What, Why… ok! but How?

Since the beginning of the GEDI course, we have learned several pedagogical practices to apply as current TA’s or for our future carriers. Form my personal experience, answering the questions What?, Why?, and How? have helped me to understand different concepts and apply theories into real life practices (personal and profesional).

So far, I have enough materials to start answering the questions for the What and Why pedagogical science have the potential to transform educational teaching practices.  In this blog I will share some found responses during the past 5 weeks, and leave open other questions with the purpose to find more answers.

What and Why?:

(To apply)

  • Try over and over again till you achieve the objective (Baby Gorge video) to break the barriers of the unkown.
  • Facilitate experiential learning to support students in applying their knowledge and conceptual understanding to real-world problems and situations.
  • Use innovative tools to engage the imagination, such as: digital sources, social media, blogs, twitter, videos, etc. to engage.
  • Promote curiosity, practices related to noticing new things and drawing distinction, new ideas, to encourage mindful and avoid mindless learning, among students.
  • Avoid incentives when rules are not clear or there are not a single solution or clear tsk . On the contrary, motivate to achieve autonomy on learning, promote desire of getting better and better to reach mastery, and seed purpose to for something larger.
  • Think about the grading system and evade diminishing student’s interest, preference of the easiest tasks and low quality thinking, that often performances are to reach a certain grade (extrinsic). Contrarily, motivate desire to learn for its own sake (intrinsic).


(To get it done)

The hands-on moment! Answering to this will help to apply theories and concepts in authentic circumstances. Literature suggests some answers, However I still have doubts under this question.

  • How to defeat the grading system? How to assess students performance being fair? How to ensure the desired level of knowledge among the students? How to create the right environment to impulse students creativity and desire to learn for its own sake?

Any thoughts????

About the Author

Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, is the secretary of the LAIGSA (Latina American and Iberic Graduate Students Association) organization at Virginia Tech. 



Sofia, really interesting post! I like the format of this with the “what, why, and how” questions guiding your thoughts. I’m definitely going to approach the rest of the semester using this technique. Unfortunately, I have no answers for the “how” portion right now, but this is something I’ve been asking myself for awhile. There’s got to be an answer out there, though! And I’m confident we all have the brainpower to find that answer. But for starters, when I see your question “How to ensure the desired level of knowledge among the students?”, I think we can “reassess” what educators consider to be knowledge. Is it memorizing facts, formulas, history, etc.? Or maybe knowledge can be more open ended and no so concrete? Great post!


Sara, thank you so much for your comment. I am totally with you, we need to reassess what is consider knowledge to educators.
In my personal opinion, nowadays memorizing facts or formulas do not make sense. Moreover, do not reflect knowledge quality, but for me, it is more about how to apply and use the skills gained through a certain process (experiences, facts or others).

Sneha Upadhyaya

Very nice summary that you have put together! We learn about all these issues and interesting concepts but we are often left thinking ‘but how do we achieve this??” There could be tons answers to the “how?” question, but will those ideas really work? Of course, we wouldn’t know unless we tried but there is always so much uncertainty that makes us reluctant to try new ideas. However, sharing experiences and ideas will always help us understand what works and what doesn’t work and eventually we may be able to find something that works better than the others.


Thank you so much for yout thoughts.
I am totally with you, by sharing experiences and ideas we will be able to develop our own techniques. In this way we will be able to apply them and see if they work and improve students performance.


I thought that was the question we wanted you all to answer (puzzled expression on my face!) 😀 I think that is the reason why it is important for us to be aware, talk about and discuss the possibilities…because if we all can come up with even 2-3 ideas that we may be able to adopt collectively, that would be enough for a ripple effect through higher education don’t you think?!


Yes, and I must say that I am so excited with the idea of having a ripple effect through higher education by applying at least one collective idea.
*Btw, I really pictured you with a puzzle expression, hahah


Haha!! Nice summary!! GEDI course really motivates me to think what why ok but how!!! A lot of thinking process are going on in class and even after class. I’m currently trying to get some ideas to formulate my teaching philosophy. Thank you giving me some ideas in this post :D. In my experience, I have been benefited from grading a lot. I take it as a self-assessment to find which part of concepts I miss. Also, if I get a good grade, I feel a sense of achievement and I’m also sure that the studying strategy is correct for this subject. For teachers, grade is also a way to reflect their teaching, checking if the concepts are well transferred to students and if they are having troubles to internalize those new knowledge.


I liked this post, and how you framed the what? why? and how? questions!
I agree with you that it is a big challenge to learn how to apply all the ideas and techniques we are learning. Putting them into action, in real life actions is a challenge, and a lot of the times, this challenge can become a barrier because we may feel that it is too time consuming, and we won’t have the time to figure it out the path. Perhaps we can keep talking in the class so we bring the discussion into the “how” to apply what we are learning. 🙂


Tough questions! No easy answers I fear.
I shall address just the one: How to get rid of grades?
We can only do this if we have all potential employers on board. As long as hiring processes still use grades/qualifications to rank applications, we don’t stand a hope in hell of changing anything. My radical solution would be to put grades in the same category as Age, Sex, Religion, etc. and make it illegal to discriminate against. Ideally it wouldn’t even be visible on the resume or job application. Similar to what they are doing with names (no names on CVs) to remove any implicit bias.
Unlikely to happen, but it would work!


Thank you for this post. I agree, so many times we focus on what to achieve and why it is not important, but we don’t focus enough in how to do it. We should definitely find broader ways to keep students motivation how, and clarifying processes and techniques would definitely be helpful.

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