LearningParadigm" articlepremised on the shift from teach- paradigmthe "InstructionParadigm." liberates institutionsfrom a of diffi- ing to learning,"the primary learning constraints.Today it is virtually environmentfor undergraduatestudents, RobertB. Barr is director of institutional impossible for them to respondeffec- the fairly passive lecture-discussionfor- researchand planning and John Tagg is tively to the challenge of stable or de- mat where faculty talk and most stu- associate of English at Palomar clining budgets while meeting the dents listen, is contraryto almost every College, San Marcos, California. increasing demandfor postsecondary principleof optimalsettings for student

Change • November/December i 995 1 3 For many of us, learning." The Learning Paradigm ends To see what the Instruction Para- the lecture's privileged position, honor- digm is we need only look at the struc- the Learning Paradigm has ing in its place whatever approaches tures and behaviors of our colleges and serve best to prompt learning of particu- infer the governing and be- always lived in our hearts.... lar by particular students. liefs they reflect. But it is much more The Learning Paradigm also opens difficult to see the Learning Paradigm, But the heart's feeling up the truly inspiring goal that each which has yet to find complete expres- graduating class learns more than the sion in the structures and processes of has not lived clearly previous graduating class. In other any college. So we must imagine it. words, the Learning Paradigm envi- This is what we propose to do here. As and powerfully sions the institution itself as a learner- we outline its principles and elements, over , it continuously learns how to we'll suggest some of their implications - in our heads. produce more learning with each gradu- for colleges but only some, because ating class, each entering student. the expression of principles in concrete structures depends on circumstances. It many of us, the Learning will take decades to work out many of Paradigm has always lived in our the Learning Paradigm's implications. hearts. As teachers, we want But we hope here that by making it above all else for our students to learn more explicit we will help colleagues to and succeed. But the heart's feeling has more fully recognize it and restructure not lived clearly and powerfully in our our in its image. heads. Now, as the elements of the Learning Paradigm permeate the air, such a restructuring is needed our heads are beginning to understand is beyond question: the gap be- what our hearts have known. However, tween what we say we want of none of us has yet put all the elements and what its structures of the Learning Paradigm together in a provide has never been wider. To use a conscious, integrated whole. distinction made by Chris Argyris and Lacking such a vision, we've wit- Donald Schon, the difference between nessed reformers advocate many of the our espoused theory and our theory-in- new paradigm's elements over the years, use is becoming distressingly notice- only to see few of them widely adopted. able. An "espoused theory," readers will The is that they have been applied recall, is the set of principles people of- piecemeal within the structures of a fer to explain their behavior; the princi- dominant paradigm that rejects or dis- ples we can infer from how people or torts them. Indeed, for two decades the their organizations actually behave is response to calls for reform from nation- their "theory-in-use." Right now, the In- al commissions and task forces generally struction Paradigm is our theory-in-use, has been an attempt to address the issues yet the espoused theories of most educa- within the framework of the Instruction tors more closely resemble components Paradigm. The movements thus generat- of the Learning Paradigm. The more we ed have most often failed, undone by the discover about how the mind works and contradictions within the traditional how students learn, the greater the dis- paradigm. For example, if students are parity between what we say and what we not learning to solve problems or think do. Thus so many of us feel increasingly critically, the old logic says we must constrained by a system increasingly at teach a class in thinking and make it a variance with what we believe. To build general education requirement. The logic the colleges we need for the 21st centu- is all too circular: What students are ry- to put our minds where our hearts - learning in the classroom doesn't address are, and rejoin acts with beliefs we their needs or ours; therefore, we must must consciously reject the Instruction bring them back into another classroom Paradigm and restructure what we do on and instruct them some more. The result the basis of the Learning Paradigm. is never what we hope for because, as Richard Paul, director of the Center for The Paradigms observes glumly, "crit- When comparing alternative para- ical thinking is taught in the same way digms, we must take care: the two will that other courses have traditionally been seldom be as neatly parallel as our sum- taught, with an excess of lecture and in- mary chart suggests (see pages 16 and sufficient time for practice." 17 ). A paradigm is like the rules of a

