Holly D. Landez ePortfolio

Action Research Design Outline


The action research project that I design will be centered around 3D printers in elementary school libraries. As the courses in our Digital Learning and Leading programs have progressed, I have changed my innovation plan, although the topics are still very much related. I started this program with a summer STREAM camp in our libraries as the focus of my plan. As we got closer to the the launch of our camp, it became clear to me that I wanted to broaden my topic to have an even greater positive effect in my school district libraries. I shifted the focus of my innovation plan to transforming libraries to learning hubs. The elements of transforming traditional libraries to learning hubs are: professional learning for librarians, providing maker space supplies and resources, organizing creative, collaborative engaging events in the libraries, as well as including flexible seating for an inviting atmosphere. STREAM camp was directly related to library transformation because we transformed a previously stale, underused summer library program to a fun, engaging camp that registered over 500 participants in a few hours and has received positive reviews.

I am currently driving another initiative in our district libraries and I am eager to use the initiative as the focus of my action research. Out of our 31 elementary schools, only five have 3D printers in the library. They were provided either because driven, forward thinking librarians eager to keep their libraries innovative used book fair or grant funds to purchase them, or as part of new schools. Our district is opening three new elementary schools this year, and as 3D printers are slowly becoming the standard, they are provided by the school district.

This year, there are some grant funds specifically set aside for products related to STEM learning, and bringing all of our libraries to the standard of having a 3D printer fits the bill! Although I have gotten some level of approval for the project, I have been met with some hesitancy. Colleagues have asked, “How will teachers have time to teach kids to use them?” and “How does that help us meet any of the learning standards?” and “Aren’t 3D printers just a novelty? How will they help kids learn?”

These questions are valid, and I hope to be able to provide strong evidence of success with this initiative. Also, I am acutely aware that it is not a good idea to purchase technology just for the sake of having the technology. This 3D printer initiative must be led with purpose, and clear goals.


The purpose of this action research study is to measure the impact on student engagement in the library as 3D printing is made available. Many of our libraries utilize maker spaces as well as other very engaging activities. My vision is that the novelty of the availability of a device that helps students envision an idea, create it digitally and then manufacture it into a tangible object will draw more students to the library. Some of our elementary school libraries have a somewhat structured schedule, where students visit with their entire class once a week, or every other week. In these cases, the teacher and librarian may collaborate to plan lessons. In other cases, the library may be a part of the specials rotation, meaning that students may come to the library multiple times a week, while the teacher has conference time. Both of these situations allow for the planning and implementation of structured lessons that may feature projects that include 3D printing. What is does not allow is time for students to electively visit the library. Part of my goal is to determine if 3D printing increases interest in visiting the library voluntarily, before or after school, during any free time, or for special library events.

Fundamental Research Question

To what extent does equipping elementary libraries with 3D printers impact student engagement in the library?

Research Design

 I intend conduct thorough and well-planned, mixed-method action research that includes both quantitative and qualitative data. While quantitative data can tell reveal trends and patterns, they may not tell the entire story. Therefore it is important to include survey questions that allow students, teachers, and librarians to clearly express if they have been positively impacted by having opportunities to use the 3D printers, or not. Also, I plan to make all ethical considerations before conducting the study, to include informing participants, and gaining permission from the parents of students before they are interviewed or surveyed. In Action Research, Mertler states, “If you intend to share your action research with a larger audience than the other educators in your school, you must get permission to use samples of student work, quotes from transcripts of audio or video recordings, or observation notes that you plan to share with others.” (Mertler, 2020).

Measurement Instruments & Techniques

For quantitative data, I will ask the librarians at four libraries to keep tally marks for four pieces of data on a document or electronic form that I will prepare. One tally mark for each time a 5th grade class visits during a regularly scheduled class time, one tally mark for each time a 5th grade class visits for an additional scheduled time, one tally mark for each time an individual 5th grader electively visits, one tally mark for the number of 3D printed objects created by 5th graders.  Also, I will prepare a survey for 5th grade students at four libraries. The survey will be administered in September and April. The survey will contain both quantitative and qualitative questions. An example of a quantitative question would be, “Have you ever used a 3D printer?” or “Have you ever visited the library on your own because you wanted to, not as part of a class?” An example of a qualitative question on the survey would be, “Is there something you would like to be able to make or do in your school library that you have not been able to?” For additional qualitative data, I will conduct video interviews with 5th graders that include questions such as, “What do you enjoy about the library?” And “What have you learned in the library?”

Literature review

The literature review that I include in my action research project will focus on research associated with the effects of integrating STEM and maker space and activities in school libraries. I will integrate research I have previously reviewed while developing my innovation plan for STREAM Camp with additional research regarding the use of 3D printers in schools, particularly elementary school libraries.

Analyze, Reflect and Plan

The final steps of the action research project include analyzing the data and executing an action plan based on those results. The plan may include designing more professional learning for teachers or creating additional student-focused events such as 3D printing challenges or contests.

Timeline of 3D Printer Initiative & Action Research Plan

  • Summer 2021 Purchase and install 3D printers in 26 elementary libraries

  • Fall 2021

    • Librarians that have Dremel 3D printers participate in the self-paced online training course
    • District Instructional Technologist conducts voluntary after-school professional learning sessions for elementary teachers
    • Librarians keep tally marks of visits for quantitative data
    • District Instructional Technologist conducts video interviews & surveys of 5th graders at 4 elementary campuses (with parental permission)
  • Winter 2021/2022

    • Revisit goals & trainings with librarians
    • Continue after school training sessions for teachers
    • Introduce 3D printing contest for all elementary students
  • Spring 2022

    • Librarians share total of tally marks of visits for quantitative data
    • District Instructional Technologist conducts video interviews & surveys of 5th graders at 4 elementary campuses (with parental permission)
  • Summer 2022

    • Review and share data with librarians and district leadership
    • Create an action plan based on research findings. The action plan may include additional training for teachers and librarians if needed.

I believe that the best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.

Mitchel Resnick


Elrod, R. (2017). Tinkering with Teachers: The Case for 3D Printing in the Education Library. Education Libraries, 39(1). https://doi.org/10.26443/el.v39i1.11

Mertler, C. A. (2013). Action Research (6th ed.). SAGE Publications.

Mitchel Resnick. (n.d.). AZQuotes.com. Retrieved June 13, 2021, from AZQuotes.com Web site: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1217216

Crucial Conversations and Steps to Becoming a Self-Differentiated Leader with Purpose

What does it take be a successful leader and innovator? Leadership can be considered a craft built on skills that must be developed and honed over time. Communication is one of those many key skills. Throughout this class session, Leading Organizational Change, in my Digital Learning and Leading Master’s program at Lamar University, I have learned that effective leadership requires one to regulate their anxiety and emotions. With emotions in check, developing quality communication and having the bravery to keep the team on track become more attainable skills.

In A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Rabbi Edwin Friedman suggests that more than a set of skills, leadership is an emotional process of regulating one’s own anxiety. I have been fortunate in my career to have stellar role models as leaders. On many occasions, I have observed as they diplomatically held their ground, shared difficult news to large groups and supported groups through challenging situations and transitions. I found myself wondering how they managed these events, seemingly unflappable. They managed by keeping their anxieties regulated.

In the video Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership, Dr. Johnathan Camp further explains that some people in organizations are poorly differentiated and act like viruses, infecting the organization with their anxieties. With gossip and sabotage, they can create triangles and more anxiety for others, leading to stress and burnout.

A well-differentiated leader is less likely to become lost in the anxious emotional processes swirling about.

