Second Meeting for Round 12

Feb 21, 2015 • Greg Wilson

Meeting 2: Feb 19, 2015

Next Assignment

  1. Have a look at the Version 5.3 (beta) lessons on the Software Carpentry lessons page.
  2. Pick a small section of one lesson - something you think you could teach in 10 minutes or less.
  3. Draw a concept map showing the key ideas and relationships for that part of the lesson. (This must be hand-drawn for reasons discussed in the lesson.)
  4. Post your picture to an image sharing site such as Flickr or Imgur.
  5. Submit a pull request to _submissions/round-12/1 (not round-12/0) with a short, meaningful, hyphenated title such as for-loops-in-python.md that includes:
    1. a link to the lesson your concept map illustrates;
    2. a sentence explaining what part of that lesson you’ve mapped; and
    3. a link to the image you’ve uploaded. To include an image in a Markdown file, write: ~~~ alternative text ~~~ (The “alternative text” is typically the image caption, and is used by search engines and disability aids for the visually impaired.)
  6. Comment on at least three other people’s concept maps using the web-based (Disqus) commenting system on the blog. What parts do you like? What parts surprised you? What puzzled you? What do you think is missing or incorrect? What did you find hard to follow?

All posts are due by Thursday, February 26 (Eastern time). If you are unable to post by then, please mail me so that we can discuss whether you should move to the next round of the training course. When commenting, please look for posts that haven’t had any feedback already so that everyone gets at least a couple of comments.

If you’d like inspiration, please look at:

Or page 229 of the hardcover copy of “How Learning Works”. You may also enjoy:

