Friday, April 10, 2009

Personal Learning Theory

I really enjoyed the opportunity I had to get to learn a new skill. After much thought and consideration, I finally decided to learn how to watercolor paint. I have always enjoyed art ever since I was a little girl. I have learned how to use many different kinds of mediums and have worked a little with watercolor but not to a great extent. I first gathered all of the materials. This included watercolor paints, watercolor paper and paint brushes. I then looked online for different techniques and examples of watercolor paintings. I looked at a few different sites and just read through the material. I then practiced some of the techniques. After I got comfortable with the techniques I just dove right into painting a picture. I tried to select those that would be fairly simple for me to paint.

I chose to paint things that would, for the most part, use bright colors. It was interesting to see how I would naturally put my own style into the painting. I would look at examples online and try to recreate some of the pieces and they would never look like the ones online. Although a lot of this has to do with my skill level however, I still chose different brushstrokes and different techniques.

Throughout the whole process I felt like a lot of my learning involved practice and exploration. I grew more and more comfortable painting and exploring different color usage and style as time went on. I really enjoyed all of the time I spent working on this assignment. This experience also reminded me just how much I love art. I usually get caught up with schoolwork and other aspects of life and I never take the time to really do different activities that I truly love. This assignment makes me want to set aside some time to work on art.

Through this assignment I was able to pinpoint my specific learning style and the ways that I learn. In the first part of my learning process I did have a more knowledgeable other to help teach me. In my case it was not specifically one person. It was the number of contributors to the websites I worked with. This was the source of the majority of my knowledge however. The computer was in essence my cultural tool.
I started as somewhat of a novice to the idea of watercolor. I tried to use retrieval to draw on some of the things I had learned about watercolor in the past but this resulted in no success. After using the website sources I did learn a lot. I discovered how important autonomy is to me when I learn. I know a number of people who are very talented artists. I could have gone to them for help but I enjoy it more when I get to learn on my own. I feel like this autonomy adds to my initiative. I like to try new things and to learn to go about tasks in different ways. Although I did follow some modeling by getting familiar with different artists’ work, I feel that I tried to go learn much on my own. I think I like the idea of discovery learning. I thought that much of my learning occurred in the process of actually painting pictures. There is only so much that a person can learn through reading or seeing. A person needs to really gain firsthand experience to gain a true knowledge of a concept or idea.
I found that this autonomy also prevented me from wanting to research too much. I had a high desire for industry which made me want to dive right into making paintings. As I began the process of actually creating paintings I saw the need for problem solving while trying to create artwork. There were often times when I would put too much of one color or would have too much water. I needed to think right then and then what I should do to try to save the painting from being ruined. Artists really have to think on their feet.
Throughout the process I experienced some positive reinforcement. As I painted, some of my roommates or friends would see some of my paintings. As they would comment on them and say that they liked my paintings it was the social persuasion I needed to increase my self-efficacy. This meant that my interval schedule was most like that of a fixed-ratio. It would take me some time to complete a piece but after I completed it I would share it with some and get a response.
I felt like my self-efficacy and the source of my self-efficacy shifted through my experience. I felt like my mastery experiences allowed me to feel more confident in my work and ultimately to take more risks in my artwork and feel like I was capable of painting watercolor. I felt that my locus of causality shifted in the process from the extrinsic motivation that I needed to complete an assignment to make a certain grade, to a source of intrinsic motivation. I truly rediscovered my love for art and for the freedom that it allows. I think that the majority of my painting was done in massed practice. This was not done necessarily out a need to be completed by a deadline. I initially began the task and then as I mentioned before, realized how much I enjoyed it. I would work on painting for hours at a time. I did not work on a painting for like a half hour a day until it was completed. Once I began a piece it was hard for me to stop before it was completed.
I now have made it my goal to try to incorporate art, particularly watercolor painting, into my daily routine. Now that I also have a deeper understanding of how I learn best I can continue to learn new skills in watercolor. I think that this continued practice of this art will increase my ability to create even better pieces. I look forward to the opportunity to get to continue this learning process and discovery even after the class ends.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you were able to view yourself as a learner and to learn (again) to do what you love. I love to draw but had never had an art class (except for a semester in 5th and 8th grades). My final year of grad school, my wife enrolled me in some sketching classes and it was one of the best things I could have done during a stressful time of life. Keep it up and please post your pictures online where the rest of us can see them.

    Regarding the psychology behind your experience, your statement massed practice actually reminds me more of a concept we didn't discuss called, "flow." It's when you get so engaged in doing something that you continue to do it at the expense of other things (flow can be a really good thing). You can read more about it here:

    BTW, I don't see a learning log.