Edwin Friedman

The differentiated leader that is non-anxious is like an emotional immune system in an organization that is chronically anxious. This type of leader eventually brings calm to the organization, after some disruption to the way things have always been.

As I grow in my Digital Learning & Leading journey, it is becoming clear to me that while I possess the people skills of being approachable and having empathy, I have work to do in the areas of honest, clear communication and regulating my anxieties. If I aim to lead, change and innovate, I must have the bravery to risk that some people in the organization may be displeased. For the good of the group, and the innovation, that will sometimes be the case.

Having the ability as a self differentiated leader to regulate my emotions and anxieties will serve me well when the need to have crucial conversations arises.

Leaders frequently have the need to engage in some Crucial Conversations. Examples of crucial conversations in the workplace are:

  • introducing an innovation or change
  • setting a boundary with a colleague or subordinate
  • leading a group through a difficult transition or situation

In order to achieve my wildly important goal of facilitating the transformation of our school district libraries into bustling learning hubs, I will absolutely engage in some crucial conversations! Fortunately, I am equipped with the strategies outlined in Grenny & Patterson’s 2012 guidebook for successfully using conversation to drive positive organizational performance, Crucial Conversations. Some crucial conversations that I need to have to achieve the results I want are:

  • developing common goals with my equal colleague about how to drive the library transformation
  • developing common goals with the lead librarians about how to drive the library transformation
  • sharing the library transformation vision with our Chief Learning Officials and Assistant Superintendent – This will be particularly challenging when the time comes to discuss budgets
  • introducing our vision with all of the librarians

It is important to have a strategy to deal with conversations that may have high stakes, strong emotions and differing opinions in order to be prepared. When conversations become difficult and feel confrontational or unsafe, we can go into fight or flight mode. Our amygdala gets hijacked, making it difficult to process our ideas, and calmly share coherent thoughts, according to Daniel Goleman in Emotional Intelligence.

There are 8 elements of the Crucial Conversations Model that compose the BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER phases of crucial conversations. The slides below describe the elements and how they might arise in my work environment to support my wildly important goal.

In the past five weeks, I have had an opportunity to explore and build some solid steps to address the inevitable resistance to change that will occur when attempting to transform our district libraries into innovative bustling learning hubs, teeming with digital learning opportunities for students and staff.

It will require courage and persistence, as well as some give and take by all of the stakeholders. However, I am confident that with my plan outlined below, our staff and students will reap the benefits of the innovation of transforming our libraries.

As mentioned previously in this post, having the bravery to calmly take the steps to participate in the crucial conversations to propel the library transformation, will lead to ultimate success.

Ultimately, what will make the difference in being able to hold the crucial conversations, execute and measure the goals, and address the vital behaviors will be my ability to courageously step forward while regulating my anxieties. Becoming a confident differentiated leader is my key to success.


  • Camp, J. [Mathew David Bardwell]. (2010, November 10). Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership made simple [Video file]. Retrieved from
  • Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. S.l.: Simon & Schuster.
  • Friedman’s Theory of Differentiated Leadership Made Simple. (2010). YouTube. https://youtu.be/RgdcljNV-Ew.
  • Friedman, E. H., Treadwell, M. M., & Beal, E. W. (2017). A failure of nerve: leadership in the age of the quick fix. Church Publishing.
  • Goleman, D. (2020). Emotional intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Iq (10th ed.). Bantam Books.
  • Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.
  • Grenny, J., & Patterson, K. (2013). Influencer: The science of leading change. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution

Strategies for Implementing
Change and Innovation

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling specifically outlines several disciplines, rules, and strategies that can bring about significant, successful, and innovative change in an organization. The success stories in the book are mainly centered around businesses. However, the plans set forth in the book can be applied in an education setting as well, with both staff and students. 

In this post I will continue with the goals addressed in my previous post, Libraries as Learning Hubs – Harnessing Vital Behaviors & the 6 Sources of Influence. The goal of transforming all of our district libraries from the traditional model to learning hubs is directly related to the STREAM Camp in my Innovation Plan. STREAM Camp is a fun special event that models some goals for our libraries, and makes the library a fun learning destination.

The 4 Disciplines outlined in the book are:

1. Focus on the Wildly Important 

  • No more the 1 to 3 WIGs per person at the same time
  • Battles have to win the war.
  • You can veto, but don’t dictate
  • A WIG must have a finish line

2. Act on Lead Measures

3. Keep a Compelling Scoreboard 

4. Create a Cadence of Accountability – Short Wig Sessions

  • Account: Report on Commitments
  • Review the Scoreboard: Learn from Success and Failures
  • Plan: Clear the path and make new commitments

My plans for transforming libraries to learning hubs include:

WIG: Transform all of our district libraries from the traditional model to bustling learning hubs that are the heart of the school.

LEAD Measures: 

  • Example: At least 20% of library collection is comprised of digital materials
  • Example: Lessons or activities per week associated with STEM topics, goal is 3

LAG Measures: 

  • Number of activities shared – goal is 200 by the end of the school year
  • Total Budget spent on maker space supplies & digital tools throughout the school year, goal is $6 per student per year, aligned with Texas State Library Standards.

Compelling Scorecard:

The team can enter the percent of digital tools they have or the number of activities they have hosted or shared into an online form. The results can be shared in a bar graph format. 

In Section 2, the Stages of Change are outlined for installing the 4DX with a team.

Stage 1 Getting Clear

Stage 2 Launch

Stage 3 Adoption

Stage 4 Optimization

Stage 5 Building Habits

The 4DX method can be a companion set of strategies to the Influencer sources of influence and vital behaviors. While they both address setting and measuring goals, they each have their own beneficial qualities. 4DX has a very specific structure that must be supported by the leader, which eventually transforms to habitual excellence after monitoring progress and making shifts. The Influencer model takes into account all of the various elements that can support or hinder change, progress and innovation. I plan to use both models while supporting our libraries continue to develop innovative practices.

The 2nd Edition: Revised and Updated version of The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers additional content and includes utilizing technology for compelling executive scoreboards.

The 2nd Edition: Revised and Updated version of The 4 Disciplines of Execution offers additional content and includes utilizing technology for compelling executive scoreboards.


Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. S.l.: Simon & Schuster.

Grenny, J., & Patterson, K. (2013). Influencer: the power to change anything. McGraw-Hill Professional.

School library Programs: Standards and guidelines for Texas. (2019, August 13). Retrieved May 06, 2021, from https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ldn/schoollibrarystandards

Libraries as Learning Hubs – Harnessing Vital Behaviors & the 6 Sources of Influence

After reading Influencer, by Joseph Grenny et al, I am able to see how the ideas and strategies set forth in the book can apply to a wide array of needs for change.

I see the need to drive change in multiple ways continuing to crop up at work on a daily basis. It could be simply because change is on my mind, similar to when you are shopping for a new vehicle, all you see on the road is that exact model of vehicle. Five key areas in which I envision applying these vital behaviors and six sources of influence are:

  • Structuring and distributing our library budgets equitably
  • Planning professional learning around needs based on data
  • Incorporating a model of lead teachers in the area of instructional technology 
  • Implementing blended learning on a broader scale, at all grade levels
  • Transforming ALL of our district libraries from the traditional model to become bustling learning hubs

The last idea, transforming all libraries to become learning hubs, is directly related to the STREAM camp in my innovation plan. The types and broad focus of activities in STREAM exemplify our hope for all of our libraries. Beth Holland says in her 2015 Eduptopia article that, “Libraries become a different kind of learning destination when schools reimagine them as open, transparent spaces that invite student communication and collaboration.” Many of our librarians have already skillfully modernized their libraries in terms of materials, activities and climate. We want to maintain that momentum, highlight the positive and innovative changes as well as leverage our district resources to propel our libraries to become the learning destination that every student and staff member wants to visit.