1 4 Change • November/December i 995 : one of the functionsof the rules is studentlearning. Students, the co-pro- seeks to maintaina high qualityof in- to define the playing and domainof ducers of learning,can and must, of structionwithin them, mostly by assur- possibilitieson thatfield. But a new course, take responsibilityfor their own ing that faculty stay currentin their paradigmmay specify a game played on learning.Hence, responsibilityis a win- fields. If new knowledge or clients ap- a largeror smallerfield with a largeror win game wherein two agents take re- pear, so will new course work. The very smallerdomain of legitimatepossibili- sponsibility for the same outcome even purposeof the InstructionParadigm is ties. Indeed,the LearningParadigm ex- though neitheris in complete control of to offer courses. pandsthe playing field and domainof all the variables.When two agents take In the LearningParadigm, on the possibilitiesand it radicallychanges such responsibility,the resultingsyner- other hand, a college's purposeis not to variousaspects of the game. In the In- gy producespowerful results. transferknowledge but to createenvi- structionParadigm, a specific methodol- The that colleges cannot be re- ronmentsand experiences thatbring ogy determinesthe boundaryof what sponsible for learningflows from a dis- studentsto discover and colleges can do; in the Learning empoweringnotion of responsibility.If knowledge for themselves, to make stu- Paradigm,student learning and success we conceive of responsibilityas a fixed dents membersof communitiesof set the boundary.By the same token, not quantityin a zero-sum game, then stu- learnersthat make discoveries and solve all elementsof the new paradigmare dents must take responsibilityfor their problems.The college aims, in , to contraryto correspondingelements of own learning,and no one else can. This create a series of ever more powerful the old; the new includes many elements model generatesa of responsi- learningenvironments. The Learning of the old within its largerdomain of bility capable of assigning blame but Paradigmdoes not limit institutionsto a possibilities.The LearningParadigm not of empoweringthe most productive single means for empoweringstudents does not prohibitlecturing, for example. action. The concept of responsibilityas to learn;within its framework,effective Lecturingbecomes one of many possi- a frameworkfor action is quite differ- learningtechnologies are continually ble methods,all evaluatedon the basis ent: when one takes responsibility,one identified, developed, tested, imple- of theirability to promoteappropriate sets goals and then acts to achieve them, mented, and assessed againstone anoth- learning. continuouslymodifying one's behavior er. The aim in the LearningParadigm is In describingthe shift from an In- to betterachieve the goals. To take re- not so much to improvethe qualityof structionto a LearningParadigm, we sponsibility for achieving an outcome is instruction- althoughthat is not irrele- limit our addressin this article to under- not to guaranteethe outcome, nor does vant- as it is to improvecontinuously graduateeducation. and pub- it entail the complete control of all rele- the of learningfor studentsindi- lic service are importantfunctions of vant variables;it is to make the achieve- vidually and in the aggregate. colleges and universitiesbut lie outside ment of the outcome the criterionby Under the older paradigm,colleges the scope of the presentdiscussion. which one measuresone's own efforts. aimed to provide access to higheredu- Here, as in our summarychart, we'll In this sense, it is no contradictionto cation, especially for historicallyunder- comparethe two paradigmsalong six say that students,faculty, and the col- representedgroups such as African- dimensions:mission and purposes,cri- lege as an institutioncan all take re- Americansand Hispanics.Too often, teriafor success, teaching/learning sponsibility for studentlearning. mere access hasn't served studentswell. structures,learning theory, productivity In the LearningParadigm, colleges Under the LearningParadigm, the goal and funding,and natureof roles. take responsibilityfor learningat two for under-representedstudents (and all distinct levels. At the organizational students)becomes not simply access Mission and Purposes level, a college takes responsibilityfor but success. By "success"we mean the In the InstructionParadigm, the mis- the aggregateof studentlearning and achievementof overall studenteduca- sion of the college is to provideinstruc- success. Did, for example, the graduat- tional objectives such as earninga de- tion, to teach.The methodand the ing class's masteryof certainskills or gree, persistingin school, and learning productare one andthe same. The means knowledge meet our high, public stan- the "right"things - the skills and is the end. In the LearningParadigm, the dardsfor the awardof the degree? Did knowledge that will help studentsto missionof the college is to produce the class's knowledge and skills im- achieve their goals in work and life. A learning.The methodand the productare prove over those of priorclasses? The LearningParadigm college, therefore, separate.The end governsthe means. college also takes responsibilityat the aims for ever-highergraduation rates Some educatorsmay be uncomfort- individuallevel, that is, for each indi- while maintainingor even increasing able with the verb "produce."We use it vidual student's learning.Did Mary learningstandards. because it so stronglyconnotes that the Smith learnthe chemistrywe deem ap- By shiftingthe intendedinstitutional college takes responsibilityfor learning. propriatefor a degree in that field? outcome from teachingto learning,the The point of saying that colleges are to Thus, the institutiontakes responsibility LearningParadigm makes possible a produce learning- not provide, not for both its institutionaloutcomes and continuousimprovement in productivi- support,not encourage- is to say, un- individualstudent outcomes. ty. Whereasunder the InstructionPar- mistakably,that they are responsiblefor Turningnow to more specific pur- adigm a primaryinstitutional purpose the degree to which studentslearn. The poses, in the InstructionParadigm, a was to optimize faculty well- and LearningParadigm shifts what the insti- college aims to transferor deliver success- includingrecognition for re- tutiontakes responsibilityfor: from knowledge from faculty to students;it searchand scholarship- in the Learning qualityinstruction (lecturing, talking) to offers courses and degree programsand Paradigma primarydrive is to produce

