Category Archives: Methodology

Argghh … Thesis Writing

Mood:  lazy
Topic: Thesis writing
Well … I got my comments back from my methodology chapter … not entirely favorably … hopefully it gets better as I rewrite it. I need to put a whole section into the validity and reliability of qualitative and quantitative data and how these two differ from each other. And also make clearer statements on how my methods relate to my research questions and why I rejected one methodology against the other … now that’s interesting as I really can’t recall rejecting one against the other – I must have because I remember reading all the different methods and still going back to cognitive load … ahh yes now I remember … I had the choice of instrumentalization from Trouche which I didn’t quite like since a lot more attention was placed on what the student was doing with the artifact – i.e. the strategies involved with using the computer rather than trying to determine the learning. There is also Tall’s procept thing which I really never did get but it was more about thinking about mathematics symbolically and whilst that is perhaps a good way to help students learning mathematics such as calculus which has a lot of symbols I think what I wanted to answer whether the steps in software made any difference to learning (procedural and conceptual) rather than whether it help students to have better symbolic learning.

Hmm … what else did I read about and reject. I did read about distributed cognition – and I only rejected it because I didn’t feel like it … but need some more research-like reason 🙂 . I guess again it is because there was so much emphasis on the instrument in distributed cognition and community – although I just read from Wikipedia it is not necessarily so it can be individually as well. Because as I quote from Wikipedia:

Distributed cognition is seen when doing an arithmetic problem. We use both our mind and hand movements (writing down the problem) as a way to answer the question. The steps of Distributed Cognition are seen when: a) setting up the problem, b) doing the correct manipulation/arithmetic procedure, and c) writing down the correct answer for every 2 digits we have manipulated.

I can very well use this in my research to explain the qualitative side of the research – I have absolutely no reason to reject this right now – so would keep it in mind … Gill is also reading some stuff on it – so might ask her to give me a summary of it.

Right there is also activity theory … and I got discouraged from using it because of Gill’s hatred for the triangles but again I think in activity theory the emphasis is on the instrument and what people are doing with it rather than the cognitive learning involved – I think my research questions has to talk about cognitive learning in order to make this clear why we are rejecting the learning as described by activity theory. I think because is is more socially and culturally motivated present day Engestrom activity theory – and I am not concern how the society and culture shape the learning rather again just their conceptual and procedural learning and everything here is always about the instrument being important … although to come to think about it the real-life comments made by the students might be society and culturally motivated? Nah! I can’t seem to swing that by myself and be comfortable with it.

Right … then there is also the situated abstraction theory by Noss and Hoyles which I’m still looking at – but so far haven’t seen anything really happening in that region … and I think this wouldn’t be something I would’ve even considered but again here it is all about the instrument rather than the learning – I’m concerned with not only how the students learn with the instruments but what they are doing with the questions (well now I am!) – I mean there is nothing in the programmes that would show a great amount of situated abstraction playing a role in their learning … right?

I think so far I’ve confused myself more – I know instinctively I don’t like some of these methods because they just rub me the wrong way – but don’t think that would be a really good explanation in a thesis 🙂 .

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Interesting update to the LP software :)

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Heart and Soul (The Monkees)
Topic: LP Software
So, I bumped into Shannon and Joanna from Geography during lunch today and I was telling them about my research and the problem I was having with the students who are not recognising that some constraints are binding … i.e. for example when the labour hours has finished but lumber feet has increased that students still think they can build chairs because they’re not looking at the whole problem and connecting it but rather just part and then relating it to real life. Joanna then said this reminded her of the machine in the museum which was used to teach capital flows etc. in economics by using pumps and water tubes, and checking to see what happens if they put a pressure (such as increase taxes) what would happen to the capital flow.

This got me thinking that perhaps students might benefit (but obviously not something for me to do in this study but perhaps as a recommendation) – an animation or graph that shows how much resources they have remaining – i think an interactive graph/animation might be interesting – one where the resources are being increased and what happens to production etc. Just a thought 😀

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Filed under LP Software, Main Study, Methodology

Trying to figure out my design!

Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: the noises of the house and the housemates
Topic: LP Software
I’m trying to figure out why I made the glass-box the way it is … that is, why I don’t show all the steps rather than ask them to click iteration for each … and for the life of me I can’t remember why. I’ve checked my meeting notes but not able to see anything there or either in this blog. I think the reason it’s because I inherited the style from the expected-values pilot study, since I did it that way for each section in the expected values.

