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Something I’m trying out…

January 26, 2012

So, we’ve been spending time in my teaching physics course examining artifacts and phenomena of student thinking. We’re going to continue doing that, but I want to shift toward, “OK, so we know some things about how student think. Now what?”

My plan is to introduce three broad ways of thinking about how student thinking fits into the classroom, which are not necessarily distinct.

Curriculum or instructional sequences that are based on knowledge of how student tend to think about some specific content or concepts. We might think of Tutorials in Introductory Physics (as curricular materials) or even Clement’s bridging analogy (as instructional sequence) as good examples.

In this case, as an instructor you might be largely relying on the knowledgeability of some third party to have built curriculum and instructional sequences based on student thinking.

Instructional practices that make students’ thinking visible to the instructor (and often students as well), which can help instructors make informed decisions about instruction. We might think of Peer Instruction (to instructor and students) or JiTT (just to the instructor) as good examples.

In this case, as an instructor you are hoping to create opportunities to learn about your students’ thinking in your class, not rely solely on patterns of how student thinking generally. As an instructor, you may of course be relying on a third party to have provide good “questions” or “demonstrations,” that are based on student thinking and that will be likely to help you learn about your students’ thinking.

A classroom structure in which student thinking and their ideas become part of the substance of the course, such that students are authors (not just consumers) of content. We might think of classrooms similar to the ones depicted by David Hammer in “Discovery Learning and Discovery Teaching“,  those being pursued by Leslie Atkins through Student-Generated Scientific Inquiry, or over by Mylene at Shifting Phases.

Of course, these aren’t distinct in practice. I find that I draw from each of these, and the extent to which I draw on these varies across the different classrooms I teach. I’m also not saying that each of the examples above are defined by the category. There are other features of the curriculum and instruction that are important in making them successful, which make them similar or different from another, etc. I’m just trying to introduce an initial framework for these future teachers to think about how student thinking can interface with classroom instruction.

Anyway, Today, I’m going to introduce these three ways of thinking about the roles that student thinking can play in the classroom, but then we’re going to dig into different examples of the first one.

On the docket are three flavors of the first: “Elicit, Confront, Resolve”, “Bridging Analogies”, and “Refining Intuitions”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 9:56 pm

    I always thought that JiTT meant Just in Time Teaching. I wish I could go back in time and take your course as a college junior—it would have eliminated so much frustration in my own path as a teacher and given me a much more powerful framework for thinking about education.

    • January 31, 2012 12:47 pm

      Unfortunately, back in time I wouldn’t have been teaching such a course.

      I think In a few years, I think the course has the potential to be strong. Right now, I’m still trying to figure it out. I mean, I’m happy with how it’s going for the most part–I just think I can make it a lot better.

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