January 18, 2015 Dan Devolin: The Triple Bottom Line: An approach to engaging students learning English, in current issues, debate, academic writing, and critical thinking

posted Jan 22, 2015, 12:45 AM by Hamamatsu JALT   [ updated Jan 22, 2015, 9:19 PM ]

Daniel Devolin (Aichi University) led Hamamatsu JALT into the New Year with a quick rundown on the economic and social relevance of The Triple Bottom Line (TBL). Based in economics, TBL or 3BL looks at the sustainable overlapping area(s) of societies, economies, and ecologies. This commonality can be a source of stability, and resource for maintaining and developing the interlocking conditions required to meet our global needs. Within university-level language learning, particularly focusing on current issues, debate, academic writing and critical thinking, TBL provides an introduction to interdisciplinary approaches. Topics can be explored through the three features of the theory, providing students with structure and direction when encountering cognitively challenging ideas. If correctly and gradually implemented, they develop tools and means to express their opinions and engage deeply with classmates on numerous subjects. Naturally, students need to feel comfortable seeking out ways of expression. Accordingly, classroom rapport is important so that inhibitions are reduced. Scaffolding is necessary. TBL is custom-made for group work. Individual groups can research a topic from one of three aspects, or individuals within groups are allocated one of the three. Thorough interaction with content encourages top down and bottom up processing. Students contribute new knowledge to wider classroom interaction in the form of presentations, written assignments, discussion and debate, and potentially absorb it into their broader schemata. While all of this is a lot to absorb, Dan presented this with enthusiasm and aplomb.

Reported by Susan Sullivan