[MUSIC] Let's look now at some constructivist learning environments in science. To start with, I'll like to look at a middle school science environment that Carol Smith, who we've met, helped to create. And this focused on students' understanding of matter, weight, volume and density. And it compared 10 weeks of a standard Introductory Physical Science approach to 10 weeks of a modified IPS approach. And I actually had IPS when I was in school myself, and I loved it. It was very hands on, a lot of focus on involving students in making measurements, in coming to operational definitions of quantities. And so for example, in dealing with density, students would make lots of measurements of objects and measure their mass with a balance. And measure their volume, either through measurements, if you have a cube or volume displacement, if you have something that's kind of irregular. And then coming to an operational definition of density as mass over volume. But notice that this is assuming that students have good understandings of mass or weight, that they have good understandings of volume. And from what we've seen in previous modules, that is often not the case that students might have very non standard views of what volume is. They might think of even of matter as something that a tiny piece of matter doesn't weigh anything. And so the assumptions of IPS, even though it's very hands on, they don't really take into account a lot of ideas that students might have that might sort of fall through the cracks in trying to come to these quantitative understandings. And so they did a modified IPS approach, which also involves students in hands on activities, but included sense making activities and discussions in conjunction with the standard IPS hands on activities. And so in thinking about what they did with helping students to understand density. Here is Carol Smith talking about a dots per box model that seemed to be helpful for students >> And so we used our little dots per boxes model [LAUGH] which is a model we've introduced on computers and have them play with. But before they do it on computers, they would construct models. because kids sometimes come up with the idea of on their own as a way of representing density. But in a way independent of the weight of objects. So one of the things the dots per box model forces them is you can represent an object. You can have the total number of boxes in an object, and then the total number of dots in the whole object where the dots could be little weight icons, and then you could have how they're distributed, how many dots per box, and if there's a uniform kind of distribution. But one of the nice things about this is now you've made density visible, so that in a way it's invisible in your everyday life. And you've quantified weight in a way that it's no longer just a perceptual heft, but it's now represented in a way that's kind of objective. >> And so looking at some of the outcomes of this modified IPS instruction compared to the standard IPS instruction, they interviewed students after each of these approaches. And they found some significant differences in how the students were making sense of some different questions. So for example, they asked students to sort various examples, such as water, ice, air, a dream, etc., into what is matter and what is not matter. And found that the students in the modified IPS approach did quite a bit better. Similarly asking them what is matter, and these students include mass/weight as part of their definition of matter. And they found that there was again a strong difference between the two approaches. Thinking about small pieces of matter, are they matter? Do they did they weigh anything, etc? They found some some significant differences, asking students to think about mass and density and how they're differentiated. And asking them to provide drawings to show that they found again, strong differences where they modified IPS students. 100% were showing drawings that that very clearly differentiated between mass and density. And so these are examples where a standard approach that might be good at helping students to calculate, for example density, appropriately given the mass and the volume might not be so good at helping them to develop a conceptual understanding or a conceptual understanding of what is matter. What happens when you divide matter more and more? Does it eventually just disappear, or do we keep having even tiny pieces, are they still matter? What is matter, sorting matter? So these conceptual issues seem to sort fall through the cracks with a more standard approach of focusing on quantitative calculation. This is a paper by Jim Minstrell and colleagues. Jim Minstrell we've talked with earlier in earlier modules. And he's come up with a way of looking at learning and teaching that he calls building on learner thinking or BOLT. This drawings shows some important characteristics or aspects of BOLT or Building on Learner Thinking. In A we have student's ideas and so the importance of students being able to express their ideas. In B, we have observations of relevant phenomena, so often involving students in making predictions. To talk about their ideas, involving them in observations of relevant phenomena that might challenge their predictions. Involving them in sense making discussions to try to make sense of their observations, involving them in further explorations of other other contexts. Typically other hands on activities that draw out similar ideas, further sense making. Eventually coming to some kind of a consensus, as we see in E, that in some ways similar to scientists discussions of the topic. Scientists discussions might be more formal, more mathematical. Students consensus might be less formal, but certainly at least a stepping stone to the formal scientists principles. What Jim Minstrell and colleagues have found is that rather then the BOLT model, many teachers tend to only use the following nodes of that model particularly expressing scientist ideas very explicitly. Perhaps doing a demonstration or involving students in a hands on lab that's sort of of a confirmatory lab to confirm that the equation works or the generalization works. And then having students solve a lot of problems that employs that particular generalization, such as Newton's second law in a number of contexts. So for example, here is a context that Newton's second law can be applied to. And in