The Future of Higher Education as I See It In Mid February 2016

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Overview

    Much of what higher education is about has structure and method. Indeed, this overview is structured as a classic Five Paragraph Essay ( Writing Ninjas: How To Write A Five-Paragraph Essay youtube 5 minutes). Rather than teaching the individual statements that may or may not make up five paragraph essays that students are to write in the future, it would seem to make more sense to focus on teaching the general technique, and let the student apply it to what they are interested in. Indeed, to have impact, the importance of teaching such techniques in the context of the material of interest has been noted ( The Disciplinary Literacy Discussion Matrix: A Heuristic Tool for Initiating Collaboration in Higher Education).

    In addition to writing, another general technique is reading. A classic presentation of the basic methods of reading is in How to Read a Book ( wikipedia entry). Indeed, there are many universities that have been strongly influenced by the importance of a core focus on reading ( The 25 Best Great Books Programs), ranging from The University of Chicago to The University of Texas at Austin to St. John's College. Issues like determining the vocabulary of an author and whether or not they are using words the same way as other writers is discussed. In our textbooks, often colloquial phrases take on technical meanings and the transition can be missed. How many of our textbook readers (students) are aware of this as a potential problem? In how many classes is it discussed?

    In the STEM subjects, there is more that students need than reading and writing (although these are important aspects of STEM as well). A major focus is problem solving. Here too, there is a classic text that most students are unaware of, How to Solve It ( wikipedia entry) as well as Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning ( wikipedia entry). Here basic concepts like trying an example or looking for a simpler problem to solve first are discussed. But are our students trained in these? When they have problems, do they come to us asking if they have found a good example or if their problem simplication is correct?

    The scientific method itself is a classical example of a method for approaching problems ( wikipedia entry). Structuring the investigation of empirical issues around Question, Hypothesis, Prediction, Experiment, and Analysis would seem to be a straight-forward specialization of general problem solving methods. It is frequently taught throughout the science curriculum. But, when students have a question, do they follow this process, or do they instead just ask what the answer is? There is a significant difference between training in methods where people use a method when they are told to versus training in methods where people use a method when a situation arises where it could be applied.

    Academia, in particular, the STEM side of academia (where I was trained), is filled with methods to approach various issues. Indeed, one could say that it is the methods that are widely applicable that are more important than the problems or the problem's solutions that these methods are used to address. Some of these methods are so `mechanical' that they can be followed by computers (e.g., much calculus can be done by programs like Macsyma, Maple, and Mathematica), and so are probably not worth teaching students to do in their limited time at University. Particularly now that cell phones have given everyone access to such programs whenever they need them. Other methods are still beyond the capabilities of modern computers (such as figuring out when quantifying rate of change is useful in solving a problem) and worth spending some time on. It is this distinction among university material (and the related training methods) that I think is central to the future of higher education.

  3. What I have learned from learning theory and education theory
    1. Sugata Mitra: The Future of Learning youtube 64 minutes.
      • 'Hole in the Wall' was 1999 work.
      • saw the change from a world where he was a computer-using educator became to one where computers use educators.
      • 5 billion interconnected computers called the cloud. this is about the cloud using education.
      • talk outline:
        • Obsolescence (the need for people who could all do the same thing, follow instructions, and don't ask questions, do not be creative -- schools enabled empires)
        • Dematerialisation (tape recorder, pen, slide rule, record player, kodak camera, and maps, disappear into the mobile phone; transportation changed from horses to internal combustion engines and the coachman disappeared and the passengers drive and now cars that drive themselves and driving will disappear as a human skill).
        • The Hole in the Wall (groups of kids with no supervision figure out the web on their own; slum school teachers notice student english is improving and quoting Harvard Business School -- how were they finding the right things to copy down?; 12 year olds learning quantum electro-dynamics)
        • The Granny Cloud -- the importance of a non-threatening adult who encourages. the key instruction to the adults: don't teach.
        • Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) with 7 year olds, asked them why you are born without teeth, the grow in, then they fall out, then they grow in again, and when they then fall out they don't grow back in again -- why? they figured it out with the computers. designate one student as supervisor who is the only one allowed to speak to the teacher. 11 year olds talking first year undergrad physics. the challenge of assessment -- an examination room looks like a 19th century factory. shouldn't the examination system look like the modern work environment of cooperating colleagues; Calcutta police ensuring cell phones not taken into examinations -- the only day the students don't have them. allow the internet into the examination hall. have a pointed conversation with friends having limited time and sort out all the information the internet makes available for how it is applicable to the set problem.
        • The School in the Cloud -- with TedTalk money build 7 schools in cloud -- halfway through experiment (30 Mar 2015). dramatic impact on reading comprehension.
        • Learning and the Edge of Chaos -- how does this happen? learning as an emergent phenomenon in a self organizing educational system. once an adult wearing a tie asked children doing something interesting what is going on, the children say `nothing'. learning can emerge as spontaneous order at the edge of chaos.
      • Q and A. problem with imposing learning on others.
    2. Carol Dweck: "The Growth Mindset" | Talks at Google youtube 47:25
      • telling people they are smart backfires as they worry about continuing to appear smart.
