About Nina

Hi there,

Thanks for visiting my blog! This page has information about my teaching dispositions and philosophy, and also serves as my professional portfolio. My current resume is available here.

I am passionate about providing good quality education for every student, so I help instructors and teachers to thrive in their profession and make learning more meaningful for students. Supporting students’ deep and lifelong learning processes is the key for successful teaching and empowering students to learn on their own!  I earned my M.Ed. degree and teaching credentials from the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland, then worked internationally, and am currently living and working in the U.S., where I earned my Doctorate in Education in 2017. My dissertation research about Learner agency was a phenomenographic inquiry into students’ perceptions of their learning.

In addition to pedagogical and adnragogical consulting, I mentor instructors, teachers, and trainers pursuing their M.Ed. degrees in Instructional Design, Learning & Technology, and Curriculum & Instruction at Western Governors University.  Mentoring consists working directly with every student, ensuring mastery of the content in their academic programs, as well as communicating university policy and procedures. As of March 2018 I have graduated 215 M. Ed. students, after guiding them through their coursework in instructional design, research studies, measurement and evaluation studies, and learning & tech, and finally helping them to successfully finish their capstone research project.

My blog, talks, and writings at Nina’s Notes and ninacsmith.com are about deep learning and focus on building student-centered and learning-centered environments disussing how students’ intrinsic motivation to learn improves their academic performance. This wordpress blog discusses learning as a process vs. product, among other learner agency related topics. The holistic view of learning considers learning to be an essenatial part of our everyday lives. The holistic view of teaching extends instruction beyond content presentation. In 21st Century we can’t afford to waste instructional time in busywork!

In my book “Choosing How to Teach & Teaching How to Choose: Using the 3Cs to Improve Learning” I am sharing the native Finnish know-how of education, as well as my international teaching experiences. As you probably know, Finland has shown its educational success  in OECD’s longitudinal research called PISA and did recently revise the national core curriculum to reflect phenomenon-based learning model. Awesome!

The concrete teaching experience with preK-12 and higher education, in addition to my studies in education and psychology, are giving depth to my 3C-model of effective education, which has two frameworks for cognitive, constructive and cooperative learning and teaching.  The 3C- framework for IDEAL learning is for instructors in higher education, and the 3C-framework for Effective Learning is for K-12 teachers.

Both frameworks focus on deep learning, and are based on the same 3C-model:

  • Cognitive approach: students’ thinking needs to change, not just their behavior.  Learner agency is an important part of education. Creating supportive learning environments and expecting/allowing students to take a significant role in their own learning.
  • Cooperation: emphasizing cooperation and learner/learning-centered approaches in instruction. Content presentation is cosidered to be a minor part of instruction.  Students deepen their understanding with the instructor and each other.
  • Constructive practice: focus on learning process instead of products of learning. Refocusing education from instruction to learning, and emphasizing the individual learning process over cookie-cutter teaching.

As you see, 3Cs is a model any instructor or teacher can choose to use in any educational setting regardless the curriculum they are following. We need to know how learning happens, so that we can enhance it in the classrooms. In other words, rather than assuming that it is a teacher’s job to impart wisdom to students who will somehow magically absorb it, helping students to build their knowledge makes more sense. Working with students’ need to know makes learning and teaching much more meaningful!

I can help you make a difference with your students.

Even if your school or college is not focusing on learner agency and student centered learning practices, there are many things you can do in your classroom to improve learning outcomes. My email is NotesFromNina at gmail dot com, and I would love to help!




3 Responses to “About Nina”

  1. Raunak August 14, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Hi Nina..I’ve studied in Finland as well 🙂 good to come across your blog.


  1. Choosing to Teach: NotesFromNina | preclectic.com - January 18, 2014

    […] In my search for enlightening resources about designing meaningful learning I was fortunate to find Nina Smith‘s blog, NotesFromNina. In particular, I found Nina’s presentation, Meaningful Learning […]

  2. Paradigm – loose ends, tidy thinking Part 1 | Solution Support - December 22, 2014

    […] to Nina C Smith ( https://notesfromnina.wordpress.com/about/ ) for her gentle comment on my recent […]

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