The Mikado again

And, they're off!

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568 Week 2

Monday July 8

ReadingTwitter Use and its Effects on Student Perception of Instructor Credibility by DeGroot, Young, & VanSlette (2015)

Guest – Alec Couros

Reading – I have pulled the first paragraph from the blog post I made on that day:

This article brings up many questions, and foremost has to do with the constantly changing face of social media.  Any studies that reference social media platforms risk that information to be seen as either invalid or unreliable, since the shelf-life of a particular platform is quite short, supplanted relatively quickly by something else.  Given that the study was published online in 2015, that is already a lifetime ago in social media terms, since the data would have been collected earlier than 2015 as well.  Since this article deals with college students from likely 2013-2014, the use of Twitter may or may not apply to 2019.  That in and of itself would be needed to affirm its reliability.  Another complicating factor is whether this information can be extrapolated to apply to younger students, such as in high school.  In that case, the difference between the relationships forged between a young adult and a college professor and that between an adolescent and a high school or middle school teacher is very wide.

The “Bring Out Your Dead Services” meme was tragically funny.

Guest – I must admit that with all of the people and information that we have been given thus far, I cannot visualize Alec from our linked feed. I did take notes and remember some of the visuals he displayed, like the graphic SAMR page, but even in googling his name and seeing his face, I cannot quite retrieve the memory. Of course I did comment on my own observation about going full circle with my teaching material (a comment about the “photo math” video he showed).

Reflection – As I have mentioned in class, having taught the new English 10 curriculum, and especially the New Media 10, I became acutely aware of the moving target that is current media.  In prepping students for readings and assignments, I had my own cut-off of three years for articles about media. Too many articles were about a different media landscape, and thus were not useful. An example was of a great lesson plan by a site called, “schooljournalism.org.” There were some great ideas and lesson plans, but one as an example, was for students to make a Vine. Although Vines have recently been resurrected and there are still archives of them, the platform largely is gone, and certainly does not have the popularity that it once did. It was gimmicky, and like many pop culture fads, came and went. So the course has a shelf-life of about one year, as not only does the content change, but the way it is integrated and received also changes. While I love the topic, I see the prep as extensive and perpetual. One may argue that all courses are like that, and to an extent that is true, however with other areas the knowledge is relatively static; the ways to learn and teach may vary, but the content mostly does not change (at least not in one year).

Tuesday July 9

ReadingsFIPPA & BC Cloud Computing Guide; Privacy Education for Kids by OPCC; BC Digital Literacy Framework

Guest – Jesse Miller

Readings – FIPPA is a very technical, legal document that cannot be read easily or quickly. It is made for use in legal proceedings when freedom of information is an issue. This is useful, but a cumbersome read for someone who is not a lawyer.

The BC Cloud Computing Guide is laid out in a format for the layperson (advice column style of questions and answers). Information is accessible. This article is written for those public bodies whose information is on a cloud service. One of the general themes of EDCI 568 is about how much information people are willing to not only share, but store, online, and this is covered in the guide.

Privacy Education for Kids is a resource page on the Office of Privacy Commissioner of Canada webpage. There are resource links for teachers and parents on the web page. There is also a link to a reading resource for kids in graphic novel or text format. The graphic novel, while geared towards high school students, is more at a middle school level. The information is relevant, but the style and writing is young.

BC Digital Literacy Framework is a document from the Ministry of Education. It sets out the curricular connections for digital literacy in BC schools K-12. The document is written in a format similar to the old Integrated Resource Packages.

Guest – Jesse was very personable and knowledgeable about online privacy (hmm…an oxymoron?) and the risks involved with having an online presence. While I found his presentation to be informative and valuable, he speaks very quickly, and it was almost impossible to keep up with all that he had to share. Having a powerpoint or pdf to share might have made it easier for reviewing after the fact.