10:00 EST

  • Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry Foundation
    • please tell us how you rated your Git knowledge two weeks ago, and how you would rate it now based on your experience of the last two weeks (e.g., rated as 0.3, now think I was a 0.7)
  • Jessica Gallinger
    • I studied psychology so the reading reviewed familiar concepts
    • Git 0 -> 0
  • Filipe Fernandes
    • The most interesting thing I found from the first two chapters was how prior knowledge interferes with the learning process. Even though it is kind of obvious, it was surprising to read about it. I would approach several topics in the courses I taught in the past in a different manner now.
    • What I find unusable is to talk with colleagues about the lectures/syllabus and etc. Sadly, academia is an area ruled by egos and most of us are not ready to have our teaching methods exposed to critics.
    • Git knowledge 0.7 -> 0.7
  • Kai Yang
    • I never thought about possible negative impact of students’ prior knowledge. Sometimes we have to do “de-link.”
    • It is not plausible to have students assess their own prior knowledge in SWC settings because of the diversity in students’ background. Students in different disciplines have their definitions and standards.
    • .7 -> .8
  • Sarah Mount
    • Interesting - the strength of misconceptions that students have; how explicit teachers need to be about making links between old / new knowledge
    • Implausible - that analogies ever work. I’ve never seen a student really understand an analogy well, so I can see that they are problematic. What I find hard to believe is that they can ever be presented to learners in a way that is helpful.
    • Git rating – was 0.7, probably about the same
  • Daniel Wheeler
    • Interesting:The research result about elaborative interrogation was interesting and surprising, though in hindsight, less surprising. It provides real motivation for instructors to think carefully about how to phrase questions.
    • Impractical: There is no one thing that seems implausible, but overall I feel that all these ideas, while important to digest and understand, would be difficult to apply to for an individual with a honed and recognized teaching strategy. It seems like further literature would be useful to make these ideas more domain specific. I suppose that’s the aim of SWC.
    • Git knowledge: I rated myself with a 0.9, probably the same now
  • Javier García-Algarra
    • I found very shocking the study on the strength of misconceptions, those students that still believed that seasons are a result of the shape of the orbit of the Earth after watching a video that showed it was the axis tilt.
    • Not being a teacher, some of the practical hints are unfamiliar to me, but concept maps were a popular tool in the corporate world some years ago. I am rather skeptical on the usefulness of concept maps, perhaps because I am hindered by a prior experience of consultants using them to map trivial knowledge.
  • Daiva Nielsen
    • Interesting: I enjoyed the first chapter’s overview of how prior knowledge influences learning. I could really relate to the first example presented, which demonstrated that students can have familiarity with terms/concepts from previous courses, but are not strong in applying those terms/concepts. I also appreciated the explicit explanation of how inaccurate prior knowledge can hinder learning. This is something I think every educator recognizes, but I haven’t come across a resource that explicitly addressed that issue until this book.
    • Can’t see a practical application for: The suggestion in Ch2 of creating our own instructor concept map and sharing it with students so they can see how we organize our knowledge and make connections. I see the value of this in theory, but practically I think this would be difficult to create and explain to students. I suppose it may lend itself well to particular disciplines, but I can see the concept map for the course I teach being very large and complex and would perhaps confuse students more than help them.
    • Before: 0.5; Now: I think still 0.5…maybe 0.6-0.65
  • Victor (Kwangchun) Lee
    • Nowadays I am interested in software education and in particular, I agree with that prior knowledge interferes with the learning process. Software itself has sort of collaboration culture, but east Asian countries, CJK, have a deep root in education as a competition. It’s surprising that the prior knowledge and education culture interfere with the “software” learning process
    • Git Knowledge, Before: 0.3 (mostly version control), Now: 0.5 (extending to collaboration)
  • Konrad Förstner
    • previous knowledge can be hampering new learning
    • Before: 0.75 Now: 0.75 (I sometimes think even lower as there might a huuuge amount of stuff that I might not yet have touched but I don’t know)
  • Adam Richie-Halford (University of Washington, Seattle, WA)
    • Surprising: I really enjoyed Vosniadou and Brewer’s finding that children reconcile their flat-earth conception with formal round-earth instruction by imagining the world as pancake-shaped. At first, this anecdote was just cute but it really reinforced the notion that a lot of incorrect thinking doesn’t come from lack of intelligence or laziness but rather from a completely rational desire for consistency.
    • Implausible or unusable: It’s not so much that I found concept maps implausible or unusable but just very challenging. I tried to make a concept map for some of my current classes and it was very difficult. I imagine that it will be challenging to make concept maps even for material that I know well.
    • Git Rating: before - 0.6, now - perhaps 0.7
  • John Constable (Welcome Trust Sanger Institute)
    • Just finished ‘How to make a better teacher’, not had a chance to start on ‘How To Learn’ yet.
    • Having got most of the way now, my most surprising moment was ‘negative reinforcement’
    • Implausable was getting students to self reference thier knowledge - how can they know what they don’t know.
    • Git rating: (I think) was 0.5, still 0.5! :-)
  • Phil Rosenfield
    • something surprising: In all honesty, both chapters didn’t shift my prior knowledge but articulated, grouped, or named things I have experienced while teaching.
    • something implausible or unusable: All seemed reasonable, I can see it taking me some effort to adapt to using concept maps in a useful way.
    • was 0.75 was 0.75
  • Karl Broman [may be 5 min late]
    • The two chapters fit pretty well with my experience. I’m more interested in the 1st chapter: the importance of knowing where your students are coming from.
    • I’m skeptical that activities about knowledge organization/concept maps are generally helpful. But I guess it depends on your goals.
    • was 0.9; still think I was 0.9
  • Owen Stephens (about half way through chapter 2)
    • Surprised by the impact of incorrectly applied prior knowledge - just how strongly this affects us
    • That anyone would confuse learning the parts of a system with knowing how a system works (as per “There must be a better way” scenario at the start of Chapter 2)