      • fixed mindset: talents and abilities are fixed traits you just got, inborn talent
      • growth mindset: believe abilities can be developed
      • teaching a growth mindset improves student performance in other courses
      • also a problem for organizations that promote a fixed mindset
      • skills are malleable
      • growth mindset people have measurably more active brain activity
      • teenage brain very malleable, people move up or down at that time
      • cheating more prevalent in fixed mindset, similarly for fixed mindset organizations
      • to change culture, reward system has to match talk
      • the power of yet. the grade `not yet' rather than `fail'.
      • developed a learning game that rewarded improvement rather than achievement
      • focus on process rather than achievement, encouragement
      • fixed mindset encourages people to believe stereotyping about their own `type'; looked at promoting women to study STEM
      • behaviors that promote a growth mindset -- choose challenge over safe, interpret obstacles from growth view, try to learn from people who are better than you at something.
    3. The Development of Epistemological Theories: Beliefs About Knowledge and Knowing and Their Relation to Learning, Barbara K. Hofer and Paul R. Pintrich, Review of Educational Research, Spring 1997, vol. 67, no. 1, 88-140.
      • Nice survey of how students develop their understanding of knowledge and learning, the 5 big stages being:
        • dualism: right-and-wrong view of world, authorities know truth and pass it along to learner
        • mulitiplicity: see authorities can disagree, not everything is known, but `truth is still knowable'. in the later half of this stage: `an individual at this position is inclined to believe that all views are equally valid and that each person ahs a right to his or her own opinion.'
        • relativism: `perception of self as an active maker of meaning'. moving on to `percieve knowledge as relative, contingent, and contextual and begin to realize the need to choose and affirm one's own commitments'.
        • commitment within relativism: `focus on responsibility, engagement, and the forging of commitment within relativism. ... to values, careers, relationships and personal identity'. `not commonly found among college students'.
      • quote: Perry did not conduct further research to explore linkages between his conception of epistemological development and student learning, but he did speculate in later work on possible connections among cognitive styles, learning strategies, and development (Perry, 1981). "When students radically revise their notions of knowledge, would they not be likely to change their ways of going about getting it?" (p. 102). Perry hypothesized that changes in students' views of the nature of knowledge and the role of authority will lead to observable changes in manner of studying, as expressions of changes in altered modes of learning and cognition.
      • Some discussion about how beliefs about learning influence academic performance (including references to some early work by Dweck).
      • quote: In a second study of college undergraduates (Schommer et al., 1992), students completed the epistemological questionnaire and then read a statistical passage. They rated their comprehension confidence, then completed a mastery test and a study strategy inventory. Higher confidence and better performance were negatively correlated with belief in simple knowledge.
      • quote: A study of epistemological beliefs of high school students indicated that there were no differences between gifted students and others in ninth grade, but that by the end of high school, gifted students were less likely than others to believe in simple knowledge and quick learning (Schommer & Dunnell, 1994). Differences in beliefs during high school years were the focus of a cross-sectional study that indicated a linear trend in all epistemological beliefs except fixed ability from freshman to senior year. In the same study, epistemological beliefs also predicted GPA, and gender differences were found in two dimensions, with females less likely to believe in fixed ability or quick learning (Schommer, 1993b). In a study of adults, education predicted simple and certain knowledge; the more exposure to education, the less likely individuals were to subscribe to these beliefs (Schommer, 1992). Recent work on the domain independence of beliefs indicated that epistemological beliefs are moderately similar across social science and mathematics (Schommer & Walker, 1995).
      • quote: and that certain types of abstract formal reasoning would be necessary for any of the higher-order assumptions about knowledge (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). King (1977) administered both the Reflective Judgment Interview and tasks that assessed formal operations to high school juniors, college juniors, and graduate students and found that although 91% had achieved formal operations, reflective judgment scores ranged from Stage 2 to Stage 7, with extremely low correlations between formal operations and reflective judgment. However, it was not possible to test whether formal operations were a necessary but not sufficient condition for higher stages of reflective judgment, given the lack of variability in the sample as assessed by formal operations tasks.
      • comment: I think one of the problems here is that when done by hand, formal operations have limited usefulness in problem solving, but when leveraged against the capabilties of modern computers, the situation changes as noted in the section on `How I think things should be operationalized (done)'.
      • quote: It seems unlikely that most first-year college students spent their previous academic years as dualists, an inference many have made in reading the studies of college student development. One plausible explanation is that such development is recursive. Boyes and Chandler (1992), using a four-stage model based on the work of Perry, Kitchener and King, Kuhn, and others, found all epistemic levels represented among the high school students in their study. They speculate that studies of college-age students indicating only or predominately lower-level epistemic levels may suggest a second pass through the developmental levels during this time. It is also possible that individuals may retreat to safer, more established positions when in new environments and that there may be affective issues involved, such as the effects of anxiety and negative feelings associated with challenges to strongly held ideas.
      • quote: Schoenfeld's (1988) observations of well meaning teachers in high school mathematics classes led him to conclude that students "developed perspectives regarding the nature of mathematics that were not only inaccurate, but were likely to impede their acquisition and use of other mathematical knowledge" (p. 144). Although teachers might talk about wanting students to think about mathematics and to understand it, the "classroom structure provided reinforcement for memorization and the reward structure promoted it" (p. 161).