Change • November/December 1995 1 5 Chart i Comparing Educational Paradigms

The Instruction Paradigm The Learning Paradigm Mission and Purposes Provide/deliverinstruction Producelearning Transferknowledge from faculty to students Elicit studentdiscovery and constructionof knowledge

Offer courses and programs Createpowerful learningenvironments Improvethe quality of instruction Improvethe quality of learning Achieve access for diverse students Achieve success for diverse students

Criteria for Success Inputs,resources Learningand student-success outcomes Quality of enteringstudents Quality of exiting students Curriculumdevelopment, expansion Learningtechnologies development,expansion

Quantityand quality of resources Quantityand quality of outcomes Enrollment,revenue growth Aggregate learninggrowth, efficiency Quality of faculty, instruction Quality of students,learning

Teaching/Learning Structures Atomistic; partsprior to whole Holistic; whole priorto parts Time held constant, learningvaries Learningheld constant,time varies 50-minute lecture, 3-unit course Learningenvironments >- Classes start/endat same time Environmentready when studentis One teacher,one classroom Whateverlearning experience works Independentdisciplines, departments Cross discipline/departmentcollaboration

Covering material Specified learningresults End-of-courseassessment Pre/during/postassessments Gradingwithin classes by instructors Externalevaluations of learning >- Privateassessment Public assessment Degree equals accumulatedcredit hours Degree equals demonstratedknowledge and skills

learningoutcomes more efficiently. The versities. Administratorsand boards prised when they hear that45 percentof philosophyof an InstructionParadigm may look to enrollmentand revenue first-timefall studentsdo not returnin college reflects the thatit cannot growth and the expansion of courses the spring and that it takes an averageof increaselearning outputs without more and programs.As Guskin put it, "We six years for a studentto earn an associ- resources,but a LearningParadigm col- are so wedded to a definition of quality ate's (AA) degree. The reason for this lege expects to do so continuously.A based on resourcesthat we find it ex- lack of outcomes knowledge is pro- LearningParadigm college is concerned tremely difficult to deal with the results foundly simple: underthe Instruction with learningproductivity, not teaching of our work, namely studentlearning." Paradigm,student outcomes are simply productivity. The LearningParadigm necessarily irrelevantto the successful functioning incorporatesthe perspectivesof the as- and funding of a college. Criteria for Success sessment movement. While this move- Our faculty evaluationsystems, for Underthe InstructionParadigm, we ment has been underway for at least a example, evaluate the performanceof judge our colleges by comparingthem decade, underthe dominantInstruction faculty in teaching terms, not learning to one another.The criteriafor quality Paradigmit has not penetratedvery far terms. An instructoris typically evalu- are defined in terms of inputs and pro- into normalorganizational practice. ated by her peers or dean on the basis of cess measures.Factors such as selectiv- Only a few colleges across the country whetherher lectures are organized, ity in studentadmissions, numberof systematicallyassess studentlearning whethershe covers the appropriatema- PhDs on the faculty, and researchrepu- outcomes. Educatorsin Californiacom- terial, whethershe shows interestin and tationare used to ratecolleges and uni- munity colleges always seem to be sur- understandingof her subject ,

1 6 Change • November/December 1995 The Instruction Paradigm The Learning Paradigm Learning Theory Knowledgeexists "out there" Knowledgeexists in eachperson' s mindand is shapedby individualexperience Knowledgecomes in "chunks"and "bits"delivered Knowledge is constructed,created, and "gotten" by instructors Learningis cumulativeand linear Learningis a nesting and interactingof frameworks Fits the storehouseof knowledge metaphor Fits learninghow to ride a bicycle metaphor Learningis teachercentered and controlled Learningis studentcentered and controlled "Live"teacher, "live" studentsrequired "Active"learner required, but not "live"teacher The classroom and learningare competitive and Learningenvironments and learningare cooperative, individualistic collaborative,and supportive Talent and ability are rare Talent and ability are abundant

Productivity/Funding Definitionof productivity: Definitionof productivity: cost per hourof instructionper student cost per unit of learningper student Fundingfor hoursof instruction Fundingfor learningoutcomes

Nature of Roles

Faculty are primarilylecturers Faculty are primarilydesigners of learningmethods and environments Facultyand studentsact independentlyand in isolation Faculty and studentswork in teams with each other and other staff Teachersclassify and sort students Teachersdevelop every student's competencies and talents Staff serve/supportfaculty and the process of instruction All staff are educatorswho producestudent learningand success Any expertcan teach Empoweringlearning is challenging and complex

