Category Archives: Supervisors

Thesis Feedback

Mood: quizzical quizzical
Now Playing: Mumblings of the JLB

On Wednesday I had feedback fro my supervisors … I’m not certain how to rate it … it certainly wasn’t fantastic feedback but neither was it “go back and do your whole thesis”. Doug commented that the thesis does appear to be a late draft of a thesis but had a feeling John was less thrilled with it.

Conclusion Chapter

My Conclusion chapter is bad (my wording!) – it really needs to be made better – in fact a lot more on the implications … and John really wants me to indicate to some extent what I’ve learned from this experience, and what I would have done differently if I had infinite resources or the same resources … still thinking about that one.

John wasn’t entirely sure what my contribution was (my Chapter 7 was woefully thin) – and indicated that if this was a cognitive psychology thesis, my one experiment with only 38 participants could not get me through my thesis. He perhaps suggested that I bring forth more information on the remote observation – but I felt a bit let down there since I really don’t care for the remote observation as much as everyone seem to – I’m more interested in the cognitive psychology side of the students learning mathematics.

Remote observation

Sure the remote observation was cool – I spent ages trying to perfect it but it is not what occupies my mind. John did suggest however that I put in all the ‘iterations’ I had to do in perfecting the remote observation model – I guess I should also indicate my reviews of other software such Netviewer, Morae, E-Slate and Wiredred – which I didn’t include and also reflect on the challenges associated with remote observation to some extent. Also, John indicated that perhaps I can suggest why I used remote observation (besides just because I have the students) – I guess what he is saying write it in a positive light … which I could do – not too difficult to do – but I think I was writing very critical when I did those sections – because I was reflecting on what was critically wrong with them. Doug did tell me to try and ‘big up’ my work more … so, got to make it appear great now (I mean it is great but really expand on how wonderful the technology is and the possibility of using the remote observation, the merits of collecting all these multiple data streams and the use of students from various and diverse populations).

Multiple Data Streams

Thankfully, Doug jumped in (when John suggested 38 was bit small) an indicated that this was an educational technology thesis with 38 students was more than sufficient since this was with multiple data streams  (software video, text, scores, and voice) not only relying on the marks of the students. I think I have to make this clear on the onset of the methodology that whilst 38 students and one experiment is not sufficient for a cognitive psychology experiment but because using the students to get additional information such as their think-aloud and video data it provides a more holistic view of what is occurring. Also, perhaps some literature on analysing multiple data streams. Doug said I needed to bump up my references section since I’ve read a lot of stuff but it is not reflected in my references section of my thesis.


Also, John was not convinced about the power calculations – which although looked strange to me … this is what the programmes by Lenth and PASS said – anyway, I’ll await his detailed feedback on Monday to understand completely what the problem is. One other feedback was that according to John I wrote my statistical chapter as if I expected to Howell (the stats. guy) to read it and suggested dropping the more complicated statistics (well relegating it to the appendicies) because my findings were getting lost in the narrative. Considering I was taught how to do my statistical findings in the advanced experimental design based on Howell – not surprising I’ve modelled my work on that … so, again will await John’s comments on how exactly I should present these.


Oh … and I will need to proof-read my work … which I knew to be true … since I tend to skip lots of words when I’m typing and never notice them until I get back to it … and less passive voice (which I actually hate – but so difficult to write active when you’re in the past tense – it just does not feel the same). And I do mix up my tenses all  the time.

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Research Questions … yes again!

Mood: rushed rushed
Now Playing: Baat Meri Suniya To Zara (Kuch Naa Kaho)

Well, James said I had to rephrase my research question. My current research question as it stands is as follows:

How does the use of software modes influence the learning of mathematics with respect to the three task types?”

Well, first of all he didn’t like the word modes since I were referring to it as types before. But then him, myself and Doug came to a consensus that since I already introduced the term boxes then I could use the term boxes instead. Anyway, James problem with the research question as it is stated here was that to him it sounded as if I was going to do a survey of mathematics teachers to discover whether using software mode or not has an effect on how mathematics is learning. Instead he suggested a research question of the following format:

What are the differences between the software modes in their effect on the learning of mathematics with respect to the three task types?