    • I think I rated myself 0.6 and I’d still rate myself at 0.6
  • Kim Moir
    • how much prior knowledge/terminology can distort the interpretation of new material and make learning it difficult
    • I haven’t used concept maps before, it seems this would be interesting to try to understand the scope of students’ knowledge in a particular subject area
    • 0.8, still about the same
  • Michael Sarahan
    • I was surprised about the story of students not understanding seasons, even after being shown the video. It makes sense that they may not be able to follow the leap to that conclusion (they need smaller increments), but it is still surprising.
    • Concept maps seem very useful as a concept, but they also seem very detached from students. Maybe they’d work as a one-on-one activity, or as a worksheet that was later reviewed, but in a class setting, I would have a hard time with them.
    • Was 0.6. On an absolute scale, I’d still say that’s accurate. On a relative scale (given the task at hand, and what people had problems with), I might be a little higher - 0.75 maybe.o
  • Donna Henderson
    • I found it surprising that a majority of college students were only able to solve a second question when the instructor emphasized its similarity to the previous question. It’s interesting that the students couldn’t make that connection for themselves.
    • Concept maps seem quite time consuming to draw even when you know the subject well. I imagine most students would spend the entire time staring at a blank page, rather than writing down how their knowledge is (well or badly) organized.
    • I said .5, was probably about right, maybe a bit higher than the truth
  • Matt Probert
    • Nothing too surprising - rings true in general
    • Not sure how to fit in concept maps etc into a standard lecture course - might fit better into a tutorial setting - looking forwards to see how can better organize teaching, particularly things like practicals.
  • Laura Graham
    • Something interesting/surprising: not necessarily surprising, but I hadn’t thought about the way we organise knowledge as being important for learning. It makes sense, and there are some interesting/useful methods for helping students arrange their knowledge
    • The methods to assess, build and fix students’ prior knowledge all seem useful, but I think to cover all of them would be time consuming and would possibly mean that not all necessary material could be covered. For example I am TA in a statistics class and while it would be much easier to teach if students all had the prior knowledge necessary, we could not cover the required material in the time so we just solve this with an optional online course running alongside the module.
    • Rated git knowledge 0.5 (but probably should have rated ~0.3) now probably 0.5 - a lot of concepts within git I wasn’t really aware of, but I’m building up a better picture from the exercises.
  • Rachel Glover
    • Still reading - will update asap (I’m a bit behind!)
    • Git knowledge two weeks ago: 0.5, now I think I should have rated a 0.2 or 0.3 - got a better idea of what I don’t know about git now!
  • Amy Boyle
    • Interesting: Haven’t previously thought how we organize knowledge would have made such an impact on learning outcomes. Giving students a framework to organize new info around will help them retain and connect concepts.
    • unusable: I am just not sure how I will implement the suggested techniques to teach software workshops, particularly skeptical about concept maps.
    • Two weeks ago: 0.8, now 0.8
  • Kathy Chung
    • Interesting/Surprising – how prior knowledge can be an obstacle. Also, the significance of how knowledge is organised and how this is one factor differentiating novices from experts and ways to assess and develop effective knowledge organisations. And importance of _multiple_ knowledge orgs. (ok, so that was 3 things) I have used tables to help students organise information but can now give a better explanation of what we are doing and why
    • implausible/unusable – hard (and time consuming?) to assess prior knowledge (PK) and address what is not helpful; challenges of insufficient time and resources?
  • Simon Fraser
    • Interesting: Reinforcement and connection to existing knowledge, in order to anchor it
    • Unusable: For Software Carpentry lessons, each student is going to come from a very different background, so things cannot be built on previous experience
    • Previous git rating: 0.8, Current git rating: 0.8
  • Narayanan Raghupathy
    • it was interesting to learn again how prior knowledge or lack of prior knowledge affects learning
    • I feel some of the suggested actions one can implement to address the are hard to use in practical setting. I am also not sure how these work in interdisciplinary setting.
    • I gave 0.4 for github knowledge, but I should have rated 0.2 :-)
  • Stephanie Mark
    • Surprised that some learned misconceptions can withstand change even in the face of logic
    • Using brainstorming as a teaching tool might be unrealistic/impractical in a typical university setting (i.e. prof lecturing to students for an hour)
    • initially: 0.2, should have been: 0.1
  • Arliss Collins
    • surprising …
    • implausible …
    • git-rating - started at 0.2 - should have given 0.4 - knew more than I thought I did - just needed someone to confirm that I had the right idea. Thank you to Alex W. for all your help.
  • Marios Isaakidis
    • Interesting: teachers can guide students build upon previous knowledge
    • Implausible: activities like concept map drawing during a workshop consume a lot of time
    • 0.7 - 0.7
  • Sommer Abdel-Fattah (McMaster University)
    • Its an interesting concept that learning results from what the student does and thinks and only from that so the teacher can only influence learning by what the student does learn.
    • concept of negative reinforcement
    • 0.5, 0.1
  • Heather Gibling
    • Not necessarily surprising, but more “Oh that makes sense” – the different ways knowledge is organized
    • Implausible – in the context of two-day workshops, a lot of prior knowledge assessment tests seem too time-consuming (unless done well in advance)
    • Git knowledge: 0.5 -> 0.35
  • Violet Zhang (University of Pennsylvania)
    • students’s prior knowledge can hinder their learning process
    • confused about the concept map and not sure how to design one. it seemed very hard to teach people how to organize their thoughts
    • git 0.5->0.3, github 0.0->0.1
  • Burke Squires (NIAID)
    • surprising
    • inplausible
    • Git knowledge: 0.75 -> 0.5 :-)
  • Ben Weinstein
    • I rated it 1.0
    • Should have rated it .8
      • Learned that you can fast forward through other remotes
  • Matt: was non existent - now a bit better but not fluent!
  • Pawel Pomorski:
    • git 0.9-> 0.7, github 0.8->0.4
    • surprising: vast differences in cultural assumptions (eg. terms for family members) need to be taken into account in teaching
    • counterintuitive:instructor being excited about material does not necessarily improve experience for students

