Research Methods for the Learning Sciences

Research Methods for the Learning Sciences

Research Methods for the Learning Sciences C term, 2010 January 15, 2010 Todays Class

Administrative Stuff Philosophical Underpinnings I Probing Question for Wed, Jan. 20 Survey Administrative Stuff Did everyone sign up for an ISP (unless you are auditing)? If not, and you want to receive credit, please

talk to me after class Syllabus Everyone has downloaded this off the web, right? Required Texts None Recommended Texts

Available Used on Amazon for <$40 total Rosenthal, R., Rosnow, R.L. (1991) Essentials of Behavioral Research: Methods and Data Analysis: 2nd edition. Boston, MA: McGrawHill. Simon, H.A. (1999)Sciences of the Artificial: 3rd edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Ferguson, G.A.(1971)Statistical Analysis in Psychology and Education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Recommended Readings [available online, check your email] Hamming, R. (1986) You and Your Research. Presentation at Bell Labs. Agre, P. (2001) Networking on the Network. Manuscript online. Bem, D.J. (2002) Writing the Empirical Journal Article. The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Required Readings Listed in the course schedule on the web Wed, Jan. 20 readings now online Required Readings Are not actually all that required Required Readings This is a Research Methods class

I have intentionally assigned more reading than you can realistically do 100.0% of I expect you to be strategic and apply metacognition To decide what is absolutely crucial And what you should skim to be prepared for class discussion and for when you need the method in 3 years Course Goals Learn data collection, design, and analysis methodologies

that are particularly useful for scientific research in education Learn how to apply these methods to your own research program Be able to accurately select a valid method for answering a specific research question, and to defend that choice effectively but collegially Draw conclusions at the appropriate level of generality from the results obtained from a method Be able to identify the contributions and significance of research from other research paradigms

Assignments 5 Assignments You will apply methods weve learned in class to real data and/or research questions If you want, you can use your own data and research questions! Or you can use mine Each assignment counts for 15% of grade

Late policy and turn-in policy is in your syllabus Assignments 1. QUANTITATIVE FIELD OBSERVATION/TEXT REPLAYS 2. INTERVIEW/CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY 3. THINK ALOUD 4. COGNITIVE MODELING 5. TRANSFER/PREPARATION FOR FUTURE LEARNING

Probing Questions Will be given out at the end of every class (or almost every class) Write a 1-3 paragraph response (or follow the directions) 15% of grade total Late policy and turn-in policy is in your syllabus

Class Participation 10% of final grade Examinations There will be an incredibly painful and grueling examination on April 1 Fortunately, it will count for 0% of your grade Plagiarism and Cheating Dont do it

If you have any questions about what it is, talk to me before you turn in an assignment that involves either of these University regulations will be followed to the letter Accommodations for Students with Disabilities See syllabus and then see me

Surveys Periodically, I will put up a survey on the web so that you can anonymously give me feedback on the previous class or assignment Please fill these out, as it will help me improve this course for you! Questions Any questions on the syllabus, schedule, or administrative topics, before we launch into

the fun? Todays Class Administrative Stuff Philosophical Underpinnings I

Probing Question for Wed, Jan. 20 Survey Anderson et al versus Greeno Anderson et al versus Greeno John Anderson Leader of development of ACT-R Theory Pre-eminent attempt to develop a unified theory

of cognition My grandadvisor Lynne Reder Extremely influential researcher in memory and cognition Herbert Simon Nobel Laureate in Economics

One of the fathers of both Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence Important Philosopher of Design and Applied Science Jim Greeno Key theoretician of situationalist perspective Former editor of Cognitive Science Fairly unpleasant rhetorical practices on both

sides Use of straw-man arguments, name-calling, comparison to unpopular researchers Well come back to this at the end of the semester But for now What are the scientific differences between Greeno and Anderson et al?

What are the scientific differences between Greeno and Anderson et al? Understanding learning in context as part of a system, versus understanding learning as something that an individual does Arguing for learning in context versus abstract transferrable learning Arguing for the decomposability of learning phenomena versus arguing for a holistic/systems perspective

Questions (according to Greeno) Cognitive Situative How tightly bound is the knowledge to the context in which it is acquired? Does activity that occurs in one type of situation have

aspects that were learned as practices and interactions with the resources available in that type of situation, and does it have aspects that were learned as practices and interactions with resources in some quite different type of situation? Will complex skills be acquired more successfully if instruction in various independent subskills is presented separately or in situations where all of the subskills are needed? In particular, will skills of complex social activities be learned more successfully if their independent subskills

are learned in situations involving individual practice? Which combinations and sequences of learning will prepare students best for the kinds of participation in social practices that we value most and contribute most productively to the development of students' identities as learners? Does knowledge transfer between tasks? When someone has become more successful at participating

in one kind of situation, are there other kinds of situations in which that person would be more adept? What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of abstract instruction, as op-posed to instruction for specific activity, especially for jobs? What kinds of abstract representations can contribute productively to meaningful, general learning?

Which group of authors is more comprehensible? Anderson et al Greeno Both are comprehensible

Neither are comprehensible What are the differences in writing style between the two groups of authors? What are the differences in writing style between the two groups of authors? Decomposed linear argument versus dialectic A key difference between

Greeno and Anderson et al Should learning be understood in context as part of a system can not be decomposed or studied in parts or as something that an individual does decomposable, meaningfully can be studied in parts This is not just a debate between Greeno and

Anderson et al And it is not just a debate from 13 years ago It is a very ongoing and current debate, not just in education but elsewhere Buchanan and McKeons Framework Ways to design The cross of pane Neo-Aristotelianism

Dick Buchanan Founder of journal Design Issues Inventor of term wicked problem Key modern theoretician of design Richard McKeon Key 20th century philosopher Referred to as the Evil Professor by Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintanance

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework

HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST In education, called the Cognitive Approach by its friends

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST You can understand

things in themselves ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST

You can understand things separately from their contexts ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST

ESSENTIALIST Individuals learn skills and concepts ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST Key method: REDUCTIONISM ENTITATIVE What is reductionism?

