From the category archives:

Learning

Tech to Support Learning

by Dr Davis on June 14, 2014

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0Bransford and Brown.“Technology to Support Learning.” How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000. 206-230. Web. May 2012. .

“[T]here is a strong argument for electronically linking students not just with their peers, but also with practicing professionals” (212).

Scaffolded experiences can be structured in different ways. Some research educators advocate an apprenticeship model, whereby an expert practitioner first models the activity while the learner observes, then scaffolds the learner (with advice and examples), then guides the learner in practice, and gradually tapers off support and guidance until the apprentice can do it alone (Collins et al., 1989). Others argue that the goal of enabling a solo approach is unrealistic and overrestrictive since adults often need to use tools or other people to accomplish their work (Pea, 1993b; Resnick, 1987). Some even contend that well-designed technological tools that support complex activities create a truly human-machine symbiosis and may reorganize components of human activity into different structures than they had in pretechnological designs (Pea, 1985). (214)

This is an interesting set of options. I am most likely to use the first set, even though I know that often my students will need to re-visit the idea of learning. While always having a solo approach is very unrealistic, there are lots of instances when that is exactly what every single one of us has to do.

[T]he mere existence of these tools in the classroom provides no guarantee that student learning will improve; they have to be part of a coherent education approach ” (216).

This is absolutely true and not the way we consistently use technology in the classroom.

An added advantage of networked technologies for communication is that they help make thinking visible. This core feature of the cognitive apprenticeship model of instruction (Collins, 1990) is exemplified in a broad range of instructional programs and has a technological manifestation, as (220) well (see, e.g., Collins, 1990; Collins and Brown, 1988; Collins et al., 1989). By prompting learners to articulate the steps taken during their thinking processes, the software creates a record of thought that learners can use to reflect on their work and teachers can use to assess student progress. (221)

I like the idea of thinking being visible. I have always liked the apprenticeship model.

The introduction of new technologies to classrooms has offered new insights about the roles of teachers in promoting learning (McDonald and Naso, 1986; Watts, 1985). Technology can give teachers license to experiment and tinker (Means and Olson, 1995a; U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1995). It can stimulate teachers to think about the processes of learning, whether through a fresh study of their own subject or a fresh perspective on students’ learning. It softens the barrier between what students do and what teachers do.

When teachers learn to use a new technology in their classrooms, they model the learning process for students; at the same time, they gain new insights on teaching by watching their students learn. Moreover, the transfer of the teaching role from teacher to student often occurs spontaneously during efforts to use computers in classrooms. (226)

Sometimes we forget how long it took us to learn to do something because it’s been so long since we learned it. Learning something new, even if it isn’t technology, keeps us involved and remembering the process.

“At the University of Illinois, James Levin asks his education graduate students to develop web pages with their evaluations of education resources on the web, along with hot links to those web resources they consider most valuable. Many students not only put up these web pages, but also revise and maintain them (227) after the course is over. Some receive tens of thousands of hits on their web sites each month (Levin et al., 1994; Levin and Waugh, 1998)” (228).

While I think this is unlikely to continue, unless students are considering the net their memory space, the more practical we can be in our assignments, the more likely our students are to find them useful. …Unfortunately sometimes they are very practical but the students are not yet aware of that.

“The process of using technology to improve learning is never solely a technical matter, concerned only with properties of educational hardware and software. Like a textbook or any other cultural object, technology resources for education—whether a software science simulation or an interactive reading exercise—function in a social environment, mediated by learning conversations with peers and teachers” (230).

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Digital Literacy Pedagogy

by Dr Davis on June 12, 2014

“Digital Literacy Pedagogy: An Experiment in Process-Oriented Publishing” at the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy has some very interesting information.

I particularly like the interactive timeline. That is very impressive.

