Virtual learning environments have the potential to support students’ development of design skills in engineering education. However, few approaches exist for modeling and measuring design learning as it emerges in authentic practices, which often includes collaboration. This study merges learning sciences research with engineering design education to develop an approach for modeling and measuring design thinking. I propose a connected design rationale model which identifies relationships among design moves and rationale. Results from a qualitative examination of how professional engineers make connections among moves and rationales were used as the foundation to examine students in virtual internships. Using digital collaborative chat data and Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA), the discourse networks of students who had high and low scores in the virtual internship were compared to the discourse patterns of professional engineers to determine if measuring connected design rationale reveals meaningful differences between expert and novice design thinking. The results show a significant difference between high and low-performing students in terms of their patterns of connections and that high-performing students in the virtual internship made connections that were more like experts than low-performing students. Results suggest that a connected design rationale model distinguishes between experts and novices in meaningful ways and can be a robust approach for research in learning sciences and engineering education.
Could probability be out of proportion? Self-explanation and example-based practice help students with lower proportional reasoning skills learn probability
Proportional reasoning failures seem to constitute most errors in probabilistic reasoning, yet there is little empirical evidence about its role for attaining probabilistic knowledge and how to effectively intervene with students who have less proportional reasoning skills. We examined the contributions of students' proportional reasoning skill and example-based practice when learning about probabilities from a reformed seventh grade curriculum. Teachers in their regular classrooms were randomly assigned to instruct with a reformed textbook (control) or a version revised to incorporate correct and incorrect example problems with prompts to explain (treatment). Students' prior knowledge in proportional reasoning skill separately predicted probabilistic knowledge at posttest, regardless of their prior knowledge in probability or minority status. Overall, students in the treatment condition improved more in their probabilistic knowledge, if they started with less proportional reasoning skills. Our findings suggest that example-based practice is beneficial for students with less prior knowledge of proportions, likely a key concept for developing probabilistic knowledge.
The aim of this experiment was to examine the effect of different instructional strategies on student teachers’ confirmation bias. Confirmation bias refers to the selectivity in finding and using evidence that fits one’s own beliefs or hypotheses while neglecting evidence that is opposite to one’s own beliefs or hypotheses (Nickerson, 1998). Dutch student teachers (n = 141) took a confirmation bias pre-test and were then randomly assigned to three conditions; teaching on video (TOV), preparing to teach (PTT) and re-study (CC). All participants received text-based instruction on confirmation bias and how it can be mitigated. They also practised with confirmation bias tasks and they received feedback on their answers. Subsequently, participants in the TOV and PTT conditions prepared a lesson about the instructional content and in the TOV condition they taught this lesson on video. After the learning phase, TOV and PTT participants completed a social presence questionnaire. All participants completed an arousal questionnaire and a confirmation bias post-test and a transfer test. The results showed that confirmation bias was reduced to a similar extent in all conditions. Results also showed that the quality of the prepared lesson was highest for TOV participants suggesting they had gained better understanding of the confirmation bias than PTT participants. Furthermore, in contrast to our expectations, PTT participants reported highest social presence scores. TOV participants experienced higher arousal levels compared to CC participants. Transfer scores did not differ between conditions. We discuss theoretical explanations of the findings from the present study.
Teaching argumentative synthesis writing through deliberative dialogues: instructional practices in secondary education
Dialogical argumentation practice contributes positively to argumentative writing skills. Specifically, deliberative dialogues are effective in promoting argument and counterargument integration in students' essays. However, the potential of dialogic activities may be increased if they are combined with instructional practices. The primary objective of this research is to compare the impact of four intervention programs, aimed at improving argumentative synthesis writing from conflicting sources. The four programs resulted from the combination of two instructional components (Explicit Instruction through video modelling—EI, or a Procedural Guideline—G), while Deliberative Dialogues—DD—were a constant element. We conducted a pre-post quasi-experimental study in which 186 Spanish third grade secondary school students (aged 14–15) participated. We evaluated the quality of the syntheses by examining the level of argumentative coverage (the total number of arguments included in the synthesis) and the level of integration (the type and frequency of the argumentative strategies used in the syntheses). The results showed that the effectiveness of the instructional methods varies according to the synthesis quality indicator. Explicit instruction, in combination with deliberative dialogues, was especially helpful in improving the level of integration of syntheses. The procedural guideline, in combination with deliberative dialogues, contributed significantly to the coverage of arguments. The combination of these two elements did not favor the writing of synthesis as expected, probably due to the conditions in which the intervention was carried out. The findings of this study revealed that the coverage of arguments and integration processes are of different nature, follow different learning paths and require different instructional processes.