Reflection – In day-to-day personal online interactions we put our private information at risk constantly. There are countless news pieces on what we sign away with the accepting of terms and conditions documents with the check of a box. As is pointed out, most people not only don’t bother to read all of the conditions, but they are written in “legalese” to dissuade those non-lawyers with enough temerity to attempt to read them. When, on top of that, you are a teacher, the issue of privacy, both of your own and that of your students, increases tenfold. In my school emails, it seems to be common practice to only use student initials in the subject line. While the body of the email may contain the student’s name, the subject line is supposed to safeguard their privacy. At the same time, there are email services that not only give the receiver the subject line, but also the first few words of the body of the email, so any mention of a student’s name in the first few words will appear in the preview.

This is an issue that will only become bigger, not smaller, as more and more of what people do is and will be online.

 

Wednesday July 10

ReadingsEvolution of my PLN; TwitterEDU Guide

Guests – Christine Younghusband, Ian Landy

Readings – Related to Christine being a guest speaker, Evolution of my PLN is her blog entry. As she describes in her blog post, Christine has found that through Twitter, she has found a number of people with whom she can make connections on a professional level. This group of people from all over are able to share ideas and grow through social media. The ability to make these connections sometimes without ever meeting face-to-face, highlights the “social” part of social media.

David Truss’s Twitter EDU Guide is a humourous, yet informative guide to starting on Twitter. David’s approach, while heavy on the persuasion, is also grounded in the reality that readers of the guide would be skeptical of Twitter. While he doesn’t shy away from promoting its use, he is aware that for many people, there may be misconceptions about the usefulness of Twitter. Maybe this comes from Donald Trump’s perceived overuse and misuse of Twitter.

Guests – Christine and Ian were both patched in remotely, and this reinforced the message they were espousing. Both guests shared a good sense of humour as they gently ribbed each other. Christine talked about the experiences she had because of Twitter, namely her involvement with the core Competencies Ed Camp in in Richmond. At one point, Christine and Dr. Val had us divide into the groups we had established before, and answer three questions and add to a google doc of Twitter hashtags, handles, and blog addresses. My group did not complete our tasks in time, although we did have fruitful discussion.

Reflection – While I am not a Twitter user, I am always looking to learn new things. If Twitter does half of what I’m being told it does, it will be very useful for me, and I should start following the Twitter EDU Guide. At the same time, at the moment, my head is swimming with the number of applications, websites, social media sites, blog-writing information, etc., that I must master quickly, so I can afford to wait to get a Twitter account. I can still read and follow on Twitter, and that will have to do for now. 🙂

Thursday July 11

ReadingMaking Reflective Practice Visible: Supporting Shifts in Practice Towards Personalized Learning by Tanya Ross

Reading – This paper is consistent with the direction that education in general is going – that is, towards a more personalized learning approach. In previous class discussions, we talked not only of students’ personalized learning, but of the approaches used to create the personalized learning, such as inquiry, problem, and project-based learning. As Tanya points out, BC’s new curriculum stresses a different approach to teaching and learning. At the same time, there is both autonomy by the teacher, and Learning Outcomes that are used to maintain a minimum standard for that grade level. The combination of new curriculum and a shift in pedagogy is key in this paper.

Reflection – Anecdotally, most of the teachers that I know are not satisfied with their approach to teaching. Not one waits for a Professional Development day to work on improving, but rather is always developing. I call it, “teacher brain,” because an idea can strike at any time, anywhere. The teacher brain never turns off – I might be in the middle of a grocery store and think of a new way to teach something. Recently, I was driving to school in the morning when I came up with a great idea for teaching poetry. As soon as I arrived at school, I wrote it down and started to make a lesson plan. I am never satisfied with my teaching and am constantly looking to be better than the day before. I don’t see that as extraordinary, but very ordinary.

Teaching using a personalized learning approach is not difficult, but it takes a lot of work to redefine one’s lessons. As well, very dedicated teachers spend much of their time both in and out of school on their students’ “success.” As I mentioned earlier about making Shakespeare more “human,” I would say that teachers must allow themselves to be “human,” and occasionally take the easier route of facts recitation and worksheets because, well, they are tired. This should not be met with derision, but with encouragement about getting through the day, or week. The reality about teaching is that some days we are flying high and are ready to tackle anything, and some days we want to just mail it in. Students are the same. Come to think of it, that is also life in general.