      • quote: A sociocultural view of learning (Cole, 1992; Newman, Griffin, & Cole, 1989; Vygotsky, 1962; Wertsch, 1991; Wertsch & Sammarco, 1985) would shift the focus of study away from universal mechanisms in the individual, prominent in the developmental models, to the possibility of the situated and contextual nature of epistemological theories. The notion that the role of the student is to become part of a community of practice (Lave, 1988; Lave & Wenger, 1991) has fostered a reconceptualization of schooling as a cognitive apprenticeship in which students are socialized to the values and beliefs of the academic enterprise. Enculturation to the discipline, however, may go awry when the beliefs that are situated in the classroom are not those that facilitate further learning or interests in the discipline, as has been noted as commonplace in the field of mathematics (Schoenfeld, 1988).
      • comment: it is difficult to square the social view with one of encouraging students to learn to think independent of authority.
      • quote: We know little about the malleability of epistemological theories or the discordance students may experience between their theories and the type of classroom environments and tasks they encounter. An exploratory unpublished study of two approaches to calculus instruction, one conventional (lectures, traditional texts, etc.) and one more constructivist (small group work, text with word problems and with no answers provided, etc.) indicated that at the end of the term students in the constructivist sections evidenced more sophisticated beliefs about mathematics (Hofer, 1994). ... Preliminary qualitative evidence from the same program suggests personal resistance from both students and instructors to the idea that college calculus instruction could be approached in this way. Such resistance often takes the form of "But this isn't mat"[sic]. Some surrendering of existing beliefs about what math is and how knowing occurs in math seems necessary for students to succeed in the course. In his discussion of beliefs about mathematics, Schoenfeld (1985) speculates that while the behavior of "reasoning practices" may appear purely cognitive, such behavior may have an affective component and that "it is in this sense that the issue of belief straddles the affective and cognitive domains" (p. 155).
    4. Another take on education is outlined in the context of considering the history behind the `open education' movement. For example: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: The Heritage of Open Education youtube 48 minutes, UBC sponsorted talk by Norm Friesen of Thompson Rivers Univerisity
      • Antonio Gramsci ( wikipedia entry)
        • quote: to create a single type of formative school (primary - secondary) which would take the child up to the threshold of his choice of job, forming him during this time as a person capable of thinking, studying and ruling -- or controlling those who rule.
      • Walter Benjamin ( wikipedia entry)
        • Technology as cultural in its educational significance. Educational technology is not about efficiency, but determining how it fits into a cultural and political process.
      • Paulo Freire ( wikipedia entry)
        • quote: The answer does not lie in the rejection of the machine, but in the humanization of man.
        • literacy cicles where teaching of reading incorporated discussion on self-reflection, cultural identiy, and political agency. literacy was a prereq for voting in Brazil at that time.
        • quote: I don't accept [the claim] ... that the ending of schol is inevitable. For me, the challenge is not to end school, but to change it completely and radically and to help it to give birth from a body that doesn't correspond anymore to the technological truth of the world to a new being as actual as technology itself.
      • techniques of rhetoric and persuasion as opposed to comparing and contrasting values.
    5. Dr Etienne Wenger: Learning in landscapes of practice youtube 70 minutes, University of Brighton
      • studies of apprenticeship -- rather than a master and student, actually learning takes place with more advanced apprentices, a community of practice.
      • key concepts: community, identity, practice, meaning
      • ``knowing is embedded in a practical experience of the world that is interpreted with respect to certain social practices.''
      • learning is a tension between socially defined competence and personal experience
      • social practice is constantly being negotiated.
      • initially he looked at learning as finding one's way into a community of practice and then moved into looking at how community of practices evolve and adapt.
      • businesses have problem that by the time a course can be designed for something of interest to them, the market has moved on. many companies have found the notion of a community of practice rather than a training program to be of more use.
      • rather than a library, the community is the `body of knowledge'.
      • the problem for the 21st century is what sort of institutions will help a student figure out what they are becoming rather than institutions that present knowledge in curriculums. of all this information available, what should I look at next?
      • given that most students will never enter the community, the question is raised of how we can give a student a meaningful visit to a community so they can figure out if they want to undertake the effort to become part of the community.
      • power is always a part of learning and one has to keep an eye on how communities silence some voices
      • it is very difficult to alter communities from the outside
    6. Are college students adults? Their conceptions of the transition to adulthood, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Journal of Adult Development, October 1994, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 213-224.
      • Survey 346 college students. 23% said yes. 10% said no. Rest ambiguous.
        • 15% consider marriage necessary to be an adult (a typical marker in other societies)
        • 18% thought it necessary to complete one's education to be an adult.
        • 27% thought full-time employment necessary.
        • 66% thought it necessary to support self financially
        • 80% decide on beliefs and values independently of parents and other influences.
        • 92% accept responsibility for the consequences of one's actions
      • comment: deciding on beliefs and values independently would seem to be most relevant to higher education.
    7. When do undergraduate students become responsible for themselves? The relationship between the perceptions of underage undergraduate students, alcohol consumption, and institutional legal responsibilities to protect them from foreseeable harm, Caires, Matthew R.. University of Wyoming, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2009. 3359605.