In the Module 3 Video, Dr. Harapnuik quotes Joseph Grenny “One of the biggest mistakes people make is to not address all six sources of influence in their change strategy. “ Those six sources of change are divided into two main domains of motivation and ability and further divided into personal, social and structural sources. The image below outlines my thoughts about diagnosing the sources of influence for strengthening the abilities of our libraries to become learning hubs.

We will know we have achieved our goal when we have 200 examples of library activities documented that highlight quality engaging and innovative practices in our library learning hubs.

Look vigilantly for one or two actions that create a cascade of change.”

Joseph Grenny


Why – Libraries as Learning Hubs

A transformative shift is occurring in education that is causing the role of school libraries to change from quiet sanctuaries of silent reading and research to vibrant learning hubs, buzzing with collaboration and creative learning opportunities. There are multiple drivers for this needed shift, and technology is at the heart of it. As ubiquitous access to technology increases and as the way we access information changes, we need to view libraries differently. Information and materials are changing rapidly, so organizations that do not modify their school library goals will be viewed as antiquated and less relevant.

Organizations such as Future Ready Schools provide resources and professional learning centered around the ideas of keeping our school libraries current, modern and relevant. Mark Ray expresses some thoughts about the need to shift in his TEDx Talk, Changing the Conversation about Librarians below.

Additionally, ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education features standards and resources specifically designed to support future-ready libraries to succeed in a technology-reliant environment. This Tech & Learning article also highlights successful libraries that are making the shift to vibrant learning hubs. These learning hubs may include maker spaces, flexible seating, collaborative areas, and special events.

The ultimate responsibility for successfully implementing this urgently needed change rests on the shoulders of school leaders. Some school leaders will be more likely to support and drive shifts from what they experienced from school libraries if they are emotionally moved to do so.

It is this shift from a traditional library to learning hub that prompted the need for our district to transform the summer library program to the STREAM camp in my innovation plan.

During the design of my innovation plan of STREAM Camp, I created this video to outline our need for transforming and innovating our STREAM Camp to double enrollment to include virtual learners, specify lessons for middle school students, and include the use of 3-D printing. It is my hope that the use of video and images from previous successful STREAM camps may have influenced our leaders to continue with the program and add the innovations I planned. The images showed students engaged in various learning activities fervently enjoying themselves in the library as learning hubs.

As we are currently right in the middle of planning STREAM camp, with a healthy budget and a fully engaged and talented staff, I believe that my emotional appeals for change have been heard.

However, the drive for change and innovation is not over. As the pressures of the current times of the pandemic include huge uncertainty around school funding, I feel the need to frequently bring the topic of transforming our libraries to the attention of our administrators. Below is listed the WHY, HOW and WHAT of my plan for creating change in my district.

Why – We believe that libraries are learning hubs where students build skills beyond literacy.

HOW – To make the library the heart of the school, we host a variety of activities and events.

WHAT – We prepare students who explore and think critically while developing varied interests.

The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been

Duane Harapnuik

In this blog post, Dr. Harapnuik emphasized that appealing to the hearts of those you hope to influence is the key to implementing true change. Overwhelming your audience with facts and data before telling the stories behind the need for change can counteract the effect your are hoping to achieve. Taking the approach of showing WHY there is a need for change will be more effective.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek points out in his Start With Why video, that if you share what you believe and WHY you believe it, you will attract those that have similar beliefs. Those that are more reluctant to subscribe to the new beliefs may follow after being emotionally moved or after observing the success of others that acquiesce to the change.

Win over the hearts and minds, and the better it will work out.

John Kotter

John Kotter asserts that before attempting to create a big change, it is important to win over the hearts and minds of the team. In his YouTube video Leading Change: Establish a Need for Urgency, he also details the need for developing a sense of urgency when trying to develop a change in an organization. This blog post on Viral Solutions provides further guidance on strategies to create urgency.

As we progress in the course, I am looking forward to developing my skillset in leading positive, meaningful, and effective change. The need to innovate is an ongoing process that requires the commitment and effort of leaders and their teams.

The focus of future ready libraries.


Change management – Step 1: Creating a sense of urgency. (2018, January 20). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://viralsolutions.net/change-management-step-1-creating-a-sense-of-urgency/#.YHx4balKj0o

Changing the Conversation About Librarians | Mark Ray | TEDxElCajonSalon [Video file]. (2016, June 7). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://youtu.be/IniFUB7worY

Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. S.l.: Simon & Schuster.

Harapnuik, D. (2015, January 9). The Head Won’t Go Where the Heart Hasn’t Been. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=5461

John Kotter – the heart of change [Video file]. (2011, March 23). Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://youtu.be/1NKti9MyAAw

Leading change: Establish a sense of urgency [Video file]. (2013, August 15). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://youtu.be/2Yfrj2Y9IlI

Leading from the library. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://futureready.org/thenetwork/strands/future-ready-librarians/

SJBAccounting (Director). (2013, September 29). Start with why – Simon Sinek TED talk [Video file]. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sioZd3AxmnE

Teich, A. (2019, August 30). Repurposing school libraries as VIBRANT hubs and centers of change. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.techlearning.com/resources/repurposing-school-libraries-as-vibrant-hubs-and-centers-of-change

Creating Significant Learning Environments – A Reflection

Creating Significant Learning Environments, EDLD 5313, has been an intensive learning experience that shed some light on many questions I had throughout the previous courses. This helped clarify for more a bit more of HOW to create a significant learning environment. Each week we had a Zoom meeting, a discussion post and an assignment due. I have enjoyed the rigor and the opportunities to learn! Looking back, I certainly feel a sense of accomplishment in all that I have learned.

One strategy that I developed in EDLD 5303 that really helped me in this course, was to use the content of discussion posts as a precursor, and potentially a beginning rough draft, to the assignment of the week. Hopefully, I will be able to continue that practice. It strengthens the learning, builds connections, and guides my future writing assignments and blog posts.

Of course we always tie our learning in the Digital Learning and Leading program to the significant learning environment we are trying to create through our innovation plan. As I am implementing my innovation plan currently at work, this new learning in each course is helping me to build a successful STREAM camp for our students every step of the way.

I absolutely loved reading the New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. It clarified some ideas and possibilities for creating significant learning environments. Previously I was feeling a sense of overwhelm regarding significant learning environments. I had the perception that the entire education system needed to be overhauled before teachers had the ability to create such environments. The New Culture of Learning bolstered thoughts of possibility and decreased overwhelm. The authors propose that teachers return to the more naturalistic perspective of learning. Children are born curious, soaking up information like sponges! I outlined some of these ideas in my post Cultivating to Connect. I also created a Sway presentation with the same content. I love the idea of teachers cultivating connections and creating an environment like a farm, so I made a funny little video called Farm as Classroom depicting the teacher as farmer.

We had opportunities to learn so much about the different learning philosophies this session! Of course in college, earning a bachelor’s degree in edcuation, I learned about Dewey, Vygotsky and Bloom’s taxonomy. However, I had no idea there were so many various philosophies. Some have even been developed since I was in college, and were new to me! I was especially interested to learn more about George Siemen’s ideas about Connectivism. In my post Learning Philosophies in Action, I explore the learning philosophies of Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism. The STREAM camp in my innovation plan is largely built on the constructivist approach, because students will be given opportunities to explore and make their own connections.

