Welcome! This page provides perspectives, general practices and links to resources for helping students to develop expertise (e.g., skills & attitudes) for expressing ideas. Students might, for example, develop expertise for asking questions, developing hypotheses and displaying their ideas through concept maps. If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resource ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them. Thanks.
|Based on constructivist
learning principles, learners often begin
(e.g., courses, lessons) with pre-conceived notions
skills, etc. teachers intend to teach. These ideas,
attitudes, etc. may
interact with those received from the teacher or
sometimes, interfere with those ideas, skills, etc.
Learners are not
often, however, aware of their own pre-instructional
etc. For such reasons, educators recommend that
teachers begin lessons
by asking students to 'express' their
pre-instructional notions about
topics the teacher intends to address. To 'express'
etc. means to translate
structures (e.g., ideas, beliefs, etc.) into symbolic
form or physical
action. People do this through, for example, facial
movements and speech.
expressed, students' ideas, skills, etc. move to the
forefront of their
consciousness and they may then be available for
challenge and possible
change - if alternatives also are available to them.
This is, based on
constructivism, a first step in students' development
of skills they
could use for various purposes - including to generate
indicating WISE problems
turn, might lead to WISE
Despite the benefits of expressing ideas, students often lack 'expertise' (e.g., attitudes, skills, knowledge) for doing so. They may not, for example, be aware that concept mapping - for instance - can help them to express and explore their ideas, attitudes, etc. Accordingly, it is important to provide students with lessons and practice activities intended to help them develop skills they might use for expressing their own ideas, skills, etc.
Based on the pedagogy outlined at Skills Pedagogy, some specific suggestions for helping students to develop skills that they could use for expressing ideas are provided through the links at right. Note that no resources are provided for the 'Students Apply Skills' phase, since they would do that in the 'Expressing Ideas' phase of my constructivism-informed pedagogical framework.
|(Many resources are provided as downloadable 'pdf' files, which can be read and printed with software like Adobe Reader.)|
would be asked to express how they would express
all expression of skills you use for thinking and
acting, this is a
form of 'metacognition,'
your own thinking.
I suggest that this metacognition has two aspects;
that is, i) Ontological
ways in which
in science and
Getting students to express how they would express ideas may involve a 'stimulus-response' process. Students could be asked to express their ideas about, for example, concrete phenomena (objects and/or events), images of concrete phenomena or words about concrete phenomena. To encourage WISE Activism, examples could be drawn from WISE Problems. For example, students could be shown plants in various states of health (some very healthy, others with holes, black marks, stunted growth, etc.) and asked to indicate: what they know about them, what they want to know about them, what they find difficult about them and how they might solve problems they note about them. As they do this, they also would be asked to express: what kinds of things they chose to express (ontological responses) and how they did this (epistemological responses). Students might, for example, say, 'I wrote some qualitative descriptions.' Or, they might say, 'I made a model to show how I would solve this problem.'
theory-laden: To 'observe'
commonly means to
express what the
senses tell the mind about phenomena. However,
observing is not a passive transfer of
sensory information to the brain. The brain is,
in interpreting incoming
sensory information. For example, in observing
people see rectangles and triangles because of
memories of such shapes,
rather than because such shapes are present.
Similarly, people 'see'
various faces in the inkblots here.
while others are a bit more common. Observing is,
therefore, a process
in a sense ideas
rather than mainly having information from
phenomena projected onto our
not 'empty vessels' that can having
knowledge 'poured in.'
Observing is, in other words, 'theory-dependent';
is, what people (including scientists, engineers
'observe depends on what 'theories' (conceptions)
they already have in
their brains. This, in turn, depends on what
experiences including what
education a person has
had. This has important ramifications in terms
of NoST, STSE and
education. The ability of scientists &
engineers and students to make particular
observations depends on which
ideas they already have in their heads. Not
everyone will have the same
ideas and, therefore, will not necessarily make
observations. This means that all observations
have an element of
uncertainty. It also means that students
with more resources such as more
funds and greater community support are likely
to make more sophisticated observations.
qualitative & quantitative observations:
likely comes naturally to people at a young age
is to describe the
'qualities' of phenomena. For example, we might
say that someone is
"big," "funny" and/or "old." Although such
can be valuable in S&T, scientists and
technologists often prefer quantitative observations; that
assessments using numbers.
In many countries, S&T measurements are made
technologists tend to rely on measurements
because they feel that they
are much more reliable
and valid than qualitative
descriptions since human
observing is so theory-laden.
People should not assume, however, that
is theory-independent. Every measuring instrument,
such as a
thermometer, is constructed based on some theory
kinetic-molecular theory). Indeed, there are
to measurement with instruments people
measurement must be invented:
An STSE (and NoST)
should be raised is that science (and technology)
development (invention) of measuring approaches
and devices. In S&T
history, in fact, much progress depending on such
'causal' questions: Although it is not
the only kind of
question, it is common for inquirers to ask
'causal' (cause - result)
questions. Again, although these can take
different forms, it is common
for them to fit into the following general
'What are effects of ___ (changes in an a possible cause variable) __ on ___ (changes in a possible result variable)___?
