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Approaching the why - Karen Sobel


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Presented at LILAC 2019

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Approaching the why - Karen Sobel

  1. 1. Approaching the “Why”: Exploring Students’ Processes of Reasoning Using the Actor-Oriented Transfer Perspective Karen Sobel/April 2019/Nottingham, UK LILAC 2019
  2. 2. Outline  What can we learn about students’ information literacy (IL) processes using AOT?  AOT: the basics  What is AOT?  How is AOT already being used?  AOT-based research methodologies  Terminology  How is AOT different from other views of transfer of learning?  My AOT-based projects & future work  Applying AOT to information literacy instruction  Activity: Creating an AOT-based tool  Q&A
  3. 3. Karen Sobel, Associate Professor/Teaching & Learning Librarian/University of Colorado Denver
  4. 4. Learning about students’ IL processes using AOT What can we learn? Students’ processes of using IL (observed or self-reported) Why students decided to follow these processes, given the range of approaches of which they are aware (self-reported)
  5. 5. My original question from “the field”: “Why do some students continue to use & build upon IL skills after they have initially developed them, while others allow the skills to atrophy?” What inspired this work?
  6. 6. Who is the “actor” in AOT?
  7. 7. Two points in AOT’s favor • AOT supports teachers/librarian/researchers in considering student performance from the student or “novice” perspective.* • AOT encourages teachers/librarians/researchers to look at students’ authentic performances as inspiration for modification of teaching. *Bransford, Brown, & Cocking discuss expert vs. novice perspectives in How People Learn, pp. 31-32.
  8. 8. What is AOT? Key points A framework for examining students’ complex academic decision-making processes in situations where they could have used one of several techniques. It examines what they did & why. Origins Developed by Dr. Joanne Lobato (San Diego State University) for use in P-12 STEM classrooms.
  9. 9. Let’s talk about what AOT looks like in existing studies. • Research methodologies employed in AOT • Aspects of learning they explore • Terminology that helps understand AOT
  10. 10. Data-gathering strategies used in many AOT-based studies  One-on-one interviews with students (narrating their technique & reasoning)  Students are either randomly selected or selected to represent different approaches.  Students may be interviewed once or several times.  Videotaped group problem-solving in the classroom  Problem-solving is typically conducted without teacher assistance.  Collecting artifacts  Student work  Teaching tools (“focusing phenomena”) Most AOT-based studies incorporate two or all three of these data-gathering strategies. Most studies last a few months.
  11. 11. AOT terminology: focusing phenomena* All the tools and teaching strategies a teacher uses to help students what to focus on when doing a certain type of work. Examples: • Lesson plans • PowerPoint slides • Activities • Worksheets • Group discussions • Course readings • Posters Typically collected along with student work. *See Lobato 2003 for discussion of focusing phenomena.
  12. 12. AOT terminology: discernment of differences* Students understand a concept most clearly by comparing it to other concepts. Traditional: AOT: *See Lobato 2006 and Marton for discussion of discernment of differences.
  13. 13. AOT terminology: social framing* Social framing situates conversations about a topic/concept. It has two parts: • Students connect what they are learning with situations in which the learning is used. • Asking students where they fit in the conversation. • What does this remind you of? *See Lobato 2006 for commentary on social framing.
  14. 14. AOT terminology: personal salience* Personal salience asks what makes a concept feel relevant to a particular individual. In other words: “What makes it stick?” In practice, this term asks which connections they make & why. This is key in my research: What makes critical thinking and information literacy feel relevant to the greatest proportion of students? *See Lobato, 2006 for more discussion.
  15. 15. Moving past two- problem tests *Jean Lave critiques two-problem transfer situations. Many traditional studies use “two-problem transfer situations.”* AOT asks students to freely apply any techniques they have learned to a problem. How does AOT differ from traditional ideas of transfer of learning?
