Day 4

  • Investigating Learners’ Feedback Seeking Behavior and its role in the development of Representational Competence

    Narasimha Swamy
    Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, 

    Research on feedback practices in education has a history of more than a century. Across this history, feedback has been predominantly viewed as a one-way transmission of information from teacher, computer or peers to the learners. Such information was aimed at addressing learners’ immediate instructional or motivational needs rather than trying to enable them to become proficient in seeking, judging and utilizing feedback from diverse community sources. Hence there is a lack of studies investigating conditions under which learners proactively seek feedback to attain the given instructional goals or when and how such feedback seeking contributes to better learning. In my study I operationalize feedback seeking behavior as a learner-initiated dialogue to accomplish the given instructional goals. I investigate learners’ feedback seeking behavior during a representational task in stereochemistry. This task required learners to go beyond just verbal exchange of feedback and build complex molecular models or sketch multi perspective diagrams while seeking or providing feedback. For the purpose of analysis, I have adapted a well-established cost-value framework of feedback seeking behavior from organizational behavior research. Here I take a socio-cultural stance where dialogic interactions amongst peers, teachers and the mediating tools or conditions in the instructional environment are considered as central to the learners’ feedback seeking process. So, the adaptation closely aligns with the cultural historical activity theoretical approach to Human learning. Using this framework, I examine and describe how the interaction between characteristics of instructional artefacts and rules, the learner, feedback sources and the nature of cooperation influence learners’ perceptions of cost and value in seeking feedback. Preliminary findings suggest that learners’ cost-value analysis influences the various aspects of feedback seeking such as the timing or amount of feedback seeking, the purpose for which feedback is sought, the choice of feedback source and also the mode of seeking and using the feedback received. Some of the outcomes of learners’ feedback seeking behavior were observed to align with that of representational competence such as gaining understanding of when and how to use models or diagram translation. Nature of my findings hold promise in potentially informing the design of instructional contexts for supporting development of both learners’ proficiency in feedback seeking and their representational competence.

    Adaptation of cost-value framework to examine learner’s feedback seeking behavior.

  • Unpacking Collaborative Uncertainty Management Processes of Learners in the Context of Engineering Design

    Navneet Kaur
    Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, 

    Uncertainties are part of almost every learning process. It is believed that the production of true knowledge starts from feelings of uncertainty, requiring people to express them openly. Researchers across varied disciplinary domains have argued that learners should encounter uncertainties engendering complexity, doubt or confusion to develop a deep understanding of the disciplinary content and practices. However, in order to leverage uncertainties to aid learning, it is first important to understand how learners engage in the process of managing the uncertainties that they face. This includes aspects like – how uncertainty is expressed and by whom, what factors trigger uncertainties, how learners respond to them and what are its outcomes from the learning perspective. The focus of my research is to dig deeper into these aspects, in the context where learners collaboratively solve an open-ended engineering design problem given to them.

    The target population of my work is middle school students and I have conducted two research studies with sixth and seventh grade teams until now. The analysis of the data, primarily collected from the video recordings of the teams, focused on identifying what are the different types of uncertainties that learners experience, the uncertainty management strategies used by them, and what uncertainties have the potential to productively engage learners with disciplinary practices. This preliminary analysis resulted in the process diagram showing the connections among – 1) how and by whom the uncertainty is expressed, 2) management of uncertainty by the teams, and 3) the outcomes of the uncertainty management process. We further investigated how shaping the learner’s ability to ‘notice’ and then experience specific uncertainties can create opportunities for them to develop deep disciplinary understanding. Taking the distributed cognition perspective, we are further designing studies to understand the cognitive processes involved in the task of collaborative uncertainty management. The investigation will involve unpacking the role of the design environment which includes, the team members, mentor/facilitator, materials for building designs, tools for acquiring or sharing information and tools for providing feedback.

  • Exploring the Use of Stories and Narratives of Scientific Discoveries to Teach NOS to Middle School

    Punam Medh
    Tata Institute of Social Sciences 

    There is also an age-old practice of conveying information through narratives, both in formal and informal science education (Glaser et al, 2009). A narrative approach allows for the true excitement of curiosity to shine through, fueling children’s own curiosity and interest in the process (Engel et al, 2018). Research also posits that integrating stories about scientists and their discoveries into science content instruction can also be effectively used as highly contextual nature of science instruction, and has long been advocated in science education. (Abd-El-Khalick, 1999; Allchin, 2013; Clough, 1997, 2004, 2006, 2011; Matthews, 1994; Klassen, McMillan, Clough, & Olson, 2007). The need for Nature of Science (NOS) education in order to enable deeper engagement of science also sits in with the curricular recommendations of NCF 2005 which states that:

    We can regard good science education as one that is true to the child, true to life and true to science. The historical validity requires that science curriculum be informed by a historical perspective, enabling the learner to appreciate how the concepts of science evolve with time. It also helps the learner to view science as a social enterprise and to understand how social factors influence the development of science” (NCERT, 2005).

    Given the importance of stories and their contribution to NOS, it would be interesting to find out whether and to what extent does the practice of using stories translates into the classroom, i.e. how often do teachers actually tell stories during class. If they do indeed use stories, what kind of stories do they tell? Whether these stories are planned or spontaneous? What do teachers do about the small blurbs ‘Great Scientists’ that appear in textbooks? The answers to this line of inquiry are foregrounded by an attempt to understand the teacher’s own perception of NOS and its importance in the curriculum.

    Twelve science teachers, mainly from government and low-cost private schools in urban and semi-urban locations, share their practices and perspectives on stories, story-telling and on Nature of Science.

  • The role of Cognitive Flexibility in STEM Education

    Better By Design

    This literature review stitches together the perfect harmony between the laws of nature and laws of the human mind in order to have a healthy and flexible mind capable of deep learning and application of knowledge.

    Jean Piaget, a developmental psychologist, coined the term ‘Constructivism’ meaning the human mind constructs a beautiful web of information based on what is selectively absorbed from the environment. This information web called the ‘schema’ is natural to all humans regardless of culture, economic background and gender. All our interactions with the world and our meaning-making is based on our schema.

    Likewise, the world around us, particularly nature operates on a set of patterns and principles. Be it hidden patterns of mathematics in nature or man-made inventions which again draw back to biomimicry, there’s a unifying theme amongst all functionality we experience in the world.

    This literature review brings out the essence of the Aristotle’s Laws of thought as a solution to enhance our schema, design experiences and enhance curricula for children to grow cognitive flexibility in the STEM fields through observation and grow the potential of inculcating an ‘innovator worldview’ in children from a very young age through simple yet powerful techniques.