Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Class Meeting 18- Wednesday, April 7: Anchored Instruction (cont) Contextualization/Design Priniciples

The first part of today’s class involved an activity to place the size of various objects along a line. From a football field that is 100 meters to the diameter of a hydrogen atom which is 1x10-10 meters. Students split into two groups. One group was given no hints, while the other group was reminded of their work on Monday in interpreting the Richter scale reports of Sunday’s earthquake. When the students presented their results, we found that the opposite of what we expected happened. In fact, the students who were told the hint about recalling the Richter scales, more often represented their data linearly, while the students who were NOT told the hint more often represented their data logarithmically.

Professor Petrosino then showed differences between the linear and logarithmic scales. He opened up discussion on logarithms, specifically we all learned about that at one point or another, but that information might not be as active as we would like. Students then talked about how we are trained to think or visualize things linearly, and how the group that was given the hint thought that because their experiments with the Richter scale on Monday ended up in messy understandings of logarithmic scales, that meant that they might want to show the data through a simpler linear scale.

Professor Delgado then linked this to the problems presented in the Bransford et al. (1990) articles and how this example showed how instruction that is anchored can changes how one approaches a problem. Students then engaged in a discussion about the Bransford et al. (1990) example, which Dan and Heather saw as just issues of semantics. Diane related it to her group’s field experience, about how hard it was to anchor something without giving a direct hint about what they wanted students to do in terms of finding the surface area and volume of an object.

Then, Professor Petrosino presented a paragraph of text that seemingly didn’t make a lot of sense. But after he uttered the phrase, “Doing laundry”, students seemed to understand the paragraph. Professor Petrosino connected this to the idea of activating/stimulating prior knowledge. The inability for students to create a mental model when reading the text makes them frustrated, but after the image of doing laundry is activiated, the paragraph makes more sense.

The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important bu complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem complicated. Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one never can tell, After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life. (p. 722)

Bransford, J.D., & Johnson, M.K. (1972). Contextual prerequisites for understanding: Some investigations of comprehension and recall. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 717-726.

Students ended the class by reflection on the design of the anchor instructional parts of the field experience. Students came together in their field-experience groups to talk about the design principles of their anchor videos, and how they might have or not met the 6 design principles. The Geometry group talks about their hypothetical anchor, since they did not get a chance to create their own project. And, the GeoGebra group discussed their anchor and ways in which it could it have been better. Before class ends, students get an Anchor Video rubric to talk about on Monday.

Jenny Chiu from the UC-Berkeley was a visitor to our class today.

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