The opportunity to consider Significant Learning Outcomes and the context and the learning situations for the STREAM camp in my innovation plan was a wonderful exercise! I used L. Dee Fink’s 3 Column Table to outline the various goals of the camp, including the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of engaging 400 students in a STREAM camp both virtually and face-to-face providing equal opportunities for exploration, learning, and support that includes choice.

After reading portions of Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe, I took the planning one step further. I took a closer look at the desired results of the camp and how the learning experiences and instruction would support those. As discussed in my Begin with the End in Mind post, I used the UbD plan and the Whereto to further outline how STREAM camp would be a significant learning environment for the participants.

Finally, I revisited my Growth Mindset plan previously developed in EDLD 5302. It was great opportunity to reflect on ways that my thinking has changed. Generally, I still believe the same things. However, now I am armed with more knowledge about learning theories and structure for meaningful planning that will help me create significant learning environments. I believe that having a growth mindset will serve students well if they are engaged in challenging and authentic work.

Beyond the required content and curriculum of the Digital Learning and Leading program, what I am learning most is about myself. The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to explore and experience. Above all, I am understanding more about my learning strategies and what works for me.

Some examples:


I have learned that I am more likely to retain material that I read if I am able to engage with it in multiple platforms. For example, if I just read the physical book, or a PDF on screen, I am not likely to retain it. However, if I can listen to the audiobook and refer to the Kindle or Scribd e-book and highlight notes, then I am more likely to retain the material. Even better, if I can find a video or podcast featuring the author expounding on their ideas from the text, that strengthens my learning.

Collaboration & Communication

I have come to rely on some of my classmates for instructional and emotional support throughout these sessions. We are able to share resources, and encourage each other through our learning process. I am learning a lot from my friends! I hope that they feel I offer as much as I am gaining from them. I have enjoyed strengthening my collective, mentioned in my blog post Cultivating to Connect. I look forward to continuing to work with my group throughout the remainder of the program.


As I discussed in my Learning Philosophies in Action post, choosing to be driven in my learning has not always been my strength. For this program, I have had developed some time-management strategies to keep myself on track. Otherwise, I can quickly get into a rabbit hole of seeking resources or stuck in the details of design, for example the placement of images on a page or the design of slides.

Additionally what I notice are the connections that I am making. If I am able to make a connection to the content I am reading about directly to my work or personal life experiences, it holds much more meaning for me. That indicates a direct correlation that for learning to have true meaning to students, they need authentic learning experiences. Students must be able to make a connection to their own lives and their learning experiences for the new learning to stick. I appreciate that in this program we are working on projects that are authentic and have the possibility of creating the ripple effect of helping other teachers create their own significant learning environments to deepen learning for students.


  • Fink, L. D. (2003). Self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Jossey-Bass.
  • Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences, revised and updated: an integrated approach to designing college courses (Kindle). Jossey-Bass.
  • Harapnuik, D. (2016, June 13). Why you need a BHAG to design learning environments. harapnuik.org. http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6414.
  • Harapnuik, Dwayne . (2015). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ-c7rz7eT4.
  • Harapnuik, Dwayne. (2015). Edld 5313 Module 1EDLD 5313 Module 1 – Making Meaningful Connectionshttps://youtu.be/DTl_WLSe9Ok.
  • Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux , T., & Cummings, C. (2018). Cova: Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning (Vol. .9). Creative Commons.
  • McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. P. (2013). Chapter 1. What Makes a Question Essential? In Essential questions: opening doors to student understanding (pp. 1–20). essay, ASCD.
  • McTighe, J. &Wiggins, G. P. (2005). Understanding by design. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  • Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Siemens, G. (2017, January 1). Connectivism. Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology. https://lidtfoundations.pressbooks.com/chapter/connectivism-a-learning-theory-for-the-digital-age/.

Growth Mindset for All Plan Revisited

In her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, Carol Dweck explains that the growth mindset is the belief that everyone can learn, change and grow if they make efforts, seek help and develop strategies (Dweck, 2017). Mindset compares both fixed and growth mindsets on a journey through the triumphant successes and emotional failures of students, athletes, business leaders and families. Mindset can determine how we will respond to challenges, obstacles and criticism in every area or our lives. (Holmes, 2017)

Why Revisit Growth Mindset?

As we are nearing the end of our fourth class of twelve in the Digital Learning and Leading Master’s program at Lamar University, I appreciate this opportunity to take a fresh look at the Growth Mindset. It has been four months since our initial Growth Mindset readings and project. In our journey, we designed a Growth Mindset plan, in which we outlined the steps we would take to instill it in students. My previous project was an interactive slideshow that contained a wide variety of resources including videos, books, articles and activities that could be used by students at various levels, teachers, parents and school leaders to promote a growth mindset. I believe that work was solid, and I have added just a few additional resources to include some of my new perspectives.

Since November, we have explored so many new ideas, learning philosophies, and structures for planning effective teaching in a significant learning environment. As learners, we may or may not have a conscious awareness that new knowledge or concepts affect our approach to tasks or obstacles. This post will examine Growth Mindset from another perspective, armed with my new learning and consider how to transfer that to students in a significant learning environment. Considering what we have learned, revisiting how we can implement growth mindset makes sense. As I support teachers in my role, I will also consider methods for helping them build a growth mindset.

Feed Forward

One of the activities we did in EDLD 5302 was to look at our Professional Learning Networks and consider how they can support our teaching and learning. I see the connection between those learning networks and the “collectives” we learned about in reading Thomas and Seeley’s The New Culture of Learning. If we are creating significant learning environments where the teacher role shifts to facilitator, students will need to become adept at learning within a collective. A growth mindset will be particularly helpful when this occurs. For example, as students are seeking information or feedback (feed forward) about the design of a project or iteration of a design that may be failing, they will need to be open to learning from criticism or suggestions from their collective, whether that is classmates, or someone in a group or forum online. 

How can a teacher help instill that willingness to accept criticism? I believe that if the learning environment feels safe, and students are encouraged to respectfully provide suggestions and ideas, and if the teacher models accepting feedback, students will grow. That safe feeling has to be built up over time.

Also, I discovered a book called the Feedback Fix in which Joe Hirsch describes of method of providing feed forward that regenerates talent, is authentic and has an impact. If teachers consider using some of the strategies in this book, and model delivering and receiving effective feedback, that will bolster the significant learning environment.

To further support receiving feedback, I have included a video for students ages 9 – 12 that reminds them to “Listen for Feedback” in my slideshow (Slide 20) full of growth mindset resources.


Another element of the growth mindset that will support students in a significant learning environment is the ability to persist in the face of setbacks. In my previous example I mentioned that a student may struggle with some part of their authentic learning project or an iteration of a design. Students must be willing to persist. They will only grow that muscle if they are presented with opportunities to use it. Similar to giving and and receiving effective feed forward, I think the best way for that to be effective is for the teachers to model persistence and provide time and opportunities for students to persist.

Mindsets affect the way students view themselves, their abilities and drive to overcome failure or difficulty. Having a fixed mindset can limit students in their willingness to stretch beyond their comfort level to learn and achieve. Conversely, having a growth mindset can lead students to bravely try new skills (Lenz, 2015).

After reading COVA, Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning, I am convinced that if students have choice and voice in the learning activities or projects they are designing, they are more likely to persist in the face of setbacks. “Constructivists, like Jonassen (1999), argue that ownership of the problem is key to learning because it increases learner engagement and motivation to seek out solutions.” (Harapnuik, 2018)

Last weekend I had the privilege of watching about 50 students demonstrate their growth mindset at our district elementary Science Olympiad. I spent the bulk of my day judging an engineering competition called Mystery Architecture. Students were provided with materials and were asked to create the tallest tower that could support a tennis ball. They were given 20 minutes to achieve this. Students worked in pairs to construct the towers out of plastic cups, styrofoam plates straws, and a lot of masking tape.

