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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy
MirandaNet working group projects
A summary of other project proposals
Year of posting: 2007
A number of MirandaNet colleagues have been collaborating on projects that involve their colleagues and pupils. The majority of these are ongoing, with the results feeding into the school development programmes to create an iterative improvement cycle.
This page lists gives details of all these projects. You may find more information in the individual Case Studies.
proposal, study, studies
Assisting and evaluating representations of teacher researchers' knowledge
This work is an exploration of how teacher researchers have been assisted to use KEEP Toolkit templates available at http://www.cfkeep.org/ to represent their knowledge in non-linear formats. It investigates how their knowledge has then been evaluated in terms of contribution to the ‘teaching commons'. Huber and Hutchings (2005) discuss the need for such a pool of educational knowledge that can evidentially inform and enrich pedagogical processes locally, nationally and internationally. From comparative accounts of teachers' representations of their knowledge when studying for a Master's level module through the University of Bath and Bath Spa University programmes, the former using a linear and uni-modal format, the latter a non-linear and multi-modal the author seeks to identify the relative advantages of these two systems.
The author explores two central questions.
How far does each format enable teachers to be research mentored (Fletcher, 2006) to represent their own andra- and peda-gogical knowledge in personalised ways?
How far is the knowledge represented by these two formats defined by the mode of representation? How far is it possible to assist teacher researchers by offering critical thinking scaffolds (Coombs, 2000) to represent their own knowledge - or do such scaffolds strait-jacket reflective thinking by practitioners engaged in work-based enquiry?
From the basis of this investigation, the work moves to consider how' teacher research mentors' might assist in structuring web-based templates to assist educators to represent their knowledge at master's and doctoral level. By critical examination of scaffolds, the author posits a view that development of such scaffolds can enable knowledge elicitation.
Coombs, S.. Penny, R. and Smith, I. (2003) Improving personal learning through critical thinking scaffolds, paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 11-13 September 2003
Fletcher, S. (2006) Technology-enabled action research in mentoring teacher researchers, Reflecting Education, Vol. 2, No. 1, May 2006, pp. 50-71
Huber, M.T., and Hutchings, P. (2005) The Advancement of Learning: building the teaching commons, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford, US
Concept Mapping the Literature Landscape
Concept Mapping - the literature landscape
The paper presents an overview of academic research into the use of concept mapping in school aged education, focused on presenting a number of key studies in context, and in such a way that findings be accessible to classroom practitioners. Rather than presenting a single, linear narrative of the field, brief summaries of each study are presented within a concept-map like hyperlinked web, together with ‘tag clouds' of the important concepts covered in each study. The links within the web include the unidirectional links resulting from one paper's reference of another, the connections between works by individual authors, and the implicit linkage through reference to particular ideas, as tagging affords. Readers may thus explore the literature landscape for themselves by following the thread of references which link studies together, or by focussing on particular concepts. More linear, ‘guided tours' of the landscape are provided by a number of narratives that discuss particular themes within the literature, linking to the individual article summaries themselves, together with an overall introduction to the field intended to provide a starting point for those exploring this work for the first time.
The work explores possible ways for others to contribute, either by simply suggesting references to ‘important' papers, or by writing their own summaries of the papers straight onto a wiki and giving a list of key words or socially constructed concepts for the paper:
Miles Berry commented that, from a technical perspective, the use of a wiki for the overview be selected, and perhaps citeulike for pulling together the references, although this could be done in the wiki too. Berry considers ways of representing the wiki content visually at some future point, although that was not an immediate requirement.
Mobility of Mind and the Migrating Text: Concept Mapping and Multimediality
This case study looks at the use of mind mapping to enhance learning in ICT at AS Level. The study involves a group of Year 10 students (18 girls) who are working on an accelerated learning program.
The case study has two key aims:
(1) To establish whether - and if so, how - mind mapping software can usefully contribute to learning and, in particular, whether collaborative linking significantly improves thinking.