A 'variable' is anything that can change, such as air temperature. A possible cause (also called 'independent') variable may cause changes in a possible result (also called 'dependent') variable. A causal question could be: 'What are effects of steady temperature increases on the germination of different kinds of seedlings?'
pose 'causal' problems: In
addition to their
use in questioning,
relationships also can be used for posing problems
which is a field in which people aim to produce desirable
results. A possible
framework for problem-posing is:
'Cause variable(s) --- (may cause) ---> 'Bad' changes to result variables'
For example, we could pose these related problems:
'What causes leaves to develop ugly brown edges?'
'What can we do to prevent ugly brown edges from developing?'
It should be pointed out, however, that technologists' goals are not always stated as 'problems.' Often, they think of them as 'opportunities' or 'ideas,' for example. Nevertheless, the common denominator seems to be an aim to cause particular, desirable results to occur. A question remains, however, about whose desires are being represented by technologists' goals. Often, the main benefactors of technological design are those who finance technological design projects. Elaborations of such issues are provided at STSE Ed and WISE Problems.
predictions, with hypotheses: As
Diver demo can illustrate,
inquirers/students often jump fairly
quickly from: observing --> questioning -->
predicting results of
tests of possible
explanations (hypotheses) they have in mind.
Again, although there are
variations, predictions often take this form:
'As .... (certain changes occur to a 'cause' variable) ...., .... (certain changes to a 'result' variable should occur) .... .'
For example, regarding tests of road salt on plant health, a prediction could be:
'As the concentration of road sal in water received by plants increases, leaves' biomass (mass of dry leaves) should decrease.'
A possible explanation ('hypothesis') for this prediction is that salt in soil water may cause roots to dry out, due to osmosis, thus increasing biomass. An illustration of the relationship between a prediction and hypothesis is provided in Fig. 1 @ Sci vs Tech. It should be pointed out, however, that inquirers/students may not have well-formed hypotheses prior to their actual tests and/or after results of their tests.
may invent solutions, with reasons:
hypothesizing, it often is natural for
inquirers/students to suggest
solutions to problems. They also may have
reasons for their solutions
although, just as or more so than with
hypothesizing, these reasons
(like hypotheses) may not be well-formed prior
to invention and testing
activities. There are many and varied ways for
people to invent
solutions to problems. A crucial aspect of this,
however, is that
invention is a highly idiosyncratic, situational
cycles between abstractions (e.g., thoughts)
about a situation and
contextual enactments (often manifested as
physical objects). These
also are forms of expression. For example, a
person may draw a kite
and make a
physical model (e.g., on a small scale) of one
before building it.
However, in the process of building it, ideas
about how it might best
work could change which, in turn, leads to
changes in sketches and
models. For these reasons, inventing is only
introduced here. It is
elaborated at: Tech
Often, the process revolves
around finding optimum
combinations of cause variables (CV) that might
give rise to optimum
result variables (RV) a process
can be visualized like this:
CV1 ---------> 'desirable' RV1
CV2 ---------> 'desirable' RV2
CV3 ---------> 'desirable' RV3
The three sets of CV ---> RV represent three different cause - result relationships, such as a certain density of material (e.g., CV1) that could make a strong tent (e.g., 'desirable' RV1). This is not, however, a straightforward process since changes in CVs can negatively affect RVs that they are not intended to affect. For example, increasing the density of tent material (CV1) may work well to make the tent strong ('desirable' RV1) but, at the same time, negatively affect another desired result variable, such as low tent weight (e.g., 'desirable' RV3). There are at least two major ramifications of this phenomenon: i) Invention often generates accidental negative side-effects (e.g., birth defects from thalidomide relief from morning sickness). Sometimes, however, those controlling inventions ignore such negative side-effects; for example, for profit motives as occurred in the famous Ford Pinto case; and ii) Because of the likelihood of negative side-effects, inventors (and those who finance them) must take great care in mimimizing 'serious' (however that may be judged...) negative side-effects. Manufacturs also may engineer products to breakdown at a set point, in a process known as planned obsolescence.
using visual representations: Mediating
inquirers'/developers' interactions between
mental conceptions and
concrete manifestations often are various
forms of visual
example, sketches, visual organizers,
mathematical models, and concrete
models. A person building a kite, for
example, may imagine its shape,
build a small model of it, sketch what was
constructed; then, in
examining the model and sketch, re-imagine
its construction and develop
revised models and sketches. Various forms
of visual organizers can be
helpful. Today, much of this inventing is
mediated by computer imaging software such