I was astounded by the collaboration and maturity that these nine-year-olds demonstrated. Each team worked really well together, providing suggestions and feedback to each other. Countless times, the tall towers would topple over when topped with a tennis ball. The teams persisted and fervently embraced the challenge. The effort that the kids put into constructing these towers was remarkable. It is those types of challenges and authentic learning experiences that will serve our students well, as they are gained more skills from that than just simple knowledge of the fact that gravity exists.

Part of what drove these students to persist in their building was that this was an activity that had chosen to be involved with. They had a voice in choosing to compete in the Science Olympiad in this specific event. So the drive to achieve directly affected the mindset of the students.

Power of Yet

If students are aware of their mindset, and about how they are thinking and feeling when they come to a topic or task that is challenging, they can stop and make a choice. When students have been exposed to the power of yet, the notion that it is acceptable not to get something right the first time, they can approach that task with positivity and grit (Lisa, 2020). This is a practice that must be developed over time. While I do believe that the topics of Growth Mindset should be formally introduced as in the plan listed below, what will have greater impact is frequent, informal, “teachable moment” reinforcement and modeling.

For example, last week at work, our team was in a planning meeting and one of my colleagues, who I admire as a very experienced teacher and leader, said “I just don’t know how to do that,” referring to using a video program. Without missing a beat, my boss said, “YET, you don’t know how to do it yet!”

I thought to myself. “Hmmm! Now that is how it’s done!” Without calling it growth mindset, my boss effectively and briefly encouraged my colleague. I was very inspired by that, and connected it to my learning in this program. It reminded me that learners of all ages need reinforcement in the ideas of grit, determination and growth mindset.

Achievement or Learning? What is the goal?

For the ideas behind growth mindset to be effective, teachers need to use them thoughtfully. In her blog post, Jackie Gerstein asserts that growth mindset should not be just used as a tool to push students. Whether it should be a method to help them consider their level of effort throughout a learning process. The graphic that she develops that outlines a thought process for students is helpful. If teachers are emphasizing level of effort over grades, perhaps this can help reduce student preoccupation with grades.

As a mom, I observed my daughter have a preoccupation with grades. I always encouraged her to do her best, but never pressured her to make the best grades. I’m not sure where that drive came from. Was it from a need to be the best? Was it from some message she gleaned from her teachers? When I was studying growth mindset a few months ago, I asked if teachers had ever spoken to her of growth mindset. She knew all about growth mindset and said that it helped her develop grit and determination. I am hopeful that her teachers used it in ways to encourage true learning while engaged in meaningful authentic work, rather than simply focusing on achieving success.

If teachers create a significant learning environment with authentic learning opportunities that students are naturally invested in because they have choice, ownership and voice in the activities, then the willingness and interest to persist in learning will override the need to earn a good grade.

This video from an Innerdrive blog post gives a nice explanation of the Growth Mindset, along with several tips for supporting growth mindset in students. I added this resource for teachers to my slideshow as well. (Slide 43)

The growth mindset plan below includes some of the resources from the slideshow, which addresses approaches for supporting students, parents, teachers and leaders in the development of a growth mindset.

At every level of the plan Carol Dweck’s four step process to changing from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset should be included. This process involves being aware of your thoughts, taking a pause from the emotion of the difficulty and making a conscious decision to change the thought pattern. The final, most important step is to take the growth mindset action.

  • Step 1 Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice”
  • Step 2 Recognize that you have a choice
  • Step 3 Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice
  • Step 4 Take the growth mindset action

Plan Outline

  1. Adults in all roles should understand the impact of having and sharing a growth mindset. (Ackerman, 2020) This can be established by providing training and support. Mindsetkit is an excellent free resource for self-paced training for all roles.
  2. Students should be introduced to these concepts with formal lessons. Formal lessons can come from resources such as: 
  1. Students should be reminded frequently, whenever the opportunity arises, to consider their mindset. This can take the form of:

Personal Impact and Approach

Learning about growth mindset has significantly impacted my approach to the Digital Learning and Leading program. I now have a broader view of my capabilities and strengths and how they can be utilized not just for success, but for the sake of learning. I do not always have a growth mindset, but do have the skill of reframing my thinking to take a new approach. My aim is to share that skill and others with the people I encounter for positive learning, whether they are classmates, colleagues, students or others. I must say that the work we did in EDLD 5302 has stuck with me, and I have caught myself demonstrating some of the traits of having a growth mindset in many (but not all) areas of my life as a result.

Some examples are:

  • Embrace Challenges: This Digital Learning and Leading program has certainly been challenging, and I have persevered despite the challenges. 
  • Persist in the face of setbacks: The winter storm and a couple of minor illnesses over the past couple of months felt like setbacks in terms of time. Work time was lost, but I persisted at my work and with school.
  • Learn from Criticism: This year, with staff changes in our department, I have had several opportunities to listen to the suggestions and feedback of colleagues that are new to me. I have been able to respectfully stand my ground in many instances while also learning from the suggestions. This requires taking the emotion out of the situation enough to be able to listen to the suggestion.
  • Find inspiration in the success of others: I have two new young colleagues this year, and watching them grow has been inspiring. They don’t recognize their own strengths yet, but they do have phenomenal leadership ability that I can learn from! Also, I have enjoyed the collegiality of collaborating with my classmates this session. We rely on each other as information resources, but we also motivate each other to continue persevering.

This resource found on the Cult of Pedagogy outlines Joe Hirsch’s ideas about providing feed forward for teachers. I also included this in my slideshow for parents, teachers and leaders on slides 36, 44, and 50.
Growth Mindset YouTube Playlist
Scribd Book List


Ackerman, C. E. (2020, October 12). Growth Mindset vs. Fixed + Key Takeaways From Dweck’s Book. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/growth-mindset-vs-fixed-mindset/.

Brock, A., & Hundley, H. (2020). The growth mindset classroom-ready resource book: a teacher’s toolkit for encouraging grit and resilience in all students. Ulysses Press.

Brown Brené. (2019). Dare to lead: brave work, tough conversations, whole hearts. Random House Large Print Publishing.

Carlson, M. (2017, December). The Magic Word That Every Parent Needs to Embrace [web log]. https://afineparent.com/positive-parenting-faq/the-power-of-yet.html.

Choose Booster. (2020, May 07). “Listen for feedback” – Rock’n Town live – music videos for kids [Video file]. Retrieved April 03, 2021, from https://youtu.be/fqZI7ZoQlH8

ClassDojo, M. (2020). Class Dojo Big Ideas – Videos and activities to help students learn the power of positive thinking. Classdojo Big Ideas. https://ideas.classdojo.com/.

ClickView. (2019). Developing a Growth Mindset. https://youtu.be/rUJkbWNnNy4.

Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: the new psychology of success. Random House.

Dweck, C. (2017). Decades of Scientific Research that Started a Growth Mindset Revolution. The Growth Mindset – What is Growth Mindset – Mindset Works. https://www.mindsetworks.com/Science/Default.

Dweck, C. (2020, April 2). Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/23/carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset.html.

Eidens, A. (2020). All. Big Life Journal. https://biglifejournal.com/collections/all.

Ferlazzo, L. (2020, July 6). Search Results for: mindset. Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… https://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/?s=mindset.

Garcia, E. (2017, April 20). Power of Growth Mindset Plan. Learning With Garcia. http://learningwithgarcia.weebly.com/blog/power-of-growth-mindset-plan.