Filling in the gaps: observing gestures conveying additional information can compensate for missing verbal content
While observing gesture has been shown to benefit narrative recall and learning, research has yet to show whether gestures that provide information that is missing from speech benefit narrative recall. This study explored whether observing gestures that relay the same information as speech and gestures that provide information missing from speech differentially affect narrative recall in university students. Participants were presented with a videotaped narrative told in one of four conditions: with gestures and no missing verbal information, with gestures and missing verbal information, with no gestures and no missing verbal information, or with no gestures and missing verbal information. Results showed that observing gestures that provided additional information to speech (i.e., when the speech was missing vital information) enhanced narrative recall compared to observing no gestures, while observing gestures that did not provide additional information to speech were no more beneficial than observing no gestures at all. Findings from the current study provide valuable insight into the beneficial effect of iconic gesture on narrative recall, with important implications for education and learning.
The present study examines the effectiveness of incorporating worked examples with prompts for self-explanation into a middle school math textbook. Algebra 1 students (N = 75) completed an equation-solving unit with textbooks either containing the original practice problems or in which a portion of those problems were converted into a combination of correct, incorrect, and incomplete examples. Students completed pre- and posttest measures of algebraic feature knowledge, equation-solving skills, and error anticipation. Example-based textbook assignments increased students’ equation-solving skills and their ability to anticipate errors one might make when solving problems. Differences in students’ anticipation of various types of errors are also examined. Error anticipation, a particular form of negative knowledge, is a potentially important skill that relates to algebraic feature knowledge and equation-solving skills.
Teacher learning is a huge challenge in instructional change, but relatively little work has carefully examined the mechanisms by which teachers learn, in contrast to the extensive work on programs that help teachers learn and the high-leverage instructional practices that are strong predictors of student learning. Specifically, relatively little is known about how teachers learn to effectively implement these new instructional practices. Using a mixed-methods, case-comparison design, this study examines specific instructional coaching practices that support 4th–8th grade mathematics teachers in learning to implement ambitious instructional practices. The study leverages a large, state-wide representative dataset in order to purposively select carefully-matched contrasting cases for qualitative analysis from a starting sample of hundreds of teachers, which enabled selecting teachers that began in a very similar place but then progressed at different rates. In-depth qualitative coding was systematically conducted on detailed transcripts of coach-teacher conversations from these carefully selected cases. Finally, these codes were analyzed quantitatively to determine whether the content and form of these conversations predicted improvement in teachers’ instructional practices. Results showed that coach-teacher pairs who discuss when and why certain practices should be implemented, and provide more opportunities for teacher input, see larger gains in ambitious instruction in later lessons. Implications for a coaching model based in the cognitive sciences are discussed.
Implementing peer feedback in revisions is a complex process involving first planning to fix problems and then actual implementing feedback through revisions. Both phases are influenced by features of the peer feedback itself, but potentially in different ways, and yet prior research has not examined their separate role in planning or the mediating role of planning in the relationship of feedback features and implementation. We build on a process model to investigate whether feedback features had differing relationships to plans to ignore or act on feedback versus actual implementation of feedback in the revision, and whether planning mediated the relationship of feedback features and actual implementation. Source data consisted of peer feedback comments received, revision plans made, and revisions implemented by 125 US high school students given a shared writing assignment. Comments were coded for feedback features and implementation in the revision. Multiple regression analyses revealed that having a comment containing a specific solution or a general suggestion predicted revision plans whereas having a comment containing an explanation predicted actual implementation. Planning mediated the relationship to actual implementation for the two feedback features predicting plans, suggestion and solution. Implications for practice are discussed.