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Gaming the Classroom

by Dr Davis on June 11, 2014

Having had some success with gaming the classroom in my spring 2013 British literature course, my eye was caught by “Why Gamification?” when I was reading a different post on Metawriting.

gamification_learning brain on games

The article begins:

Gamification, the use of game-design elements for a non-game purpose, interests me because I do not want my classes to be about the grade. I want my students to stop obsessing over what will please me enough to give them an A and instead focus on exploring and experimenting. Every semester and every class I find myself adding more elements of gamification to my classes because I believe gamification supports learning by motivating and engaging students and it supports writing development. And there is something about gamification that encourages community and collaboration that a traditional grading structure does not.

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Learning from Students

by Dr Davis on June 6, 2014

I’ve been thinking about the question of learning from our students (what do we learn and how do we learn it). I saw a post on Twitter that caught my attention.

3 students studyingDeanna Mascle posted a link to a blog post she wrote last year. However, as many blog posts, its relevance is not time limited. “What Can You Learn From and About Your Students?” talks about doing IRB approval for pedagogical research each semester. That is something I had not considered before.

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Radical Teaching Success

by Dr Davis on October 16, 2013

Wired has an article on a radical change in education.

I’ve seen the TED talk that Sugata Mitra gave over his successful experiment in educating the poorest of the poor.

I’m interested in the ideas found here, but am unsure how to implement them in the higher education classroom.

The study found that when the subjects controlled their own observations, they exhibited more coordination between the hippocampus and other parts of the brain involved in learning and posted a 23 percent improvement in their ability to remember objects. “The bottom line is, if you’re not the one who’s controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well,” says lead researcher Joel Voss, now a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.

For my literature students, I have given them the opportunity to vote on what kinds of papers they would write over the semester. (All short analysis papers, longer papers, or a single long paper.) They chose the short, regular assignments and the 3 exams (instead of 2). We actually just revised the syllabus yesterday and have added a cumulative final as well.

My business writing students were able to choose the topic of their major project, the primary form that major project would take, and whether or not they had a final exam or a brochure and digital presentation during the final exam period. That is not quite as much control over the entire class as could be had, but I do feel like it allowed them input and means they will be more prepared for the research and production of their major project.

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Learning Techniques: Distributed Practice

by Dr Davis on October 9, 2013

The term distributed- practice effect refers to the finding that distributing learning over time (either within a single study session or across ses- sions) typically benefits long-term retention more than does massing learning opportunities back-to-back or in relatively close succession. (35)

Spaced practice (1 day or 30 days) was superior to massed practice (0 days), and the benefit was greater following a longer lag (30 days) than a shorter lag (1 day). (36)

Cepeda et al. (2006) reviewed 254 studies involving more than 14,000 participants altogether; overall, students recalled more after spaced study (47%) than after massed study (37%). (36)

Cepeda et al. (2006) noted that most studies have used rela- tively short intervals (less than 1 day), whereas we would expect the typical interval between educational learning opportunities (e.g., lecture and studying) to be longer. Recall that the classic investigation by Bahrick (1979) showed a larger distributed-practice effect with 30-day lags between sessions than with 1-day lags (Fig. 10); Cepeda et al. (2006) noted that “every study examined here with a retention inter- val longer than 1 month demonstrated a benefit from distribution of learning across weeks or months” (p. 370; “retention interval” here refers to the time between the last study oppor- tunity and the final test). (37)

However, the answer is not as simple as “longer lags are better”—the answer depends on how long the learner wants to retain information. (37)

distributed-practice effects are large for free recall but are smaller (or even nonexistent) for tasks that are very complex, such as airplane control (Donovan & Rados- evich, 1999). (38)

Several obstacles may arise when implementing distributed practice in the classroom. (38)

how students naturally study. Michael (1991) used the term procrastination scallop to describe the typical study pattern—namely, that time spent studying increases as an exam approaches. (39)

students may need some training and some convincing that distributed practice is a good way to learn and retain information. Simply experiencing the distributed-practice effect may not always be sufficient, but a demonstration paired with instruction about the effect may be more convincing to students (e.g., Balch, 2006). (39)

we rate distributed practice as hav- ing high utility: It works across students of different ages, with a wide variety of materials, on the majority of standard labora- tory measures, and over long delays. (39)

Dunlosky, et al “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58.