15:00 EST

  • Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry Foundation
  • Matt Dickenson
    • The most surprising/interesting thing to me in the first two chapters was the role of prior knowledge. From a Bayesian perspective prior knowledge should be helpful in keeping you from overreacting to new data. The information in the text makes sense if the prior knowledge is based on incomplete or inaccurate information.
    • Concept mapping is a technique that does not seem helpful to me at this point.
  • Laurie Baker (University of Glasgow)
    • surprising/interesting: that the authors feel the 7 principles are domain independent, how students associate new knowledge with their prior knowledge.
    • implausible or unusable:
    • Git Knowledge: 0.1 before, 0.2 after (Thanks Simon Fraser!)
  • Malvika Sharan
    • Interesting: Teaching by analogy is great but more important is to teach the limitation of analogy (using appropriate prior knowedge)
    • How to figure out the extent of prior knowledge? Is “asking the learner to draw mind map” only way to identify if my knowledge went across well?
    • Git knowledge: 0.5 before, 0.6 now, need more practice
  • Johan Hjelm (Technical University of Denmark)
    • surprising/interesting: I also found the chapter on knowledge organization interesting, and as I am just after teaching a course to a group of students with a really wide range of different prior knowledge (it was a real challenge) so found that very interesting too.
    • implausible/unusable: a little unsure on how to construct a useful concept map
    • Git knowledge: 0.1 before / 0.3 after
  • Sarah Stevens (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
    • I found the whole section on knowledge organization very interesting. It solidified what we learned last week about novices vs experts for me. It also was interesting to think about my own learning and teaching experiences in this context.
    • I was somewhat skeptical of the concept map, though it was listed as a useful technique many times in the reading. It was starting to make more sense to me how it could be useful in Ch. 2.
    • Git Knowledge: 0.5 before, same after
  • Sarah W
    • Git knowledge: 0.1 before, 0 after.
    • surprising: nothing terribly surprising.
    • implausible or unusable: I’m not 100% sold on the concept map.
  • Michael Corey
  • John Moreau (University of Missouri-Kansas City)
    • the most interesting/surprising thing you encountered
      • How easy it is for students to apply inappropriate mental models and how easily an instructor cannot realize that gap
    • one thing from that reading that seemed implausible or counter-intuitive
      • >>>
    • Git Knowledge: 0.4 before, maybe 0.3 now
  • Matthew Bourque (Space Telescope Science Institute)
    • What surprised me is how a student’s prior knowledge can be detrimental to their future learning in some cases – something that I have never really considered before.
    • Perhaps the book will touch upon this in a later chapter, but there was no discussion about how the knowledge of a novice can still be quite useful at times (i.e. the idea of a “fresh set of eyes” on a problem – novices can bring ideas that were overlooked by the experts).
    • 0.6 before, probably should have been 0.65 (I knew more about pull requests than I thought I did!)
  • Meredith Durbin (Space Telescope Science Institute)
    • I was also surprised at how prior knowledge can be detrimental to learning in multiple ways, whether it’s inaccurate or accurate but insufficient
    • I do think that trying to understand every student’s particular mode of organizing knowledge would be hard to accommodate, especially as it seems like the sort of thing that students aren’t aware of themselves and would have a hard time informing the instructor of if you were to try and do a preliminary assessment of it
    • Git knowledge: 0.5 -> 0.5
  • Jon Borrelli
    • 0.6 i think was good because there are things i did not know, but was able to figure new stuff out fairly easily
    • I found the effect of different knowledge organizations on learning surprising, but after reading the chapter it really did make a lot of sense.
    • As for implausible.impractical I am still trying to work out efficient ways to gauge student’s prior knowledge and determine the type of prior knowledge. I was not convinced that the strategies discussed would be efficient/useful.
  • Hugues Fontenelle (Oslo University Hospital, Norway)
    • Interesting: in the Annex, topic on how to ask the right questions for a knowledge assessment: not just rank 1-5, but concrete examples
  • Remi Daigle (University of Toronto)
    • git 0.5 -> 0.4
    • I really liked the analogy of the word for father/uncle was the same in some languages because they have the same role
    • I think making sure all students are on the same level before expanding knowledge is crucial, but challenging. I think there is great difficulty in catering to all students
  • Catherine Devlin (18F):
    • git 0.8 -> 0.8
    • interesting: crucial role of connectivity in gaining knowledge
    • practically challenging: both understanding and accomodating the range of levels of previous understanding in a classroom full of students
    • Rated myself 0.8; sticking with that answer
  • Zakariyya Mughal (U. Houston)
    • Reading questions for How Learning Works
      • surprising: The reading wasn’t so much surprising, but it did put things that I’ve already encountered from both being a student/teacher and from reading about psychology/HCI in a new context. Plus, there were plenty of references to studies for ideas that I’ve thought about but never seen tested: my favourite being the experiment that showed how electronics experts don’t see circuits as components, but think in terms of their overall function.
      • implausible/unusable: The part about concept maps made sense and is something that I would like to see more of, but I’ve not seen it done in courses. This may be because, as we said in the previous session, experts do not know how they arrive at an answer because they rapidly hop over many of the links in their knowledge graph and can’t really explain how they got there. The solution might be to actually interact with a beginner to understand where the gaps in their understanding are.
    • Git: 1.0 -> 1.0.
  • Alex Wiltschko (Harvard)
    • GitHub 1.0 -> 0.9
    • surprising: I have never read any pedagogy research, and a huge motivation for me to take this course is to become a bit more steeped in research on learning and teaching. So broadly, I’m very pleasantly surprised at the methodicalness of the research.
    • implausible: Effectively and fairly determining the “minimum required knowledge” for a class is extremely challenging. The difficulty for a student being that they do not know enough is painful and can discourage continuing a line of study. However, it is required in order for a student to take full advantage of a lesson. So, I would like to hear some more precise strategies for helping to alter a student’s expectations and course load in a way that is encouraging and motivating.
  • Sue McClatchy (The Jackson Laboratory)
    • Much of the content of these chapters was review for me. As a K-12 teacher I studied educational psychology long before entering the classroom. I also experienced the loneliness and frustration of U.S. teaching firsthand for many years. I had heard of the educational system in Finland through a piece on NPR some years ago, and knew that Finnish kids want to be one of 3 things when they grow up: doctor, teacher, lawyer (maybe not lawyers). It’s a very well respected profession there.
    • I had never seen the teacher accountability vs. professionalism debate layed out so clearly, nor heard why neither approach gets at the real problem in U.S. teaching. It’s so easy to prescribe a pill to fix what’s wrong, and so difficult to get at the root problem.
    • I appreciated the tools and techniques presented in order to address students’ learning difficulties. I’d used most of these in teaching before but had never used them prescriptively.
    • I rated it at 0.1, which was perhaps a bit harsh. 0.2 would have been more appropriate.
  • Martin Bentley
    • I found a couple things interesting, although not necessarily new.
      • The enforcement of prior learning was interesting, and how to get people to realise where their prior knowledge is wrong (or incomplete) seems an interesting challenge.
      • The knowledge organisation, and how people can do it differently was also good.
      • I have not really worked with explicit concept maps, although I think I subconsciously do them in many cases.
    • Most of it seemed fairly practical, although what one can do when a student simply does not seem a match for the subject because of preconceived notions (like a young earth creationist wanting to do a geology course) would be useful to know.
    • Git knowledge: I think I said 0.7 or so. It is about the same, although I picked up a couple minor things.
  • Arvind Sundaram (Norwegian Sequencing Centre, Oslo, Norway)
    • Surprising - concept of how learning works is itself a bit surprising to me as I have not given much taught on this till date (Even though I have been a lecturer for a few months).
    • Implausible or unusable - Nothing at the moment. Have to revisit the ‘unusable’ part at the end of the course
    • Git - 0.7 to 0.4
  • Morgan Taschuk (OICR, Toronto, Canada)
    • Surprising: the extent to which prior knowledge can impact learning. I thought back to a few instances of being a student where I realized my prior knowledge probably impacted my ability to absorb the material
    • Implausible: Without some deep connection to students and a longer period of time than most courses allow, I don’t think it’s possible to counter deeply held misconceptions (like cultural stereotypes)
    • Git: ~1 two weeks ago. Probably more like 0.8. Greg knew some things about line wrapping that were new to me. :)
  • Peter Fields (Basel, Switzerland)
    • Surprising - Some teaching theory seems to sometimes lack introspection
    • Implausible - Large scale lectures might present difficulties for many of the principles that require deep insight into students culture and experiences.
    • Git: I originally said 0.5, but perhaps something closer to 0.7 or so.
  • Ariel Bowers (Space Telescope Science Institute)
    • Surprising- I found it surprising that not having proper knowledge organization can result in having trouble learning new things. However, it does make sense that if you don’t have any to relate a new topic too it can be more challenging to learn.
    • Implausible - I didn’t really agree with the concept of inappropriate prior knowledge. Everything can be interconnected if you apply it properly. I beleive that all prior knowledge is helpful to help people learn things in a way they understand.
  • Andrew MacDonald
    • Git: i originally said about 0.5, probably should have gone lower :/ (perhaps 0.3)