this particular context of a rolling cart being pulled by a weight hanging from a pulley, and the cart is on wheels, so it's very low friction By Newton's second law when we predict that the cart would accelerate. And so the stronger the force, the greater the acceleration, the larger the mass of the cart, the lower the acceleration. So these are some implications of Newton's second law, and that can be presented very succinctly. But what Jim Minstrell has found in involving students in something more like BOLT, Building on Learner Thinking. So he would ask students ideas. So what do you predict? What do you think will happen in this particular context? And many students would predict well, there's a constant force on the cart, so it should move at a constant speed. And so he would involve students in observations of relevant phenomena, actually doing the activity. And what he found was that students would often call him over and say there's something wrong with our phenomena or our apparatus, because it's accelerating. And it shouldn't accelerate, it should move at a constant speed. And Jim would say, well that's interesting. Well write down your observations and we'll talk more about it. And so then they would be involved in sensemaking activities or sensemaking discussions. And talk as a class with, well what are our observations? Well our observations are that with a large mass hanging from the pulley, the acceleration is high. With a small mass or a small force, the acceleration is low, but it's still acceleration. And so, well what would we need in order for the speed to be constant? And maybe a tentative student would say, well maybe no force at all. That doesn't make any sense. But that seems to be what our data is telling us, could we make sense of this? And so, well, I guess if it's on rollers, if you give it a good push and then you're not pushing on it anymore, maybe it would keep going. So these kinds of discussions can help students to make sense of the idea that without any external force, the object would continue in its current state of motion, which is Newton's first law. So they would reach this kind of consensus, which is perhaps not exactly a formal statement of Newton's second law. But it certainly provides building blocks to express Newton's second law more formally. They could apply it to multiple contexts. And so this is much more of a sensemaking, involving students' ideas, involving them in activities where they're not told to confirm the scientist's ideas but to explore and see what they can come up with in terms of observations. And then trying to make sense of those observations similar to what we've seen before. Earlier, when Jim Minstrell was teaching high school physics, he experimented with two different ways of, or several different ways of dealing with these particular ideas. And so here's some data from those experiments. He found that in pre-instruction, if he asked students to draw arrows showing forces acting on something constantly accelerating or something moving at a constant velocity. He found that only 3% of the students were able to appropriately draw arrows showing the forces acting on those. After lectures and demos similar to what we saw with the more traditional teacher of explaining Newton's second law and having students solve problems with that, seeing demos. He found that 62% of the students were able to appropriately draw arrows for constant acceleration, only 36% for constant velocity. He was concerned about this. And so he thought, let me spend some more time involving students in logical arguments explaining why Newton's first law is the way that it is, etc. And so he was aware of students' ideas, and so he argued very forcefully that these ideas weren't the appropriate ways to think about it, and spent more time on it. But he was still displeased with these results. Then he tried doing a more BOLT, Building on Leaner Thinking, way of dealing with these ideas for two and a half weeks again, involving students in making predictions, trying out the activities, Involving them in sensemaking discussions. And he found that doing it this way in post-questioning, students were much better at providing appropriate answers for what forces are acting on objects that are under constant acceleration or moving at constant velocity. Here's another example from college physics. This was an investigation of a fairly typical college physics class. But there were some differences, and a couple of differences was there was a focus on qualitative conceptual ides first before quantitative problem solving. And second, even though there were lectures, these were followed by small group problem solving on challenging problems. And so, the view of lectures wasn't that these would get the ideas across. But rather, that they would provide a resource for students to grapple with in the small group problem-solving, similar to what we saw in the first module, where students were discussing freezing and melting. And they were trying to make sense of how can the bonding come back. Some comparisons made, first is the OCS approach compared to traditional classrooms. A second one is OCS students who took the OCS physics. And a similar calculus class, where an emphasis was on problem solving, compared to students who only took the OCS physics. Two OCS classrooms with different methods, one OCS classroom that did not involve students in struggling with challenging problems, but did have the focus on qualitative conceptual ideas first. And then finally, looking at an Educational Opportunity Program with and without the OCS approach. And the comparisons were on standard exams and grades. And so this is different than some studies where there are separate conceptual questions that are asked of students. This was, did it have an affect on standard exams? And these standard exams were constructed by the professors who were not part of the OCS. And so they were standard problem solving, quantitative problem solving exams, and the grades were based on those exams. And so looking at some of the results, here is the OCS compared to traditional instruction. And so we see that traditionally taught students, about 60% got an A, B, or a C. Whereas for the OCS students, 76% got an A, B, or a C. And so they did significantly better than the traditionally taught students. Here's students who only took OCS physics, compared to students who were involved in OCS