Category Archives: Writing

Protected: More on the HEA OER bid

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Well, there are number of things I need to get done – and it is stressing out. There is a book chapter that I’m currently writing on longitudinal surveys in higher education which looks to be great I think – but need to get cracking on it as it is due at the end of February!

I’ve tried to address all the comments that Paul E. has made on a paper of mine, I just need to get some space in my schedule to spend an afternoon to submit it – it looks at how students’ maths GCSE grades affect their evaluation of their mark on a maths test. I would ideally like to do this before the end of this week!

I also need to get cracking on a HEA grant on a literature review of current research methods assessment practice – but first need to get a research assistant but we should be able to do that.

And finally I need to pack-up my office for my move down to Surrey … I think I can do it between my lectures and supervision ūüôā – well, I have to!

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Technology in my Teaching

Mood: hug me hug me
Now Playing: Mexican Joe (Jim Reeves)

As part of my Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, I have to write an essay on:

Identify an existing module or unit of learning which may be enhanced by the use of technology.  Critically consider the impact of the changes you suggest.

And I have to demonstrate the following:

  • Critical consideration of the use of technology in own teaching
  • ¬†Proposals and justification for choices / rejection of technology
  • ¬†Critical consideration of the impact of proposed changes
  • ¬†Knowledge of the literature

¬†Great, so I sort of know what I have to do – but still don’t know how to do it!! AHHHHHHH!!!

I have an idea for the essay, it’s just not hitting the things I need to demonstrate ūüėÄ .

Okay so here is my idea which I have already incorporated into a unit. I want to look at the use of Autograph when teaching functions and graphs. Autograph is a mathematical software which is able to plot complex functions, so students are able to visualise the maxima and minima quite easily and also able to see how differentiated and integrated graphs look like as well.

¬†Well, I think the first thing I need to do is to critically consider the use of technology in my teaching. Let’s start with practical issues. The class on functions and graphs is a 3 hour intensive class which is focused on building students’ concepts of mathematics. Secondly, it is already scheduled for the current classroom hence using a computer room becomes difficult. So, I have timetabling constraints. I have no clue what I’m saying – I just know that I don’t want to do it ūüėÄ .

Alright let’s describe the scenario – maybe that would get my brain going (I know what is annoying me … previously when I was writing my thesis – I always had to make sure I was satisfied with it and didn’t have to meet any targets but in an essay you have to meet the targets – and that is kind of scary … I don’t know how to just let it flow …)

Okay, my example is the use of limits to find what is differentiation at a point. I used Autograph to show students the gradient of¬†a line, and then decrease the change in y and the change in x, to show how it was approaching the gradient at a point. I think showing students this visually they did not have to imagine it and I think that is good. I think I need to find the difficulties associated with teaching differentiation.¬† Okay, I found¬†a paper by Tall (1985) which talks about teaching the concept of differentiation from first principles. He however uses the graphing calculator and suggests that students explore on their own the concepts of a chord tending towards a point for a tangent. He explains that helps with developing a cognitive manner and suggests that this relates to Skemp’s¬†idea of relational understanding. He then goes on to draw from Ausubel that the learner is able to get an idea of the whole concept first and this person can be an “advanced organiser”. This is interesting because Pea (1985) also mentions that the computer can be used as an organisation tool for a learner – I wonder if it is in this context that¬†he meant?

Now the question may be asked why I chose to use Autograph. Well, there are several reasons for this:

  • It has a site licence here at Liverpool Hope and hence makes it easier for the students to have a play with it
  • I chose not to use graphing calculators although there were some available, because would have spent more time teaching students how to use a graphing calculator rather than them seeing the context
  • But, I didn’t give the students an opportunity to use Autograph, I demonstrated it instead, the reason being of course I wasn’t time-tabled for a computer room. This is really a 15 minutes task to learn – if used in a computer room it may take several minutes to learn (okay I can’t seem to make an argument right now! )

I think I have a sufficient amount to¬†make a start. I was going to bring in cognitive load theory – I could suggest that learning software itself is too high an intrinsic load and hence there wouldn’t be any germane load …?? Making this stuff up as I go along …

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Filed under Teaching, Technology, Writing

BSRLM abstract

I have to put together a 300 word abstract for BSRLM by this afternoon (well deadline is tomorrow but want to get it done today) and I have no idea what to write. I want it to be based on my thesis but the problem is that it is so difficult to cut down something in my thesis to 300 words. I am trying to determine what would be most relevant to BSRLM but can’t figure.