515 Week 2 – Warning! I wrote a lot… :)

Monday, July 8

Reading – Lewin’s chapter on quantitative data.

Guest – Matt from the library.

Reading – I rewrote the reading in a Word document so that it looked more like notes. Did a lot of indenting to create subcategories! Of course the article is given at this point to inform all of our critical look at studies for the next two years. In the grander scheme of things, this was a Coles notes version so that we can have a rudimentary understanding of statistics. Like everything we have been given so far, we are getting a basic foundation, and as time goes on, this will deepen according to our focus. The chapter itself is written well enough, and the key terms are italicized, which helps in notetaking.

Having taken stats classes 30-something years ago, I am used to the terminology, but much of it has lain dormant.  Some of it I truly have forgotten or didn’t remember the first time round. At the end of the day, what I have come to understand this week is that we don’t have time to absorb everything we read or are told, but at the same time, we are not expected to absorb it all…yet. With two, two-hour classes every day, chock-full of information, it is just enough that we keep up in the moment.  No time to think, because the next day will add more to our plates. But that is okay. There will be time later to let it all sink in; no need for us to expect ourselves to figure it all out right now.

Guest – Case in point: Matt from the library. In going through all of the benefits of Zotero, I managed to eventually keep up with him. This was not easy, as I had to flag him down numerous times to get unstuck. He helped every time, and I got through successfully. Do I remember how I did it all? Absolutely not. I came home to try going back to the site to play around, and could not remember much. Luckily he gave us his powerpoint presentation of the tutorial, so I can go back another time. Again, in the end the purpose was not to have us be proficient at using Zotero, but to know that it exists, and to see that it has some cool tools and features.

As for the program itself, it comes as advertised. Matt loves it, and in demonstrating its capabilities, it would be hard to argue his point. Someone with some basic knowledge of Zotero can save a lot of time; that is usually spent on formatting.  We’ll see how much that affects us at this level, but it is valuable information to hear someone say, “I wish this program existed when I was doing my post-grad degree!”

Reflection – While statistical methodology is important to know from a global perspective, its practical use in my English or Japanese classroom is minor. Having said that, in my English classes I often use a very simple example of statistics when I talk about a writer using words to change the atmosphere or mood of a written piece.  On the board, I write the following: W W W W W W W L L L. I then talk about sports reporting. I tell the students that while many people will say that numbers don’t lie, and that is true, statistics can reveal what you want them to reveal. A writer who wants to sound positive will say, “The Blue Jays have won 7 of the last 10 games!” A writer who wants to sound negative will say, “The Blue Jays are on a three game losing streak.” So how a writer wants you to feel can be changed even though it is the exact same set of data. Simple analogy, but gives students pause for thought.

Tuesday July 9

Reading – Public Comment Sentiment on Educational Videos; Women Scholars’ Experiences with Online Harassment and Abuse; optional – A Posthumanist Critique of Flexible Online Learning and its “Anytime Anyplace” Claims

Guests – Rich McCue, George Veletsianos

Readings – Many questions arose in reading the two required articles (the third I didn’t read, although I will later). Of course I had the opportunity to ask one question to Dr. Veletsianos directly when he linked into our video feed. The question I had pertained to the number of factors that might affect the results he found, even as he acknowledged them himself in the article (TED talk article).  That is, he identified three factors that influenced the results: gender, live vs animated, and topic. Just those three factors result in six scenarios. What happens when you insert race, or age, as an example, into the factors? It becomes very difficult to isolate variables when you have so many factors.

Guests – Rich came to introduce Excel and its functions for data entry. With five double-sided pages of notes for us, it was an Excel for Dummies introduction. The instructions were clear and well laid out, so I am confident that I can get through on my own. I made it through the first two pages, knowing that I would be going over it again, as well as the other eight pages, at home.