(2) To identify student desires (what they want the software to do) and ways of achieving greater dynamicity or interactivity in digital mind mapping by combining different types of software.
There is an example of a student-generated collaborative mind map (now web-based and dynamic - requires Java 1.4 - click on nodes to expand) produced during an initial whole class discussion within the e-journal - you need to be logged in to view this section - with students on the topic of "What is brainstorming?" The map was produced as we talked, using the Interactive Whiteboard.
Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM): An Assessment Method for Constructivist Learning
Much of what we understand about learning is based on a Positivist approach. However, recent research shows that learning is a relative and constructive process. Every learner has different learning experiences and cognitive frameworks. In other words, learning is a highly personal process to each individual learner. Consequently, it is difficult to assess the result of a learning process.
Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM) is designed by John H. Falk and his colleagues in order to assess how learning experiences affect individual's meaning making process. According to him, PMM is developed in order to complement deficiencies of Concept Mapping. Falk argues that Concept Mapping, despite its utility to illuminate the complexity of a learning process, has two deficiencies: requirement of a pre-training of interviewees; and its positivism and reductionism in data analysis.
The data collection of PMM consists of two sets of interviews: ‘pre' and ‘post' experience interviews. Before the learning experience, interviewees are given a ‘prompt', the key word, on a blank paper. Then, they are encouraged to write or draw anything the prompt reminds of. Then, the interviewer asks questions about the reasons for the responses and writes them on the same paper. After the experience, another interview is conducted on the same paper. Every step of the interview is marked in different colours.
The data analysis of PMM is processed by the following four steps: Extend, Breath, Depth and Mastery. Extend looks at the change of the amount of appropriate vocabulary being used. Breath counts the number of the appropriate concepts used. Depth is to mark the richness of individual's responses in four or five point scales. Lastly, Mastery investigates understanding in a holistic approach. The result of these four steps of the analysis compares pre and post experience responses in order to understand the effect of individual's learning experiences.
PMM is a simple and powerful method to measure and understand individual's learning. It illustrates the learning process within and among individuals. However, despite Falk's criticism of positivist approaches, PMM still seems to have a positivistic aspect in data analysis.
Teachers changing their minds: assessing the quality of learning in ICT courses
Although Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has been introduced into national curricula across the world since the late nineteen eighties, many of the tests designed to investigate the quality of learning expect only mono-modal hand-written or word-processed answers. If multi-media artefacts are requested, the tests are often designed to provide more information about the learners' computer skills than about their multimodal literacy. This research focuses on one aspect of teachers' multimodal literacy by encouraging teachers to express the quality of their learning in a more visual way through mapping. The first objective was to explore the potential of multimodal mapping in evaluating the effectiveness of ICT courses from the perspective of the tutors. The second objective was to compare the quantitative results between teachers taking an ICT skills course and teachers undertaking a year long practice-based research project. The third objective was to refine the quantitative methodology to provide a replicable model for other teacher educators. The method was adapted from Impact 2, a study of children's cognitive understanding of computers in their world (Somekh 2002). The same method of scoring the maps was also used in this study of teachers' learning. However, the twenty teachers in each of the cohorts were asked to complete two maps, a pre-and post course maps expressing their perceptions of the role of computers in their professional and personal lives. The scores for the two maps were compared and the findings indicated that the differences between the two cohorts of teachers in terms of cognitive activity were significantly different at the beginning and the end of the courses. Doubts were raised about the validity of this scoring approach, however, when teachers were interviewed. Some of the thinking behind the maps, whether drawn on the computer or by hand, was more complex than could be allowed for by the scoring system. In fact the scoring system tended to mark down teachers who had shown higher order thinking through a growing capacity to categorise and group ideas under simpler headings the second time round. Findings suggested that the multimodal mapping, could, however, be a useful tool for encouraging innovative self-assessment and group assessment of the quality of learning through discussion and debate.
Somekh, B., D. Mavers and Restorick (2002). Impact2. Coventry, DFES.