Anyway, I thought I would write something on the analytical framework I used for analysing how students performed on tasks. So, I’m going to use this space to write this. So, here goes.

This paper looks at the development and implementation¬†of a framework for analysing students’ performance on tasks when using mathematical software. Through¬†a literature review, three¬†approaches and one affective¬†factor were identified¬†based on students’ understanding for analysing¬†how students¬†solved tasks and¬†their effect on the students’ performance.¬†These three approaches are 1)¬†processing level approach (deep¬†or surface learning), 2) self-explanation approach (quality of explanations), 3) explorations (extent of using software). The affective behaviour¬†used was¬†mathematics confidence.¬†Using these approaches and affective factor¬†a triangular framework based on the literature was developed which showed that all of these factors were related to performance and their inter-relationships. The literature¬†indicated that only confidence was related to the processing levels but there were not any studies that showed that self-explanations were related to confidence, processing levels or exploration using software.¬†

Observing¬†38 students solving conceptual and procedural tasks using software whilst thinking-aloud, the research aimed to determine whether there was a relationship between these¬†approaches and the factors using both qualitative and quatitative data.¬†An updated framework was developed based on the results from this study.¬†Some evidence was found that quality of self explanations was related to the¬†processing levels.¬†¬†Mathematics confidence was found to be related to¬†software explorations and¬†the quality of self explanations.¬†Software explorations were also found to be related to¬†the¬†quality of self-explanations.¬†The framework can be further used for testing theories on the relationship between performance and how students’ make sense of solving tasks.

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Filed under Main Study, Skills/ Development, Writing

Writing for a Journal Publication

At a workshop on writing. One of the key points that Pat Thompson is making is that there is no such thing as writing up because we don’t know what we’re writing up until we start writing.

The title and abstract are important as most people are selecting to read the article base on this. These are key invitational things that allows the reader to select.

Through writing we’re presenting ourselves as scholars.

By becoming a scholar – sometimes you may have devalued your previous identity before starting as a scholar (particularly for late-life researchers) – but there should be a way of meshing both identities.

The point of a journal paper is a persuasive and argumentative piece not a report on what was done. The conference paper tends to be a report – and thus the journal paper is a different rhetorical task.

Two types of text:

  • Monologic: dead text – does not draw people in (like a laundry list)
  • Dialogic: brings people in to think and engage – this is what research writing is about¬† i.e. invite the reader in to making meaning and associations such as through references and other themes and other conversations.

Fariclough’s 3 dimensional model of discourse (process of production and interpretation):

  • Layer 1: Text
  • Layer 2: Discourse practice
  • Layer 3: Sociocultural practice

Dissertation: the text is the dissertation, the discourse practice is imparted to the students by the supervisors, and the sociocultural practice is drawn from the supervisors background.

Conference papers: Text is the paper, the discourse practice is the presentation, and the sociocultural practice is the audience.

Some rule of thumbs in deconstructing a journal website:

  • Try and cite the editors from the journal.
  • Read the aims of the journal and analyse what they want from the aims. Make sure you address each of the aims.
  • Check the editorial board and see if they’re from different countries and hence it has a large reach. In the larger reach you need to work from the specific to broader issues.
  • If you’ve never heard of the editorial board you might want to use another journal.
  • Read a couple of papers from the journal and determine what is the conversation of the journal – from this – determine the ideological position and the theories.
  • Have a look at the editor’s interviews (either transcripts or MP3s) that some of the journals have – as they give you what they want
  • Cite papers from the journal
  • Check for stylistic conventions (APA etc)
  • Get people in the know to know the turn around time – such as the refereeing time
  • You may decide on the journal to put in – depending on your career progression – that is – if you need a quick turn around then probably a less famous journal
  • Check the readership of the journal and make sure you address the issues/implications for everyone
  • Reviewers are looking for the “so what” and the “now what”
  • Strongest paper has one argument or one point to make not two or three – state the argument of the paper upfront
  • State the research in the field and how it stands and what you’re going to contribute to it

The genre of the journal article (most has to be like this but not always):

  • Introduction – locate, focus, argument, outline paper
  • Possibly theoretical orientation
  • Literatures
  • Methods – explain report
  • Discuss
  • Conclude

