While I was there… Treating collaborative thinking

I had to leave the thought-grazers at 12:35 to see at student up at the Heath… But, following a slightly disappointing event we had both attended, where learning seemed to be very much ‘assumed’, I was glad to discuss with Joe about shared thinking in collaboration and being able to accredit that. He, David and I were thinking about the idea of whether it is possible to identify networked learning activity, what does it look like, and if it is possible to then accredit that (link to my own blog post about it (again!)).

It seems contradictory to give individuals an individualised grade for a shared idea that emerged as part of a collaborative conversation. Joe was saying that it would be very useful for the students to explain how they came to the ideas they eventually decided to explicate. As much as we might disdain the idea, able students want a good classification. If their individual conversational ‘moves’ could be reified (i.e. shared online), perhaps this is where epistemic fluency (after Ohlsson 1995 – see below – as referenced in the 2001 Networked Learning Guidelines) comes in in terms of being able to classify a contribution – we could ask the question, does this qualify as epistemically valid contribution? Is it using an epistemic ‘move’?

Apparently Dr Kelly Page is getting a whole module acredited through the contribution to the wiki although I would need her to explain more fully. It is as David said, something about getting students to the process rather than the end product although ironically some things about ‘final’ exams had that effect… But we’re in the game of trying to keep students…. Jonathan Scott was saying he’d bumped into another Kelly who’d just been able to accredit her module as totally student lead and taught, that’s one way to engage students… although, apart from the students own opinions, I’m not sure what the NMC would make of that…

Describing Writing about an object or event so that your reader acquires an accurate idea of that object or event.
Explaining Writing about an event or pattern of events so that your reader understands why that event or pattern of events happened.
Predicting Writing so that your reader becomes convinced that the event in question will happen.
Arguing To give reasons for (or against) a particular position, thereby increasing (or decreasing) your reader’s confidence that the position is right.
Critiquing Highlighting the good and bad points of something.
Explicating Writing so that your reader acquires a clearer understanding of something.
Defining To define a term is to propose how it should be used.

Ohlsson S. (1995) Learning to do and learning to understand: a lesson and a challenge for cognitive modelling. In Learning in Humans and Machines: Towards An Interdisciplinary Learning Science (eds P.Reimann & H.Spada), pp. 3762. Pergamon, London.


2 thoughts on “While I was there… Treating collaborative thinking

  1. Able students want a classification? I think we should be challenging this. I was at a great session on assessment last week in Bristol. There was a keynote by Paul Orsmond on socio-cultural approaches to learning and justifications for self and peer assessment. It made a lot of sense.

    All of the following presentations were interesting but mostly considered assessment within cognitive or behavioural models of learning. I found the tensions between their presentations and Orsmond’s keynote quite fascinating.

    I don’t blog or participate in this conversation with you because I am going to get a grade. Spending too much time considering metrics so that contributions can be assessed is going down a rabbit hole in my opinion.

    Thanks for the update on what I missed!

    • Anne-Marie I think the focus here is more about finding ways to evidence, for the benefit of both learners and facilitators, the nature of contributions being made to discussions. The idea is that within a group it could be useful to reveal how people are and are not participating. Metrics don’t necessarily have to be constructed and use to do this, although I think it could be achieved it wouldn’t necessarily help foster the intrinsic motivation needed to improve one’s own ability to participate and in more effective ways. Learners need to be able to identify where their communication strengths and weakness lie, and be able to act appropriately based on advice – from peers as well as teachers . For example, if a breakdown and profile of contributions were possible along the lines of Ohlsson’s categorisation, this might provide a good starting point for people to review and reflect on where and how they should focus their effort in future. It may be just for that task and just for that group, but what people get is insight and a prompt to contribute and communicate differently – i.e., more explaining, less describing, etc.

      Whether there is value in this being public or kept private is another debatable point.

      Regarding ‘students want a classification’. That’s the rub isn’t it? Like it or not, and especially in medicine, we continue to promote a competitive culture in which learning takes place. From an educational point-of-view we might not like it and ideally we would like to change it to something far more egalitarian. It’s not going to happen though, so we need to look at alternative ways that can enable better learning despite that. I think the approach Mike’s investigating is one way in which it may be possible.

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