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Learning Technique: Practice Testing

by Dr Davis on October 8, 2013

in contrast to literatures on other learning techniques, contemporary research on testing effects has actually used short retention intervals less often than longer retention intervals. (34)

Practice testing appears to be relatively reasonable with respect to time demands. (34)

Students can engage in recall-based self-testing in a relatively straightforward fashion. (34)

Although many studies have shown that testing alone outperforms restudy, some studies have failed to find this advantage (in most of these cases, accuracy on the practice test has been relatively low). In contrast, the advantage of practice testing with feedback over restudy is extremely robust. Practice testing with feedback also consistently outperforms practice testing alone. (35)

The feedback does not have to be immediate, however; in fact, it is better with delayed feedback.

Testing effects have been demonstrated across an impressive range of practice-test formats, kinds of material, learner ages, outcome measures, and retention intervals. Thus, practice testing has broad applicability. Practice testing is not particularly time intensive relative to other techniques, and it can be implemented with minimal training. Finally, several studies have provided evidence for the efficacy of practice testing in representative educational contexts. (35)

from:

Dunlosky, et al “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58.

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Learning Technique: Highlighting and Underlining

by Dr Davis on October 8, 2013

When students themselves are asked about what they do when studying, they commonly report underlining, high- lighting, or otherwise marking material as they try to learn it (e.g., Cioffi, 1986; Gurung, Weidert, & Jeske, 2010). (18)

On the basis of the available evidence, we rate highlighting and underlining as having low utility. (21)

it may actually hurt performance on higher- level tasks that require inference making. (21)

from:
Dunlosky, et al “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58.

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Learning Technique: Self-Explanation

by Dr Davis on October 7, 2013

the core component of self-explana- tion involves having students explain some aspect of their pro- cessing during learning. (11)

self-explanation may enhance learning by support- ing the integration of new information with existing prior knowledge. (11)

the range of tasks and measures that have been used to explore self-explanation is quite large. (12) This is overall a plus, because it means that it applies to a wide variety of assignments.

studies involving text learning have also shown effects on measures of comprehension, including dia- gram-drawing tasks, application-based questions, and tasks in which learners must make inferences … (12)

most students appar- ently can profit from self-explanation with minimal training. (13)

self-paced administration usu- ally yielded nontrivial increases (30–100%) in the amount of time spent learning in the self-explanation condition relative to other conditions (14)

its effects have been shown across differ- ent content materials within task domains as well as across several different task domains (14)

Self-explana- tion effects have also been shown across an impressive range of learning outcomes, including various measures of memory, comprehension, and transfer. (14)

from:
Dunlosky, et al “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58.

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Learning Technique: Elaborative Interrogation

by Dr Davis on October 2, 2013

Although most studies have involved individual learning, elaborative-interrogation effects have also been shown among students working in dyads or small groups (Kahl & Woloshyn, 1994; Woloshyn & Stockley, 1995). (8)

the key to elaborative interrogation involves prompting learners to generate an explanation for an explicitly stated fact. (8)

The prevailing theoretical account of elaborative-interroga- tion effects is that elaborative interrogation enhances learning by supporting the integration of new information with existing prior knowledge. During elaborative interrogation, learners presumably “activate schemata . . . These schemata, in turn, help to organize new information which facilitates retrieval” (Willoughby & Wood, 1994, p. 140). Although the integration of new facts with prior knowledge may facilitate the organiza- tion (Hunt, 2006) of that information, organization alone is not sufficient—students must also be able to discriminate among related facts… (8)

elaborative interrogation does appear to benefit learners across a relatively wide age range (8)

prior knowledge is an important moderator of elaborative-interroga- tion effects, such that effects generally increase as prior knowledge increases. (9)

elaborative-interrogation effects are relatively robust across factual material of different kinds and with different contents. (9)

In a classroom situation as the place of study:
Performance was better for the elaborative-interrogation group than for the control group (76% versus 69%), even after con- trolling for prior knowledge and verbal ability. (10)

From
Dunlosky, et al “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14.1 (2013): 4-58.

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