One of the many nuggets of information that Dr. Thom highlights is about a researcher’s background. How does knowing about the researcher affect what we interpret in the findings? Dr. Thom argues that it is very important. So, how did it affect me that we could see and hear and get feedback from a living, breathing researcher? The very one whose studies we just read? Clearly we were profoundly positively impacted by the opportunity to ask questions. Finding out about Dr. Veletsianos’s life growing up, as well as his family and how that has directed his research gave some context to why he studied what he did. This did not preclude his ability to tackle other topics, but it gave some understanding of why he studied what he did.

Reflection – When we are studying Shakespeare, I try to get students to see him as a real person, like them.  Of course there are theories around who really wrote the plays and what Shakespeare was really like. but that I leave for another discussion! I ask students to imagine that there had to have been times when he was just tired, and got a bit lazy in his writing.  Maybe it was late at night, and he’d been writing all day, and his candle was about to burn out, and he just wanted to go to bed. He might have been wanting to finish up a line before going to bed. He was working on Romeo and Juliet and had gotten to the scene when the nurse finds Juliet, “dead.” He knows that he needs ten syllables to keep her lines iambic pentameter, but just can’t think of the perfect words. So he writes, “O woe? O woeful, woeful, woeful day!” (IV.v. 52) and then, “O day! O day! O day! O hateful day!” (IV.v. 55) Maybe he is thinking, “Ah, I can’t be bothered! Good enough,” and then goes to sleep. Why is this important? I do this to “humanize” this historical figure, so that the students may interpret the plays as actual writing and not from the hand of God through Shakespeare. At the same time, we look at 16th Century England and the change of monarchy in 1603, right in the middle of Shakespeare’s writing period. We look at Holinshed’s Chronicles to see what storylines Shakespeare lifted to write his plays. As previously stated, it all helps to shape what we read.

Wednesday July 10

Reading – Assessing The Quality Of Mixed Methods Research: Toward A Comprehensive Framework

Reading – This reading was interesting, mostly because it was quite recent. What I mean by that is that the main claim and impetus for writing the article was that there was no “comprehensive framework” for mixed methods research. That information surprised me, because I expected that for something as important as having a standard set of criteria to assess the quality of mixed methods research, it would have been decided on long ago. The fact that the studies referenced are mostly from 2003-2010 shows that this has only recently been undertaken.

In trying to conceptualize a mixed methods approach, I came back to one of our first topics: Autoethnography. I see the two halves of the word divided also by type of research method. The auto(biographical) part lends itself to qualitative research, and the ethnographical part more to the quantitative.

Guest – no “guest,” but Heidi was the speaker of our group to report on her interpretation of the article, as well as her own reflections. She professed that she was stuck on the overlap between the writer, O’Cathain, and Tashakkori and Teddlie. There seemed to be reciprocal references that to her, indicated mutual support and bias for each other. This can be difficult to separate, but as Dr. Thom noted in class, this sometime cannot be avoided when a researcher’s own area is the same as a leading researcher. As O’Cathian aims to build on Tashakkori and Teddlie’s research, it is difficult not to either agree with or cite each others’ work.

Reflection – In thinking about mixed methods research, my initial reaction in trying to find context to make it personal was the reading on autoethnography. What came to mind was a paper I wrote for my teaching professional year course, History of Education in Canada.  I sought permission to write about the education of the Japanese-Canadian children in B.C. during World War II. While my paper was more of an examination of the schooling itself, I think it would have lent itself to an autoethnographical study had I looked at the case study of my parents and compared their experience to their local population, and then to the entire population of Japanese-Canadian children, versus the general population of children in B.C. as a whole. In order to make it truly autobiographical, I might have looked at the children born post-war, like I did, who grew up in a very different Canada than our parents.

