Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 11, 2015 | 02:14 p.m.

    An interesting story — but I am left wondering about how it works — how the “spread from the university to the classroom” happens, and what actually is spread – content knowledge, experience with experimental procedure, or something else?

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 06:53 p.m.

    Good questions. Mark learned the modeling approach to physics instruction in his LaMSTI physics courses. He also attended a LaMSTI research seminar in which he designed a classroom study to determine the effect of altering his teaching style. He carried out the study for his LaMSTI thesis. His results—-which were significant—-are reported there. (A link to Mark’s thesis is provided in the description of the video.) Similar changes in physics teaching were made by other LaMSTI teachers, and reported in their theses. Too bad the video is only 3 minutes. There is a much bigger story to tell.

  • Icon for: Iliya Gutin

    Iliya Gutin

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 03:29 p.m.

    Definitely very compelling! I too am interested to know a bit more about the LaMSTI program. In this case, Mark Arseneault mentions how he adapted his teaching method to be more “constructivist” rather than “behaviorist”. Now is that an approach that LaMSTI promotes – as in, does it have a specific teaching philosophy that it adheres to – or are teachers largely free to make their own decisions?

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 02:30 a.m.

    LaMSTI is evidence-driven. The only thing we actively advocate is use of evidence in making pedagogical decisions. In the video, Mark refers to evidence from peer-reviewed literature on physics teaching. He also produced evidence in his own classroom in a carefully-designed study, reported in his thesis.

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 11, 2015 | 10:19 p.m.

    James, very compelling to hear a personal narrative of a teacher who was influenced by your program. Thanks for this.

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 02:11 a.m.

    Glad to hear it was convincing. Thanks.

  • Icon for: CHARLES MATTHEWS

    CHARLES MATTHEWS

    Research Scientist
    May 12, 2015 | 04:17 p.m.

    “Evidence in making pedagogical decisions!” More power to you. Thanks for sharing this project. I would like to see your HS physics teachers working with K-6 teachers to deal with physics concepts as well as their experience with evidence-based teaching. Any possibility of getting you HS physics teachers to participate in that aspect of our project? A prototype of what I’m talking about is at http://justaskateacher.com/joomla/charles/Proto.... Let’s get more HS (and university) teachers helping K-6 teachers teach science.

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 02:28 a.m.

    I’ll let Mark know about this. Sounds promising.

  • Icon for: Tony Streit

    Tony Streit

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 11:20 p.m.

    “It is easier to just tell them, but telling isn’t teaching.” Wonderful. Love these kinds of testimonials of impact and change in practice. Mark is clearly the ideal candidate for this. I’m curious though – what are you learning from educators who struggle with this kind of learner-centered approach? What’s the greatest barrier they need to overcome?

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 02:29 a.m.

    I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. Some things that seem to get in the way of pedagogical innovation are: 1) bad curriculum materials (that may even be mandated), 2) uninformed supervision (e.g., mandated instructional methods), 3) pressure from standardized testing. In general, it seems that accountability tends to push teachers into more conservative, more traditional pedagogical styles. (This is a casual observation; it would be interesting to sharpen it into an hypothesis and test it.) Of course, habits are difficult to alter; the teachers who changed had to make a sustained effort, and had to equip themselves with a lot of new classroom routines.

  • Icon for: Tony Streit

    Tony Streit

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 12:22 p.m.

    This is indeed what I was getting at. So, I’m wondering if there’s a kind of trigger that motivates an educator to change. The three barriers you’ve listed are certainly daunting but motivated educators seems to pull strength from somewhere else to overcome them. I’ve often found in PD I’ve facilitated, that there is a subset of participants (a “community of the willing,” I’ve called them) who are highly self-motivated and eager to change, and another group that you can barely budge. What are you finding in your work that might be that motivating trigger to really change practice?

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 01:39 p.m.

    We have been doing a research project on the careers of teachers from college to the present, with the hope of understanding the influence of the LaMSTI experience. One thing that stands out is that some teachers seem content to work in the same setting for long periods of time, but others tend to range more widely, exploring many career options. So, we do have good evidence that some teachers are more adventuresome than others. On the other hand, both kinds of teachers seem to be making meaningful changes in their classrooms. My guess is that it is dependent upon the school environment. I think we have evidence that when teachers feel that they have the authority to direct what they are doing, they are happier, more ambitious and more productive.