Five moves in a journal abstract:

  • Locate: specific paper in relation to larger project/debates/issues – naming the angle
  • Focus: identify the particular question/issues/kinds of problems that the paper will explore/ examine
  • Anchor: establish the basis for the argument
  • Report: summarise major findings pertinent to the argument
  • Argue: open the argument¬†– the so what question
  • Use the abstract as the plan for writing the paper

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Filed under Journals, Skills/ Development, Writing

Protected: NetGen: The way forward

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Literature Review Introduction

Mood: d'oh d’oh
Now Playing: How sweet it is (James Taylor)

Yup, I’m still doing corrections. At the moment, I’m trying to get the¬†literature introduction just right but I can’t seem to do it when I’m staring at the document, so I figured if I write it here it might be alright. Well, gonna start:

This chapter¬†highlights and discusses¬†the relevant literature in this thesis. In Chapter 1, the objective of this thesis was presented as understanding students mathematical learning when using the three software boxes. As shown in the reported studies highlighted in Chapter 1, students’ performance¬†on set tasks was used as a measure for mathematical learning. Mathematical learning in these studies¬†was operationalised by¬†measuring¬†students’ performance on¬†conceptual and procedural knowledge. This chapter, firstly,¬†elaborates on these knowledge types as a way for measuring mathematical learning.

This section is followed by discussing how both conceptual and procedural knowledge can be operationalise from which students’ performance is determined. This links with the three task types: mechanical, interpretive and constructive mentioned in Chapter 1. Thirdly, using the studies mentioned in Chapter 1 about the software boxes and measurement of conceptual and procedural knowledge, inferences are made on students’ expected performance on the three task types.

Whilst performance can show students achievement level in mathematical learning, it is unable to show the pathway for students eventual task solutions which relates to Research Question 2. Thus, three students’ approaches are next identified in the chapter: a) explanations, b) explorations and c) deep/surface processing level. These three approaches are not considered definitive of all the approaches that a student can undertake and neither are they mutually exclusive to each other.

The chapter then discusses each of these approaches on how they may influence performance, how they relate to each other and finally infers what approach students may take depending on which software box they have access to. These inferences should help in answering Research Question 3.

To account for attitudinal differences, self-efficacy is also considered for determining it’s influence on performance, approach and use of software boxes. Finally, an analytical framework is presented for understanding how performance is influenced by the approaches and self-efficacy. This analytical framework will be used for analysing any qualitative data that arose.

Yup, think that is the end of the introduction, this bit might go into the third section.

Again as noted in Chapter 1, research studies into glass-box and open-box software has been limited. The main concern on these research studies were determining whether these software  modes aided in procedural learning when compared to students using the black-box software or pen-and-paper. In the cases presented by Horton and Strickland, they each found that students who were trained with the glass-box (vs black-box) software and open-box software (vs pen-and-paper) outperformed their counterparts.  This is not a completely surprising result considering that in both the glass-box and the open-box software, students are presented with or trained to understand the steps, which is procedural learning. However, there are no studies indicating whether either of these software boxes may help in conceptual understanding.

Interestingly, in the studies involving only the black-box software, the main focus was on students’ performance for conceptual tasks by comparing student’s scores using the software versus a pen-and-paper method.¬† These studies with the black-box software included that of Palmiter, Heid and O’Callaghan and are discussed further to provide some insight into conceptual learning with software. Although, inferences made from these studies will be most relevant to black-box software, they will also be extended to the glass-box and open-box software.

This is just a point I have to remember to highlight in this section, i.e. why it is important to study intermediate steps (other than being under-researched).

Whether showing steps (glass-box software) or interacting with steps (open-box software) actually aids in conceptual learning is difficult to determine as these seem more geared towards ensuring procedural tasks are understood. However, as researchers have suggested that there is a conceptual-procedural link, there is a possibility that students having access to the open-box and glass-box software may outperform students using the black-box software in conceptual tasks. Drijvers found that some students like to know what is occuring and by showing these students the procedural steps, they will engage with the procedural steps. If there is a conceptual link, then those students who engaged with the procedural steps will then be more likely to perform better on conceptual tasks that is providing there is a conceptual-procedural link.

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Filed under Analytical Frameworks, Literature Review, PhD, Writing