      • quote: Do underage undergraduate students (20 years old and younger) today perceive themselves as adults with legal responsibility to protect themselves? Do today's colleges and universities have a responsibility to protect underage undergraduate students from foreseeable harm? Should university officials consider underage undergraduate students adults? If so, how much responsibility do these students have for their own safety on a college campus? If not, to what extent is a university responsible to ensure a student's safety from foreseeable injury? The literature (Pearson & Beckham, 2005; Bickel & Lake, 1999) suggests that the level of responsibility a college or university has to protect students from foreseeable harm hinges, in part, on if these underage students are adults. Some suggest that colleges and universities have a duty to protect students from foreseeable risk of injury (Russo, 2006). For others, 18+ year-old individuals are supposed to be functioning adults who are responsible for their own safety. Yet, recent research suggests that young people are increasingly refuting their adulthood status until their mid to late-twenties (Nelson, et. al, 2007; Arnett, 2004 & 2001).
    8. note: during Vietnam War era, the notion was that if one was old enough to die for one's country, one was an adult. Now, perhaps Africa isn't the only place one finds child armies of people not responsible for their actions.
    9. Factors relating to engineering identity Meyers, KL, Ohland, MW, Pawley, AL, Silliman, SE, Smith, KA 2012, Global Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 14, no.1, pp. 119-131. pdf
      • abstract: Engineering identity is believed to relate to educational and professional persistence. In particular, a student's sense of belonging to the engineering community is critical to that path. The primary research questions were: 1) which students self-identify as engineers?; and 2) what are the key factors that relate to self-identification? To address these research questions, a cross-sectional study of all undergraduate engineering students at a medium sized, Midwestern private university was conducted in the spring of 2009. The majority of engineering students did selfidentify as engineers, with educational progression, gender and future career plans all being significant attributes. The factors that students most frequently identified as being necessary to be considered an engineer were intangible in nature and included: making competent design decisions, working with others to share ideas and accepting responsibility. Students' self-identification as engineers can be linked to a sense of belonging to the engineering college, as well as organisational recognition
      • quote: Arnett contends that identity exploration is the primary factor that defines emerging adulthood; this can be seen in college students floundering with a college major, and even switching majors one or more times [32]. Arnett's theory modernises the stage theory perspective on identity originally introduced by Erikson and Arnett's early publications offered a model for the current study design. Arnett's early publications were foundational to the eventual identification of emerging adulthood as its own distinct life stage.
    10. Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen American Psychologist, Vol 55(5), May 2000, 469-480. pdf
      • quote: Like adolescence, emerging adulthood is a period of the life course that is culturally constructed, not universal and immutable.
      • quote: Most of the research on changes in worldviews during emerging adulthood has involved college students and graduate students, and there is evidence that higher education promotes explorations and reconsiderations of worldviews (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). However, it is notable that emerging adults who do not attend college are as likely as college students to indicate that deciding on their own beliefs and values is an essential criterion for attaining adult status (Arnett, 1997). Also, research on emerging adults' religious beliefs suggests that regardless of educational background, they consider it important during emerging adulthood to reexamine the beliefs they have learned in their families and to form a set of beliefs that is the product of their own independent reflections (Arnett & Jensen, 1999; Hoge, Johnson, & Luidens, 1993).
    11. Conversation at Home with Jack Mezirow youtube 57 minutes
      • background: Education for perspective transformation: Women's re-entry programs in community colleges; J Mezirow, V Marsick, Teachers College, Columbia University - 1978 [Following on Paolo Freire, looking at how colleges supported changes in viewpoints.]
      • central concept: critical reflection on and challenging assumptions [reference: Paulo Freire, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Jurgen Habermas, Eduard Lindeman, Socrates]
      • Grounded theory ( wikipedia entry) Anselm Strauss.
      • ``disorienting dilemma: a life event that cannot be resolved by previous problem solving strategies, and which requires self-examination; the process includes re-integration, back into one's life - with a new perspective.''
      • Mezirow's Ten Phases of Transformative Learning ( wikipedia entry)
        • Disorienting dilemma
        • Self-examination
        • Sense of alienation
        • Relating discontent to others
        • Explaining options of new behavior
        • Building confidence in new ways
        • Planning a course of action
        • Knowledge to implement plans
        • Experimenting with new roles
        • Reintegration
      • Donald Schon ( wikipedia entry) reflective practioner writings, e.g., The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith, 1983 and Educating the Reflective Practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987.
      • instrumental learning: ``learning to manipulate or control the enviroment'' (empirically measurable).
      • 26 minutes in: you can't empirically establish that one person is a better educator than another. so learning to education is not instrumental.
      • communicative learning: ``understanding what is meant through communication''. (complicated by establishing context for communication and underlying set of assumptions)
      • 28:05 ``Educators are concerned with trying to help people acquire meaning and understand the meaning of something, what they do, what they hear, what they are attempting to do, ...''
      • most learning includes elements of both instrumental and communicative learning.
      • ``A frame of reference is made up of: habits of mind; a point of view resulting from a habit of mind''
      • ``our whole thing is to try and work outselves out of some authority position and then be a co-learner with a group of people who are trying to learn. ... much of what goes on in the schools is suspect because that isn't a goal''
      • `Action Research as an instructional method'
      • Action research( wikipedia entry)
    12. The Evolution of John Mezirow's Transformative Learning Theory, Andrew Kitchenham, Journal of Transformative Education, April 2008, vol. 6, no. 2, 104-123.
