GLN Consulting is an independent, online consulting service that specializes in helping teachers use explanatory modeling activities (EMAs) to develop and refine their students’ use of higher-order thinking skills to think critically about the subject matter of psychology. The primary focus is not on improving teaching methods, but rather on helping psychology teachers foster the use of higher-order thinking in their students through engagement in these activities. The acquisition and use of these kinds of thinking skills is essential to evaluating, conducting, and writing psychological research, and it is a major aspect of studying psychology that students often fail to appreciate and teachers sometimes overlook. Our services are conducted over the internet and they focus on helping teachers to:
- Design effective explanatory modeling tasks.
- Provide students with strategies for performing these tasks.
- Integrate student engagement in these activities with teaching methods and instructional resources.
- Engage students in metacognitive reflection on and discussion of their modeling activities.
GLN Consulting offers a variety of service packages organized around student engagement in the kinds of activities that have been found to promote conceptual innovation and change in science and greater depth of understanding of a scientific discipline by students. Interdisciplinary studies of the practices of professional scientists (contemporary and past) have identified several key features of the kinds of practices that lead to conceptual innovation and change in science. In addition, studies that have compared creative problem solving by scientists and students have shown that students can learn to use problem solving strategies that incorporate these key features and that using these strategies can help them achieve a deeper understanding of a scientific domain. The incorporation of these key features of model-based reasoning activities and the focus on models that provide scientific explanations distinguish the service packages offered by GLN Consulting from other kinds of student engagement activities (including problem-based learning).
GLN Consulting was founded in 2003 by Dr. George L. Newsome, III to provide psychology teachers with a convenient and inexpensive source of advice and guidance on how to promote their students’ use of higher-order thinking skills. That year, the first interactive web site was constructed and service packages were developed. Since that time, the explanatory modeling tasks and recommended strategies contained in these service packages have been continually refined on the basis of client feedback and ongoing research by GLN Consulting.
Since earning his doctorate in Educational Psychology from Indiana University in 1983, Dr. Newsome has taught both psychology and educational psychology courses in a variety of colleges and universities. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in educational psychology at two state universities, undergraduate educational psychology courses at a state technical institute, and undergraduate psychology courses at a liberal arts college and a state technical university. He has also published research on reading, deductive reasoning, external memory aids, higher-order thinking skills, and causal reasoning. He has served as a reviewer of manuscripts for The Journal of Research and Development in Education.
Dr. Newsome first used student engagement in EMAs when he taught a research methods course. His use of EMAs to teach that course was based on current (at that time) research in science education that demonstrated the effectiveness of using engagement in these activities to help students refine and systematize their knowledge of phenomena that were the focus of high school science courses. After using his adaptation of those activities to research methods in psychology, Dr. Newsome noticed that students’ performance in that class (on exams, critiques of research articles, and their research proposal) in conjunction with their reflections on and discussions of their modeling activities suggested the usefulness of these activities for teaching other psychology courses as well. Based on this assessment, he used these activities to teach courses in introductory psychology, developmental psychology, and educational psychology.
Since his retirement from teaching, Dr. Newsome has refined the original explanatory modeling tasks and recommended strategies through an extensive, integrative analysis of research on conceptual innovation and change in science, research on problem solving strategies by expert scientists and college students, and research on the construction, evaluation, refinement, and use of explanations by scientists in psychology and closely related fields.