Paradigm shifts!

Had an absolutely marvelous time in the Conceptual Change class this semester. I had several important paradigm shifts resulting from class discussions. I am summarizing these below:

– Thinking about prior experience rather than only prior knowledge. As we often use the word, “knowledge” often refers to explicit learning only. Whereas “experience” often includes implicit learning as well.

– What we had previously considered “noise” in think aloud transcripts – descriptions about what students know intuitively or implicitly but cannot explicitly explain – may now be very important. Just as biologists are now finding what they thought was “junk” DNA is not junk at all, we might be the same kind of revolution in happening with regarding to analyzing think aloud transcripts. Perhaps all that “it’s just common sense” or ” I’m not sure how I know this” might be leading us to uncovering habits of mind. Maybe when students say this it’s not a cop out after all. Maybe there are trying to tell us something inexplicable.

– With regards to our ontological schema training project: might the lack of interlevel connections being made during heat transfer instruction help us explain our results?

– Using Schon’s idea of “transformative metaphors” to actually see conceptual change happening! Can we identify an “aha moment” by looking at analogies or metaphors people make when explaining certain phenomenon?

What question is upper most on my mind?

– How do we study this amazingly complex process we call “learning”? How best to strike a balance between simplifying and oversimplifying?

5 thoughts on “Paradigm shifts!

  1. Ruth,

    Would you mind changing me email address for this blog to

    From: Ruth Streveler <> Reply-To: Ruth Streveler <> Date: Monday, May 5, 2014 2:32 PM To: “” <> Subject: [New post] Paradigm shifts!

    streveler posted: “Had an absolutely marvelous time in the Conceptual Change class this semester. I had several important paradigm shifts resulting from class discussions. I am summarizing these below: – Thinking about prior experience rather than only prior knowledge. “

  2. I particularly enjoyed the class because of the deep insights I gained related to the tacit/explicit knowledge tug of war (system 1 vs. system 2). It was really interesting to be able to look directly at things we determine to be second nature or at least the concepts that engineers just seem to innately know and then coming to realization that these “habits of mind” were more or less developed over time. The most salient feature of this course for me was translating what we were discussing week after week into our own research and having these trends unravel that we were not initially looking for. It blew my mind looking back at data that at first seemed to not be going or showing what we had expected it to show only to find evidence of the tacit/explicit framework. I am left wondering how can we uncover students’ intuition about these concepts we are investigating if the students themselves are not able to verbalize exactly what they think or know. In addition since interviews tend to be timed and obviously cannot go on for extended periods of time, what is the most optimal way of getting to this embedded, hard to explain or describe, deep-rooted knowledge in a reasonable period of time without the participant becoming utterly frustrated by tons of probing questions?

  3. In agreement with the previous posts, I found the class to be transformative for my thinking, in particular about the role of implicit or system 1 in learning. It made me think about learning theories I use in my research and how system 1 is never considered. What implications would acknowledgement of system 1 in learning have on the field of education? What would be the instructional implications? Is the shift in recent years in engineering education from theoretical learning to more practical learning experience, not just a good way to integrate hands-on learning opportunities but actually is a crucial component of learning process and not only in engineering? How else can we support implicit learning in the classroom? Should we not shy away from repetitive problem sets as a way to make a concept or a task to be second nature? The question of “boring” or “repetitive” tasks, especially in technical disciplines in the classroom looks differently at this point.
    Another point I’d like to mention is the role of language as the means of thinking expression. Obviously it is not the only way of thought expression, but it is certainly an important one. So, how do we express linguistically implicit learning? What should be changed in our analysis of interview protocols, for example, to capture instances of system 1? What about linguistic expression of learning in engineering? If student says that he can solve a problem if he is working in a lab and has access to necessary equipment but has a real difficulty verbalizing the problem solving process, what can we make of that? Is his/her implicit learning is much stronger the explicit? What is the role of system 1 thinking in engineering practice? What are “Habits of Mind” in engineering? Are they personal tendencies or developed through practice? Are these habits important for being a successful professional in engineering community? How can we start identifying discipline-specific “Habits of Mind” characteristics?

    • I agree with Natasha and Nicole’s points about how this new paradigm plays out in regards to think aloud protocols.I am coming to question this methodology – which has been my primary mode of investigating student’s thinking. There is so much we know and cannot express verbally.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s