Realistic Learning in the Digital Age
They are an age-old questions among students: “Why do I have to learn this material?" and "What relevance does it have to my life?”
Students are clearly motivated to learn when activities reflect what occurs in the real world. That’s why Dr. Susanne Lajoie, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Learning Technologies in Authentic Settings, designs realistic digital environments to help students learn.
Lajoie is theorizing that creation of a simulated digital practice environment that uses feedback from experts will lead to faster learning. She is analyzing how experts solve a complex problem and then developing a digital model of the experts’ performance to help students learn more efficiently. These digital environments give students practice in solving complex real world problems with assistance from expert feedback.
Lajoie is also helping medical students analyze and diagnose patient data more quickly and effectively. Her computer environments are incorporating how feeling and thinking are linked to diagnostic decision-making. She is trying to answer such questions as: Do life-threatening diagnoses engage students’ emotions more than less serious ones? Do learners need to regulate their feelings and emotions to make effective decisions? The answers Lajoie finds to such questions will improve medical education and subsequent patient care.
By providing students with real-world educational experiences, Lajoie’s research is motivating students to learn.