physics and also took an intensive calculus class that was similarly structured, with a lot of challenging problems to solve. And the the students in both OCS and an intensive calculus, 95% got an A, B, or a C. This one is very interesting. It was instructor RG, Ronald Gautreau, who is one of the authors of the article, and this was on a different physics class. It was 105, so it was an algebra-based physics class rather than a calculus-based physics class. And he compared his instruction to that of someone that he called Instructor B. And Instructor B was uncomfortable with the problem solving in small groups, and felt that it was actually his duty as an instructor to show students how to solve the problems, rather than letting them struggle on solving the problems. And he said that the students asked me to do this. They didn't want to struggle with the problems, and so I felt it was my responsibility. As the teacher to show them how to solve the problems. And we can see that his results were significantly worse than students who had to struggle with the problems. This next set of results is about what was called the educational opportunity program, which was designed for students who were at risk of failing out or doing very poorly in the traditional physics classes, either the algebra-based physics class or the calculus-based class. Because of their background or other variables that would make it difficult for them to be successful. And initially when this was taught, Gaucho talked about teaching this. And the philosophy was, let's basically teach the class as we'll teach it in the fall, in the summer, so that they'll have an initial Initial exposure to the class. And then when they get the ideas later in the fall, they'll be much more prepared. And while it makes sense, what he found was that even with this summer program, the students in the educational opportunity program did not do well in the regular physics classes. And they fared either, as well as students who hadn't taken the bridge program or the educational opportunity program, or they did worse. And so, when they started switching over to teaching in these new ways. He thought, well, let's try this with the Educational Opportunity Program as well. And before I show the results, here's Mark Windschitl talking about the importance of sense making for vulnerable students. >> If you want to withdraw opportunities for sense making, the first students that you are going to impact by taking away those chances are your most vulnerable students. They are your English language learners. They are your students who are ready on the margins about maybe thinking, I am not a science learner, because I don't have any like, quote unquote, science ideas that are valued myself. They are the first people to fall by the wayside. And we have to hold strong to our values about who we serve in the teaching profession. >> So recall that students who took the Educational Opportunity Program when it was taught in a rather traditional way, tended to fair either just as well as students who did not go through the EOP program or worse. Let's look at some results after they started using this OCS approach and having students struggle with difficult problems in small groups. We can see that in the physics 105 in the fall of 91, students in the EOP program 79% were getting an A, B or C as compared to 51% who had not gone through the EOP program. In fall of 92, 68% getting an A, B or C compared to 49%. And in the calculus-based class 81% getting an A, B or C compared to 59% of the non-EOP students. Lets think back across the past lectures in this module, and think about some implications of the ideas that we've talked about. First there needs to be a focus on sense making, that was a clear implication of all of the studies that we looked at. And even our own sort of expiration of our own sense making in the Monty Hall problem, and the hole in the paper problem. There needs to be a classroom culture that values student's ideas and sensemaking. And we saw with the second grade mathematics classroom, the teacher took a very strong stance, a very authoritative stance, and making sure that that culture was established. Students need structure such as the classroom culture the values sense making, but a different kind of structure that supports meaningful engagement. There needs to be a focus on conceptual ideas, not just quantitative problem solving. And we saw that with the college class. We certainly saw that with the IPS class, where the focus was on quantitative definitions of, and problem solving with density that did not really have an impact on students conceptual understanding of density or other ideas. And we need to involve students in productive struggle with challenging problems. And we saw that, whether that happens in place of lecture or after lecture, or before lecture. It's important that students struggle with challenging problems. And that conceptual struggle, whether it's individually or in groups or in he large groups is very important. They need to have a chance to express critique and modify their ideas through these struggling with these challenging problems. And finally, such instruction can help vulnerable students. In the previous modules and the previous lectures in this module, we've seen that students have ideas. That those ideas can often be challenging in terms of making sense of taught ideas. We've also seen that students have ideas that can be used as building blocks to make sense of those ideas. We've seen some examples of instructional approaches that can involve students in sense making, in expressing critiquing and modifying their ideas. And we've seen some results of those environments that can be quite impressive in terms of students being able to make sense of ideas that were initially challenging for them. But this raises the question, can this be done in regular classrooms? Is this something that take place in contexts where it's currently not taking place? And I think the answer is yes, it can, but it's difficult. There are a number of issues a number of challenges in implementing these kinds of instructional environments, or learning environments, in traditional classroom settings. In the next module, we'll take a look at what are some of these challenges that can make it difficult to implement a constructivist perspective in instruction. And what are some ways of overcoming these challenges? [MUSIC]