Research tell us that learning is the act of relationship building. “The more emotionally salient the experience, the more applicable to an individual’s life, the more personally relevant, the more novel and thus memorable, the more relationships a learner builds” (Reilly, 2020).
Learning activities and assessments are learner-led and provide scaffolds that support learners in their independent inquiry into the subject matter. Scaffolds adjust in structure from highly guided to increasingly open inquiry depending on learners’ abilities to self-guide their learning. Instructors act as coaches and mentors to support the learners’ inquiry.
Learning activities and assessments provide learners with the freedom to choose how to execute their assignments and / or with the opportunity to personalize the assignment to personally relevant interests. This increases learner’s ownership of the learning process so that learners are less likely to feel they are participating in a process owned by the teacher or the educational system. This freedom can also address the diversity of interests in the classroom.
When learning activities and assessments are rooted in learners’ backgrounds, personal interests, passions, and /or values, learners regard the learning as relevant, take ownership of their learning, and are willing to put in the effort needed to learn. When learning activities and assessments are applicable to learner’s life they become personally meaningful, are viewed as useful and to have purpose.
Learner socially – culturally connected
Learning activities and assessments encourage connections between the subject matter and the learner’s social context and lived experience. Social – cultural connections to the subject matter can also address learner diversity and make learning more inclusive.
Learning activities and assessments encourage learners’ self expression and opportunities to speak their minds. The freedom to share subjective opinions, thoughts, and feelings deepens the connection of newly learned concepts to learners’ prior knowledge and increases ownership of their learning as individuals.
Learning activities and assessments encourage learners’ creative expression and provide them with the freedom to experiment with ideas and to arrive at novel solutions and insights. The ability for learners to express themselves creatively can contribute to the enjoyment of learning and make learning fun and engaging. Creative expression further expands learning to go beyond reproducing existing knowledge and encourages knowledge building and the re-interpretation of existing knowledge, processes, and structures.