Gerstein, J. (2015, September 4). Is “Have a Growth Mindset” the New “Just Say No”. User Generated Education. https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/is-have-a-growth-mindset-the-new-just-say-no/.

Goldstein, M. (2020, April 9). The Mindset Scholars Network. Mindset Scholars Network. https://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/.

Gonzalez, J. (2018, September 20). Moving from feedback TO FEEDFORWARD. Retrieved April 03, 2021, from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/feedforward/

Harapnuik, D., Thibodeaux , T., & Cummings, C. (2018). Cova: Choice, Ownership and Voice through Authentic Learning (Vol. .9). Creative Commons.

Hirsch, J. (2017). The Feedback Fix. Rowman & Littlefield.

Holmes, N. (2017). The Impact of a Growth Mindset. Science Impact. https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/Impact.

InnerDrive. (2020, June 23). Growth Mindset: The Latest Fad? Release Your Inner Drive. https://blog.innerdrive.co.uk/growth-mindset-the-latest-fad.

Jeffrey, S. (2020, June 23). Change Your Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset [Complete Guide]. Scott Jeffrey. https://scottjeffrey.com/change-your-fixed-mindset/.

Kardamis, L. (2020). Teach 4 the Heart. https://teach4theheart.com/.

Khan Academy. (2018). LearnStorm: Growth Mindset: How to Write a Smart Goal. YouTube. https://youtu.be/U4IU-y9-J8Q.

Lenz, B. (2015, April 8). Failure Is Essential to Learning. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/failure-essential-learning-bob-lenz.

Lisa. (2020, May 17). ‘The Power of Yet’. Grow Kids Minds. https://growkidsminds.com/gkm011-the-power-of-yet/.

Lubow, J. (2016, January 6). 5 Ways Instructional Leaders Can Foster Growth Mindset in Teachers. https://blog.teachboost.com/5-ways-instructional-leaders-can-support-growth-mindset-in-teachers.

Nielsen, L. B. (2020). Group of People Playing Soccer. Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/zXn5qinCDKg?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink.

Success is like an Iceberg [Digital image]. (2016, July 2). Retrieved April 02, 2021, from https://www.instagram.com/p/BHW6DROgv4K/

Begin with the End in Mind

The book Understanding by Design outlines a thoughtful method of designing “curriculum, assessment, and instruction – focused on developing and deepening understanding of important ideas.” (McTighe, 2005) The method introduced by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe requires the educator to deeply examine the purposes and intents of a course or unit of study. It takes into account what students should know, understand or be able to do as a result of learning. Teachers must ask themselves at the beginning of planning, “What are the desired results for my students at the end of this course?”

Understanding by Design provides templates and guidance for helping teachers design significant learning through 3 stages. First they must consider what students need to understand, beyond knowledge and skills, as well as developing essential questions to guide the instruction. The second stage of the Understanding by Design method of planning is to determine acceptable evidence of the learning through performance tasks and other forms of assessment. In a significant learning environment, performance assessments should be authentic, and may vary from student to student based on interests and abilities. The third stage outlines the specific learning activities and acts as a guide, or a WHERETO, that shines a light on the path to effective lesson, unit or course design. Effective instructional design requires that the outcomes and goals are meaningfully aligned with the activities and assessments.

In an effort to create a significant learning environment for the students attending summer STREAM camp at our school libraries, I have used the Understanding by Design method. The STREAM Camp planned for students in grades 1-8 in my innovation plan, will be a different experience for every learner involved. The main goal of the camp is for students to have an enjoyable learning experience as they explore and participate in activities of their choice centered around STEM topics. As I am more of an organizer and not an instructor of the camp, this proposed design is merely a draft. There is not a formal curriculum or standards that students are expected to master during the camp. After students’ interests are surveyed and librarians have had an opportunity to organize specific activities, this plan will be modified. Also, the three day camp is a much more informal learning environment than a typical classroom or course. The goals are more focused on exploration and gaining interests than mastering specific standards. The design template below will incorporate a few, but not all of learning activity opportunities for our STEAM Camp, which students will attend for a total of nine hours.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

—Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989, p. 98

Previously I used Fink’s 3 Column Table to plan Significant Learning Environment Outcomes for STREAM Camp. Both of the planning methods gave me much to consider. The benefit of the 3 Column Table from Fink’s Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning is that it takes into account the bigger picture of the group of students, including the human dimension and how learners learn. It assumes that each kind of learning can stimulate other kinds of learning. Design for Understanding felt more effective at guiding the educator to specifically pinpoint what students need to understand in order to achieve and how they can get there. Going through each planning process has given me the tools I need to help the librarians create a significant learning environment during the three days of STREAM camp. Students will reap the benefit of our thorough planning.

Begin with the End in Mind Planning Document in Google Docs

Begin with the End in Mind Planning PDF for download

This book is very useful tool for educators that are designing a unit of study using the Understanding by Design method.
Read Chapter 1 of Essential Questions on the ASCD website.


We can have high standards without standardization.

Grant Wiggins



Significant Learning Outcomes

The STREAM Camp outlined in my Innovation Plan is sure to be a large undertaking this year as we are adding a few innovative layers to our previously successful camps:

  • hosting twice as many students as before
  • including virtual learners
  • including 3D printing activities
  • hosting a specialized location and activities for middle school students

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the camp is to engage 400 students in a STREAM camp both virtually and face-to-face providing equal opportunities for exploration, learning, and support that includes choice. In order to create a significant learning environment at STREAM camp for four hundred students, several factors need to be taken into consideration. L.Dee Fink’s Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning is a useful tool for considering the goals, needs and outcomes of a significant learning environment. The guide provides a roadmap which includes three course design phases which pulls all of the components of a successful course together.

The initial design phase, Build Strong Primary Components, requires the instructor to identify important situational factors and learning goals. Then the instructor should formulate assessment and feedback methods and select effective learning activities. Finally the instructor, or course designer, should ensure that the primary components are integrated. The integration of the learning goals is critical, as Fink proposes that each element of learning is reliant upon the other and that assessment, feedback and activities must align with the goals or final outcomes of the course.

Below is the initial design phase of the STREAM camp to include situational factors, learning goals and a three column table which addresses goals, activities and assessments. As I am more of an organizer and not an instructor of the camp, the activities proposed are merely suggestions. After students’ interests are surveyed and librarians have had an opportunity to organize specific tasks, those will be added to this table. Also, the three day camp is a much more informal learning environment than a typical classroom or course. The goals are more focused on exploration and gaining interests than mastering specific standards.

Significant Learning Outcomes Google Document



Fink’s taxonomy consists of six major types of significant learning, with a number of sub-categories.



Fink proposes that each kind of learning can stimulate other kinds of learning.

  • References
  • BHAG. Jim Collins – Concepts – BHAG. (2021). https://www.jimcollins.com/concepts/bhag.html.
  • Einstein, A. (0AD). “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” Quotenova.net. https://images.app.goo.gl/U7MP4ovXKrSvp1sm8.
  • Fink, L. D. (2003). Self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Jossey-Bass.
  • Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences, revised and updated: an integrated approach to designing college courses (Kindle). Jossey-Bass.
  • Harapnuik, D. (2016, June 13). Why you need a BHAG to design learning environments. harapnuik.org. http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6414.