Thursday July 11

Reading – Scholars Before Researchers by D. Boote & P. Beile (2005)

Guest – Pia from the library

Reading – The intent of the article is clear: do a proper literature review before doing research.  It was difficult to escape the paternalistic tone of, “Come on, people! Listen up!” that came from the introduction. The tone and writing changes slightly after that to be more academic in nature, but the direction is already set. Even in writing, “When considering the criteria and standards used to evaluate a dissertation, we need to keep in mind that most people with doctorates in education do not go on to pursue research careers. Most teach, administer, or lead (Passmore, 1980),” (p.4) the inference is that that doctoral candidate is not as dedicated to rigour. Or that the doctoral candidate’s supervisors have lower standards, because presumably, they allowed the dissertation to be accepted. This statement is problematic. No doubt a proper literature review lays the foundation for the research, but Boote and Beile risk falling into their own trap by citing Alton-Lee’s statistics. To be fair, there were two other studies cited, but to include the small sample of Alton-Lee’s without comparable statistics from fields outside of education, this presents a poor example of statistical relevance.

Guest – This was a refresher from our introduction on July 4. Pia went through a demonstration of narrowing our searches. I remember from her first visit that she used the threshold of ~200 results, and as I searched for articles, I tried to adhere to that standard. It was helpful, although understandably, there was still a lot of sifting through even the most basic descriptions of the studies, to find something applicable. This again, was intended to be an introduction to searching the library database. Three things I took away from this session were: not to check the “Discipline” box, but rather, the “Subject” box; that we should expect to book 30 minutes with Pia when we are prepping for our project; and that as good as Zotero is, it is most useful for doctoral students, where there may be hundreds of references and citations, rather than the tens that we may be dealing with.

Reflection – Certainly on a smaller scale, at the high school level we expect students to be able to do basic research papers and academic writing at more of the grade 12 level. Below grade 12 students are still working on proper grammar and essay writing, so it requires a dedicated unit to teach about academic writing and APA format. This is not to say that it is not worth doing, and with high school students it is easier than with primary or elementary, but it is difficult to make the topic “interesting.” I don’t teach English 12, but I know that students in English 12 do cover research papers.

 

experimental and control group

As Joanna and I chatted before class began today, we joked about how these classes would be great subject groups to study technology in the classroom, at least at the post-secondary level.  The struggles and trials and tribulations of getting a master’s cohort on educational technology to work through assignments using educational technology is a built-in experiment.  Of course that is not lost on the professors in charge, but it made Joanna and me wonder whether our movements were being tracked and we were in one giant experiment!  I would guess we would be the control group, and the online group would be the experimental group?

I was even more acutely aware of the “experiment” as Matt from the library came to talk with us.  At the end of his tutorial, which left a lot of us in his wake, there was a check-in with the online folk.  To be sure, as quick as Matt was, he fixed all of the problems that arose in the room (save for those who could not download Zotero without admin access).  Trevor chimed in that he got stuck fairly early on, and after that it moved along faster than he could keep up.  This to me highlighted the advantage of being in the room with Matt, as well as my proximal neighbours.  There were times when I leaned either to the left or the right to ask Heather or Clay about some part I had gotten stuck on.  As well, when I told Matt I was stuck, he ran over to get me back on track.  These interactions either occurred spontaneously and quickly (maybe 5-10 seconds) or spontaneously and drawn out (until my problem was solved).  The online folk (except the Fort St. James group) did not have either the advantage of someone literally beside them to ask, or the troubleshooting presence of the instructor at their immediate beck and call.  Those online folk would have to have unmuted their mics and then shared their screen with Matt for him to see where they were stuck.  Of course that was not impossible, but it would have lengthened Matt’s time with us, and his time was limited.  Even for us in the room, the information came at us at warp speed, but we clung to our seats so as not get thrown into the abyss.  In the end, Trevor asked Matt whether he could contact him later to straighten out where he got stuck, and that was fine with Matt.

So it made me think about how things may proceed in the Fall and beyond, as we are ALL going to be the “experimental” online folk.  Hmm…certainly connecting with a few others for support, both moral and intellectual, will be key.

Twitter use and Instructor Credibility

This article brings up many questions, and foremost has to do with the constantly changing face of social media.  Any studies that reference social media platforms risk that information to be seen as either invalid or unreliable, since the shelf-life of a particular platform is quite short, supplanted relatively quickly by something else.  Given that the study was published online in 2015, that is already a lifetime ago in social media terms, since the data would have been collected earlier than 2015 as well.  Since this article deals with college students from likely 2013-2014, the use of Twitter may or may not apply to 2019.  That in and of itself would be needed to affirm its reliability.  Another complicating factor is whether this information can be extrapolated to apply to younger students, such as in high school.  In that case, the difference between the relationships forged between a young adult and a college professor and that between an adolescent and a high school or middle school teacher is very wide.