However, I didn’t like the use of ‘what’ particularly as this indicated that I was comparing the three software specifically and as there were not very strong evidence to show that there is a specific difference I don’t want to use what.

I think perhaps if I developed the hypothesis or what I’m trying to do maybe it might be easier to determine the appropriate research question. Ok the first hypothesis is that:

  1. Students perform differently depending on task type (this is not actually a hypothesis Galbraith and Haines found this out)
  2. Students’ performance/approach to solving different task types would vary depending on the software used

I think the second hypothesis is what I’m trying to do … but one word that could combine performance and approach … because performance to me only indicate the scores but I also want to look at the approach they are taking but I want to be careful with the word approach because then I might get into tool appropriation when I am more concerned with their cognitive processes. Hmm, but I have a slight problem with the term solving since interpretive tasks do not seem to be really solving but rather a sort of reasoning of what might be happening although I guess in some sense that is solving – but supposed the students did not solve the problem but yet gave an answer so probably answering might be better. Maybe I could put them as two questions (that might make James a bit antsy :D)!

But I think the research questions could be:

“Do students’ performance when answering the three task types vary depending on the software box used?”

and if so or not

“Do students’ approach to answering the three task types vary depending on the software box used?”

and if so or not

“Why do students’ approach to answering the three task types vary depending on the software box used?”

Yup I think I could work with that since the first would use the scores, the second one would use the explorations and explanations to answer these questions since these could be quantitatively based. And I could see the third question being answered qualitatively.

Ok just to send this off to Doug and James.

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Chapter 6 and Conclusion

Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: I’d be lying (Chris Cagle)

Well, I sent off my Chapter 6 (not the greatest but a chapter!) – and John sent me back some comments – he wanted more information on my conclusions – ok my conclusion was woefully thin – so really got to bump that up, but I think I’ll be ok once I re-read everything and fix it up. He thinks it is broadly sensible … hmm … I wonder if he thinks that is enough for a discussion or whether I have to make a discussion separately, I’m getting confused.

At the moment trying to write a conclusion chapter to figure out what I really found out and how does this become original research. 

Oh well, this is just a short post in trying to sort my thoughts out.

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I just may have a theoretical framework!

Mood: spacey spacey
Now Playing: Tapping of keys in an Open Plan Office

Well, I’m back from holiday and my one week bout with dengue fever (not pleasant!) – still feeling a bit lethargic from it (energy levels are really low). Anywho, just had a meeting with Doug and it has cleared up some stuff I was wrestling on. I was trying to figure out how to explain my qualitative data and I was heading to nowhere land fast because I was already digging up work in the affordance literature and stuff to do with Krutetskii (with gifted students) – which come to think about it I can still use but more on why I can on that later.

Well, Doug said I should forget about trying to look for a new theoretical framework and just go back to something that I was familiar with and suggested using the deep and surface approach and once he said it just made complete sense – that was definitely something I could use in the explanations of what was going on.  And so, had to check and see what I could find on confidence and deep and surface approach because I think that is the key in analysing most of my data even those in the quantitative analysis. Thankfully, there is something. The RASI questionnaire has a scale for academic self-confidence and Duff (2004) have found that students’ academic self-confidence was related to a deep-approach – now this is good news because noted that students who had high maths confidence were using more of a deep-approach – well, not statistically speaking with respect to the ASI, but some of the high maths confidence students were using a more deep-approach.

Not quite certain how it might fit in with the boxes but Doug suggested that perhaps one will suspect with the open-box and glass-box, students with a deep approach may delve further in trying to understand what is going on, but also perhaps this is only limited to the procedural part, perhaps in the constructive parts students with the deep approach in all three boxes may approach it similarly or be hampered (??) – I have no idea what I’m saying now – I think I’m just bluffing 🙂 .

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Probably my main findings!

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: This is the night (Clay Aiken)

I haven’t posted something in this blog for so long and I’ve been procrastinating doing it as well – just like writing my thesis I guess. Anyway, I think I’ve finished all my data analysis and currently writing up Chapter 5 (yes I know I’ve been doing that for 4 months now!) – but hopefully it will finally come to fruition.

