Inductive work, Input, Implementation, and Integration – Vella’s “Four Is” – provide a structure to create effective learning opportunities. This framework strikes me as especially useful with adult learners, particularly the inductive work since adults likely have a broader set of life experiences they bring the classroom vs. younger students.
Get off to a good start! By first determining your students’ prior knowledge through the inductive work, you can avoid starting your teaching at the wrong place, by either repeating information already known or skipping the fundamental pieces, and thereby losing your audience right from the start.
Keep the momentum going. During the induction phase, you’re already engaging the learners by drawing out what they know about the topic. When you get to the input phase, content should be presented in an engaging manner and where possible, try to build off things you learned about the students in the inductive work to continue to show the relevance of the information.
The proverbial truth. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. People learn by doing, so the implementation phase is critical to the learning process. This is the time when students get to “try on” the new information and see how it feels, how it works, and what questions it raises. Engaging the students with the content deepens their understanding of it.
Save the best for last. Now that students have had the chance to give the new content a dry run, help them discover how else this information can be useful. This is Vella’s integration phase. It’s Fink’s notion of significant learning. It’s what Weimer is talking about in our text when she says, “we do not want more and better learning at some abstract level” (p. xvi). It may sound selfish, but in the end, it’s all about what’s in it for me?” How am I, the learner, going to take this information and use it in ways that are relevant to me?
I see this integration happening all around me. While I am not yet actively teaching, I find myself making connections to things we talk about in class with other things in my life – my job search, my volunteer commitments, even with my family and friends. It’s making me realize that the line between learner and teacher can be blurred, and maybe it should be. Maybe what makes a good teacher is continuing to be a good learner.