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Creating Significant Learning Experiences, Revised and Updated by L. Dee Fink

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CHAPTER TWO

A TAXONOMY OF SIGNIFICANT LEARNING

If learning is regarded not as the acquisition of information, but as a search for meaning and coherence in one’s life and, if an emphasis is placed on what is learned and its personal significance to the learner, rather than how much is learned, researchers would gain valuable new insights into both the mechanisms of learning and the relative advantages of teacher-controlled and learner-controlled modes of learning.

—Philip Candy (1991, P. 415)

Some years ago I was visiting with my doctor during an annual physical, and we started talking about the quality of our country’s schools and colleges. As a man concerned about public affairs, he expressed a feeling that seems to be widespread in society at the present time that “students don’t seem to be learning much these days.” My response was, “No, they are learning things. They just aren’t learning the ‘right’ things, the things that they need to be learning.”

The distinction I was trying to make that day—and the distinction that Candy makes so well in the opening quote—is the difference between a content-centered and a learning-centered approach to teaching. If higher education hopes to craft a more meaningful way of educating students, as advocated by the multiple constituencies cited in Chapter One, then college professors will need to find a new and better way of teaching, one that focuses on the quality of student learning. How can we begin the process of doing this?

I worked as ...

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