Line governance;independent actors Sharedgovernance; teamwork

whethershe is preparedfor class, and across the room; the instructorwould Institutionaloutcomes assessmentis whethershe respects her students'ques- observe each group for a few minutes, analogous to classroom assessment,as tions and comments. All these factors sometimes making a comment, some- describedby K. PatriciaCross and evaluatethe instructor'sperformance in just nodding approval. After 15 Thomas Angelo. In our own experience teachingterms. They do not raise the is- minutes or so the dean approachedthe of classroom-assessmenttraining work- sue of whetherstudents are learning,let instructorand said, "I came today to shops, teachersshare moving stories alone demandevidence of learningor do your evaluation. I'll come back an- about how even limited use of these providefor its reward. other time when you're teaching." techniqueshas promptedthem to make Many institutions construe teaching In the InstructionParadigm, teaching big changes in theirteaching, some- almost entirely in terms of lecturing. A is judged on its own terms;in the Learn- times despite years of investmentin a true story makes the point. A biology ing Paradigm,the power of an environ- previous practice.Mimi Steadman,in instructorwas experimenting with col- ment or approachis judged in termsof a recent study of communitycollege laborative methods of instruction in its impacton learning.If learningoc- teachersusing classroom assessment, his beginning biology classes. One curs, then the environmenthas power. If found that "eighty-eightpercent of day his dean came for a site visit, slip- studentslearn more in environmentA faculty surveyedreported that they ping into the back of the room. The thanin environmentB, then A is more had made changes in their teachingbe- room was a hubbubof activity. Stu- powerfulthan B. To know this in the haviors as a result."This at first was dents were discussing material enthu- LearningParadigm we would assess stu- startlingto us. How could such small siastically in small groups spread out dent learningroutinely and constantly. amountsof informationproduce such

Change • November/December 1995 1 7 Structures reflecting large changes in teacher behavior? lege and graduates have Upon reflection, it became clear. The learned - the knowledge and skill levels an old paradigm was feedback about learn- they have achieved and their potential ing, about results - something teachers for further independent learning." can frustrate the best rarely collect. Given information that their students were not learning, it was Teaching/Learning and innovations of obvious to these teachers that some- Structures thing had to be done about the methods By structures we mean those features new-paradigm thinkers. they had been using. Likewise, we of an organization that are stable over think, feedback on learning results at time and that form the framework within As the governing the institutional level should have a cor- which activities and processes occur and respondingly large impact on an institu- through which the purposes of the orga- paradigm changes, tion' s behavior and on the means it uses nization are achieved. Structure includes to produce learning. the organization chart, role and reward so likewise must the Of course, some will argue, true edu- systems, and methods, fa- cation simply cannot be measured. You cilities and equipment, decision-making organization's structures. cannot measure, for example, true ap- customs, communication channels, feed- preciation of the of a . back loops, financial arrangements, and Certainly some learning is difficult, funding streams. even impossible to measure. But it does Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, not follow that useful and meaningful a book about applying to assessment is impossible. organizational learning, observes that If we compare outcomes assessment institutions and their leaders rarely focus with the input measures controlling poli- their attention on systemic structures. cy in the Instruction Paradigm, we find They seldom think, he says, to alter ba- that measures of outcome provide far sic structures in order to improve orga- more genuine information about learn- nizational performance, even though ing than do measures of input. Learning those structures generate the patterns of outcomes include whatever students do organizational action and determine as a result of a learning experience. Any which activities and results are possible. measurement of students' products from Perhaps the recent talk about restructur- an educational experience is a measure ing, re-, and reinvention in of a learning outcome. We could count higher education reflects a change in fo- the number of pages students write, the cus and a heightened awareness of both number of books they read, their number the constraining and liberating power of of hours at the computer, or the number organizational structures. of math problems they solve. There is good reason to attend to Of course, these would be silly meth- structure. First, restructuring offers the ods to determine institutional incentives, greatest hope for increasing organiza- and we do not recommend them. Any tional efficiency and effectiveness. one of them, however, would produce Structure is leverage. If you change the more useful information on learning than structure in which people work, you in- the method of measuring inputs crease or decrease the leverage applied and ignoring outcomes. It would make to their efforts. A change in structure can more sense to fund a college on the num- either increase productivity or change ber of math problems students solve, for the of organizational outcomes. example, than to fund it on the number of Second, structure is the concrete mani- students who sit in math classes. We sus- festation of the abstract principles of the pect that any system of institutional in- organization's governing paradigm. centives based on outcomes would lead Structures reflecting an old paradigm can to greater learning than any system of in- frustrate the best ideas and innovations centives based on inputs. But we need of new-paradigm thinkers. As the gov- not settle for a system biased toward the erning paradigm changes, so likewise trivial. Right now, today, we can con- must the organization's structures. struct a good assessment regime with the In this section, we focus on the main tools we have at hand. structures related to the teaching and The Learning Paradigm requires us learning process; funding and faculty to heed the advice of the Wingspread role structures are discussed later under Group: "New forms of assessment separate headings. should focus on establishing what col- The teaching and learning structure

