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UK-ICER20 keynote – Extra materials

As of 9 Sept 2020, this page is (belatedly) complete as intended.
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By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

This page links back to my web pages to do with CCSE and some talks given as part of its "reading group".

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This page contains extra materials such as references related to my keynote "Reflections on Computing Education Research" at UK-ICER20.

Main Contents
  1. Reciprocal Peer Critiquing (RPC)
  2. Mazur's PI (peer instruction).
  3. Reciprocal Peer Critiquing (RPC)
  4. Disciplines are subject to revolution: they are not fixed.
  5. Hannah Fry's 2019 Royal Institution Christmas lectures
  6. ConstructiVism
  7. CMU's study of women and computing science
  8. Seymour Papert and ConstructiONism
  9. Creativity

Typical conference papers have references giving empirical evidence, or occasionally precise theoretical statements, mainly to give authority to points they are asserting and relying on. However in this talk I am mainly trying to make interesting suggestions and/or connections. So here on this web page I am providing starting points for reading if you want to find out (and check) major ideas I mention, but may have used in non-standard ways. Furthermore quite a few references here are to books, which have not been peer reviewed in the normal sense. More fundamentally, with major thinkers it is the author that guarantees the value and especially the interest, not the review process. For instance, some of Papert's papers have been preserved by his disciples, and exist on rather obscure websites – including for instance, grant applications where some of his arguments were first made. None of this makes them necessarily correct, but they are excellent ways to stimulate your thinking – even if you were to put a "not" in front of some key assertion.

Starting points for further reading: References related to the keynote

Generally here I try to give pointers, when I can offering short versions first, so that you can discover whether you want to do more reading.

  1. Reciprocal Peer Critiquing (RPC)

    Why and how is peer interaction so important in learning? It does not rely on a peer telling you the right answer, nor on the soundness of their judgement. It works by making the learner question themselves under the stimulus of a peer suggesting something different. A peer is often more effective at this than a teacher (or someone you judge ignorant): because with a peer, if you disagree, there is roughly a 50% chance of them being right or wrong, which forces you to think about issue rather than relying on the status of the person. They act as a catalyst to your own thinking, not a source of pre-digested knowledge. They prompt subsequent learning through a metacognitive mechanism. In my view, this underlies both RPC (this section), and Mazur's PI (see below). An argument about how this works is given in Draper (2009), which also relates it to some empirical studies in psychology.

    Draper,S.W. (2009) "Catalytic assessment: understanding how MCQs and EVS can foster deep learning" British Journal of Educational Technology vol.40 no.2 pp.285-293 doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00920.x

  2. Mazur's PI.

  3. Disciplines are subject to revolution: they are not fixed.

  4. Hannah Fry presented the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas lectures, available indefinitely on the RI website.

  5. Constructivism. In recent decades, Constructivism might be seen as the most basic theory of the learning and teaching process. To read my own basic notes on it and its place in a set of educational ideas you can consult sections 2, 3 and the one titled "Piaget" of this 1994 document "Constructivism, other theories of the teaching and learning process, and their relationships.

    In the talk I put it differently. Constructivism at its most basic can be thought of as these observations:

    1. Learning and teaching is NOT like plugging a pendrive into a learner's head.
      It may seem like that when telling someone a new instance of a familiar type like the title of a book, someone's name, etc. But if by "learning" we mean "understanding something new", as we almost always do in education, then it is a different kettle of fish.
      As Dewey said "... if thought is to be aroused and not words acquired ..." - Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of education ch.12 para.4 (New York, The Macmillan company)
    2. Learning is more than mere information storage in a database whose structure is already fully formed; it involves finding the learner's prior knowledge and weaving the new into that.
      This may mean finding many different locations in their mind, their prior understandings, and modifying each such place. This is considerable work that the learner must do, though teachers may assist by various prompts.
    3. Journey planning is not a function of the destination only; but of both the start and the end places.
      There is no one thing that is "the journey to Glasgow" — it depends on whether you start from Motherwell, Edinburgh, London, or Auckland N.Z.

      Learning is the same: defined by BOTH the intended learning outcome of the teacher AND the learner's prior knowledge, experiences, and perhaps misconceptions.

  6. For notes and references relating to CMU's study of women and computing science see:

    In my opinion, the issues raised in the CMU studies are largely about whether and how students feel in those classes: a feeling of belonging there. The paper at this conference which, to my mind, also revolves round this issue is: Catherine Mooney and Brett Becker "Sense of Belonging in Female Computer Science Students and their Self-declared Minority Status" (2020) doi: 10.1145/3416465.3416476. The feeling of belonging, and its opposite, correspond quite closely to what Tinto called "social integration". His theory was about what mainly predicted retention vs. dropout in HE; and the two major factors, Tinto posited, were "social integration" and "academic integration". My notes (and references, AND a diagram) on Tinto's theory are here.

    Tinto's theory came essentially from Sociology, and by analogy with Durkheim's theory of suicide that apparently used two similar factors (Durkheim's were Social Integration, and Moral Regulation). I myself have basically been educated only in highly individualistic models of humans, and for people like me it is important to try to grapple with and address social aspects of education. I have brief notes on alternative senses of the word/idea "social".

  7. Seymour Papert, whose PhD supervisor had been Jean Piaget, had a number of writings about the notion he sometimes called "constructiONism" (in contrast to "constructiVism"). These combined issues of concrete thinking (normally associated with young children) and its persistence in much older children (and indeed in adults) who are developing aspects of Formal thinking.

    He was clear about fun, and indeed love, associated with some objects and activities. He thus certainly was interested in connections between hobby activities and reasoning; and between both of these and developing formal reasoning and abstract concepts.

    A significant element in his thinking was the notion he adopted from Lévi-Strauss' of "bricolage" – roughly, the kind of DIY that handymen do, but which perhaps we do mentally rather than physically when first knocking together a new concept out of old and familiar pieces of old ideas that were originally used for something else.

    This is similar in fact to Darwin's theory of evolution. Contrary to shallow understandings of it (which only grasp the importance of being well adapted to an environment, and then equate "well adapted for" with "perfectly engineered for"), Darwin's theory says that an organism's form and function is the joint effect of the interplay of pressures (1) to adapt, and (2) of having inherited a body that was originally adapted for a different environment, and so inherits a lot of features which are poor solutions to current needs.

    Some references related to constructionism:

  8. Creativity.
    The papers relating to creativity at UK-ICER20 were:

    "Creative" is a word quite frequently thrown around in education; and often in a number of apparently disconnected contexts. However there is a good theory of creativity that makes many good points. "Creativity is the ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising, and valuable." [from Boden] (Here is my 13,000 word web page with references and my notes on Boden's analysis of creativity.)

    Basic points

    Educational points

More interesting stuff

Pandemic / distance learning

  • Would textbooks be better?
  • Rethinking "distance learning"
  • Textbooks, Open textbooks

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