Productive failure has shown positive effects on conceptual and transfer measures, but no clear effects on procedural measures. It is therefore an open question whether, and to what extent, productive failure methods may be used to enhance the learning of procedural skills. A typical productive failure study focuses on a single, complex concept; in contrast, procedural knowledge generally consists of a series of less-complex procedural steps. In this study, failure occasions were adapted to specifically fit procedural knowledge by introducing procedural problems prior to the formal instruction of relevant principles. These procedural problems offered brief but multiple occasions for failure, which we call micro productive failure. A total of 85 sixth-graders were introduced to algebraic expression simplification by providing problem-solving prior to instruction (PS-I condition), compared to providing problem-solving after instruction (I-PS condition). Findings reveal a stable effect of offering micro productive failure occasions for procedural learning; however, as anticipated, there were no effects on conceptual or transfer measures.
Analyzing student thinking reflected in self-constructed cognitive maps and its influence on inquiry task performance
Higher-order thinking is crucial to inquiry learning. It is important to investigate how students think in inquiry contexts. Given the tacit nature of higher-order thinking, cognitive maps (e.g., concept maps, reasoning maps) have been used to externalize thinking and have shown promising effects in terms of improving inquiry task performance. However, few studies have analyzed student-constructed maps that reflect the thinking underpinning students’ inquiry task performance. This study aimed to address this gap. Sixty-nine 11th grade students worked in small groups to explain a fish die-off phenomenon in a virtual ecosystem and collaboratively constructed an integrative cognitive map to facilitate thinking during the task. The map comprised a concept map (representing conceptual thinking about relevant subject knowledge) and a reasoning map (representing the reasoning process). Regression analyses showed that the quality of the student-constructed maps, particularly the reasoning maps, was a significant predictor of inquiry task performance assessed based on students’ written explanations of the phenomenon. Although the quality of the concept maps was not a significant predictor of inquiry task performance, it did predict the quality of the reasoning maps. Student thinking reflected in concept mapping and that reflected in reasoning mapping play different roles in inquiry learning.
Ten steps to 4C/ID: training differentiation skills in a professional development program for teachers
This paper describes how an interdisciplinary design team used the Four-Component Instructional Design (4C/ID) model and its accompanying Ten Steps design approach to systematically design a professional development program for teaching differentiation skills to primary school teachers. This description illustrates how insights from a cognitive task analysis into classroom differentiation skills were combined with literature-based instructional design principles to arrive at the training blueprint for workplace-based learning. It demonstrates the decision-making processes involved in the systematic design of each of the four components: learning tasks, supportive information, procedural information, and part-task practice. While the design process was time and resource-intensive, it resulted in a detailed blueprint of a five-month professional development program that strategically combines learning activities to stimulate learning processes that are essential for developing the complex skill providing differentiated instruction in a mathematics lesson.
Fostering transfer of responsibility in the middle school PBL classroom: an investigation of soft scaffolding
Scaffolding is one of the critical features in a problem-based learning environment to address challenges associated with problem solving. While transfer of responsibility is considered as an ultimate goal in scaffolding that is adaptive and contingent, it is rarely studied and practiced. Thus, the purpose of this study was to inform a deeper understanding of one middle school teacher’s manner of soft scaffolding, which refers to just-in-time and contingent support, through teacher-student interaction to examine how transfer of responsibility was achieved. We investigated one middle school teacher’s forms of scaffolding during a problem of food systems and supply chains related multiple aspects of sustainability and social justice issues. Using conversation analysis, three discursive patterns in scaffolding emerged: (1) shifting patterns of turn-taking organization; (2) leaving room for the students to take responsibility by giving extended wait time; and (3) extending the discussion with different examples. The paper concludes with implications for PBL teachers and researchers.
When learning from animations is more successful than learning from static pictures: learning the specifics of change
The results of three meta-analyses show that the effectiveness of learning from animations, when compared to learning from static pictures, is rather limited. A recent re-analysis of one of these meta-analyses, however, supports that learning from animations is considerably more effective than learning from static pictures if the specifics of the displayed changes need to be learned. In order to further validate this finding as well as to clarify the educational strengths and weaknesses of animations and static pictures, an experimental study with three groups was conducted. Overall, 88 university students participated in the study. One group of learners (n = 30) watched a single picture of a gear mechanism, one group of learners (n = 28) watched four pictures, and one group of learners (n = 30) watched an animation. All groups had to identify specific motions and spatial arrangements covered by the gear mechanism. While learners who watched the animation exhibited the best performance with respect to the identification of motions, learners who watched the pictures showed the best performance with respect to the identification of spatial arrangements. The effect sizes are large. The results of the study help to clarify when animations and when static pictures are most suitable for learning.