Learning Philosophies in Action

It is my belief that learning is very personal and can be a messy amalgamation of inputs and experiences. Each learner absorbs knowledge in a different way based on their experiences, natural abilities and opportunities. Learning styles and motivation for learning can change over time as learners grow from childhood to adulthood.  I also believe that the level of learning can depend on the end goal. Is the end goal to pass a test or make a grade or to advance to the next level of learning? Is the goal to learn something that you need to function well in life and society? Is the goal to learn something more about a topic that you are passionately interested in? Learning has deeper meaning when it affects functioning in society. Driving, for example, is a skill that takes practice and experience to master. When learners are exploring passions, they are more likely to be engaged and excel.

My learning philosophy is a combination of several theories: behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism because various methods of learning are effective depending on the situation. (Bates, 2020). While developing my philosophy, I took a journey into my past experiences through the phases of my educational and professional career. While I was not always a successful or very motivated student, I was afforded many opportunities to learn by my parents, teachers and leaders. If I were to graph my learning journey, it would take the shape of an inverted bell curve, starting out strong in elementary school, with severe dips during the eras of middle, high school and undergrad work. Then in adulthood as a parent, teacher, digital learning professional and graduate student, the learning took on a higher level and had deeper connections.

The level of learning can sometimes be dependent upon the relationship between the teacher and the student. For students to excel, they must have a sense that the teacher cares about them, their learning, and their success (Neufeld, G., & Maté, G., 2019). I also believe that the teaching style has an influence over whether students will excel. Teachers that take a cognitive approach to methodically build upon previous knowledge, chunk information for easier understanding, and include collaborative activities, make learning easier for students.

The difference between a learning philosophy and a teaching philosophy is the point of view. My learning philosophy comes directly from my experiences as a learner. When we have experienced situations as learners, such as an effective teaching style, or negative classroom environment, that can have an effect on how we teach. For example, to build a routine for students, I would like to emulate the organized teaching style of my eighth grade English teacher. I also want to remember to provide individualized assistance to my struggling students, unlike an aloof algebra teacher I had. A teaching philosophy may also be molded by the expectations of the school system at the campus, district or state level.


As a learner in elementary school, I was greatly influenced by behaviorist teaching practices that include positive reinforcement. Behaviorists like Ivan Pavlov believed that positive reinforcement will cause a behavior to occur again (learning-theories.com, 2021).  I vividly remember in fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Milam, had a ceramic chicken treat bowl on her desk. At the end of the week, if students had followed expectations, such as good behavior and completing work, we would get to pick a treat from the bowl. Theorists and researchers such as BF Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, and E.L. Thorndike were proponents of behaviorism and believed that a change in behavior by a student demonstrated learning.  The strengthening of behavior which results from reinforcement is appropriately called “conditioning”. In operant conditioning we “strengthen” an operant in the sense of making a response more probable or, in actual fact, more frequent.” (Skinner, 1953).


Cognitivism is centered around thinking and what occurs in the learner’s mind during the learning process. Benjamin Bloom developed a taxonomy of levels of thought processing and learning (Flippen, 2012). Connecting new learning to previous knowledge activates learning and strengthens the likelihood that the new information will be remembered (Willingham, 2008). Another element of cognitivism includes metacognition, or thinking about thinking, that encourages students to use self-questioning strategies, graphic organizers and mnemonic devices to learn material (Spencer, J., 2020). 

As an adult learner, I absolutely have a cognitivist approach to learning, as I frequently have the need to organize my ideas into lists, organize my notes into outlines and chunk like ideas together. I can identify with Richard Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning which is based on the premise that more learning is achieved when the learner is presented with images and words rather than just words (Mayer, 2020). I have been struck by my need for multimedia input throughout my graduate courses this year. For the required readings, I crave audiobooks so that I am able to learn while running. If the book is available in the Kindle version, then I can also read the words while listening. To take this a step further, I am likely to search for podcasts and videos about the topic or with the author to elaborate on the ideas in the reading. Additionally, I prefer finding resources that break the ideas down further with diagrams and images in blog posts or articles. Mayer suggests that educators and designers of instructional media take a learner-centered approach to design rather than a technology centered approach, focusing on “how to adapt multimedia to aid human cognition,” (Mayer, 2020).


As a learner, I am constantly reaching back on past experiences with which to connect new knowledge. I believe that my early elementary years in school were successful and that reading came easy simply because of the experiences my parents provided to me through daily reading, frequent conversation and other experiences through travel. Constructivism is built upon the work of Jean Piaget who proposed that humans create knowledge through the “interaction between their experiences and ideas,” and children go through stages of development in which they construct ideas differently than adults do. Also, Jerome Bruner believed that learners construct new knowledge by constructing ideas based on previous knowledge and experiences, and that instruction should be spiraled to building upon that previous knowledge (Culatta, Kearsley, 2018) Further, he suggested the social aspect of learning to include that interaction with teachers and peers throughout the learning process strengthened learning. (McCleod, 2005) Lev Vygotsky’s work also emphasized the importance of the social element of learning and suggested that students have a “Zone of Proximal Development,” in which they are able to master new concepts with the with help and guidance of an instructor or peers (Brau, 2020). Another constructivist theorist and thought leader, John Dewey, believed that knowledge is based on real-life experiences, and that “The teacher’s role is to organize this content and to facilitate the actual experiences” (Grady, 2003). The practice of taking students on field trips supports the constructivist approach, as it is a way to provide rich learning experiences to students that would not have access to do in their daily lives. As a middle school student living in Germany, I had the opportunity to participate in many field trips that deepened my learning of history. One such trip was to tour Dachau, the former site of a Nazi concentration camp. This trip took learning beyond historical facts. It gave us a glimpse into how fortunate we were in comparison to Jewish children in Nazi Germany forty years previously. Another was a tour of castles such as Neuschwanstein after which the Disney castle was modeled. To students, field trips are simply a chance to have fun, but they can provide valuable context on which they are able to scaffold new information in the future. 


Connectivism is a more recent learning theory proposed by George Siemens which is based on the principle that because of rapidly changing technology, and information being stored in many areas outside of ourselves, such as in databases, that new information is constantly being acquired. “The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital.” (Siemens, 2017). As a learner in my graduate course and in my job, I feel the truth of this theory daily, as there is so much information available. Much of the information is truthful and based in research, while much of it is conjecture or opinion. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of purely false information, designed specifically to sway readers to one political view or another, or to purchase a product. When learning and constructing knowledge, students must sift through a plethora of resources and determine which information is reliable and connected to the learning at hand. So rather than learning a specific set of facts, effective learning can take place when students are skilled in maintaining connections with various sources of information and other learners, sorting valuable content and seeing connections between concepts (Siemens, 2017).

“The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital.”

George Siemens

As I reflect on my learning and research about the various learning theorists and how they relate to the STREAM Camp in my innovation plan, I can definitively predict that students will experience the constructivist approach. Because the STREAM camp takes place informally in the library, not in the classroom students will have opportunities to explore their interests. They will have time to work with materials and methods outlined in the higher levels of Blooms traditional taxonomy and Digital Taxonomy. For example, they will have opportunities to experiment with ideas behind force and motion with balloon races. Students will be able to film themselves using green screen technology. Additionally, in the use of multiple methods of coding they will be able to implement the ideas set forth by learning theorist Seymour Papert, who proposed “children understand concepts when they’re able to operationalize them through writing computer programs.” (Culatta, Kearsey, 2020).

Annotated References

Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in a digital age: guidelines for designing teaching and learning (2nd ed.). BCCampus.

This free ebook by Tony Bates Discusses fundamental changes in education and their implications. He provides information on various modes of delivery of information and strategies for ensuring quality of teaching. He elaborates on various learning theories, comparing them and describing  how they apply to the learner of today, in the digital age.

Behaviorism. Learning Theories. (2020, March 5). https://www.learning-theories.com/behaviorism.html.

