L. Develop an implementation strategy for Catalytic Learning


Instructors implementing a Catalytic learning approach explicitly prepare learners to learn on their own topics that can't be covered in the scope of a course, including topics that need updating over time.

Catalytic learning is a new construct based on existing educational research. Although there is a strong evidence base for Catalytic learning 1, a strategy for implementing and ensuring Catalytic learning in SFT is needed. Instructors will need training in applying Catalytic learning strategies, including guidelines to determine when it applies (i.e., career shifting vs “just-in-time” training), and how to integrate the strategies effectively. Formalized assessment of resulting learning, and evaluation of instruction, will also need development. While Catalytic learning hasn’t been deployed per se, all the literature around each of the sub-constructs of Catalytic learning are well supported suggesting this synthesis can be successful.

How might this work:🚲

Frequently, when learners attempt to implement what was covered in SFT, they realize they cannot apply that new knowledge, skill, or ability to the problems they need to solve. Instructors applying Catalytic learning principles in their training include specific strategies that help learners integrate new learning into their existing knowledge as well as successfully identify and fill in gaps.

Learners will be empowered to clarify what self-directed learning they will need to expand and maintain their knowledge (e.g., self-study, additional training), guidance on how to identify learning opportunities that match their needs, and tools to self-assess their progress. A Catalytic learning focus in SFT instruction will result in an actionable post-SFT plan for learners to apply the SFT learning or continue additional learning. As learners become self-directed in a new topic, they may find it easier to participate in a new disciplinary community.

Instructors will be able to ensure the SFT has a high likelihood of achieving the level of competency a learner needs to accomplish their task. Instructors and instructional designers can collaborate with education specialists (who can plan effective evaluation as well) to develop tools that prepare instructors and learners to share responsibility for learning.

Benefits to the learners:🚲

  1. A larger proportion of learners are better prepared to anticipate, and then work through, obstacles to implementing SFT learnings into professional practice.
  2. Advanced learning will be/be perceived as more achievable for learners.
  3. Learners can successfully self-monitor and self-direct, encouraging navigation of topics in new disciplinary areas.
  4. Increased probability of engagement from both instructors and learners.

Incentives to implementers:🚲

For Instructors and Instructional Designers

  1. Instructors/designers using Catalytic learning can feel more confident that learners will achieve learning outcomes and can generate evidence that this is occurring.
  2. An expert-developed strategy for instructors/designers would translate Catalytic learning theory into ready-to-use tools.

For Funders and Organizations

  1. Learners are more likely to provide actionable feedback (from evaluation) about the impact of implementing Catalytic learning.

Barriers to implementation:🚲

  1. Development of an implementation strategy will take energy, time, funding, and several types of expertise.
  2. The theoretical grounding of this approach is well-established, but knowledge translation has been lacking 2.
  3. Many individualized strategies for Catalytic learning may be needed to ensure that recommendations for instructors are accessible and effective experiences for diverse learners and characteristics (e.g., career stage, cultural context, ability).

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  1. Tractenberg, R. E. (2022). Catalytic learning requires metacognition, sustainable learning, and cognitive schema change. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/hp4k6

  2. Borrego M, Henderson C. (2014). Increasing the Use of Evidence-Based Teaching in STEM Higher Education: A Comparison of Eight Change Strategies. Journal of Engineering Education,April 2014, Vol. 103, No. 2, pp. 220–252. DOI 10.1002/jee.20040