    13. The Transformative Learning Centre (TLC), home page, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT)
    14. Science Education as Conceptual Change, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology Susan Carey, Volume 21, Issue 1, January -- February 2000, Pages 13 -- 19.
      • Now we understand that the main barrier to learning the curricular materials we so painstakingly developed is not what the student lacks, but what the student has, namely, alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach. Often these conceptual frameworks work well for children, so we face a problem of trying to change theories and concepts.
    15. Henry Giroux: Where is the Outrage? Critical Pedagogy in Dark Times youtube 1:16:38 (MIIETL -- McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellance in Teaching and Learning -- Distinguished Scholar Speaker Series)
    16. Public Humanities at Western present: Henry Giroux youtube 58:15 (Public Intellectuals and the Crisis of Higher Education as a Public Good) UWO 4 Oct 2012
    17. Joe Kincheloe ( wikipedia entry), Canada Research Chair in Faculty of Education, McGill, died 19 Dec 2008. Critical Pedagogy and the Knowledge Wars of the Twenty-First Century, Joe L. Kincheloe, in Key Works in Critical Pedagogy, Volume 32 of the series Bold Visions in Educational Research pp 385-405, Springer Verlag. and The much exaggerated death of positivism, Joe L. Kincheloe and Kenneth Tobin, Cultural Studies of Science Education, Springer Verlag, September 2009, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 513-528.
    18. Sardonic science? The resistance to more humanistic forms of science education, T. G. K. Bryce, Cultural Studies of Science Education, September 2010, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 591-612.
      • quote: Resistance to more humanistic forms of science education is an endemic and persistent feature of university scientists as well as school science teachers.
      • quote: Strand argues that the absence of reflective discourse on the status and nature of the molecular life sciences is, indirectly and unintentionally, a source of naivety. Firstly, the possibility of ignorance and the consequences of being wrong tend to be neglected; scientists argue unconditionally from within current knowledge. Worse still if we recall Sir Peter Medawar’s criticisms of the scientific paper: that it ``is a fraud in the sense that it does give a totally misleading narrative of the processes of thought that go into the making of scientific discoveries'', see Medawar 1963, p. 378. It also has to run the gauntlet of peer review -- a process which may not be conducive to publication (or dissemination) of new ideas (precisely because of the negative aspect of specialisation which compartmentalises knowledge) thus perpetuating the established paradigm of normal science (see Kuhn 1996, in a later section here) ... Secondly, the absence of effective fora for reflective discourse makes it difficult for any self-correction. Thirdly, scientists do not get the big picture and judge the technological consequences of their work to lie elsewhere (Strand 2000, p. 456). This argument suggests that the very people whose work policy makers and members of the lay public would seek to read for advice and discussion about the implications of science are generally not disposed to do what is expected of them; at worst because they cannot. Educationally, this is a serious charge for science should be taught in a way that enables students to see and appreciate something of the big picture (see, for example, Cordero 2001).
      • quote: For university-based scientists teach science students who were (of course) taught by school science teachers who came through the same pipeline. Uncomfortable as it may be, the message is that the tribal influence ensures the propagation of a science which is not society-orientated, nor explicit in its acknowledgement of the self-contained peculiarity of focus which scientists have.
      • quote: When students study a subject in any depth, they must begin to think like the teacher and move beyond familiar ways of understanding how things are. They must believe that the new alternatives being put to them are better and more powerful. Immersing yourself into the thinking of physics teachers, for example, you focus upon rather abstract, mathematically-infused ideas; many of them are rather difficult and some of them are counterintuitive. As you become more persuaded of the value of physicists' thinking, the more you see the world that way and old ways are (eventually) rejected. Good teachers enthuse about their subject; this rubs off on students and their enthusiasm grows. Successful teacher influence is probably as affective as it is cognitive. For that reason, enthusiasm for the particular tribal thinking is what develops; at worst, inoculating learners from the effects of alternatives.
      • quoting Osborne: What we have forgotten, or perhaps have lost sight of, is that what excites young people is not so much what we already know -- after all, what can they contribute to that? Rather, what drives many young people is what we do not know. For that is the gap to which they can contribute and change the world (Osborne 2008, p. 72).
    19. Joel Westheimer: No Child Left Thinking: Testing, Accountability and the Threat to Democratic Life 53 minutes (another The Distinguished Scholar Speaker Series in Critical Pedagogy at McMaster University). He is the University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa.
    20. Promoting Self-Regulation in Science Education: Metacognition as Part of a Broader Perspective on Learning, Gregory Schraw, Kent J. Crippen, Kendall Hartley, Research in Science Education, March 2006, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 111-139.
      • quote: Self-regulated learning refers to our ability to understand and control our learning environments. To do so, we must set goals, select strategies that help us achieve these goals, implement those strategies, and monitor our progress towards our goals (Schunk, 1996). Few students are fully self-regulated; however, those with better self-regulation skills typically learn more with less effort and report higher levels of academic satisfaction (Pintrich, 2000; Zimmerman, 2000).
      • quote: Self-regulated learning consists of three main components: cognition, metacognition, and motivation. Cognition includes skills necessary to encode, memorise, and recall information. Metacognition includes skills that enable learners to understand and monitor their cognitive processes. Motivation includes beliefs and attitudes that affect the use and development of cognitive and metacognitive skills
      • quote: . Recent studies report that general problem solving can be broken down into smaller individual steps that are teachable and improve learning (Dhillon, 1998; Peterson & Treagust, 1998). Explicit problem solving instruction helps students to develop deeper levels of understanding compared to students who do not receive problem solving training (Huffman, 1997).
