What to learn from Expertise?

The Learning of Expertise pilar was somehow the most difficult for our (and some other, so it seemed) group. The main problem was it’s definition. What is an expert? What can we do with the information? What do we normal people benefit from experts capacity to consistently perform at a superior level?

I think our group’s article very well expressed the same feeling that most of people probably experience when they read about expertise. It’s very nice that there are experts but I’m not one so it really hasn’t enything to do with me.  In Expert are different from us: they have more knowledge Bereiter & Scardamalia (1993) criticize the previous expertise research that lies on novice-expert comparison. They state that in this way we only get to know what experts posses in that moment but nothing about how they got there or how they maintain their expertise. The main problem is that the task in comparative studies has to be easy enough for novices and then it naturally is very easy to experts. They suggest that instead also the expert should work on the edge of his/her know-how, only then the research would show the truth of expertise. For example previous studies had showed that experts don’t need to work hard, they just have a wonderfully well organized, copious knowledge from which they pick up solutions to problems.

In some studies where the task was about writing and both the novices and the experts could work on the edge of their competence the results were the opposite: experts truly worked harder than novices. Bereiter & Scardamalia’s article is twenty years old and probably there are already a lot of more relevant research. Anyway the undertone in their article wasn’t yet past. At least in everyday life I guess people think about experts – or geniuses, or atists – that they indeed have something superhuman. But the point of expertise research is not praise them. The core, for a teacher at any rate, is to make expertise possible for everyone.

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If we could grasp the nucleus about the development of expertise, we could use the same methods for every child and adult. Fortunately we already know a lot about what expertise is:

  • their knowledge is gained through experience
  • they know how to connect understanding to appropriate practice
  • their knowledge is organized around the core and big ideas of their domain
  • an expert has made all the mistakes in a narrow field (Niels Bohr)
  • they are learning new information the fastest, most lasting and most effectively
  • they are thinking effectively problems in their areas
  • they are experimenting, reflecting, learning from others with and without interaction
  • they have readily accessible and highly organized and structured chunks of knowledge
  • they have standards that are always at least slightly beyond reach
  • they organize, represent, interpret and notice different information in their environment
  • they have abilities to reason, remember and solve different problems
  • they recognize meaningful patterns of information in all kinds of domain
  • they have a huge amount of content knowledge

An expert pairing with a novice could for example:

  • encourage activities that support deliberate practice and reflective learning
  • pause to think together about the task at hand
  • adopt an approach that makes his/her general thinking processes visible, including: modeling, scaffolding and coaching approaches
  • lead and encourage reflective conversations in and about practice

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Even after these illuminative point of views expertise is still teasing my mind. When working with children I have often wondered should I rather pay attention to their special skills or not. When for example pointing out one’s great drawing or original solution to a mathematical problem I in the same time understate all the other performances. Also I maneuver the child’s development to a direction I want or think is suitable to him or her. Both problems are impossible to pass with honour, of course I need to pay attention to childrens’ inherent skills and sometimes it’s impossible or at least quite difficult without neglecting a bit the others. Every educator have to have sensitive tentacles in recognizing what the child could be and would want to be great at.

Concerning adults learning of expertise has partly the same problems, but usually adults are better to deal with jealousy and can explain failures so that their self-esteem doesn’t suffer. The biggest problem can in fact be in that self-protection which placate the ambition of many people. Why should I make the effort of becoming an experts, I’m already good as I’m. Another precarious thought is that even those manifold descriptions of expertise, it still seems quite exclusive. Could all the depressed, simple visual artists of our art history fit to those descriptions? How can mentally disabled or illiterated craftsmen reach that kind of expertise? And however they are and can be experts in their domain.

It seems to me that expertise is still an obscure and problematic concepts that requires hard thinking.

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Self-Regulated Learning

It seems that each of the three pilars of LET gets more and more fascinating the more I know about them. In the beginning self-regulated learning was the less interesting as I thought I already know a big deal about it. Now while preparing for the exam by reading the great Science books and cheking through my notes from the lectures my mind for the first time opens to notice SRL in its whole grandeur.

One reason for that might of course be that it’s the first subject of the books and thus usually the most thorough. It might also be most profound because it’s so intriguing, the base for the two other pilars like Team Eurovision show in their revealing picture.

