Main Study Plans (trying to have a go at it)

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Just Want You to Know (Backstreet Boys)
Topic: Methodology
So, back to this again … I’m trying to conceptualized this in my head and I have to say I’m not quite sure what form it will take.

I can imagine students signing into my computer and playing with the software – but not quite sure what I’m looking at and what kind of incentive I could provide to let them sit there and do it, I could offer vouchers like amazon 🙂 (well it was a thought). I mean why would they volunteer and do this? I have to come up with something good.

I don’t think students will willingly come and do problems and play with software for the fun of it? Do you think? I think they might be more serious if they are going to get some grade from it – but I’m not likely to give them a grade – probably can give then a certificate of participation which they can include in their CV? I’ve got to find some gimmick ….

Alright, let’s say I’ve got the students and they are willing to do it, my problem is what do I give them to do? It’s got to be some problems and it is got to be some students. My initial idea was to let students use the software in a black-box and others in a white-box and see what happens. But what kind of problems? The problems are so hard to define since they tend to differ from discipline to discipline.  

And which kind of software? Do I want to stick to spreadsheets, CAS and LP? Or do I want to expand those categories? I’m so confused I don’t even know.

Ok, let’s make life easy for myself, let’s say we are going to use these three type of software: now the question is why are we using these three types of software? Because they are stereotypical software used by software? But what difference does it make if we use these three types of software or if we used just one type of software? Won’t it be better if we used one software that had all the behaviour that we wanted? But probably we want to use all three, to show that there isn’t confounding due to the type of software but it is a general learning trend (i.e. BB vs WB) for all types of software. That sounds like a good argument.

Alright, let’s see what kind of questions we can ask … I mean, I’ve always wanted to take after Galbraith and Haines type of questions? But what exactly is the point of that? I think initially I wanted to check and see whether there is near and far transfer of skills through the use of software and was thinking that although G&H’s questions didn’t aim to do that I though they seem to link quite well to it as well as to the deep and surface approach. But what questions, I can do mechanical questions quite easily: i.e. solve a LP problem now that would be quite easy with a BB (I think!) if you given the formulated problem, if however there is a GB (grey box) – still think it is easy, you just seeing the steps involved in the problem being solved … alright now with the WB, where some input is needed: is this still a mechanical problem or has it moved into a different realm since according to me the WB is where the student is required to solve step by step – its still mechanical in away but requires more information to be known from the student – are we therefore saying that students can use their textbooks to help them solve the problems if they want? But how do we regularize that? Probably ask them what textbook they’re looking at or what notes through the talk aloud strategy?

My only problem with this strategy is that spreadsheets are the classic BB, how are we going to make it into a WB and GB? There is nothing like that as far as I know, unless I create some VBA for it (I can see James and Doug frowning already :D). Or should I then use the software such as spreadsheets as classic BB or maybe I can make them calculate each step instead using the spreadsheet … wonder how that can be done?

Well, found one way of doing it … if I decide to put only one iteration and then increase to 2 etc, then it goes through each of the steps showing what the new answer will be in the iteration, it only shows how the changing cells change, i.e. the new values but doesn’t show a tableau per se – but I think I might be able to rig one of those up for the WB or for the GB … to see what happens. Will see what I can do about it tomorrow – oft to home now.

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