As for social media platforms, in terms of use, I would anecdotally say that at the moment, Instagram is the platform of choice in 2019 of those in their early 20s and younger.  How would this different platform and its use affect college students’ perception of instructor credibility?  What about at the high school level?

In the Results section, it is reported that of student responses to the Open-ended questions, “Improving student-instructor relationships” was a theme that arose in student responses.  This may be more of an indication of the current generation’s preferred mode of communication with everyone, rather than just the instructor.  The follow-up to this may be about Twitter, or other platforms’ affect on everyone’s credibility.  As well, a control group of an equal number of students who talked with their instructors face-to-face might show the same results.

In my practice as a high school teacher, I went through the wave of Facebook mania about 15 years ago.  As facebook gained in popularity, so did the number of students who wanted to be “facebook friends.”  Some of those students were just “collecting” friends to bump up their numbers, which was a status symbol.  Many just wanted to connect in a way that was less teacher-student oriented.  When dealing with minors, this melding of professional and private personas was, and is, fraught with disaster.  The BCTF warns all teachers to be very careful about those kinds of relationships, and as a union rep, I have had to work with teachers who were pushing the boundaries of professional and private interactions online.  As a compromise, I created a facebook account and accepted only students on that account.  As well, I rarely posted or commented, but used the account to acknowledge a student’s desire to reach out, and left it at that.  The flurry of requests died down, and in the last five years, as facebook has lost its shine with the younger students, I have only been sought out a few times.  At the same time, as Instagram’s popularity has increased, a student has created a fan account on me.  I do not have an Instagram account myself, but this is the new way for students to reach out.

So where does that place us at the high school (and lower) level?  I believe that students’ perception of instructor credibility at the high school level looks very different from that at the post-secondary level.  This may require an equivalent study as DeGroot but with high school students as participants to fully know.

Quantitative Research reading

The required reading, Understanding and Describing Quantitative Data (Lewin, 2011) lays out the variety of quantitative methods of research as well as the details in making the research both valid and reliable.  Of course, all research aims to evaluate what the researcher is focused on (the validity) and that the results can be replicated by others independently (the reliability).  The difficulty lies in the details.  Does the data point to one factor, or are there other possible reasons for the results?  Was there an inherent bias in the process?  Were the results statistically significant?  Many problems may arise regarding the validity of the study’s design.  As for reliability, how many participants were used?  Were they representative of a bigger group?  With a different group, could this be replicated?  Are the experimental and control groups equal?  To ensure a study is both valid and reliable, the researcher must work hard to eliminate as many reasons for discounting the results as possible.

In reading the article, “Closing the gaps Improving literacy and mathematics by ict-enhanced collaboration” (Genlott and Gronlund, 2016), the qualitative research applies, because they have a very specific comparison and measurement.  The hypotheses arose from a method of learning to read and write developed by Arne Trageton called Write to Learn (WTL), and to see whether this method, using ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), results in better scores on a national test of math and literacy.  The three main groups in the study were: a group with ICT and the Write to Learn program; another that did not use WTL or ICT; and the last group used ICT, but not WTL.

The results showed that those students who were in the first group (WTL and ICT) scored higher than the other two groups, as well as the control groups.  The obvious question that arises is a comparison of strategies other than WTL for literacy and numeracy improvement.

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Musings on Social Media and Personalized Learning

First, a response to the readings; then a reflection on the applications to my experience.