19:00 EST

  • Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry Foundation
  • Auriel Fournier (Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Coop - U of Arkansas)
    • I was surprised to see how prior knowledge can hinder the learning process, even subconciously
    • I had never thought about how knowledge was arranged, it really made me think about how I arrange my knowledge and how I should be making connections when I teach instead of just listing things out and making them figure them out
    • Before - I probably said a .5, probably more like a 0.1 or 0.2 (GUI != Git)
  • Brian Magill (SSAI)
    • I was intrigued by the idea that a teacher may have to give students a road map for retaining knowledge as well as imparting the knowledge itself
    • I did not find the way in which the authors present the concept map to be very helpful. Although they highly recommend it in 2 different sections, its description has been relegated to an appendix. Even there it is scantly covered. If it is that important, why expect the audience to go to a reference for enough information to really use it?
    • Probably would rate my knowledge of GitHub at 0.1
  • Richard Tomsett (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology)
    • Surprising: The power of inappropriate prior knowledge and how much effort it might take to overcome this
    • Implausible/unusable: nothing implausible, but there’s quite a lot of advice, which will take a lot of time to remember (this is good!)
    • Git: before I rated 0.666, because I love heavy metal. Now I would rate maybe 0.35-0.4, as I’d underestimated the learning curve for collaborative projects
  • Matthew Collins (UF)
    • Surprising: The publication dates of the research cited are all so recent. I guess like all science the knowledge gets refined over time but I would have thought that learning mechanisms would be settled by now. (I loved the dual meaning of “negative” too.)
    • Implausible: I’m struggling to find implausible ideas. Many observations are so close to my experiences: too much information without a base to relate it to is useless, learning concepts in one organization makes retrieving them in other ways impossible, missing domain concepts because the English definitions of terms are different. The use of analogies and boundary conditions in explanations seemed risky and error prone though.
    • Git:thought a 0.6, probably a 0.4, lots of use but a limited subset regularly
  • Evgenij Belikov (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh)
    • surprising: it appears that much teaching is rather ad-hoc and not necessarily evidence-based (lack of literature between the academic papers and the self-help guides) and not explicit enough (e.g. assuming prior knowledge that may or may not be there without testing; not stating instructors’ organisations of knowledge)
    • implausible/unusable: although it is plausible that relevant prior knowledge helps recalling, it is not clear how to decide to what degree is some knowledge relevant (maybe some non-relevant activated knowledge can also improve engagement and recall?) – evidence seems to focus on declarative knowledge (facts, game scores); chunking improves recall but does it improve understanding (also: procedural knowlege could be more tacit)? it is unclear how much concept maps reflect the actual structure and internal organisation of knowledge (which may be more fine-grained and dynamic), but appear useful as a tool for thoughts explicit
    • git: was 0.5, should have been 0.7
  • Tessa Pierce
    • Surprising: That even a quick mention or slight prompt can be sufficient to activate students’ prior knowledge.
    • Counter-intuitive: experts don’t necessarily make the best instructors. It can be difficult for experts to recognize the structure of their own knowledge and thus hard to guide novices toward building such networks.
    • git: 0.5 -> 0.4
  • Darya Vanichkina
    • Surprising: you can share concept maps with students, which may assist their learning. I have always shyed away from concept maps, because at least in biology, you frequently end up with too many arrows linking the different components, and not enough details characterizing each of the components. I have frequently seen how students would look over a concept map that I had drawn, and assumed they understood the material, when they could only label the nodes in the map, and couldn’t re-label the edges from internal memory and understanding.
    • Counter-intuitive: just how limiting/inhibiting prior knowledge can be to learning, and how carefully this needs to be managed to make sure students can and do learn, understand and internalize the material they need - without feeling that they are being pressured to change their world views and belief systems (and it’s apparent how this applies to biology, my “primary” field of research, with the concepts of evolution, vaccines or GMOs, but I think it also has a place in computer science learning, with so many people being hindered by the preconceptions of an “analytical” vs “creative” mind, being a “geek” vs being a “normal” person, and (unfortunately) gender stereotypes).
    • git 0.7 -> 0.4. Especially using the Github client and web interface to do the things I’m used to doing on command line
  • Jeremy Gray (U of Toronto)
    • I said I think 0.9, Im closer to 0.7 - I can do what I want, but not so good at social
    • Interesting: Different ways of explaining facts lead to different understandings by students. I had always thought of multiple ways of explanation as essentially equivalent - but that is obviously not true.
    • Implausible: Concept maps helping understanding. I don’t generally like using mindmaps/concept maps - if you know the connections to draw them, you already know the material. When I was in primary school, this was a teaching fad and it never made sense to me.
  • Avijit Bandyopadhyay
    • Surprising: Emotional aspect of classroom makes a difference in how lessons are perceived.
    • Implausible/counter-intuitive: It all seems to make sense to me.
    • Git: 0.9 -> 0.9
  • David Clarke
    • Surprising: Nothing in particular (so far)
    • Counter-intuitive: Again, nothing particularly
    • Rated as 0.75, should have been 0.74.
  • Will Cornwell (UNSW)
    • surprising: I was surprised how into concept maps the authors are. I also am a big fan as that’s how I learn, and I use them all the time in my teaching. However, the student response hasn’t been great to them, which so far I think is due to the fact that they only are super useful for certain types of learners (like me).
    • implausible: almost all ideas from the pedagogy literature run into practical problems when you try to implement them. seems like there is really an art to fitting brilliant teaching ideas into the grim realities of university bureaucracy
