Understanding by Design meets the needs of Innovators for an interactive involvement with the material through the strategy of “uncoverage.”

Understanding by Design meets the needs of Innovators for an interactive involvement with the material through the strategy of “uncoverage.”[1]The experience of “connecting the dots” to discover the hidden pictures through uncoverage is uniquely suited and highly appealing to Innovators and Early Adopters. Uncoverage is defined as activity whereby the students discover knowledge through their own efforts. Learning via presented knowledge, such as lectures that cover a textbook, is comparatively ineffective and ephemeral.[2]

            Uncoverage allows students freedom to learn through their strengths and at their own level. Uncoverage teaches patience and social skills through cooperative learning; uncoverage and conversation allow learners to practice teaching others. This is essential to the horizontal spreading of information across each adoption category. Uncoverage strengthens the social network of a church and develops caring bonds into learning relationships. Study guide paragraphs will share information in a way that will stimulate questions rather than provide answers. The study guide will include all information shared in the seminars, plus additional information designed to tweak the curiosity of Innovators and Early Adopters, thereby encouraging further conversation and uncoverage.[3] The study guide supports conversations through provocative statements and the division into paragraph length sound bite concepts.

            Lectures promote conformity which is frequently rejected; uncoverage promotes conversations which lead to adoption. Uncoverage through conversations immediately contextualizes the innovation, thereby furthering diffusion while simultaneously building up community. Uncoverage provides for exponentially multiplying conversations, the primary requirement of innovation adoption beyond the chasm.[4] Conversation cannot be hurried, manipulated, or externally controlled. Uncoverage promotes conversations which lead to a better understanding and ultimately to adoption.

            Uncoverage promotes exploration and experimentation with the ideas that make up an innovation. Uncoverage promotes experiences that enhance the factors related to innovation adoption, which are the relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability and observability of the innovation. Re-invention, a sixth factor, is customization of the innovation by the adopter to optimize value for local needs; this factor is particularly attractive to Early Adopters.[5]

            Uncoverage allows students to learn at their own pace. This is necessary because the Early Adopters, who are not initially present at the seminar, will need to use the study guide as a self-teaching resource. In a diffusion of innovations approach, persons must be able to adopt at the speed that is comfortable to them. Uncoverage, therefore, facilitates learning without anxiety, a necessity in social change because the balancing process which rejects an innovation is triggered by anxiety. The emotional state of “flow” is one of high excitement and low anxiety; it is the most fruitful state for learning.[6] The visionary minority are excited by and explore new information in a state of flow; uncoverage allows uninhibited discovery. Anxiety inhibits learning and prevents change.

            A key approach to promoting uncoverage instead of explanation is to have “questions that uncover nuance and connections to personal experience” for the student.[7] Good questions highlight big ideas and help the student uncover “linchpin” concepts which help a student grasp a subject’s essential unity while ordering its diverse complexity.[8] Questions guide uncoverage and are key tools to generating the conversations that lead to change. Homework discussion questions and exercises in each seminar module guide local contextualization of the material through the steps of the W.H.E.R.E. learning template. They promote conversation and refinement in the six facets of a better understanding and the six factors that increase adoption of an innovation.





[1] The quote is a selection from David O. Kueker’s Fuller Seminary Doctor of Ministry project submitted in September, 2007, entitled Diagnosis, Dialogue, and Decision: A Threefold Process of Revitalization For the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
It is shared here in recognition of its 12th Anniversary along with comments to update and provide perspective on the material. The original project was a Training Manual/Study Guide of three Seminars supported by three chapters of research and an Introduction. The material is available for download at www.disciplewalk.com/Resources.html. In 2009 it was provided for purchase as a softcover book entitled Designing Discipleship Systems: Christian Disciple Making For Any Size Church, Any Theology through CreateSpace.com.

[2][3] [4][5] [6][7] [8]

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

[1]Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design, 98-114.

[2]Wiggins and McTighe point out the common problem that occurs when experts explain theory to novices; experts explain ideas from an omniscient point of view and in a logical sequence obvious to the expert but not at all accessible to the novice. Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design, 101-102. This lack of understanding is probably a key factor in the formation of the communication gap known as the chasm.

                Learning through uncoverage allows the experience of the uncertainty present in the original process of discovery. Uncoverage by the student’s own inquiry and performance “is vital because all big ideas are subtle and unobvious. Without lessons to bring them to life, concepts such as manifest destiny or the water cycle remain empty phrases to be memorized, not understood.” Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design, 100.

[3]The study guide will be organized as seminars composed of numbered modules of numbered sections with paragraphs identified by letters; this will allow immediate reference to specific sections in discussion and facilitate conversations and email correspondence on the material. The abbreviation S1.M2.S1.A, for example, would refer to Seminar 1, Module 2, section 1, paragraph A.

[4]These six adoption factors create the excited conversations which underlie the Center for Parish Development Church Growth Principle. See pages 100-101, 166-168 in this study guide.

[5]Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 204-251, 172-179.

[6]Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention

New York: HarperCollins, 1996), 107-126, 341-372.

[7]Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design, 109.

[8]Ibid., 113-114.

This entry was posted in Ch 3 - Learning Modalities. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.