Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall 2010 UTeach PBI Class 9- Sept 30: Krajcik, Rivet, Blumenfeld

Class started today with a quick word from Lynn Kirby, one of the master teachers. Students should be aware that next Saturday (Oct 9th) is the field trip to McKinney Falls to see the opportunities there for working with students in the field. Students should meet near Sanchez around 9 to take vans to McKinney Falls. We will hike from the upper falls to the lower falls and should be back by 12. If you wish to drive yourself you can either pay the fee or follow the vans. More details forthcoming.

Also, if students plan to attend the Blanton Museum field trip on Friday, Oct 8th, they should meet at 3pm in the main entrance of the museum. Please bring a notebook and a pencil (no pen).

Note: Observation assignment is on hold for now due to some scheduling difficulties. You will be informed what is expected of you as soon as we have the details.

Dr. Petrosino began class by listing some of the readings that the class has done and explaining the academic origins of the work.

Michigan group: Krajcik & Blumenfeld, Krajcik & Rivit

Vanderbilt group: Barron et al, LTC, Jasper.

He also briefly discussed the difference between these readings and the Buck Institute book. The Buck Institute is more derivative as they do not conduct their own research, and a little more general in terms of domain. It is a resource, but not a substitute for the primary literature.

He then pointed out that the Michigan and Vanderbilt groups are not in opposition to each other; Barron et al’s four principles of PBI (learning appropriate goals, scaffolding, formative assessment and social structures) are very similar to those outlined in the Krajcik and Blumenfeld chapter reading. From these different readings, students should be forming a picture of what it is necessary to create a learning environment that facilitates “big P” Projects.

Dr. Petrosino then moved on to discussing the Krajcik and Rivit article from the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and went into detail about why he feels it is a core reading for PBI. It delineates and gives valid proof for the feasibility of implementing PBI in a complex urban setting with quantifiable robust results. Done over 4 years in Detroit public schools with 2500 kids and 24 teachers, the study starts out with university intervention and becomes a district project. Results showed that kids performed well on content measures and process measures, which shows the value of good design and good units. He also pointed out that this study shows that there is variance in how PBI is implemented; it doesn’t have to be perfect to work. He advised students to “free yourself of being perfect”; it’s not necessary to be perfect at a particular type of pedagogy to implement it effectively.

The class was asked to consider the question, “Is PBI more cognitively demanding on a teacher than good lecturing? Why?” and discussed it in small groups.

Students responded with the following:

What goes into a good lecture: research, preparation, communication skills, knowing your audience, know the content ahead, storytelling, interacting with audience (Socratic, just-in-time decisions), balance between rigidity and flexibility.

Some good questions that were asked:

-Does a lecture transcend place and time?

-Does being flexible change the message?

What goes into a good PBI unit: lots of preparation, knowledge about related fields, many of the same skills that go into a good lecture.

A question that caused some debate:

-Will PBI units open-ended if they have good learning goals?

Dr. Petrosino drew the following chart on the board and asked students to think about how “traditional” teachers and PBI teachers might compare on these skills:

Teacher skills



Content Comprehension

Memory Demands

Synthesis of Content

Analysis of Content




He noted that there is a lot more variance in lectures (i.e., there are more people doing it at all levels), though there is a general sense that PBI is more cognitively demanding than traditional. Dr. Petrosino notes that this is researchable question, because it is not an empirically supported conclusion. He also noted that having a captive audience does not necessarily mean you’re doing lecture or PBI well … either takes lots of preparation and understanding of learning.

Returning to the Rivit and Krajcik article, Dr. Petrosino pointed out that contextualized learning is really where the two schools of PBI academics align. He turned to the examples of assessment in the paper, and asked the students to define the difference between low, medium, and high level questions:

Low level questions primarily require recall and comprehension; medium involve simple relationships and application; high level were short answer that required students to create hypotheses, isolate variables, describe data, etc. The class examined some of the sample assessment items and discussed the cognitive demands of different types of questions.

During this discussion, students brought up the possibility that student experience might affect their ability to answer some of the questions, and Dr. Petrosino explained to the students that English skill level is the best predictor of success in other subject areas. Sara gave an example of students in her class not being able to answer a Science TAKS question because they did not know what a porcupine was even though they understood the content that was technically being tested. Students who will soon be in the classroom definitely need to consider these sorts of issues when they think about curriculum, assessment, and accountability.

Students in the morning section conducted an activity on reaction time. The afternoon section will do this activity on Tuesday, October 5th.

No comments:

Post a Comment