    • 0.7 - 0.7 for git, but certainly not 0.7 for github
  • Francisco Navarro (University of Alicante, Spain)
    • surprising: What a simple but powerful these ideas are and how much we are unconscious of them. Specially concept maps were missing during my university studies or at least I don’t recall my professors using them.
    • implausible/unusable: Albeit powerful, it seems complicate within some fields. How to be sure that your concept map make sense to other one?
    • Git: 0.6 -> 0.5
  • Richard Kip (UC Santa Barbara)
    • surprising: students were able to retain new (and obscure?) facts about celebrities that they already knew vs (commonplace?) facts about people they didn’t know (pre-existing knowledge helping learning)
    • implausible/unusable: I’m withholding judgement til I see some of these in practice (in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not)
    • rated at 0.7 -> 0.5
  • Michael Corey (Facebook/uChicago)
    • Surprising: The effectiveness of the principles in cross-cultural cases.
    • Surprising: The similarity to psychometrics around survey question responses
    • 0.7->0.5
  • Erin Mastrantonio (Education Elements)
    • What I found most surprising was that, given how important knowledge structures are to facilitate learning, so few of even the best teachers in my academic life made use of them. Related: how so few of my (very intelligent) physics/astronomy professors organized their lectures around how to recognize the structures that allow us to solve real world problems, but then expected us to be able to do this after only being handed theoretical/historical concepts. I want a redo of my entire science education after reading this book!
    • Implausible/unusable/no practical application: the idea that students, when given enough time and space from distraction, can overcome misconceptions (especially cultural ones) on their own. I felt this to be exceedingly naive and not useful, and in direct contradiction to their discussion on how deeply embedded misconceptions are and that a teacher must systematically dismantle them to get rid of them.
    • git knowledge: 0.1 (original) -> 0.15 (just as lost as I used to be, but have slightly more declarative knowledge as I used to have)
  • Joseph Long (STScI):
    • surprising: The distillation of the levels of understanding in ch. 1 down to “heard of it”, “could define it”, “could explain it”, “could apply it”… perhaps another level is needed for “know when to apply it”?
    • implausible: I’m not sold on concept maps… after reviewing the ones linked at the top, I’m perhaps convinced of their utility for identifying mistaken connections and revising them. I don’t think a concept map would work to communicate an expert “knowledge organization” to a novice, however. (Possible counterexample: GSU hyperphysics?)
    • git knowledge: 0.75 -> 0.75 (I didn’t have any trouble with the assignment, but I’m currently re-learning how to create a tagged release and change the referenced commit on github…)
  • Dorota Jarecka
    • interesting: importance of linking process (from experience teachers didn’t think about it too much)
    • implausible or counter-intuitive: I’m not sure if always sharing the organization is better then waiting for students until they find their way to organize
    • 0.8 -> not sure, but didn’t have problem with this exercise (but a lot of to learn)
  • Horacio Vargas
    • It is surprising how the prior knowledge of the student can be determining. In particular when this knowledge is inappropriate and also inaccurate because of common sense.
    • Implausible: nothing particular.
  • Vladimir Sudilovsky
    • Nothing really surprising, but I found it interesting to consider the techniques proposed in Ch. 2 to help strengthen conceptual relationships
    • I did not find anything implausible. The suggested techniques to assess prior knowledge or form useful conceptual relationships seemed practical.
    • 1.0->1.0
  • Kristopher Keipert
    • Surprising:
    • Implausible:
    • 0.8 -> 0.8
  • Belinda Weaver
    • Surprising: The most surprising thing to me was learning about declarative and procedural knowledge - I had not really identified that distinction before but it makes sense to me and will now inform what I do.
    • Implausible/unusable: I am not sure there would be enough time in teaching to explain one’s own framework and make sure students all had a reasonably similar framework for the info they would need to be taught - my experience of teaching is of constant pressure to squeeze things in with little room for anything else (sadly).
    • Two weeks ago: 0
    • Actually: 0 (and not much better yet)
  • Philip Riggs
    • Interesting: Having learners demonstrate knowledge by building concept maps, and how providing organizational concept maps to complete builds better organizational knowledge.
    • Interesting: Building deeper knowledge in learners by providing a solved problem and asking them to explain the solution, and by having them compare problems that look superficially different, but share deeper connections and features.
    • Implausible or counter-intuitive: Changing preconceived misconceptions.
    • Git: 0.1 (I really prefer Mercurial for my own work). I probably should have rated it 0.0
  • Dirk Eddelbuettel
    • Interesting/Unexpected: Hm. Don’t have a good answer here.
    • Implausible: Nothing either.
    • Git: 0.8 guestimate then; probably 0.5 (still don’t do rebase or squash)
  • April Clyburne-Sherin
    • Interesting: That these same principles apply across domains. It is interesting due to how differently fine arts courses are taught compared to science courses.
    • Counter-intuitive: That preconceived notions cannot be corrected simply by providing correct information, or not easily.
    • Git: 0.25 estimated -> 0.20 reality
  • Derek Howard
    • Interesting: How organizing knowledge affects what can be learned (w/ counter-intuitive anecdote of a student who has less specific detail about a topic but a more rich framework for that topic that shows a deeper understanding)
    • Implausible/counterintuitive: I’m not sure that sharing an experts knowledge map would be helpful to new learners as opposed to just confuse them more.
    • Git:0.2->0.1
  • Elizabeth Wickes (UIUC)
    • Interesting: How prior knowledge can inhibit learning so much and the effort required to overcome it.
    • I understand versioning. I’ve taught versioning. So like a .8 on that, but I realized that I’m a 0 on the git-ness of git.
  • Kyler Brown
    • Interesting: methods for correcting inaccurate knowledge use active participation.
    • Git knowledge: I think I said .8 or 1, but now I think it’s a bit lower, maybe 0.5.