1 8 Change • November/December 1995 of the Instruction Paradigm college is atomistic. In its universe, the "atom" is the 50-minute lecture, and the "mole- cule" is the one-teacher, one-classroom, three-credit-hour course. From these ba- sic units the physical architecture, the administrative structure, and the daily schedules of faculty and students are built. Dennis McGrath and Martin Spear, at the of Philadelphia, note that "edu- cation proceeds everywhere through the vehicle of the three-credit course. Facul- ty members [and everyone else, we might add] have so internalized that constraint that they are long past notic- ing that it is a constraint, thinking it part of the natural order of things." The resulting structure is powerful and rigid. It is, of course, perfectly suit- ed to the Instruction Paradigm task of offering one-teacher, one-classroom courses. It is antithetical to creating al- the truism that people learn at differ- ciated with coherent disciplines, are the most any other kind of learning experi- ent rates, and in different ways with structural home bases for accomplish- ence. A sense of this can be obtained by different subjects. But we have put the ing the essential work of the college: of- observing the effort, struggle, and rule- cart before the horse: our schools. ..are fering courses. "Departments have a life bending required to schedule even a captives of clock and . The of their own," notes William D. Schae- slightly different kind of learning activ- boundaries of student growth are de- fer, professor of English and former ex- ity, such as a team-taught course. fined by schedules... instead of stan- ecutive chancellor at UCLA. They In the "educational " of the dards for students and learning. are "insular, defensive, self-governing, Instruction Paradigm, the parts of the [and] compelled to protect their inter- teaching and learning process are seen Under the rule of time, all classes ests because the faculty positions as as discrete entities. The parts exist prior start and stop at the same time and take well as the courses that justify funding to and independent of any whole; the the same number of calendar weeks. those positions are located therein." whole is no more than the sum of the The rule of time and the priority of Those globally applicable skills that parts, or even less. The college interacts parts affect every instructional act of are the foundation of meaningful en- with students only in discrete, isolated the college. gagement with the world - reading, writ- environments, cut off from one another Thus it is, for example, that if stu- ing, calculating, reasoning - find a true because the parts- the classes - are pri- dents come into college classes "unpre- place in this structure only if they have or to the whole. A "college education" pared," it is not the job of the faculty their own independent bases: the English is the sum the student's experience of a who teach those classes to "prepare" or math or reading departments. If stu- series of discrete, largely unrelated, them. Indeed, the structure of the one- dents cannot reason or think well, the three-credit classes. semester, three-credit class makes it all college creates a course on reasoning and In the Instruction Paradigm, the but impossible to do so. The only solu- thinking. This in turn produces pressure teaching and learning process is gov- tion, then, is to create new courses to to create a corresponding department. "If erned by the further rule that time will prepare students for the existing cours- we are not careful," warns Adam Sweet- be held constant while learning varies. es; within the Instruction Paradigm, the ing, director of the Writing Program at Although addressing public elementary response to educational problems is al- the Massachusetts School of at An- and , the analysis ways to generate more atomized, dis- dover, "the teaching of critical thinking of the National Commission on Time crete instructional units. If business skills will become the responsibility of and Learning nonetheless applies to students are lacking a sense of , one university department, a prospect colleges: then offer and require a course in busi- that is at odds with the very idea of a ness ethics. If students have poor study university." Time is learning's warden. Our time- skills, then offer a "master student" Efforts to extend college- level read- bound mentality has fooled us all into course to teach such skills. ing, writing, and reasoning "across the believing that schools can educate all Instruction Paradigm colleges atom- " have largely failed. The of the people all of the time in a istically organize courses and teachers good intentions produced few results school year of 180 six-hour days.. ..If into departments and programs that because, under the Instruction experience, research, and common rarely communicate with one another. Paradigm, the teacher's job is to "cover sense teach else, they confirm Academic departments, originally asso- the material" as outlined in the disci-

