Pedagogical patterns

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Pedagogical patterns are high-level patterns that have been recognized in many areas of training and pedagogy such as group work, software design, human computer interaction, education and others. The concept is an extension of pattern languages. In both cases, the patterns seek to foster best practices of teaching.

According to Joseph Bergin:

“The intent [of pedagogical patterns] is to capture the essence of the practice in a compact form that can be easily communicated to those who need the knowledge. Presenting this information in a coherent and accessible form can mean the difference between every new instructor needing to relearn what is known by senior faculty and easy transference of knowledge of teaching within the community“.

Although widespread in the software industry, the use of patterns is still emerging in the educational field. Whereas software developers make regular use of mature patterns, the educational community as a whole is still far from including patterns in the everyday tool-box.

Mitchell Weisburgh has made an effort to define pedagogical content in terms of design patterns. In Documenting good education and training practices through design patterns, he proposes nine aspects to documenting a pattern for a certain skill. Not every pattern needs to include all nine. His listing is reproduced below:

  • Name – single word or short phrase that refers to the pattern. This allows for rapid association and retrieval.
  • Problem – definition of a problem, including its intent or a desired outcome, and symptoms that would indicate that this problem exists.
  • Context – preconditions which must exist in order for that problem to occur; this is often a situation. When forces conflict, the resolutions of those conflicts is often implied by the context.
  • Forces – description of forces or constraints and how they interact. Some of the forces may be contradictory. For example: being thorough often conflicts with time or money constraints.
  • Solution – instructions, possibly including variants. The solution may include pictures, diagrams, prose, or other media.
  • Examples – sample applications and solutions, analogies, visual examples, and known uses can be especially helpful, help user understand the context
  • Resulting Context – result after the pattern has been applied, including postconditions and side effects. It might also include new problems that might result from solving the original problem.
  • Rationale – the thought processes that would go into selecting this pattern, The rationale includes an explanation of why this pattern works, how forces and constraints are resolved to construct a desired outcome.
  • Related Patterns – differences and relationships with other patterns, possibly predecessor, antecedents, or alternatives that solve similar problems.[examples needed]

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