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 03:01 a.m.

    A consistent lesson from the theses that the LaMSTI candidates have written is that summative measures, such as end of course tests, do not detect changes in pedagogy that are confined to one aspect of teaching. Mark made changes that are global and touch everything he does. This has detectable consequences. In contrast, many teachers overestimate the power of circumscribed changes. They expect to be able to detect, at a remote time, changes in student learning brought about by a modification in one aspect of classroom practice. Generally, they detect nothing. This is important for a couple of reasons. For classroom research, the implication is that the effects of focused interventions need to be measured very close (in time and in “pedagogical space”) to the intervention. The effects are washed out very quickly. Speculatively, it suggests that big improvements in student learning might require changes in teaching paradigms, rather than optimization of structures that are familiar.

  • Icon for: David Carraher

    David Carraher

    Senior Scientist
    May 14, 2015 | 10:08 a.m.

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the pointers to Mark’s thesis and those of others. I’m wondering how you approach and represent physical quantities as opposed to pure numbers when employing mathematics in your models.
    david

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 11:05 a.m.

    Hi David,

    This is a very timely question. The Common Core Standards say enough about “quantity” versus “number” to put the distinction into focus for curriculum designers. Recently, Wolfram added a data type to Mathematica called “Quantity”. You might look this up to see how Wolfram handles it, since clearly the company has made an effort to be consistent with the conventions that are common in a range of technically sophisticated disciplines. More broadly speaking, the issues here have ancient roots: for example, in Aristotle’s division of the category of quantity into magnitude, number and (certain aspects of) language. There seems to have been a transition in the way we think about quantity in the 17th century in Europe, when we started developing the idea of the real numbers.

    There is a lot of scholarly writing on the logic of measurement and quantity. This is a particularly thorny problem in the behavioral sciences, and psychometrician Joel Michel has written some very illuminating pieces about it.

    Please email me if you want to go deeper.

  • Icon for: David Carraher

    David Carraher

    Senior Scientist
    May 14, 2015 | 01:39 p.m.

    Jim,

    Yes, I’m very interested in going deeper into a discussion with you about quantities. Thanks for the pointers to Aristotle and J. Michael.
    I’m sending via email the JCGM “International vocabulary of
    metrology – Basic and general concepts and associated terms” which appears to be very carefully developed and discussed. It was heavily influenced by the psychophysicist, Stevens (Stevens, S. S. (1946). On the Theory of Scales of Measurement. Science, 103(2684), 677-680.),

    I am familiar with Wolfram’s approach to quantities, and have played with most of the new functions but not used them in anything serious. Wolfram delayed introducing them until recently (v9?) because they wanted to a consistent a elegant structure, as is their habit.

    david

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 01:50 p.m.

    I had the name spelled incorrectly. It’s Joel Michell (University of Sydney). His book “Measurement in Psychology: A Critical History of a Methodological Concept” (2005) is highly critical of Stevens.

  • Icon for: David Carraher

    David Carraher

    Senior Scientist
    May 14, 2015 | 07:05 p.m.

    Should be an interesting read then.

  • Icon for: Sarah Rand

    Sarah Rand

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2015 | 08:11 p.m.

    I love the in-depth profile of one teacher’s experience. This could be part of a series about the program that features a number of teachers.

  • Icon for: James Madden

    James Madden

    Presenter
    May 14, 2015 | 10:47 p.m.

    As a matter of fact, that’s what we’re doing. I’ll put links to the other videos here tomorrow.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

Icon for: James Madden

JAMES MADDEN

Louisiana Math and Science Teacher Institue
Louisiana State University

Spreading ideas from the university to K-12 classrooms in Louisiana
NSF Award #: 0928847

This video features Mark Arseneault, a participant in the Louisiana Math and Science Teacher Institute, an NSF MSP Institute at Louisiana State University.  Mark explains—and shows—how his experiences in the Institute led him to research physics teaching, and then reshape his own teaching in light of the evidence. Mark’s Master’s thesis is available at

http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-07102014-...