Change • November/December [995 19 plinarysyllabus. The instructorcharged It would tracktransfer, graduation, and with implementingwriting or readingor other completion rates. It would track critical thinking"across the curricu- the flow of studentsthrough learning lum"often must choose between doing stages (such as the achievementof basic herjob or doing what will help students skills) and the developmentof in-depth learn- between doing well, as it were, knowledge in a discipline. It would or doing good. measurethe knowledge and skills of Fromthe pointof view of the Learn- programcompleters and graduates.It ing Paradigm,these InstructionParadigm would assess learningalong many di- teachingand learning structures present mensions and in many places and stages immensebarriers to improvingstudent in each student'scollege experience. learningand success. They provideno To be most effective, this assessment space and supportfor redesignedlearning system would providepublic institution- environmentsor for experimentingwith al-level information.We are not talking alternativelearning technologies. They aboutmaking public the statusof indi- don't providefor, warrant,or rewardas- vidual studentsby name, but aboutmak- sessing whetherstudent learning has oc- ing the year-to-yeargraduation rate - or curredor is improving. the mean score of graduatingseniors on In a LearningParadigm college, the a criticalthinking assessment, for exam- structureof courses and lecturesbe- ple- "public"in the sense thatthey are comes dispensableand negotiable. availableto everyone in the college Semesters and quarters,lectures, labs, community.Moreover, in the Learning syllabi- indeed, classes themselves- Paradigmcollege, such dataare routine- become options ratherthan received ly talkedabout and acted upon by a structuresor mandatoryactivities. The communityever dedicatedto improving LearningParadigm prescribes no one its own performance. "answer"to the question of how to or- The effectiveness of the assessment ganize learningenvironments and expe- system for developing alternative riences. It supportsany learningmethod learning environments depends in part and structurethat works, where "works" upon its being external to learning is defined in terms of learningout- programsand structures.While in the comes, not as the degree of InstructionParadigm students are as- to an ideal classroom .In fact, sessed and graded within a class by the the LearningParadigm requires a con- same instructorresponsible for teach- stant searchfor new structuresand ing them, in the Learning Paradigm methods that work betterfor student much of the assessment would be in- learningand success, and expects even dependent of the learning experience these to be redesignedcontinually and and its designer, somewhat as football to evolve over time. are independent measures of what is learned in football practice. transitionfrom Instruction Course grades alone fail to tell us what Paradigmto LearningParadigm students know and can do; average will not be instantaneous.It will grades assigned by instructorsare not be a processof gradualmodification and reliable measures of whether the insti- experimentationthrough which we alter tution is improving learning. manyorganizational parts in light of a Ideally, an institution's assessment new vision for the whole. Underthe In- programwould measure the "- structionParadigm, structures are as- added"over the course of students' sumedto be fixed and immutable;there experience at the college. Student is no readymeans for achievingthe knowledge and skills would be mea- leverageneeded to alterthem. The first sured upon entranceand again upon structuraltask of the LearningParadigm, graduation,and at intermediatestages then, is to establishsuch leverage. such as at the beginning and comple- The key structurefor changing the tion of major programs.Students could rest of the system is an institutionwide then be acknowledged and certified for assessment and informationsystem - what they have learned;the same data, an essential structurein the Learning aggregated, could help shift judgments Paradigm,and a key means for getting of institutionalquality from inputs and there. It would provide constant,useful resources to the value-addedbrought feedback on institutionalperformance. to student learning by the college.

20 Change • November/December i 995 The college devoted to learningfirst accumulated, but would certify that Instead of fixing the identifies the knowledge and skills it the student had demonstrably attained expects its graduatesto possess, without specified knowledge and skills. Learn- means- such as lecturesand regardto any particularcurriculum or ing Paradigm institutions would devel- educationalexperiences. It then deter- op and publish explicit exit standards courses- the Learning mines how to assess them reliably. It as- for graduates and grant degrees and sesses graduatingstudents, and the certificates only to students who met Paradigmfixes the ends, resultinginformation is then used to re- them. Thus colleges would move away design and improve the processes and from educational atomism and move the learning results, environmentsleading to such outcomes. toward treating holistically the knowl- In this manner,enhancing intellectual edge and skills requiredfor a degree. allowing the means to vary skills such as writing and problem solv- ing and social skills such as effective Learning Theory in its constant search team participationbecome the project The InstructionParadigm frames of all learningprograms and structured learningatomistically. In it, knowledge, for the most effective experiences. The whole would govern by definition, consists of matterdis- the parts. pensed or delivered by an instructor. and efficient paths Informationfrom a sophisticatedas- The chief agent in the process is the sessmentsystem will graduallylead to teacherwho delivers knowledge; stu- to student learning. the transformationof the college's learn- dents are viewed as passive vessels, in- ing environmentsand supportingstruc- gesting knowledge for recall on tests. tures.Such a system seeks out "best Hence, any expert can teach. Partlybe- practice"benchmarks against which im- cause the teacherknows which chunks provementsin institutionalperformance of knowledge are most important,the can be measuredin learningterms. It is teachercontrols the learningactivities. the foundationfor creatingan institution- Learningis presumedto be cumulative al capacityto develop ever more effec- because it amountsto ingesting more tive andefficient ways of empowering and more chunks. A degree is awarded learning.It becomes the basis for gener- when a studenthas received a specified atingrevenue or fundingaccording to amountof instruction. learningresults rather than hours of in- The Learning Paradigmframes struction.Most importantly,it is the key learning holistically, recognizing that to the college's and its staffs takingre- the chief agent in the process is the sponsibilityfor and enjoyingthe learner. Thus, students must be active progressof each student'seducation. discoverers and constructors of their Insteadof fixing the means- such as own knowledge. In the Learning lecturesand courses- the Learning Paradigm, knowledge consists of Paradigmfixes the ends, the learningre- frameworks or wholes that are created sults, allowing the means to vary in its or constructed by the learner. Knowl- constantsearch for the most effective edge is not seen as cumulative and and efficient pathsto studentlearning. linear, like a wall of bricks, but as a Learningoutcomes and standardsthus nesting and interacting of frameworks. would be identifiedand held to for all Learningis revealed when those frame- students- or raised as learningenviron- works are used to understandand act. mentsbecame more powerful- while Seeing the whole of something- the the time studentstook to achieve those forest ratherthan the trees, the image standardswould vary. This would re- of the newspaper photo ratherthan its wardskilled and advancedstudents with dots- gives meaning to its elements, speedy progresswhile enabling less pre- and that whole becomes more than a paredstudents the time they needed to sum of component parts. Wholes and actuallymaster the material.By "testing frameworks can come in a moment- a out,"students could also avoid wasting flash of insight- often after much hard theirtime being "taught"what they al- work with the pieces, as when one readyknow. Studentswould be given suddenly knows how to ride a bicycle. "credit"for degree-relevantknowledge In the LearningParadigm, learning and skills regardlessof how or where or environmentsand activities are learner- when they learnedthem. centeredand learner-controlled.They In the Learning Paradigm, then, a may even be "teacherless."While college degree would represent not teacherswill have designed the learning time spent and credit hours dutifully experiences and environmentsstudents