SieppaaIn their book the Globe Trotters were wondering why the students seldom put the SRL strategies into practice even after being introduced to the theories. My own experience is that the old manners to study are so tightly stick that it demands quite an effort to change them. Especially, like in my case, when you have always succeeded well enough with your old strategies you don’t really see the point of learning new ones.

Rationally of course I know that I could progress a lot with little more attention but studying in the university is already taking so much time that I rather concentrate to survive and spend my few spare time with family and friends than develop my self-regulation skills.

Luckily I’m learning also on the side of everything else, especially in this minor. Working with others collaboratively; seeing, hearing and discussing about different studying strategies necessarily change my understanding. Knowing how much enthusiasm it takes to individually start learning self-regulation I as a future teacher hope to be able to teach it. That’s why I have collected, from the books and lectures, the most important practical tips and theoretical concepts I’ve found of SRL.

From Team Eurovision’s book I liked the idea that we are (almost) all active and self-regulated learners, we only need to take responsibility of our learning (English & Kitsantas 2013, 131). For that we need to be motivated, to believe in ourselves and to regulate our emotions.Teachers can support the regulation by:

  • using methods that supporte self-regulation
  • giving the right level of support and challenge
  • giving clear, meaningful and explicit tasks and instructions
  • using activities that support visible thinking and rationalizing of thoughts
  • helping in reflection (how the strategies worked)
  • giving feedback that create a positive circle of SRL (rise the self-esteem and self-knowledge of students. One important point in SRL is to know one’s strengths and weaknesses).

From The Education Rangers I took the three purposes of SRL from Boekaerts (2011):

  1. Expanding one’s knowledge and skills
  2. Preventing threat and harm to the self
  3. Protecting one’s commitment

In very short, the first purpose is about learning what one is interested in, pursuiting self generated goals that are derived from intrinsic qualities. In turn the pursuit fosters deep motivation and meaningful growth. The second one describes learning of fear of punishment. Once the threat fades so does the need for SRL. In the last one students’ commitments are rerouted from the Well-being SRL to the Growth Strategies of SRL, form the second purpose to the first one. The latter allows active learning and is the pathway to expertise so students need to know about it and over and over again try to come back to it.

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The Education Rangers also had an interesting point of academic emotions: emotions that activate the students positively, deactivate positively and negatively activating and deactivating emotions. The engrossing thing was that the negatively deactivating emotions seemed to cause the worst learning outcomes. (Pekrun, Frenzel, Goetz and Perry, 2007; cited in Boekaerts, 2011). So for learning it’s worse to be bored than in anxiety. That surprised me at first, but after pondering a while it’s quite logical that anxiety can be the fire that anger one to learn but boredom only causes passivity.

In her lectures (10.10 and 14.10.2013) Kristiina Kurki as well talked about emotions. She wanted to make clear that emotion regulation doesn’t affect only to learning but also to social interaction and whole well-being. That’s why it’s very important to teach for children, but how to do it? The most important matter seemed to be words. Very little children need to have words to their feelings (anger, sadness, envy, fear…) for being able to deal with them. When they can capture the emotion with a word it doesn’t anymore rule on them. According to Kristiina children who speak better also regulate better their emotions. That’s probably because words make thinking possible and thinking enables understanding.

Interesting but also understandable point from Kristiina’s lecture was that the individuals SRL skills don’t necessarily affect to socially shared regulation (SSRL). Understandable it’s because people might hide or not be able to do their best in groups or don’t have the required social skills to expand their own regulation to concern all the group.

People are always individuals in learning and so are they in SRL. The differences in skills can be explained by temperament differences, diverse parenting styles and language skills as stated before. The teaching of SRL therefore starts from homes, but teacher or other later educators are not powerless. Through dialog, sensitive and responsive interaction, offering enough but not too much challenge and meaningful tasks, being a model of SRL, discussing about emotions and creating a safe and sence of belonging conducive environment  educators can promote students SRL skills.


Teachers’ collaboration

On Monday 18.11 we had a very interesting lecture from Niina Impiö about teachers’ collaboration – or more clearly, lack of collaboration. The funny thing is that teachers should teach children collaboration but aren’t themselves collaborating at work. Teachers are probably one of the less collaborating or even cooperating professions nowadays, at least in Finland.

In the core of the problem is to recognize that teachers learn while students learn and also should all the time develop their workmanship. Teachers are not ready after their education and integration to school after which they can only keep on doing like they have always done. The world, society, children and situations change all the time. Education has to change, but seemingly school is a very slow institution to change. One reason for that conservatism might be the lack of teachers continuous professional development. Its obvious that teachers have to progress and while collaborative learning is an effective way to learn teachers should collaborate more.