I think there are some fantastic findings (according to the quantitative data analysis) – here are the summary of my findings as I told Doug yesterday during my supervision meeting:

  1. Students who used the black-box software were more likely to score higher than those students using the glass-box and the open-box. Although students using the black-box seemed to perform less than students using the glass-box and open-box in the interpretive tasks (not certain if this is significant as yet – since I have to do a contrast test).
  2. Further, students who had a high maths’ confidence performed better than students with low maths confidence in the interpretive task, but both groups performed equally well (or equally bad!) in the constructive task.
  3. Further, it seems that when it came to students exploring with the software (i.e. testing numbers etc.), students who were using the black-box and had a high maths’ confidence were more likely to explore. However, interestingly – students using the open-box and the glass-box software and who had a high maths confidence hardly did any explorations in comparison to the students with the low confidence. In fact, the students with the low maths’ confidence who used the glass-box and open-box did more explorations than students’ with low maths’ confidence using the black-box (but got to check and see if these explorations amount are significantly different).
  4. Students who started with the abstract problem (Problem 3) made less explanations (both maths and real-life) than students who started with the application problems (Problems 1 and 2). Possibly here is something about moving from concrete to abstract or vice versa.

I think these findings are looking good and definitely something worthy of a PhD thesis (well I feel so 😀 ) – and I should continue to do so if I expect to keep my optimism in making sure my PhD is worthy – my only one worry now is finishing the writing up by September!

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Theoretical Frameworks

Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori)
Topic: Analytical Frameworks
So, had a meeting with Doug and James yesterday where we discussed theoretical frameworks – that’s still take sometime to get my head around it. Anyway, we were talking about constructivists theory which I barely have any clue of … but they seem to think by the time I finish my literature review, I should know all the constructivist theories and be able to mention Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner and Ausubel with some authority … I’ve only got so far as learning their names!!!

Anyway, Doug was telling me that some researchers believe that construtivist theories cannot be applied to higher-learning as the information process is more complex … also, I have to say why I’m not looking at socio-constructivist theories and I think my argument might be there is that the person is engaging with the software and also as this is sort of a e-learning model which is what the world is evolving to more and more (such as OpenLearn), students are more likely to on their first reading of my materials be on their own and cannot be extended into a social place until later and is that this understanding which is being measured, as it is likely that this (i.e. initial perception) would shape their attitudes towards the topic. Ok … that’s the best argument I can come up with so far.

 James and Doug want me to start writing my literature section soon and thought I should start with the cognitive load theory and point them in some direction of the important papers for them that they should read to get their heads around it. And possibly once the literature section is looking good, we can then pass it onto John to comment

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Supervision meeting

Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Wild Child (Enya)
Topic: Meetings

Yesterday afternoon I had my supervision meeting, and strangely enough all three of them were there. Now that was surprising since I only expected Doug and James.

Anyway, we got to talking about how to developed the mathematical tasks to see what occurs when using the black-box and white-box software. I told them, I had spoken to Jonathan and he had suggested checking for the strategies that student’s may employed. James was all so pleased to hear this, he was going to say something I imagine on strategies but I pre-empted him because he was saying probably it might not be sufficient just to check and see if students get these tasks right or wrong … so just jumped straight in and told him about the strategies.

So, told them about the article I was reading by Artigue (2003) about the profiling of strategies she spoked off by a doctoral student. There are five profiles that a student may undertake when using software and mathematics. These profiles were theorist (references, interpretation and analogy), rationalist (paper&pen, inference and proof), scholastic, tinkerer (calculator, investigation and accumulation) and experimentalist. Got to find the original work by Trouche (2000) to further understand these profiles. But thought these might something be good to look at – although James suggested I could develop and determine my own strategies.

I was also reading a paper by Galbraith (2002) this morning and there is also a profiling of attitudes of students towards technology and he reported on some of these – originally done by Goos et al (2000) – I’ve got to find that paper. There is four: technology is considered as the master, servant, partner and extension of yourself. Like this idea as well but think it is two different approaches need to see how they can be combined.
(Anyway got to go now – its my birthday and meeting Tina in 6 mins – got to run!)

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