      • comment: this is directly relevant to the teaching of `methods' for doing things discussed elsewhere in this document.
      • quote: Critical thinking involves a variety of skills such as the individual identifying the source of information, analysing its credibility, reflecting on whether that information is consistent with their prior knowledge, and drawing conclusions based on their critical thinking (Linn, 2000). Research in argumentation (Kuhn, 1999) and critical thinking (Halpern, 1998) indicates that many students fail to utilise sophisticated reasoning even at the college level. Critical thinking can be improved through instruction, although it typically requires an extended instructional sequence (e.g., three months) to do so (Baird & White, 1996; Chang, 1999; Huffman, 1997).
      • quote: Schools need to prepare students as life-long learners in science and other academic domains as well. We feel that there is a great deal that science educators currently do, and could do in the future, to promote self-regulation and that past research on metacognition provides something of a platform for moving forward in promoting and researching self-regulated learning. Research suggests that when these instructional strategies are implemented, science learning and achievement improves.
    21. Self-regulated learning in higher education: identifying key component processes, Simon Cassidy, Studies in Higher Education, Volume 36, Issue 8, 2011, pages 989-1000.
      • quote: Zimmerman (2002) suggests three phases of self-regulated learning: forethought, involving task analysis (goal setting, strategic planning) and selfmotivation beliefs (self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, intrinsic interest/value, learning goal orientation); performance, involving self-control (imagery, self-instruction, attention focusing, task strategies) and self-observation (self-recording, selfexperimentation, self-reflection phase); and self-reflection, involving self-judgement (self-evaluation, causal attribution) and self-reaction (self-satisfaction/affect, adaptive/defensive).
      • quote: Three common criteria are highlighted by Zimmerman, which he considers to apply across most self-regulated learning theoretical perspectives: (1) purposive use of specific processes, strategies or responses by students to improve their academic achievement; (2) the use of a self-oriented feedback loop, involving students monitoring the effectiveness of their learning strategies and responding to feedback with changes in self-perceptions or learning strategies; (3) a motivational dimension -- involving self-efficacy beliefs -- which determines choice of particular self-regulatory processes, strategies or responses.
      • comment: With 1, we see the centrality of methods. With 2, we see the need to monitor and improve one's methods.
    22. Classroom Applications of Research on Self-Regulated Learning, Scott G. Paris and Alison H. Paris, Educational Psychologist, Volume 36, Issue 2, 2001, pages 89-101.
    23. Forgetting as a friend of learning: Implications for teaching and self-regulated learning youtube 30 minutes (sponsored by Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching -- HILT)
      • retrieval is a `learning event'. attempting to retrieve a memory increases retrieval strength (ease of access) and the more difficult the retrieval process that more increase.
      • unused memory always over time becomes inaccessible, however, in some way, it remains in memory.
      • storage strength is how interconnected a piece of memory is with other memories. storage strength grows monotonically. greater current storage strength and retrieval strength, the slower storage strength grows. thus reducing retrieval strength (forgetting) enables stronger increases in storage strength (hence allowing one to reach a new level of learning).
      • always retrieve something rather than looking it up.
      • spacing effects. cramming works in the near term, but not long term.
      • what works in training is misleading about what helps people after training.
      • recommendations, quote:
        • varying the conditions of learning
        • distributing or spacing study or practice sessions
        • using tests (rather than presentations) as learning events
        • providing ``contextural interference'' during learning (e.g., interleaving rather than blocking practice).
      • note: frequent testing even without feedback is better for learning
      • getting someone to generate the knowledge to be learned is better than presenting what is to be learned.
      • what is the best way to learn is an area of active research, so it is not suprising that students don't know how to learn well. however, it is clear that some of their practices are known to be wrong.
      • optimal instruction my sometimes induce errors
      • thinking performance is innate or that easy learning is good learning (preferred learning styles) is a mistake.
      • well organized syllabus is often the wrong way to present material. important ideas have to be repeated multiple times in connection to different things. don't block topics together.
      • maximizing course ratings tends to lead in the wrong direction
      • frequent low stakes testing is useful
    24. Trusting Students youtube 5 minutes, Sudbury School of Atlanta. Of course maybe it isn't just about whether or not college students are adults and so should be taught with adult methods, perhaps the question is about whether or not we trust the students. as the methods considered in K-12 where students are trusted are much like the methods considered for adult learners.
    25. Promoting Student-Centered Learning in Experiential Education, Cheryl A. Estes, Journal of Experiential Education, September 2004, vol. 27, no. 2, 141-160.
      • quote: The logic behind the author's claim is as follows: (a) The process of experiential education is commonly considered to be an "action-reflection" cycle (Joplin, 1995, p. 15); and (b) one of the foremost assumptions of experiential learning is, that it is "student rather than teacher based" (Joplin, p. 20), and the learner's experience is the valid basis for knowledge (Crosby, 1995; Joplin, 1995); further, (c) AEE iterates that, "throughout the experiential learning process, the learner [italics added] is actively engaged in ... being creative and constructing meaning" (AEE, n.d.); however, (d) in practice, experiential educators often assume authority for directing what students learn during facilitation (e.g., teacher led discussions) (Bacon, 1983; Bell, 1993; Brown 2002a, 2002b; Estes & Tomb, 1995; Priest, 1996; Vokey, 1987); thus (e) it is often the teacher, not the student, who has more power during reflection on experience; and (f) the way that teachers use this power to convey their own messages while processing experiential activities makes student reflection, as it occurs in practice, more teacher-centered than student-centered.