Change • November/December i 995 2 1 Under the Learning use- often throughteamwork with each Educationsummarizes the consequences other and other staff- they need not be in its 1991 report,Solutions: "The result Paradigm, the faculty presentfor or participatein every struc- is fractionation,or splittinginto pieces: turedlearning activity. havingto learndisconnected sub-rou- and the institution Many studentscome away from col- tines, items, and sub-skillswithout an lege with a false notion of what learning understandingof the largercontext into take an R. Buckminster Fuller is and come to believe falsely that learn- which they fit andwhich gives them ing- at least for some subjects- is too meaning."While such approachesare view of students: difficult for them. Many studentscruise entirelyconsistent with educational throughschools substitutingan ersatz atomism,they areat odds with the way human are born role-playingexercise for learning. we thinkand learn. The same report The first time I (Barr)studied calcu- quotesSylvia Farnham-Diggory'ssum- geniuses and designed lus as a college freshman,I did well by maryof contemporaryresearch: "Frac- conventionalstandards. However, while tionatedinstruction maximizes for success. I could solve enoughproblems to get A's forgetting,inattention, and passivity. on exams, I really didn'tfeel thatI un- Both childrenand adultsacquire knowl- If they fail to succeed, derstoodthe LimitTheorem, the deriva- edge fromactive participationin holistic, tive, or much else. But 15 years later, complex, meaningfulenvironments orga- it is because their design afterhaving completedcollege and grad- nized aroundlong-term goals. Today's uate school and having taughtalgebra school programscould hardlyhave been function is being thwarted. and geometryin high school, I needed to betterdesigned to preventa child's natu- relearncalculus so thatI could tutora ral learningsystem from operating." friend.In only two, albeit intense,days, I The result is that when the contextu- relearned- or really learnedfor the first al cues providedby the class disappear time, so it seemed- two semestersof at the end of the semester, so does the calculus. Duringthose days, I wondered learning.Howard Gardner points out how I ever thoughtcalculus was difficult that "researchersat Johns Hopkins, and why I didn't see the LimitTheorem MIT, and other well-regardeduniversi- and derivativefor the simple, obvious ties have documentedthat studentswho things they are. receive honor grades in college-level What was the difference between my courses are frequentlyunable to first learningof calculus and the sec- solve basic problemsand questionsen- ond? It certainlywasn't a higher IQ. counteredin a form slightly different And I don't think it was because I from thaton which they have been for- learnedor rememberedmuch from the mally instructedand tested." first time. I think it was that I brought The LearningParadigm embraces some very powerful intellectualframe- the goal of promotingwhat Gardner works to the learningthe second time calls "educationfor understanding"- that I didn't have the first time. Having "a sufficient grasp of , princi- taughtalgebra and geometry, I had ples, or skills so that one can bring them learnedtheir basic structure,that is, the to bear on new problemsand situations, natureof a mathematicalsystem. I had deciding in which ways one's present learnedthe lay of the land, the whole. competencies can suffice and in which Throughmany years of schooling and ways one may requirenew skills or study, I had also learneda numberof knowledge."This involves the mastery other frameworksthat were useful for of functional,knowledge-based intel- learningcalculus. Thus learningcalcu- lectual frameworksrather than the lus the second time within these "ad- short-termretention of fractionated, vanced"frameworks was easy compared contextualcues. to learning,or trying to learn, calculus The learning theory of the Instruc- without them as I did as a freshman. tion Paradigmreflects deeply rooted So much of this is because the societal assumptions about talent, rela- "learning"that goes on in Instruction tionships, and accomplishment:that Paradigmcolleges frequentlyinvolves which is valuable is scarce; life is a only rudimentary,stimulus-response re- win-lose proposition;and success is an lationshipswhose cues may be coded individual achievement. The Learning into the context of a particularcourse Paradigmtheory of learningreverses but are not rooted in the student's ev- these assumptions. eryday, functioning understanding. Under the InstructionParadigm, fac- The NationalCouncil on Vocational ulty classify and sort students,in the