Notes

  • Exercise with Git and posts on blog highlight either a filtration bias or Stockholm Syndrome
    • More experienced people don’t recall finding the same things difficult when beginning
  • Dunning-Kruger effect: People with little knowledge are unable to accurately estimate their knowledge. e.g. somebody with very superficial knowledge may consider themselves “expert” relative to complete beginners.
  • You’re not allowed to use the word “JUST”. This is the “passive dismissive adjective” - remember that every one of our students is highly motivated and is struggling with a challenging concept.
  • Next 2 weeks - modifying existing lessons
  • many participants mentioned how previous knowledge can be an obstacle to learn new knowledge
  • the difference between autodidacts and the other people is that they have more flexible mental models; in Greg opinion those people have problems to focus on one thing
  • Whos is familiar with
    • Reverse instructional design (RID) - equivalent to test driven development in teaching
    • Test driven development - an analogy:
      • Most code development starts with code and then write tests to check code works OK. 1) write some code, 2) oh shit I need some tests, 3) write some tests
      • In Test Driven Development (TDD) you write the tests first - they immediately fail because you haven’t written any functional code yet
        • Clarifies what you’re trying to do, what done actually looks like
        • TDD gives you ‘goalposts’ to aim at - you know when you’ve succeeded in getting code that meets your needs
        • If you write tests after code (i.e. not TDD) you subconsciously steer away from the areas where there are most likely to be bugs - and others catch these bugs much more easily “Making Software” published by O’Reilly, there is a chapter on this. If you write your own tests, you will a) see the code as you think it is, not as it actually is and b) you’ll want to avoid finding errors.
      • human, natural languages are very imprecise, tests help you to specify what you expect to get
    • As with code, and writing, so with writing lessons. Reverse Instructional Design (RID) is meant to avoid these issues
    • RID:
      • Step 1: Figure out what the final exam (Summative Assessment) is going to be
        • How are you going to test the knowledge?
        • If you can’t work out how you will test then you aren’t ready to teach - you haven’t established what is important to teach
        • get your goalposts
        • Summative assessment - the final exam
      • Step 2: Work backwards from the summative assessment to ‘formative assessment’. Formative assessment = ongoing exercises to check students are on track for final exam
        • Avoid putting a learner in a situation where the summative assessment is completely unexpected or students unprepared for it
        • What things will you get students to practice to get them ready for summative assessment
      • Step 3: What is the gap between the knowledge/skills required to complete the formative/summative assessments and the knowledge/skills that the student has when they start the class/course?
        • This is what you are going to teach
    • RID gives better outcomes for the same input - it’s more directed
      • RID falls down when you judge teachers on the outcomes of the summative assessments of the students - you start to ‘teach to the test’
        • In this case the teacher only cares whether students pass the exam, not that they are learning
  • I Used to Think and Now I Think
    • Standardized national testing - 2010 essay - I was wrong
    • Mentioned in “Building a better teacher”
    • Standardized testing has potential for improving teaching, but when used by politicians to cut funding and bully teachers, standardized testing is harmful
    • Leads to teaching to the test, not for the process of learning