      • quote: Bacon acknowledged that during debriefing sessions students often say what they think others want to hear; and instructors are so eager to teach about a particular lesson that their eagerness causes them to move too quickly to meet their own goals. This may occur without the instructor having ever determined what the actual effects of the experience were on the needs of the students. Vokey noted -- when teachers coerce people into opinions rather than providing educative experiences they covertly provide appropriate metaphors and language that assume the teacher knows what the students need more than the students themselves.
      • quote: Student-centered learning is not a new idea. In general, it involves reversing traditionally teacher-centered learning and places students at the center of the learning process. Emerging brain research validates what experiential educators have always known -- students learn best through experiential and student-centered approaches (Understanding the Brain, 1995). How can teachers make experiential learning more student-centered? The seven suggestions that follow are values, tips and techniques the author has gathered from personal experiences and the literature (see Table 1 for summary): ...
    26. 10 results from searching for ``transformative learning'' at
    27. 8 results from searching for ``critical pedagogy'' at
    28. 8 results from searching for ``self-regulated'' at
    29. the 1 match from searching for ``growth mindset'' at (it was in an HR newsletter).
  4. Some of the interesting learning/ problem solving methods in current use
    1. All methods are based on the same structure, which is that you take a task and decompose it into pieces that can be addressed individually. Rather than having to take on the whole project, one considers a smaller, more managable chunk. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step [Lao Tzu]. Not only does it allow one to start on something that seems too large. It also allows one to address the question of ``What don't you understand here?'' . Most questions are too general and so often produce answers that miss the issue. Methods let you break down the general question to find what is actually causing a difficulty. Similarly working with text allows one to move sentence by sentence to find where understanding has broken down.
    2. Pomodoro Technique ( wikipedia entry)
      • quote: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.[1] The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are called pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro, which means tomato.[2] The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.[3][4]
    3. PEA in more detail - how to analyse to A* standard. GCSE, A Level and beyond... youtube 5 minutes. how to write a Point Example Analysis paragraph to answer an exam question.
    4. Understanding Exam Questions explains what sort of answers a question that uses a particular command word (such as Compare, Contrast, Combine, etc.) is expecting.
    5. Tips for Writing a Paragraph Topic Sentence, supporting ideas, RENNS (reasons, examples, names, numbers, senses), optional concluding sentence, unity, coherence.
    6. Five-paragraph essay ( wikipedia entry)
    7. Learning for Success Paperback - Jul 18 2005, by Joan Fleet, Fiona GoodChild, and Richard Zajchowski; (UWO Card Catalog Entry; Amazon entry)
    8. PQRST ( wikipedia entry) Preview, Question, Read, Summary, Test (form a question about what you are reading from an initial skim/preview and then try to answer it/test after completing the reading); similar to SQRRR (survey, question, read, recite, review) discussed in Efficient Reading Strategies from The UNB (University of New Brunswick) Writing Centre.
    9. How to Read a Book (wikipedia entry) ( UWO card catalog entry) -- book on methods for reading books. note: developed during the self-directed learning movements of pre-WWII depression time period.
    10. Efficient Reading Strategies Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.
    11. Reading philosophy with background knowledge and metacognition, David W. Concepcion, Teaching Philosophy, 27:4, December 2004, 351 -- 368 (note: actual article ends at page 358, the rest is appendix that is his class handout on `How to Read Philosophy').
    12. How to take Cornell notes youtube 5:26
    13. Concept Maps - A Learning & Study Strategy youtube 11 minutes
    14. The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them Joseph D. Novak and Alberto J. Canas, Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Pensacola Fl, 32502, Technical Report IHMC CmapTools 2006-01 Rev 2008-01.
    15. How to Solve It -- book on methods for problem solving ( wikipedia entry)
    16. Scientific Method -- a method for question answering ( wikipedia entry)
  5. How I think things should be operationalized (done)
    1. ``It has often been said that a person does not really understand something until he teaches it to someone else. Actually a person does not really understand something until after teaching it to a computer, i.e., express it as an algorithm''. Computer Science and Its Relation to Mathematics; Donald E. Knuth; The American Mathematical Monthly; Vol. 81, No. 4 (Apr., 1974), pp. 323-343
    2. The computer runs programs, referred to as algorithms. These programs can be thought of as having two aspects, the underlying logic of how the problem they want to solve is structured and the control of the processing that logic that allows the problem to be solved efficiently ( Algorithm = logic + control, Robert Kowalski, Communications of the ACM, Volume 22 Issue 7, July 1979, Pages 424-436.). Computer Science trains people to take the logic and figure out how it can be efficiently developed. However, where the logic comes from is another matter. The logic level is generally developed by foundational studies in the domain of the interest of the person who wanted the program created (i.e., had a problem they wanted to use a computer to solve). The ability of computer programs rests on the degree of progress that foundational studies have made. It is no accident that word processors offer little help in writing and focus instead on typesetting (where there, to, they offer little aesthetic help, but most people are not trained in the advantages of different font choices, etc. and so don't notice). The limitations of computer programs rest in the limitations of our understanding of what human behavior they are replacing. The behavior of society is already being altered to accommodate the limitations of existing automation systems. As noted:
      • ``More than being helped by computers, companies will live by them, shaping strategy and structure to fit new information technology'' Fortune. The winning organization. (Sept. 26, 1988), 50-60, as quoted in The impact of information systems on organizations and markets, Vijay Gurbaxani and Seungjin Whang, Communications of the ACM, Volume 34 Issue 1, Jan. 1991, Pages 59-73.