Well, so in fact the glass-box may not be completely glass-box -well its in a sense, but it doesn’t show all the steps with one click, you’ve got to do several clicks to get all the steps. I felt and I vaguely remember I did it this way so, it would be somewhat mid-way between the OB and the BB. I think I had two options, I could have made it more BB looking (i.e. one click and just all the steps shown) or more OB looking (click iteration for each of the steps to appear). I guess at the time I was thinking about the amount of interaction the student had withe the software and with GB they had more interaction. So, is it really GB? I think it is, it’s GB with interaction. Perhaps in future studies, one can look at GB with and without interaction.

Now, why did I choose GB with interaction rather than GB without interaction … this is what I’m uncertain of. I know I wanted it to be closer to OB but why? Well, I had two choices really, and I wanted to end up with a Latin square design … so only could do three anyhow. I think I wanted to look at whether the level of interaction would affect how the participant uses the software and as I had already drop one level of interaction in the OB, this was a compromise situation. In the GB with interactions, calculations were shown at each step and still maintains the phenomena of a GB. I don’t know if that is a strong case – but there it is. So, we really have three levels: no interaction (BB), some interaction (GB) and lots of interaction (OB). So, it is somewhat on a scale. We can also have it has no steps (BB); steps shown in a modular fashion (GB); and steps determined by user and shown in a modular fashion (OB).

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Filed under LP Software, Methodology, PhD

Remote Observation – seems to be working

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: The Sermon of Samson (Bobby Darin)
Topic: Methodology
Well, I’ve tried the remote observation again behind the firewall (on the LAN) and it seems to be working there … interesting … tried it there yesterday and today – and I don’t know why – but it is working – hoping it is not a server glitch and it comes all crashing down :).

However, it works on Windows Live Messenger – I think! Well, I can get webcam in – but can’t get webcam out … well that was yesterday – not sure about today.

But everything works perfectly on Skype!! So, that’s great I can use that but it is not so ubiquitous as Messenger … so got to test back messenger to see what happens. Although, I kind of like Skype’s application sharing thing a lot more

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Filed under Data Collection, Main Study, Methodology, PhD

Problems with the firewall

Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Meaningless Kiss (Hugh Grant)
Topic: Data Collection
So, on Thursday and Friday decided to test out the remote observation outside of the OU’s firewall with Ritchie … that is when large amount of problems occurred!!!

First of all, MSN can’t work on the wireless – i.e. the voice/video conversation and application sharing… Skype could work …  with application sharing. However, although I can send video … I can’t receive any … which makes it really frustrating.

Not the mention the frustration of not getting any students to participate. I’ve decided to see whether I can use some of Amalia’s students. Haven’t asked her as yet though.

I’m still deciding on how to choose students … I mean there should be some criteria in making sure that students can be compared sufficiently across, shouldn’t I?

Well, if things fail … I just might have to take the RAM I have in this computer and install in in my laptop and then use it from home – well it will definitely work from home.

I also ran the trial with Ritch … unfortunately it seems as if the video didn’t record!! I got his voice conversation though – which is good. He was doing some interesting stuff with the glass-box as he did a lot of exploration and it was interested that although he seemed to be getting towards the answer in some cases, he then turn tail and came to a completely different decision … don’t quite know why. Obviously is the understanding and was wondering what the strategies involved in the learning – I mean I’ve got to think about the qualitative data analysis – is there particular strategies that students use when using different software and whether this can be profiled – or is this the nature of the student?

How can you profile the nature of the student? I don’t want to ask them to fill in an ASI … but that might be interesting won’t it? Probably if I can find 10 question ASI. I think there is a 20 question ASI I used. Hmmm … gonna look that up … would that be too much for the student to do? I think I got a 20 question Biggs approach to mathematics questionnaire. Or will that be alright if I’m paying them??

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Excel VBA Programming

Mood:  d’oh
Now Playing: Jab Tu Muskarati Hai (Koi Mere Dil Se Pooche)
Topic: LP Software
Well, I’m still working on the Excel spreadsheet programming – taking a bit longer than I expected. Technically speaking it is finished – however, need to make it attractive looking and easy for students to enter the data and prepare the sheets for the different problems (still go to do that) and then test these out – and I need to do this ASAP!!! My timeline was to finish by next Friday (but don’t think I’ll be able to) .. probably the two days I have here when I come back from Dublin I can do something – hope so. That means setting up the appointments and making sure they work. I think I will need at least need three persons, one for each software.

Well, will see how it goes.

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Instructional Materials

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)
Topic: Methodology
Well, this morning I was putting together the instructional materials for the linear programming and it is 4 pages long!! I wonder if that is too long … and wonder if linear programming is too complex of a topic.

 Of course I understand it perfectly :). Anyway, awaiting to see what Doug says about

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