  16. 16. Differences between traditional perspectives on transfer and AOT* Traditional perspectives on transfer 1. Success is based on “expert” performance. 2. Learning is detached from real-world applications. 3. Researchers separate students’ performance from their reasoning. 4. Performance is often measured by individual student testing, without the aid of collaborators or information sources. 5. Researchers tend not to comment on the environment in which students are being tested. AOT 1. Success is based on “novice” performance & is open to many definitions of success. 2. Learning is based on real-world applications whenever possible. 3. Researchers examine students’ performance and reasoning together. 4. Performance is measured both individually and in groups, often with information sources available. 5. Researchers acknowledge that the environment in which students are being tested can support or interfere with students’ performance. *Summarized in (Lobato 2006, pp. 434-5).
  17. 17. What else is missing from traditional research on transfer? • Graduated prompting—What can students accomplish when we support them, but expect more independence over time?* • Zone of Proximal Development—What can students accomplish with expert help?** •Incremental learning—How does student performance improve when they practice skills over successive classes/assignments?*** *Bransford, Brown, & Cocking **Vygotskii and Kozulin ***Lobato, 2012
  18. 18. What I’m working on: Short AOT assessments Tell me about one source that you selected for your assignment. How did you find it? Why did you select it? How will you use it in your assignment? Is there anything else that you’d like to ask or tell me?
  19. 19. What I’m working on: Longer mixed-methods research  Writing sample from a second-semester course of your choice  Use the AAC&U VALUE Rubric to assess critical thinking and information literacy.  Survey examining self-cited motivating factors related to:  Information literacy  Critical thinking  Ultimately, what motivates all students to continue using critical thinking and information literacy throughout their first year as undergraduates? What motivates the highest performers in terms of critical thinking and information literacy?
  20. 20. Future goals • Examining group interactions • Examining “deep structure”—how do people think about a kind of problem once they have a lot of experience?* • Connecting motivation with attention and interest***Chi and Van Lehn discuss deep structure. **Hidi discusses how personal interest in a topic affects students’ level of attention.
  21. 21. Creating your own AOT-based process* 1. Let yourself think freely about what you want to find out. 2. Match what you want to learn to a process or instrument. • Nature of the phenomena you’re studying • Constraints of time • Number of students you want to focus on • Have you identified probable causes or specific types of performance to study? 3. Come up with questions that focus on reasoning rather than performance. 4. Remember to incorporate what you learn into your future teaching. 5. Any chance to gain insights into student reasoning is valuable! It’s not just about gathering data. *Sobel, 2018
  22. 22. Let’s try it right now! 1. Think of an aspect of your students’ reasoning that you’d like to explore. 2. Sketch out a methodology. Would you prefer interviews? Short, written questionnaires? Group observations? Something else? 3. Come up with a “protocol” – instructions or questions that you’d ask the students.
  23. 23. Karen Sobel Associate Professor/Teaching & Learning Librarian University of Colorado Denver Email: Telephone: +1 303 315 7709 Twitter: @kslovesbooks Site:
  24. 24. Works cited  Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.  Chi, M. T. H., & VanLehn, K. A. (2012). Seeing deep structure from the interactions of surface features. Educational Psychologist, 47(3), 177–188.  Hidi, S. (2006). Interest: A unique motivational variable. Educational Research Review, 1(2), 69–82.  Lobato, J. (2003). How design experiments can inform a rethinking of transfer and vice versa. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 17–20.  Lobato, J. (2006). Alternative perspectives on the transfer of learning: History, issues, and challenges for future research. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15(4), 431–449.  Lobato, J. (2012). The actor-oriented transfer perspective and its contributions to educational research and practice. Educational Psychologist, 47(3), 232–247.  Marton, F. (2015). Necessary conditions of learning. New York: Routledge.  Sobel, K. “The Actor-Oriented Transfer Perspective in Information Literacy Instruction.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 44.5(2018): 627-632.  Vygotskiĭ, L. S., & Kozulin, A. (1986). Thought and language (Translation newly rev. and edited). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.