U500 Case Studies Worshop

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: I Swear (John Michael Montgomery)
Topic: Seminars

So, went to the case studies workshop on Tuesday, I attended the same one last year, but last year I had an entirely different focus … whilst this year I have no focus :D. No that’s a lie … I do have some kind of focus, I know I’m looking at how linear programming is taught and learnt in different learning contexts. What I am not certain about is what these learning contexts are.

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m going to employ case studies … or if I do, it will just be some aspect of it rather than a full blown case study. The guy who did the workshop (Terry Newholm) in his presentation said that (I think he was quoting someone else) is that a case study is about ‘researching an organism in its environment’. Now, that’s an interesting concept but I think for the case of learning and teaching linear programming there really isn’t any contained environment, as in a classroom, where learning only goes on – not sure what I’m getting at, but I think what I’m trying to say it is not a closed system but an open system (just to borrow some terms from thermodynamics), and I guess the ‘total energy’ for learning is not confined to the classroom 😀 (wonder if that even makes sense!).

Now a question, that Terry asked us to consider in our research what kind of cases and how many cases should we choose. Well, I obviously had to go from a modernist/positivist approach because it is the only approach I know that I’m comfortable with. So, using that approach, I decided I’ll have three learning contexts … and these learning contexts will be based on the disciplines or should I say focus of the course. That is ones that are hard-applied, soft-applied and hard-pure … where:

1. soft-applied means the course is application intensive such that there is a high attention on formulation, on just getting the answer (i.e. no theory) and possibly some attention on applying the sensitivity analysis – this will perhaps mean that soft-applied courses will be most likely in using linear programming software – checking this theory against what I found in my MSc literature it shows that 92 % of the soft-applied did use software, but pure-applied were quite close to this also (90 %).

2. hard-pure means the course is means that there is a high attention on the theory of solving the problem and theory of finding the values for sensitivity analysis, possibly of using a wide range of mathematical notation and approaches such as algebraic, matrices, Lagrange etc.

3. hard-applied means the course places almost equal importance on the formulation, solving of the problems and solving the sensitivity analysis, through calculations and with a means for application, basically a very balanced course.
I wonder if I ask the students from each of these types of courses if they will prefer another learning context, for example if the soft-applied will prefer the hard-applied approach and whether this is dependent on the disciplines they come from or is in fact intrinsic to the their way of study (this will mean that I’m throwing out the theory that approaches of study are dependent on the course the student is studying for but rather intrinsic to the student) or whether this is matter of what the student expect to get from the course i.e. to pass the course, apply this in a job or understand a subject thoroughly.

Anyway, those will be my three learning contexts, but from each of them I can choose case studies from two more situations, one in which students have high computer affinity or ability (hopefully measured by an inventory) and have a low mathematics aptitude (again measured by an inventory) and then have cases chosen from the situation vice versa i.e. high mathematics ability and low computer affinity – that way I am able to get the two ends of the spectrum. However, from each of these contexts I should have at least have 2 or 3 cases. If I do that, that’ll mean either 12 or 18 cases in all. Terry recommended have less than 12 cases to allow the reader to follow all the cases!

Anyway, even with all these cases I think I’m forgetting that I am trying to look at the benefits of intermediate steps or different types of softwares in providing the steps – I’m not quite sure how these cases will provide this, this will obviously be dependent on the type of software that is being used by each of the students – and how am I going to measure these benefits? Is it the benefits of learning linear programming with/without steps directly related to their , to their job prospects, to their understanding of the subject or to their passing of the job? How do I measure the benefit?? Hmmm … that reminds me that Rebecca recommended a paper by Conole and Dyke to me on the concept of affordances to me which might help me in deciding what the benefits are – since they looked at the affordances of ICT – which I don’t quite understand as yet – since I haven’t read the paper – but I think it has something to do with the extent to what the software can do and the extent that people utilise this extent – or something like that – that’s the gist I got from Rebecca.

Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006 12:27 PM GMT

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