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Peer Review

Learning Roles Online

by Dr. Joan McMahon


Overall Numeric Rating:

3 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 3 stars
Reviewed: Mar 12, 2003 by Teacher Education
Overview: This site is a concise, one page grid containing different learner and teacher
roles based upon different learning theories/philosophies. The grid provides
brief information about Humanism, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism.
The students? role and the teacher's role are briefly described for each
philosophy/theory. A few activities for each philosophy/theory are provided in
the last column.
Type of Material: Reference Material
Recommended Uses: This site could act as a reference point for teachers in training at all levels
and with all subjects. It also offers a beginning point of planning and
discussion regarding online instruction considerations and possibilities.
Technical Requirements: Access to the Internet and a web browser is needed. This site cannot be read or
viewed easily in Netscape 4.7 or lower.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Educators will gain an understanding of how different theories/philosophies
undergird different approaches to teaching and learning in the online
Target Student Population: Students and faculty in in teacher education and psychology programs, especially
those in online or web-assisted classes will find the site useful.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: An introduction to the psychology of teaching and a basic understanding of each
theory presented will make this site more valuable and beneficial to users, but
it is not required.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The site gives a quick overview of theories/philosophies and what roles and
activities theyare based upon. Humanism, Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and
Constructivism are profiled followed by styles of learning choices. Outlined
teacher's role choices include: Coach, Expert/Certifier, Manager, and
Facilitator/Mentor. These are each followed by a few ideas for online teaching
and learning.
Concerns: The brevity of the information may lead to confusion on the part of a student.
A bit of additional information at this site would increase its significance. A
rationale for how and why this page was developed and how it is used by the
author would offer users a point of reference and clearer way to implement the

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The grid could be a good starting place for students to discuss learning theory.
Because the site is accessible online, instructors can, with permission of the
author, use it with their students. The site could complement an in-class
introduction to the pedagogy of teaching. Students could also review the
information and conduct their own discussions, debates, or written summaries.
Concerns: It would be useful to other higher education faculty to know the background of
this page, how students in the course with the author use and respond to this
grid, and what reflections the author now has from using the page. If one uses
this grid, it is recommended to include a series of assignments that take the
students? answers and use them for activity selection. Just having students
use the grid to determine what they would like in an online environment is
useless, if the instructor does not make allowances and design activities for
each possible philosophy/theory.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths: The organization of the information is nicely done. The matrix format
with colored key headings across the top allows for quick reference work.
Concerns: The site is unreadable to those using Netscape 4.7 or earlier. The font is too
small and cannot be enlarged to be read. While the user can enlarge the type in
some browsers, not all people using the grid would know how to do so.

Comments from Author: Originally set up as a single Reusable Learning Object, it is a companion piece to the Teaching/Learning Philosophy Chart where faculty can view options about their philosophy and decide how they may want to articulate those philosophies to their learners. Since many faculty aren't well versed in these philosophies, this companion chart provides a quick explanation of options and how they may be viewed in online learning. Students can be given both the Philosophy Chart and the Learner Role chart for analysis. Go to or

Faculty can use this tool in a variety of ways and can post their own directions for use. It can be used as an assessment to match online learning potential with faculty/courses/programs. It can be used to help students understand and value why their learning style may be different from a professors instead of just grumbling about it. Appreciating style differences is part of learning about one's learning preferences.

The charts were originally designed to help raise the consciousness of faculty in explaining their philosophy to their online students- typical of what they might do in an on-ground course. In faculty development and online training sessions, faculty can use these two tools to raise their consciousness of learning and teaching theories. In adult learning a goal is usually student inquiry and student directed learning so that students learn to take responsibility for their own learning. Using these charts will help student choose assignments and construct their own if faculty structure courses to do so.

Faculty from Parsons School of Design in New York, Brevard Community College in Florida and Towson University in Maryland are early participants in using these tools which they use to improve online course development and teaching based on the student responses.