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Tompkins Cortland Community College

Model A Model for the Creation of
Meaningful Community College Learning Experiences

by Annette Bell, Lisa Ford, and Khaki Wunderlich

Our sabbatical leave project (2002) involved examining research-based learning theories to develop a theoretical model for developing a curriculum, methodology, and assessment in the community college. The use of our model encourages the creation of meaningful learning experiences guided by valuing the unique learner, creating a learning-centered environment, and facilitating the construction of individual meaning.

In the last fifteen years, researchers in the brain sciences and cognitive psychology have been uncovering remarkable new findings on how the brain learns. After studying this work and the theorists interpreting what new science research means for education, we've found ourselves squarely in the constructivist camp. We continue to wrestle with the idea of "brain-based" learning, and we acknowledge the gap between current brain research and practical application in the classroom. However, we also believe that as educators, we are in a unique position to help close the gap. We can help make connections between our classroom experience, science research, and social science research. In that spirit, we invite you to explore the theoretical model we have created for use in the community college.

Our model is a framework community college teachers can use to create/modify complex learning experiences. The model celebrates what good teachers are already doing in their classrooms and embraces the challenge of integrating what new research tells us about how the brain learns.

The three elements of our theoretical model are presented sequentially. However, the hypertext design of the model allows readers to find their own, personally meaningful paths through our discussion. Because each of us wrote a section of the model, readers will hear three distinct voices, each with a unique point of view. Together our voices (and the elements of our model) form a harmonious discourse. We invite you to add your voice to our dialogue on learning.

Table of Contents

Our manuscript draft (A Model for the Creation of Meaningful Community College Learning Experiences) needs editing. If you'd like to read the rough draft and/or participate in the editing process, we would welcome your participation. Please contact us, and we'll give you instructions for obtaining the draft. Meanwhile, reading Part 4 below (Conclusion) will give you an overview of the model sections.

Part 1 - The Learning Centered Environment  learning-centered environment icon by Annette Bell

Part 2 - The Unique Learner  unique learner icon by Khaki Wunderlich

Part 3 - The Construction of Individual Meaning  constructing meaning icon by Lisa Ford

Part 4 - Conclusion

Appendix I - Why should educators study brain research?
Appendix II - Basic Brain Anatomy
Appendix III - Glossary
Appendix IV - References