Concept maps

  • let’s pretend that knowledge is mentally represented as a graph (it’s not)
  • teaching connections between concepts promotes remembering the concepts
  • usage to construct lessons:make clear which concept you want to add and how to connect it
  • Number of items
  • Human long-term memory is slow retrievable
    • Short-term or working memory - estimated that we can keep 7 +/- 2 things in short-term memory at one time. “Cognitive Load”
    • implications for size of working groups
    • Teams - about 6 people work together effectively. If you go bigger then to work effectively have to break down into multiple teams (e.g. soccer breaks down into forwards/backs)
    • If the number of items you ask somebody to assimilate is higher that you are overloading his/her capacity; won’t be transfered to long term memory
    • Usually the concepts maps contain too many items => stick to key concepts
    • should be hand-drawn (don’t use computers)
    • honest feedback given to less polished items
    • useful for collaborative teaching
    • draw a concept map as you are teaching so the learners can see the concepts/knowledge growing; visual trigger for linguistic memory
    • Can be used as an assessment tools: Ask student to draw a concept map after a lesson -> feedback for your teaching
  • Uses of concept maps:
    • prior to lesson: to plan out which concepts and with which connections you are going to present
    • during lesson: to draw (in parallel with the lesson) on the side to show relationships between concepts being introduced
    • after lesson: as a way of understanding which relationships have been learned and internalized by the students
  • “externalized cognition”
  • Hand drawn/written ideas
    • User Interfaces - napkin sketches - they get better feedback
      • They practice them and sketches have to look improvised
      • Concept map and legible picture
      • Upload link but not picture to GitHub repository (use Flickr or Imgur or any other image sharing website)
    • How should you give a talk if you want honest feedback?
    • Bill Joy (Sun Micosystems): All presentation for internal communication had to be hand drawn
      • Looks rough, then people will give feedback
    • Academic talks - purpose to impress not to convey knowledge.
    • Up until the 1960s it was routine to check how well notes were written
  • Should concept maps go into the instructors material?

More Notes

There is a lot of difference in how people are managing with tools such as git. Hindsight is not too helpful for identifying difficult to understand areas. Possible explanations:

  • Git acts as a filter. So people who can not manage are turned off enough that only the ones who can carry on.
  • Recall bias: We remember that things are easier than they were.
  • Extremely cynical version: Stockholm Syndrome. We try and make it seem worthwhile, compared to the amount of effort.
    • See: Patty Hearst for one famous example of Stockholm Syndrome

John Moreau: My understanding of the terminology is weakly understood, but I struggled to actually use that knowledge. Until I tried to apply the concept, I did not realize the extent of my knowledge gaps.

  • This is a reason why all the workshops are done by people typing and actually doing things. (Example: Giving learners stickey note flags allows them to give feedback about their progress. We also do things more slowly, because we need to go at the pace of the learner, not our own pace.)
  • It all makes sense until you try to actually do it.
  • Branches = quantum physics style parallel universes

Test-Driven Development

  • Instead of writing code, then realising you need to test them:
    • Write the tests first.
    • Write the code that passes the test.
  • This means that you need to be very clear about what you are wanting/planning to do. Both for you and the computer.
    • Defines what ‘good enough’ means
    • Instead of doing it in plain language, can say exactly what you mean and need.
  • Common Psychological Bias: We often write our tests post-development to focus primarily on areas where our code has fewer bugs.
    • TDD prevents this bias - your tests can’t favor your code’s strengths
    • Studies on TDD are in Making Software: What Really Works, and Why We Believe It
  • Reverse instructional design:
    • The teaching equivalent of test-driven development.
    • Step 1. Create the final exam first. The summative assessment. Has the goal of testing “Has the student actually understood enough?”
      • This is essentially giving some direction to the course.
    • Step 2: Formative assessment:
      • Done while learning takes place. Practice exercises. Provides feedback to students to help them see what they know well and less well.
        • Formative assessment in driving is stuff like parallel parking, safely turning &c.
      • Gives you a chance to see if what you are doing actually makes sense.
    • Step 3: Teach the things that people need to do to get the formative assessment correctly.
    • Beware: Do not teach to the test.
      • Often the result of over-emphasis on the results of the final test. People focus on passing the test, not learning.
    • Beware: If someone is mandating the curriculum, but there is no local adjustment on the material.
      • Classes, contexts and so on are all different.

Concept Maps

Let us pretend that ideas are stored as graphs. (They are not, but we can use the idea.) So, when trying to figure something out, a quick sketch can be very useful.

  • Point-form notes emphasizes the nodes, but not the links.
  • You commit to an order. This order may or may not make sense.
  • Whereas concept maps are all about relationships, which is key to real knowledge absorption

Long-term memory appears to be functionally infinite, but it is slow. Working (short-term) memory is very limited, but very fast.

  • About 7 ± 2 items can be held in working memory.
  • Anecdotal evidence for this is the length of phone numbers.
  • Breaking programs into small units (chunking) so that you only need to track this many elements at once as you write. Later that chunk will only “count” as one fact in your memory.
  • If something does not fit into short-term memory, they can not be moved into long-term memory.
    • Overloading people leads to people not able to remember things.
    • Teach only a sub-graph of the overall concept map, where everything in the lesson fits within the 7 threshhold
  • If you have multiple relationships, explain something one way. If people look blank, then try by explaining it with a new relationship as an explanation.
  • This means: if the first arc in a concept map does not work, try another.
  • Use concept maps
    1. Aid to self
    2. Do it with other people, independently draw maps, then compare. Different mental models of the problem. Often causes friction.
    3. Draw the concept maps with other people collaboratively. (Prevents number 2 before it becomes an issue.)
    4. Draw piece by piece while teaching the lesson - as you introduce new ideas, add bubbles and arcs.
    5. have learners sketch concept maps after being taught a lesson - helps with understanding common misconceptions, understand where to start at the next lesson, ensure you’re going at the learner’s pace instead of the teacher’s pace
  • Different memories are stored in different physical parts of brain.
  • Stimulating one part can remind you of the other.
  • Syncing what the instructor was saying with the bubble and arc in the concept map
  • Other visual aids to learning:
    • flow charts
    • mass-energy flow
    • key word clouds
    • Feynman diagrams
    • pictures/cartoons