      The methods for developing the formal structure of a text are known as knowledge representation ( wikipedia entry). This generally has two parts. One part is an analysis of the conceptual structure of the task similar to what is started with concept maps. This will develop into an `ontology' ( wikipedia entry). The other part is some sort of reasoning mechanism, which is what Prolog ( wikipedia entry) provides. An ad hoc approach based on Prolog should allow students to get the basic idea, and see how it can impact their study of a topic as well as providing a mechanism to enable a computer to partner in that study.

      The area of knowledge representation is a large research area with many alternatives to plain Prolog. As an example of what such a system might look like if specialized to a particular problem area, consider BioNetGen

      • ``BioNetGen is software for the specification and simulation of rule-based models of biochemical systems, including signal transduction, metabolic, and genetic regulatory networks. A comprehensive introduction to modeling with BioNetGen is available and is augmented by the models found in the BioNetGen distribution and in the Model Examples. The BioNetGen language has recently been extended to include explicit representation of compartments. ...''

      In Mathematics, much of the foundations were worked out pre-World War II. An important early work was Principia Mathematica by Betrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead ( wikipedia entry). And so there the tools for using the computer to support domain thinking are best developed (see Coq, Mizar, HOL Light, below). Much of the argumentation in Science is grounded in logic, implying that it is also open to being processed by similar tools. Of the various tools for processing logical structures, Prolog seems to be the most accessible in that it takes a relatively limited view of logic that focusses on the goals that need to be achieved in order to achieve a larger goal, which is the basic structure of most problem solving methods. Since it places less concern on efficiency than traditional programming languages, it has proven suitable for teaching non-Computer Science students and thus can be used as a flexible tool for unearthing the logical structure of text in any subject area.

    3. Logic programming: teaching strategies for students with no programming background, Veronica Dahl, Diana Cukierman, Gemma Bel-Enguix, M. Dolores Jime'nez-Lopez, Proceeding WCCCE '10 Proceedings of the 15th Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education, Article No. 2.
      • Abstract: Logic Programming, due to its inferential capabilities and high level power of expression, is more human-oriented than typical computer languages, in that it allows users to think in terms of logic statements, rather than in terms of implementation dependent concepts such as arrays or pointers. It therefore has good potential for promoting fairly immediate and impressive results even among beginners with no previous programming experience. However, the very features that make it easier for non-programmers to understand a program also make it easier for them to overestimate its meaning. For instance, the meaning that mnemonically chosen predicates suggest to a human reader, may easily be attributed to the set of clauses defining it, even when the clauses themselves do not imply it. In other words, untrained programmers tend to read into a program more than it actually says. In this article we describe a few teaching strategies developed from our experience teaching Prolog to non-computer specialists with humanistic sciences background.
    4. The British Nationality Act as a logic program, M. J. Sergot, F. Sadri, R. A. Kowalski, F. Kriwaczek, P. Hammond, and H. T. Cory, Communications of the ACM, Volume 29 Issue 5, May 1986, Pages 370-386.
    5. The formalization of knowledge also connects to ongoing efforts to make the meaning of information on web sites more easily manageable by programs (rather than requiring a human natural language reader to know what the site is about).
    6. There is a body of work on how to formalize the knowledge presented in natural language in textbooks
    7. And, of course, there are more advanced systems for the scholar who wants more precision than a traditional natural language mathematical proof allows:
    8. comment: Of course, among the extreme formalism, it is important to keep in mind that we are looking at abstractions that cast light on a generally more complicated situation. And that the connection between this formalism and the original situation is not yet a formal one.
    9. 146 results from searching for ``close reading'' at
    10. 75 results from searching for ``ontology'' at
    11. 40 results from searching for ``textual analysis'' at
    12. 7 results from searching for ``logic programming'' at
    13. 4 results from searching for ``knowledge representation'' at
    14. 3 results from searching for ``semantic web'' at
  6. Conclusions

    Being able to make use of the leveraging capabilities of computers in whatever task one is undertaking is going to be an important skill in the future. As noted in Terry Winograd's Bringing Design to Software ( Amazon entry; UWO card catalog), office software was built by people who didn't work in offices and so reflects the views of strangers about office work rather than how office workers view their work. If a student is to be able to influence the software environment that they work in, they need to know how to understand the level of detail necessary for the computer to do what they want (or realize that that level of detail is unknown and so one can't expect a computer to help). This involves developing an appreciation of the foundations of one's area of interest and skills in close reading of natural language material that are central to understanding what is going on in all fields of study. Such skills can most fruitfully be developed in the context of problem solving in the area of interest, as opposed to as an abstract study on the side.