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Reading Reflections

  • How would you describe your “research problem(s)” to the Research Scholars group? 

Can concept mapping provide an effective tool for class preparation, information synthesis, and assessment?

 My “research problem” is that (at least from my perspective) students are not prepared for class OR do not know how to prepare/lack skills to prepare for a class…OR it could just be that they are not as prepared as I want them to be.  As a consequence, students aren't able to take advantage of class activities to increase their understanding, and are unable to put all the puzzle pieces together or synthesize the information.  In other words, I feel like I can't get students to where I want them to go because they falter at the first step.

I'm leaning towards focusing on this idea first, but also am preparing a online-hybrid version of a class that has traditionally only been taught face-to-face.  I have many questions about effectiveness of the two formats, but feel like those questions haven't formed yet since I'm still planning the class and won't actually teach it until Spring or next Fall.

  • What theme(s) based on your readings, resonate with your “problem” and/or your proposed approach to address your problem.


I resonated with a lot of what was discussed in these articles.  In particular, Bass’ description of having a “crisis” that evolved into a “problem” and his quote:

“I realized I didn’t know really if the better students in a course who demonstrated a real understanding of the material by the end of the semester were actually acquiring that understanding in my course, or were merely the percentage of students who entered the course with a high level of background and aptitude. Similarly, I realized I didn’t really know if the students who I watched "improve" from their early work to later work were really understanding the material and the paradigm from which I was operating, or merely learning to perform their knowledge in ways that had adapted to my expectations.”

I also liked the idea expressed by Mona Phillips trying to help her students find the joy in being able to understand it all and become a part of the puzzle.  I've been spending some time reflecting on the lessons I learned from the Assessment Residency and thinking about "Creating Significant Learning Experiences" that include not only content knowledge but other components such as learning how to learn, the human dimension, caring, integration, etc.  I enjoyed reading about other perspectives and individuals that really seem to have similar thoughts to mine, and I feel like I'm on a pathway towards developing ideas on the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Perhaps I felt affirmed :-)

  • Based on Pat Hutchings article, what taxonomy would you use to describe your research question and  why?

I am focusing on a “what works” questions.  I'm seeking evidence about the effectiveness of using concept maps as a tool for student pre-class preparation, synthesis, and assessment.  As I peeked around at other posts from my fellow scholars, I also see the value in moving to or integrating with a "what is" question.  How do the students that succeed prepare for class?  Are they the ones that entered with a high level of background and aptitude or do they do something else specific.  How do the students that aren't successful in class prepare or why are they unable to prepare?  Then get into asking if different approaches (such as concept mapping) can help solve the problem.

In general my classroom questions are the “Doing a lot of playing around”.  This was suggested as a potential fifth type of question.  I am probably deviating from the assignment, but I feel like I often use a similar phrase to describe what I do in the classroom.

  • Do you have any questions/concerns/comments that have evolved from your reading?

My concerns are along the lines of not being exactly sure how to proceed (but I'm confident this will be ellucidated throughout the residency) , wondering if this question is worthwhile to investigate, asking if I've really pinpointed a good starting question, concern about if I will be helping my students by doing this? 

The article about Classroom Action Research and the rubric will be helpful to return to for guidance.

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