July 3

Response to the readings

Re: Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching by Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller & Richard E. Clark (2010)

The key word in the article and in the title is, “minimal.”  The premise is that students are not successful with an approach that presumes that they will “figure out” a solution to a problem that they are given.  With minimal guidance, it is difficult for some to come up with a solution, or the time and effort required to find a solution does not benefit the students in their learning.  This approach can work, but only when students have enough prior knowledge or experience that their ability to independently problem-solve is high.  As noted in the abstract, “The advantage of guidance begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide ‘internal’ guidance.” (p.75)  Independent, autonomous problem-solving works best when there is a basic level of competence.  An example may be seen in the trades.  An apprentice does not get sent out on his or her own to work on a job, but rather is paired with an experienced worker to guide and model what is to be done.  Once that apprentice has been on the job long enough to see and try, he or she is sent out solo to work and solve problems independently.  There cannot be instant success by the worker being “thrown into the deep end and being expected to swim.”  Certainly a worker will eventually figure out a solution, but without guidance, the path to the solution would likely be inefficient and possibly ineffective.

Perhaps the interpretation of the data may be at the heart of the argument.  That is, those who promote unguided or minimally guided instruction may be looking for different outcomes.  It may be that what they are measuring is creative and innovative solutions to problems.  With minimal or no guidance, the variety or breadth of solutions increases because the direction is not prescribed by the instructor (the “right” answer).  The focus may be less about the result as it is the process.  In that case, minimal guidance would produce more creative approaches, even if some or many are not efficient or successful.  If the goal is not to have the most efficient or successful solutions, but rather to have “different” solutions (or attempts), then minimal guidance would be seen as superior to guided instruction.  In the end, a proponent of unguided instruction might argue that one innovative method may work out more efficiently and more successfully that the prescribed, guided method.

In the article that follows, the description of problem-based versus project-based is significant.  Problem-based, as described by Drs. Barron and Darling-Hammond, includes traditional instruction (“Teachers also offer instruction in more traditional ways, such as lectures and explanations that are crafted and timed to support inquiry.” p.5)  This description may negate Kirschner’s argument and assertion against problem-based learning.

Re: Teaching for Meaningful Learning by Dr. Barron & Darling-Hammond, Stanford University

The first statement that stood out in the reading was, “Interestingly, students who may struggle in traditional instructional settings have often been found to excel when they have the opportunity to work in a PBL context, which better matches their learning style or preference for collaboration and activity type (see, e.g., Boaler, 1997; Meyer, Turner, & Spencer, 1997; Rosenfeld & Rosenfeld, 1998).”  I would like to know if the opposite is also true; that is, whether students who struggle in PBL settings find that they excel in traditional instructional settings.

If, in Barron and Darling-Hammond’s description, that problem-based learning includes the teacher’s use of more traditional instruction, such as lectures and explanations, then it is not an either-or proposition.

Reaction and reflection

Kirschner – In my mentoring of student teachers over the years, I have often counseled with the same message when they have asked about trying an activity with the students: try it.  No matter what I think, you won’t know how something will work until you try it.  This unguided approach was purposeful because I did not want my bias to influence the student teacher’s thinking going into the activity, in a positive or negative way.  As well, a student teacher typically (if it is his or her first practicum) has no prior knowledge about the probability of success for doing activities in class, and this makes it more nerve-wracking from the student’s perspective, but is a necessary component of real learning-by-doing.  So unguided learning has a place.

Barron and Darling-Hammond – Like most teachers, I have done many problem-based and project-based learning activities.  In English, for the past two years, my school has done a version of CBC’s Canada Reads, but at the school level (Wendy, from your previous cohort, hatched the idea).  This includes having classes championing a book, and culminating in a presentation to the student body about your chosen book.  The carrot at the end was to have your class’s book chosen either by the judges or the students as the book of the year.  My class worked on a guided approach to making a 2-3 minute presentation.  How books were presented was up to the teacher and class, so some did PowerPoint, one did a rap song, one did a dance, and my other class did a narrated, dramatic stage presentation.  This class chose to do a news report-style video.  It was an amazing success (we won the student choice award).  We certainly could have made a documentary about the process, because it would have played out just like the Most Likely to Succeed video.  This, in a “traditional” school setting.  So does a school need to completely alter itself to incorporate inquiry-based projects?  I would argue, “No.”  But also, to be clear, this did not work for every student, so it is not the method of learning for all students, all the time.

Test post on Research Methods

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