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In their article Reducing teacher burnout: A socio-contextual approach Janne Pietarinen, Kirsi Pyhältö, Tiina Soini and Katariina Salmela-Aro pick up co-regulation as an important strategy to reduce, tolerate or master work-related stress and avoid burnouts. They explain co-regulation as “the identification and active use of the social resources at hand to cope with stressors – – and the capacity to seek and receive social support from colleagues” (Pietarinen et al. 2013, 64-65). They refer to previous research when saying that the use of social resources is related to higher achievement scores among students. That is probably because

  1. Help-seeking can reduce the sence of isolation which often is experienced by teachers
  2. Environments that support hel-seeking can enable teachers to gather together resources and information
  3. The support of the community empowers teachers to approach problem-solving situations with confidence in their ability to find solutions (Pietarinen et al. 2013, 65).
  4. Teachers gain access to another source of assessment than their own students
  5. Collaboration allows teachers to make sense of their work
  6. The ‘dialogic reflection’ enabled by collaboration opens perspectives that one may not have been able to come up with individually (Munthe 2003, 803).

In their own research Pietarinen et al. (2013, 69) found out that teachers’ self-regulation correlated negatively with exhaustion but was positively related to cynicism towards the teacher community. Teacher’s co-regulation instead correlated negatively with all burnout components: exhaustion, cynicism towards the teacher community and feeling of inadequacy.

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In her article Teachers’workplace and professional certainty Elaine Munthe (2003, 803) introduces Little’s four kinds of collaborative activities which are conducive to teachers’ professional development:

  1. that teachers engage in frequent, continuous and increasingly concrete and precise talk about teaching practice

  2. that teachers are frequently observed and provided with useful critiques of their teaching

  3. that teachers plan, design, research, evaluate, and prepare teaching material together, and finally

  4. that teachers teach each other the practice of teaching

She has an interesting point of view that teachers’ collaboration in planning lessons (in which they in her study mostly collaborated) might in fact prevent teachers personal development. Refering to previous research she claims that collaborative planning might cause constraints that make more diffucult to adapt teaching to student needs. What should instead happen much is teachers being frequently observed as it enables critical reflection about one’s teaching practices.  (Munthe 2003, 810). Another pair of eyes also helps teachers to notice their hidden use of power and possible unequal dealing with children.

 

In our aforementioned lecture we discussed why teachers (in Finland) still close their doors even though everyone knows – or should know – the obvious advantages of collaboration. We found mainly two reasons:

  1. Its not easy for old teachers to change their teaching methods they have regarded as successful (also Munthe 2003, 804)
  2. Schools and headmasters should provide an environment that encourage instrumental help-seeking (also Pietarinen et al. 2013, 65)

Teachers’ collaboration is not possible if the school institution only offers playtime discussions for it. Teachers need earmarked time for collaboration. They also need recognition of the importance of their continuous professional development and collaboration as an important tool for it.


Week 41

In the last week of Intro Course we had three researcher from the LET team talking under the topic: Applied research in the field of learning and educational technology.

The first lecturer Ernesto Panadero was talking about SRL and SSRL (Socially Shared Regulation of Learning). He showed the Zimmerman’s – evidently practical – cycle of SRL. Here you can see it from Arttu Mykkänen:

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Ernesto emphasised that SSRL doesn’t happen automatically. The teacher has a big role in helping the group to plan, monitor and evaluate but even though the result is unpredictable.

Kirstiina Kurki introduced us to her study about children’s emotion regulation. Se pointed out the importance of emotion regulation because of its affect to:

  1. Learning
  2. Social interaction
  3. And in fact to whole well-being

We wondered together how emotion regulation can be taught to children and came to spoken language. Children need to have words to their emotions. Kristiina told that research shows how children who speak better also regulate better their emotions. With words the emotions can be captured and forced to fall. With words children can get the adults help in understanding their feelings so that they can get free of their hold.

Kristiina had an example of her study, a situation of studying math and little Kalle who couldn’t concentrate to the task because he was bored and couldn’t get the help he needed. Together we considered what strategies Kalle and other children (and adults) use to regulate emotions. Seeking help, expressing an opinion, doing an alternative activity and expressing emotions are examples of different strategies. Alternative activity was the first strategy children learn.