22 Change •November/December 1995 worst cases into those who are "college material" and those who cannot "cut it," since and ability are scarce. Under the Learning Paradigm, facul- ty - and everybody else in the institu- tion - are unambiguously committed to each student's success. The faculty and the institution take an R. Buckminster Fuller view of students: human beings are born geniuses and designed for suc- cess. If they fail to display their genius or fail to succeed, it is because their de- sign function is being thwarted. This perspective is founded not in but in the best about the real capabilities of virtually all hu- mans for learning. As the Wingspread Group points out, "There is growing re- search evidence that all students can learn to much higher standards than we now require." In the Learning Para- digm, faculty find ways to develop ev- ery student's vast talents and clear the comes without increasing costs. An step class scheduling, landredundant way for every student's success. abundance of research shows that al- courses and requirements. We do not Under the Instruction Paradigm, the ternatives to the traditional semester- teach them to learn efficiently and ef- classroom is competitive and individu- length, classroom-based lecture method fectively. We can do a lot, as D. Bruce alistic, reflecting a view that life is a produce more learning. Some of these Johnstone, former chancellor of SUNY, win-lose proposition. The requirement alternatives are less expensive; many suggests, to reduce the false starts and that the students must achieve individu- produce more learning for the same aimless "drift" of students that slow ally and solely through their own ef- cost. Under the Learning Paradigm, their toward a degree. forts reflects the belief that success is producing more with less becomes Now let's consider how colleges are an individual accomplishment. In the possible because the more that is being funded. One of the absurdities of cur- Learning Paradigm, learning environ- produced is learning and not hours of rent funding formulas is that an institu- ments - while challenging - are win- instruction. Productivity, in this sense, tion could utterly fail its educational win environments that are cooperative, cannot even be measured in the Instruc- mission and yet its revenue would re- collaborative, and supportive. They are tion Paradigm college. All that exists is main unaffected. For example, atten- designed on the that accom- a measure of exposure to instruction. dance at public colleges on the semester plishment and success are the result of Given the Learning Paradigm's defi- system is measured twice, once in the teamwork and group efforts, even when nition, increases in productivity pose no fall and again in the spring. Normally, it appears one is working alone. threat to the quality of education. Unlike at California community colleges, for the current definition, this new definition example, about two-thirds of fall stu- Productivity and Funding requires that colleges actually produce dents return for the spring term. New Under the Instruction Paradigm, col- learning. Otherwise, there is no "prod- students and returning stop-outs make leges suffer from a serious design flaw - uct" to count in the productivity ratio. up for the one-third of fall students who they are structured in such a way that But what should be the definition of leave. Even if only half - or none at they cannot increase their productivity "unit of learning" and how can it be mea- all - returned, as long as spring enroll- without diminishing the quality of their sured? A single, permanent answer to ments equal those of the fall, these insti- product. In the Instruction Paradigm, that question does not and need not exist. tutions would suffer no loss of revenue. productivity is defined as cost per hour We have argued above that learning, or There is no more powerful feedback of instruction per student. In this view, at least the effects of learning, can be than revenue. Nothing could facilitate a the very quality of teaching and learning measured, certainly well enough to de- shift to the Learning Paradigm more is threatened by any increase in the stu- termine what students are learning and swiftly than funding learning and learn- dent-to-faculty ratio. whether the institution is getting more ing-related institutional outcomes rather Under the Learning Paradigm, pro- effective and efficient at producing it. than hours of instruction. The initial re- ductivity is redefined as the cost per sponse to the idea of outcomes-based unit of learning per student. Not surpris- Instruction Paradigm wastes funding is likely to be "That's not possi- ingly, there is as yet no standard statis- not only institutional resources ble." But, of course, it is. As the new tic that corresponds to this notion of but the time and energy of stu- paradigm takes hold, forces and possi- productivity. Under this new definition, dents. We waste our students' time with bilities shift and the impossible becomes however, it is possible to increase out- registration lines, bookstore lines, lock- the rule.

Change •November/December 1995 23