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Ballroom Dance

J M (Mike) Nelson
Phone: 612-810-0157

Instructional Design For Dance Teachers

Dilemma. With so many friends in the dance teaching community, I experienced major conflicts when I realized how much they could benefit from insight into the psychology or learning and how much frustration and anxiety they were inflicting on their students by ignoring the associated principles of instructional design. This is an attempt to share my knowledge of learning theory and my experience in instructional design with that community. I trust that it will be perceived in the spirit in which it is offered.

Criticism. Yes, I have been quite harsh on the ballroom dance teaching community, and, though I have perhaps "mellowed" a bit recently, I have not compromised in my contention that the teaching of dance, particularly beginning partner dancing, could be improved in both its efficiency and its effectiveness with the application of some of the fundamental principles of learning. Perhaps the best of my articles on the subject is Oops!

Background. I have graduate degrees in Instructional Systems Design, I taught for over thirty years in a graduate program that prepared instructional designers, and for much of my career I was the director of instructional development at my university, where I also served as a research director and supervisor of graduate research. During my working years I participated in the design of instructional programs in almost every discipline on campus, including ballroom dance. I have also been a consultant to industry in the assessment and design of instructional systems, the quality of which had direct impact on safety and profits.

Offer. I will meet with a group of five to twenty dance instructors at any reasonable location and as schedule permits with the following agenda.

Learning Theories for Teachers. A presentation on those theories and principles of learning that are particularly relevant to the teaching of partner dancing, especially beginners.

Assessment Workshop. Discussion about the critical components, behaviors, and knowledge requisite to partner dancing. You talk and I write.

Applied Theory. Methods of applying what we know about human learning to the results of our assessment. Dialog between the subject specialists (you) and the design specialist (me).

Conclusions and Recommendations. Dialog about the implications of these ideas on current teaching methods and consideration of changes that might improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Curriculum Design. An description of how an industry, whose success depended on their employees learning ballroom dance, might approach the issue.

Cost. Your time. I am retired, I like ballroom dance, and I like instructional design. I am also free to do anything I want, and I want very much to do what I can to promote ballroom dance, one of the healthiest and most enjoyable activities for seniors.

Presumptuous? Not really. I'm offering a service for which I received $1000 per day as far back as the 1980's. Just because it is free does not mean that it should be dismissed as frivolous.

Rationale. No area of psychology has been studied as extensively as human learning. At the risk of being condescending, to what extent can you defend your teaching based on what is known about human learning? Do you know wherein you conform to, and wherein you are in conflict with, established principles of human learning? Do you know how each segment of your class relates to established knowledge about human learning? If so, surely your curriculum has little resemblance to the traditional dance curriculum, and I would certainly like to visit with you about how your teaching style evolved. Dance Home Page Dance Curriculum Dance Articles

Copyright (c) 2006, J. M. Nelson. All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited without prior permission from the author.