Small groups/worlds

I looked at the Pellegrino article again and still find it directly applicable to what I do in higher ed. His triad of curriculum (scope and sequence), instruction (the teaching) and assessment is right on the money (and ties this article closely to the Bates model). I also started to see common themes emerge:

1. students come with existing knowledge structures which are sometimes inaccurate (the Wiggins’ misperception idea);
2. students must have deep factual and procedural knowledge, understand those facts and procedures in the context of a conceptual framework, and then be able to retrieve and apply the facts and procedures from an organization structured within memory. Pellegrino states (note: check this out since as he doesn’t cite any research directly) that the ability to notice patterns (Wiggins) or draw analogies to other problems (Bloom) is “more closely intertwined with factual and procedural knowledge than was once believed.”
3. metacognition–basically an internal dialogue or reflection–teaches students to take control of their own learning by defining goals and monitoring their progress.

Pellegrino’s four goals of instruction resonated as well:

1. Design meaningful problems;
2. Build scaffolds to help students solve those problems;
3. Give students opportunities for practice using feedback, revision, and reflection activities; and
4. “Promote collaboration and distributed expertise, as well as independent learning.”

Pellegrino amplified this last point  by suggesting teachers have learners work in small groups on complex problems. I recently read an article about an experiment Robert Goldstone, a cognitive psychologist at Indiana conducted that suggested small groups with a few weak connections to other groups are ideal for solving complex problems; large groups with a lot of connections (aka Facebook and wikipedia, aka The Wisdom of Crowds) are best for solving simple problems. I wonder if this maps at all to Dunbar’s Number?

Interestingly, Pellegrino identified a key characteristic of technology-based environments as offering learner control, a point our class made several weeks ago during our discussion!


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