Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Process vs. Project

In When outcome becomes more important than process from Blue Skunk Blog by Doug Johnson  shares a quote,

... when we teach our children that outcomes are more important than process they lose the ability to enjoy learning for its own sake. Everything becomes about the end-game. The problem is that the end game - whether it turns out as they anticipated or not - is often not intrinsically rewarding."

This makes me think a lot about knitting. Some knitters are either process knitters or project knitters. This means that some knitters enjoy the process of knitting more than they enjoy having a finished product. They enjoy the intricacies of using different techniques as they knit toward having a finished item. It seems as if they enjoy the journey more than the destination. Other knitters enjoy the finished product more than the work they have to do in order to get this. Sometimes knitters can be one or the other at different times of their life. Nothing is carved in stone.

I am a project knitter and can often be overwhelmed by the process. I recently knit a stuffed giraffe and when I started with the directions, I saw that there were 14 pages! Yes, I was intimidated. I finally kept a picture of the finished giraffe on my desk so whenever I felt overwhelmed (which was often!), I could refer to the finished item.

I think the same thing applies to learners. I feel that some learners enjoy the process of learning something more than getting to the final project that is being assessed. Other learners enjoy finishing a project that will be assessed but hate the process of getting there.

As a teacher, I feel it is important for me to find out which students are process or project learners as soon as I can. By doing this I can tailor the way the lessons are geared to each. This will mainly be done in the introduction because that is what is going to catch their interest and keep them engaged in the lesson.

For the process learners, I can detail the process needed to get to the finished project. By giving them a list of tasks needing to be completed (it may be sequential or varied), these students will be able to get excited about using different skills or tools for each step. They will have immediate gratification for completing each step. 

For the project learners, I can start with the finished project and explain what needs to be done in order for assessment. Once they know what will be accomplished, it will be easier for them to focus on the individual task and not be overwhelmed by this. Sometimes with a list of tasks, the final project can sometimes get lost and students lose their focus on what is expected on them. Being able to complete each task and mark it off the list helps them get closer to their goal.

By distinguishing which learners are more process or project oriented, I can help them be more successful in the classroom.

Are you a process or project oriented learner? Can you give an example? Please share.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

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