Friday, 16 November 2012

Thoughts on Virginia Tech Model: Part 3

Cognitive Conflict: Piaget and Vygotsky 

The previous blog   looked at the Virginia Tech Model and how it could be extended to include cognitive conflict (defined in previous document).  The model in graphic form (Fig. 1)  was then transformed into a scattergram (Fig. 2).

Fig 1. Graphical representation of Virginia Tech model

Fig 2.  Representation of the Virginia Tech Model in terms of student ownership/engagement  against cognitive conflict.     1. The Audio/Video Tutorial Approach, 2. Personalised system of instruction, 3. Goal Based Scenarios, 4. Case Based Teaching, 5. Guided design, 6. Anchored Instruction,7. Cognitive Apprenticeship,8. Cooperative Learning,9. Constructionist Project based Models,10. Problem based Learning,11. Learning Environments

The transformation of the model into a scattergram allows a pseudo Cartesian co-ordinate plane to be established for the relationship of student ownership and cognitive conflict.  The model shown in the youtube video, mentioned by John Graves (a collaborator in the Bank Street Open Learning Community) in a
personal communication via a Google+ post ,    for the three levels of the revised Bloom’s taxonomy there are three planes of student engagement.  The first plane being the remember, understand apply.  The second plane analyse and evaluate.  The third the creative plane.  (Might need to question the correct usage of the term plane in this context).    It might be best thought of like a game of vertical chess with the student moving between the levels of Revised Bloom’s taxonomy according to the rules of the learning activity and outcome.  

The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is drawn on top of  the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy’s (RBT) plane.  The ZPD is the  shoulders, so to speak, on which the next  learning is about to stand.  After the learning and understanding the RBT planes extends to encompass the ZPD to become the what you know core.  This then acts as the starting point for the next learning activity and outcome.  This is a constructivist view of the model, and open to discussion as always.  It is also an iterative process that occurs within the overall learning objective (the “blended” use of activities that have their own learning objective to achieve the overall learning objective).  This is the intrinsic relationship between perceived micro and macro learning activities, a bit like a Russian doll.   

Key Question (IMO):     How might RBT and ZPD be represented on a Scattergram model?

Looking at the RBT model we will take 2 plane definition of Lower Order Thinking skills (LOTS) and Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) as a starting point.  This is often referred to by a lot of trainers as fixed definitions.  What might be  LOTS for one group could be  HOTS for others and vice versa.  In other words the instructor needs to embrace the idea flexibilty of task to the approach to learning.  Sometimes difficult to maintain when dealing with the same group throughout  a year where curricula dictate you look at a certain knowledge area but “have to use” HOTS when the group may still be in the realms of LOTS. (But that is a different discussion for another day!).  

Looking at the Vygotsky model of ZPD we have three concentric zones (Fig 3.).   We have the core to the “apple” of what you know, the flesh (mesocarp for the botanically inclined) of the apple which is what you can learn on your own and the “skin” of the apple what you can learn with help.  The “apple” may be a good way of thinking of ZPD in terms of the amount of independent action on the part of the student.  A misshapen “apple” may be used to map the diversity of learners within a group and their relative position to others (another point possibly for development).

Fig 3.  The ZPD model, green represents prior learning (least cognitive conflict), amber represents the application of students knowledge and understanding to new challenges, red represents the greatest cognitive conflict where greater instructor or peer input is needed   
The red zone of Fig 3 is the position where I would expect the social media and collaboration to take place ie the what I can learn with help.  The relative sizes of each zone  would depend on the  learning context.  A MOOC would be more operating in the amber zone while an OLC would be in the realms of the red zone.

On a scattergram I would envisage again green, amber and red zones.  These would be arranged along the cognitive conflict continuum.  An illustrative example is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig 4.  Zones of ZPD superimposed on a Scattergram of Reworked Virginia Tech Model.  Green = What you already know, Amber = What you can learn yourself, Red = Waht you can learn with help from instructor (facilitator) and peers in a social interaction (Numbers represent learning activities from Fig. 2)

The green area extends to the line where cognitive conflict is zero since everything to the left is assumed to learnt and understood and therefore concrete.  (This is an assumption many teachers have make to their peril when trying to use cross curricular skills or a new group of students).  The amber zone is the transition achieved through independent learning using the concrete skills (green zone)  to the point where new learning understanding requires more instruction (the red zone).  As stated previously this might be through the intervention of an instructor or by the use of peer knowledge and peer instruction in an OLC.  This is why I have left activity 3 in it’s position in the 4th quadrant in the red zone
(below the axis where studentship and instructor ownership is zero or of parity between student ownership and instructor ownership).  

The learning activities (the numbers in Fig.4.) can move between the various different quadrants  as would be expected with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or Group Learning Plans (GLPs).    The activities equally can move between green, amber and red zone.  The zones do not have be fixed on a particular line of cognitive conflict either, I will possibly discuss this in another paper.  

Comments would be appreciated.

Then next step could be to incorporate a degree of grading or using a UK term leveling on the cognitive conflict axis.

There are a lot of very complex interactions between student, instructor, context of learning activity and prior knowledge within the proposed model. Partitioning of the effects of each component and testing their impact becomes a challenge. Developing or applying standard evaluative methodologies to the steps proposed in the development of the Reworked Virginia Tech model requires some though at this time. Possibly a subject for an Open Learning Community!

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