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST We can understand complex phenomena by understanding their parts and how those parts interact

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST

Emergent phenomena can be understood by first understanding the motivating factors and processes ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST

ESSENTIALIST Bloom ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Called the ontological approach by Buchanan,

and Gestalt theory by others EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

In education, called Situationalism by its friends EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Things can only be understood by understanding the systems they operate in EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST Learners are enculturated into practices that

communities agree are correct ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Complex phenomena must be

understood as wholes; they can not be understood in terms of their component parts EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework

HOLISTIC Emergent phenomena must be understood in themselves EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Key method: DIALECTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

What is dialectic? Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Truth is found through the struggle of opposing hypotheses and their eventual unification in a richer synthesis (Hegelian-Kantian dialectic) EXISTENTIALIST

ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Truth is found through positing overly abstract hypotheses, finding evidence that negates them, and coming to a newer concrete theory (Hegelian

dialectic) EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Change is governed by historical

properties (historicism) where contradictions and states repeat themselves but in continual refinement (material dialectic) EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Barab Pirsig Vygotsky EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST

ENTITATIVE Another key dimension Is there a reality out there that we want kids to learn about? Are we just teaching cultural practices, or are we teaching real things? Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

Doesnt really have a name that its friends call it, in education EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework

HOLISTIC Maybe I would call it The Curricular Approach EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Its enemies call it Instructionism (cf. Papert, 1981) EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST There is a real fundamental reality to

the universe that students can learn about ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST

ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Or, in the Pragmatic Essentialism form, there are beliefs, skills, and practices that are so core to a specific culture and created-world as to be real for all practical

purposes Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST Essentialism is implicit in the focus on mathematical

skills, scientific skills, and literacy ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Knowledge can be measured and compared, because theres some real

reference that two students can be compared according to EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework

HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST If you use the MCAS, youre an essentialist in practice ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST If you think the MCAS is crap because it doesnt measure real

math/science skill/knowledge, youre still an essentialist ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Dewey Gobert EXISTENTIALIST

ESSENTIALIST Gagne ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST

EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC In education, called Constructionism by its

friends ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

Constructionism is not the same thing as Constructivism ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework

Constructivism argues that students learn actively rather than passively, and learn best by doing. Its pretty much orthogonal to the dimensions shown below. HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST Everyone defines their own reality in their own individual way

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST Agreed-upon

conventions are simply agreed-upon conventions and reflect no fundamental reality ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST

EXISTENTIALIST 0, 1, and 47 are social constructions; blue and red are social constructions ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC

And theyre actually not even the same thing in our heads ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC So when you and I think of blue were thinking of different things ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST

ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework Because of this, measuring learning is fundamentally misguided there is no real commonality to compare even if we manifest the same behavior, the cognitive

reality is unreduceable HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST If you think that the MCAS is junk, and never can be improved in any way, because tests dont measure anything

that matters, youre an existentialist in practice ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST

School should not focus on math or literacy skills, it should focus on learning how to learn and generating passion for learning, because everyone will be passionate and skilled at different things ENTITATIVE

Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC ESSENTIALIST EXISTENTIALIST So if you want to measure something, measure passion or measure the great things a student can do and the

surprising connections they make ENTITATIVE Buchanan and McKeons Framework HOLISTIC Papert ESSENTIALIST

EXISTENTIALIST Edelson ENTITATIVE Crossing the Center Many researchers are at the diagonals of this graph rather than the ends Some researchers do not fit neatly in these categories e.g. they use both holistic and entitative methods when they seem

useful That said Buchanan claims that most researchers and designers have a strong preference, and I have generally found that to be true I *definitely* have preferences towards a diagonal And the only education theorist Ive ever seen who managed to write in both holistic and entitative ways effectively was Vygotsky Methods

Most methods are tightly identified with one (or at most two, at a diagonal) of these philosophical positions Well re-visit this issue during the semester as we study specific methods Why does this matter? Its important to know what kinds of methods can answer what kinds of questions And its important to know where other

researchers are coming from At the extreme Researchers who are strongly identified with one position tend to find research drawing on the opposite set of assumptions incomprehensible, outdated, acting in bad faith, or even evil Well study examples of that at the end of the semester,

but one classic one is Paperts late-1980s claim that Instructionism is like the Soviet Union and constructionism is like glasnost and perestroika for the American educational system At the extremes A surprising number of vicious attacks in educational theory can be linked to one of the two divisions discussed today

At the end of the semester We will discuss why its important to know your own assumptions Why its important to be able to argue for them And why its important to be able to learn from research conducted with assumptions different than yours Todays Class

Administrative Stuff Philosophical Underpinnings I Probing Question for Wed, Jan. 20 Survey

Probing Question Where do you fit on this diagram? HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

No explanation is necessary, just email me a modified version of this slide showing where you fit HOLISTIC EXISTENTIALIST ESSENTIALIST ENTITATIVE

Todays Class Administrative Stuff Philosophical Underpinnings I Probing Question for Wed, Jan. 20

Survey Please complete this survey before the next class http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YWRGT5M The End

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