Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a slave (New York: Penguin Books, 2012). (461)

Tagg, John. “Chapter 5: The Learners” and “Chapter 6: Self-Theories and Academic Motivation”. In

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Tagg, John. “Chapter 5: The Learners” and “Chapter 6: Self-Theories and Academic Motivation”. In The Learning Paradigm College, 40 – 61. Boston: Anker Publishing Company, Inc. (21)

Chapters five and six in John Tagg’s work, The Learning Paradigm College, sets the framework for a way of thinking which individuals not usually critical of the education system might not be aware of. Tagg focuses these two chapters on the comparison and contrast of groups of students within the educational system (high school versus post-secondary students, first-year freshmen versus returning students, etc.). Tagg also outlines various educational learning theories, including Entity Theory and Incremental Theory, in order to make the generalizations regarding the topic not seem as vague and overpowering. By highlighting the inconsistencies, general situations and learning habits of these students, one is able to begin to decipher aspects of the learning paradigm which are important in discussing the advancement of the education system.

In Chapter Five, “The Learners”, Tagg focuses on the comparison and contrast of various groups of students entering and already participating in the post-secondary educational system – primarily that of High School students. He infers that the generational switch between learning habits and lifestyles of High School students does much more than merely aggravate older generations, and instead it is showing repercussions in the success rate, if measurable, in the course of careers as post-secondary students. As Tagg mentions, “students closest to their high school experience seem to pose the most serious challenges” as they are more likely to carry their study habit and lifestyle habits (no matter how ineffective) onto their post-secondary experience.99 This is not to infer though that re-entry or older students are those that would be more likely to succeed, as these individuals can often regress into habits formed from their years in high school, or even prior. Tagg then re-focuses on this generational similarity in Chapter Six as he highlights two theories – entity theory, which “views intelligence as fundamentally fixed and unchangeable”, and incremental theory, which holds to the idea that these aspects as “changeable and contingent rather than fixed and fundamental”.100
In order to highlight these two major theories Tagg implements the works of Carol Dweck who explores the adoption of “learning goals or performance goals”.101 Ultimately Dweck summarizes the extremes of Tagg’s argument and negotiation into a simple statement: “The more students [hold] an entity theory of intelligence, the more likely they were to choose a performance goal, whereas the more they held an incremental theory, the more likely they were to choose the learning goal”.102 Tagg holds true to similar findings with the help of Dweck, as they both recognize the difference in American education culture and those of international education culture. These differences demonstrate an intimate reality between America’s more modern culture of educational apathy, as Tagg discuss in Chapter Five, and theories discussed by Dweck above. Overall, the piece holds truths that can be seen in the post-secondary experience, as well as broad generalizations that should be measured with caution. Tagg’s chapters are interesting and hold a dignified contrast of ideas never presented accurately in society, in example returning students are often more successful than their first year freshmen counterparts, and those which are assumptions which the educational system are built upon. Tagg’s contrast in this arena is crucial and helps to advance aspects of high school and post-secondary relationship.

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