Learning Enhancement in Higher Education
Ronald R. Sims and Serbrenia J. Sims
Institutions of higher education are always looking for ways to make their educational initiatives more effective. Higher education administrators and instructors at all levels are constantly under pressure to provide more effective and efficient services. In colleges and universities, teaching serves as an important vehicle for achieving institutional goals of increased effectiveness, efficiency, and the enhancement of student learning. As a result, today's highly successful colleges and universities are distinguished by the ability to have their faculties continue to improve their efforts to advance student learning. For many of today's and tomorrow's students, success in a changing world will require an ability to explore new opportunities and learn from past successes and failures. These ideas are neither new nor controversial. Yet it is surprising that understanding how people learn, which is so widely regarded as important, receives little ongoing and explicit attention by educators and their institutions. Too often there is a kind of fatalism about learning; one either learns or one does not. The inability to consciously control and manage the learning process in higher education in general, and various classes in particular, lies in a lack of understanding about the learning process itself and can serve as a substantial impediment to student learning and faculty teaching.
Educators must have more knowledge and understanding of the learning process, particularly how individuals learn. This will help them immensely in both the design and implementation of teaching that enhances learning. If educators relied upon models of how individuals learn, they would be better able to enhance their students' ability to learn. For example, Sims, Veres, and Heninger ( 1989) offered