Teaching and Learning 2.0
The genesis of this work was a conference at the Institute of Education that crystallised several ideas. Diane Mavers gave a fascinating insight into her work using drawn concept maps as part of the Impact 2 evaluation project. These insights into social semiotics bolstered my own research reading on Saussure, and more importantly Peirce and Derrida. Conversation with fellow researchers and with both Diane Mavers and John Potter explored the notion that what perhaps the concept map does is capture thoughts as ‘snapshots in time' which can then be used to prompt dialogue about one's thinking. It is this dialogue that perhaps then helps as a powerful tool towards making meaning, clarifying meaning and assessment for learning.
My work looks at the tools that can be used to promote this dialogue, and the ways in which concept mapping can be used as part of an "online tool set" for critical thinking development and assessment for learning. Web 2.0 is a phrase that we hear often now, the very nature of how we are using the internet being changed by interaction and powerful sharing technologies such as Real Simple Syndication (RSS).
I also am currently looking at social networking software and its link with possible assessment for learning tools. The great elgg learning landscape http://elgg.net/daithomas/ is also a FLOSS software. There are also non-linear think boards such as http://www.aypwip.org/webnote/Dai, as well as groupware per se, such as Groove or Zimbra http://zimbra.com/ There are now so many Web 2.0 tools developing using AJAX and other technologies that it may be that people actually need to work outside the forum discussion and email systems. This opens up the wider issue of what non-linear really means, and what is this collaboration really means.
Somekh, B., D. Mavers and Restorick (2002). Impact2. Coventry, DFES.
Using concept maps to support mathematical problem solving
This work explores the question of whether concept mapping software can act as a tool to mediate and support learners' independence in "stepping into" mathematical problems.
The resources needed for the work were access to concept mapping software available from the NRICH with the functionality to save and store maps to act as data.
Pupils produced collaborative work on concept maps, with access to partially structured and completely open concept maps to support problems. Technical issues of saving and sharing concept maps for analysis were addressed as part of the work.
A sample group of approximately 30 students from the school who were familiar with concept mapping and had some experience of mathematical problem solving.
Identification of 6 problems for students to investigate over a period of two to three months.
The sample was split into three groups each tackling the 8 problems in four different ways in rotation ensuring that each problem is tackled by all the groups but on a complementary cycle:
Group A: No concept map, Structured concept map available, Unstructured concept map, Given concept map containing hints.
Group B: Structured concept map available, Unstructured concept map, Given concept map containing hints, No concept map.
Group C: Unstructured concept map, Given concept map containing hints, No concept map, Structured concept map available.
An alternate model would have included three groups, but instead of having one of the three scenarios being based on "no concept map" the focus would be on collaborative concept map development - sharing and moving on.
This would be followed up by a questionnaire aimed at elucidating students' views of the value of the concept maps in aiding them in "thinking about" and stepping into" the problems.
Possible subsidiary questions explored were whether hints represented in concept maps support learners in stepping into problems; whether structure maps have advantages for some/all pupils; the nature of the problems and the affect on the potential value of concept maps and whether there is value in collaborative concept map creation in supporting problem solving.
Vision Mapping: Using Inspiration to support learners and teachers
The Worcestershire Vision Mapping project will be focused on the Forest of Feckenham and aims to involve and encourage the community to shape the future of its biodiversity heritage.
The project aims to encourage appreciation and awareness of the importance of biodiversity to quality of life to as many sectors of the community as possible, and encourage participation in developing a 'biodiversity vision' for their area.
Communities will be encouraged to explore both past and present, for example, surveying the area and collecting reminiscences of older residents, together with aspirations for the future, aiming to identify what matters most to the community regarding their local wildlife. This will generate a sense of stewardship and responsibility for its future welfare. The project aims to explore new and innovative ways to engage community interest, and so develop a template to use in the future throughout the county.
The school based aspects of the project will use Inspiration to support both teachers and learners to develop the creative responses local children have between people and place on a variety of levels but with a specific focus on local biodiversity.
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