The learning theory website provides clear, concise information about various learning theories including names of thought leaders associated with those theories and resources to refer to for additional information.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Verbs. Wasabi Learning. https://wabisabilearning.com/blogs/literacy-numeracy/download-blooms-digital-taxonomy-verbs-poster.

This blog post on the Wasabi learning website includes colorful lists of verbs for an updated Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. It begins at the remembering level up through the higher order thinking skill of creating. This tool can be a handy helper for teachers as they plan lessons utilizing digital tools and resources. 

Brau, B., Kimmons, R., & Caskurlu, S. Constructivism. The Students’ Guide to Learning Design and Research. https://edtechbooks.org/studentguide/constructivism.

This guide to learning design provides readers with a clear and concise analysis of constructivism. The constructivist portions of the site include the ideas of Piaget, Dewey, and Vygotsky. The guide also includes valuable references and citation suggestion. 

Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it Stick: the science of successful learning. Belknap Harvard.

Two cognitive scientists, Roediger and McDaniel, team up with Peter Brown, a storyteller, to explain how learning and memory work, interleaving various topics. They suggest that memory is important for learning, that learning is an acquired skill that should continue throughout an entire lifetime.

Common Sense Education. (2016). What is Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy? YouTube. https://youtu.be/fqgTBwElPzU.

Common Sense education designed this helpful five minute video for teachers to help them understand the meaning and purpose of Bloom’s digital taxonomy, which focuses on the hierarchical levels of thinking in the cognitive domains of learning. As technology and learning have evolved over the past Century, teachers need updated verbs with which to design their lessons to effectively utilize digital resources.

Commonwealth of Learning. (2020). 5. Theories of Learning. YouTube. https://youtu.be/yxWM6kEwrdM.

This video is number five in a series of twelve which complements Tony Bates’ book Teaching in a Digital Age. These videos are extraordinarily useful as Br. Bates describes the concepts in his book. This is an example of learning through multimedia as I read portions of the book and watched his videos to make connections about theories of learning.

Culatta, R., & Kearsley, G. (2018, November 30). Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner). InstructionalDesign.org. http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist/.

The website instructionaldesign.org designed by ISTE CEO Richard Culatta and his colleague Mr Kearsley was a very valuable resource for my research as it outlined multiple Frameworks and theories. It also highlights specific thought leaders, how their ideas can be applied with examples, and clearly outlined principles. The site also includes references and related websites.

Flippen, C. H. (2012, October). Cognitivism. Educational Technology & Learning Theories. https://edtechtheory.weebly.com/cognitivism.html.

Catherine Flippen provides concise information about behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and other psychological approaches on her website Educational Technology and Learning Theories. She also includes multiple philosophical considerations and references. This tool was extremely helpful for my research because of its simplicity.

Lang, J. (2016). Small Teaching: everyday lessons from the science of learning. Jossey – Bass Inc, US.

Inspired by baseball, James Lang describes his strategies for transforming pedagogy incrementally. He proposes that small shifts in how courses are designed and communication with students can yield a dramatic transformation. His ideas are rooted in the learning sciences and cognitive theory. Each chapter of his book includes a theory, model, principles and strategies for small teaching.

Mayer, R. E. (2020). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Richard Mayer book outlines an updated approach to teaching in which he proposes that people learn not only by words but by images as well. He includes his research science of instruction and learning and details eleven principles about providing and designing instruction with multimedia. 

Neufeld, G., & Maté, G. (2019). Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers. Vermilion, an imprint of Ebury Publishing.

In this book, Neufeld and Maté Describe Pierre orientation and its dynamic in our culture. They detail the negative impacts of peer orientation on child development. They go on to outline healthy child development and how to create lasting bonds with children. Finally they explain how to prevent the peer world from causing harm to children.

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. https://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/effective-teaching-practices/revised-blooms-taxonomy/.

This is an example of a revised Bloom taxonomy from Iowa State University. It is less detailed than the Wasabi Learning digital taxonomy, but it is very useful in that it breaks down each level of the taxonomy into manageable sections, and provides lesson idea examples for  each level.

Roberts, T. G. (2003, August 8). An Interpretation of Dewey’s Experiential Learning Theory. ERIC.

In this Master’s essay, T. Grady Roberts outlines his interpretation of Dewey’s experiential learning theory. He includes information about knowledge, content organization, and the social environment. Additionally he describes the teacher role, learner readiness and learning outcomes.

Siemens, G. (2017, January 1). Connectivism. Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology. https://lidtfoundations.pressbooks.com/chapter/connectivism-a-learning-theory-for-the-digital-age/.

In this paper, George Siemens outlines his theory of connectivism. He proposes that because information is so readily available and constantly changing, the concepts around accessing information and learning should be updated. He also emphasizes the fact that data, information and knowledge lives in machines and databases rather than people. He explains how learners need to maintain connections to build knowledge. 

Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior. Free Press.

This psychology classic details the science behind human behavior, and the analysis of behavior ro include conditioning. He describes behavior of individuals and in groups, and well as the control of behavior. I did not read this book but it was quoted in multiple resources, so I thought it was important to include. Smith, M. K. (2020, February 12). What is learning? A definition and discussion. https://infed.org/learning-theory-models-product-and-process/.

The What is learning? Article was comprehensive and thorough, providing  much to consider including Säljö’s research on the 5 categories of learning, as well as Bloom’s 3 domains of learning, debate about whether teachers are like carpenters or gardenters. The article goes on to describe Kolb’s four elements of experiential learning and ideas about Dewey’s work on Reflective thinking. What was especially useful in this article was the chart with Five Orientations to learning after Merriam and Bierema. The chart outlines who the learning theorists are, their view of the learning process, it’s role in education and more. An interesting element of that chart was how that theory manifests in adult learning.

Spencer, B. What is Behaviourism? Team Satchel | Satchel One – The Powerful Learning Platform. https://blog.teamsatchel.com/what-is-behaviourism-and-how-to-use-it-in-the-classroom.

This blog post features a helpful infographic which has a few ideas about practical applications of the teachings of Thorndike and Skinner. You have to provide your email address to download the poster. This post also features a video that explains the foundations of behaviorism.

Spencer, J. (2020, October 27). Five Ways to Boost Metacognition In the Classroom. John Spencer. https://spencerauthor.com/metacognition/.

This blog post by John Spencer gives some wonderful suggestions about boosting metacognition in the classroom. He describes the metacognitive cycle and links a podcast in the post. Additionally, He explains the critical role of metacognition and features a very thorough chart regarding feedback and reinforcement. He also links to a design think post of his, which has a phenomenal plan for launching classroom projects.

Willingham, D. T. (2008). Ask the Cognitive Scientist – What Will Improve a Student’s Memory? American Educator, 17–44. https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/winter-2008-2009/ask-cognitive-scientist-what-will-improve

Is 2008 article in American Educator by Daniel Willingham provides valuable insight about memory. He delves into some myths about memory, as well as the three principles of memory. Further,  he provides demonstrations of the three principles. Also he provides a chart which includes eleven mnemonics examples and how they each apply to one of the three principles of memory.

Willingham, D. T. (2018, October 4). Are You a Visual or an Auditory Learner? It Doesn’t Matter. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/04/opinion/sunday/visual-learner-auditory-school-education.html.

This 2018 article by Daniel Willingham in the New York Times suggests that learning styles and preferred mental strategies should not be the guide for how people choose to learn or digest information. He points to multiple experiments where researchers debunk learning styles. Willingham believes that choosing one mental strategy and labeling themselves as visual or auditory learners can limit people from trying multiple methods of gaining new knowledge.