At last Piia Näykki told about collaboration and possible problems in it. She had a delectable example of a group who had an enormous fight in its first meeting. In fact in most groups the challenges are socio-emotional! These can be:

  1. Overruling: everyone are not welcomed to discuss
  2. Status-centric: “I know I’m professional”
  3. Undermining: “We can’t do this”
  4. Normative: too much rules kill creativity

My experience confirms the importance of socio-emitonal challenges. You come to a group with your backbag full or empty of your knowledge, skills and prejudice. In every group lot of energy is lost in the process (Nijstad & Paulus, 2003) , but fortunately like Essi told before, the time spent on the groups common culture comes back as succees in the group work.

Piia pointed out task understanding, processes, goals, content understanding and group efficacy as examples of aspects a group should monitor during collaborative work. Interestingly it seemed that high-achieving groups focused on content understanding while low-achieving in task understanding. Most uncanny to me was that the individual’s SRL doesn’t have a straigth affect to the group’s regulation!

For the jigsaw I read Learn to use and use to learn: Technology in virtual collaboration experience by Karpova, E., Correia, A-P. & Baran, E. (2009).

It was a research about how global learning teams utilized technology in virtual collaboration to solve complex problems. They proposed a model of technology application at different stages of virtual collaborative process.  It shows that diffrent kind of technologies are useful in different stages, for example audiovideo conference systems in brainsrtorming and LMSs (Learning Management System) in reflecting on ideas.

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The most important challenges in global, virtual collaboration were time difference and lack of nonverbal clues. The benefits were

  • opportunities to learn how to use technology in a meaningful way
  • practise using technology to solve problems
  • one’s broadened perspective by communicatin with people from different cultures

In another occasion I read Max van Manen’s (2010) article The Pedagogy of Momus Technologies: Facebook, Privacy, and Online Intimacy. It was not quite connected to Karpova et. al.’s but lapped it in some way. It is about privacy and social media, how (young) people are tempted to reveal their most inner secrets to everybody to see and markets to benefit.

Working, studying and living online becomes more and more common and it changes the way people communicate. I think it’s important to seriously contemplate the change, to think what is good and what can be harmful to people’s development.

As van Manen says:

“A person without secrets, just like life without secrets,
may have little to hold our interest. The psychiatrist van
den Berg once wrote, “Every friendship, every marriage,
every love relation can only exist thanks to the grace of
the secret that one person is for the other” (1969, p. 153).
The same may be true of life. Secrecy is the condition for
a meaningful relation with life in general, and in the
necessity of secrecy for a meaningful life resides a peda-
gogical interest. The pedagogical question is: How can
we, in the context of present day technologies, still have
opportunities for the experience of secrecy and the
Hidden in the virtual and real relationships of young
people as well as adults? How can young people still
experience the formative effects of solitude in a society
where they are relentlessly distracted by the hectic demands
of a constantly digitally connected and information-
driven technological environment?”
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References

Nijstad, B. A. & Paulus P. B. (2003) Group creativity: common themes and future directions. Teoksessa Nijstad, B. A. & Paulus P. B. (toim.) Group creativity: innovation through collaboration. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., s. 326- 339.


Week 40

The theme of this week was “Global Perspectives of Educational Use of ICT“.

In order to dive in deep understanding of the issue we had a panel discussion, a jigsaw, a video from Romania and an article about it. I read “ICT and Curriculum Change” by Joke Voogt and Hans Pelgrum.

The most interesting part was the panel. We had debaters from Russia, Romania, Finland and Spain. They answered on Essi’s questions about weaknesses and strenghts, threats and opportunities in educational use of ICT. In every country there were quite similar difficulties:

  • lack of equipment
  • the teachers problematic approach
  • the force of traditions
  • the lack of knowledge

The differences between schools were as well current everywhere but for different reasons. In Romania and Russia the rural and city area differ in wealth, in Andalusia but not in the rest of Spain there had been a great awakening in equipping the schools with ICT and in Finland it depends a lot from the teacher’s and headmaster’s interest. What further united all the countries of the panel was the gap between the children’s use of ICT in schools and on free time.

The education of teachers at work and in universities emerged as an important issue. In Romania there had been trainings for already working teachers, but it seemed that they were not ready to change there way of doing – instead they adopted the concepts for being able to better explain that they indeed were using ICT. In Ecuador they wanted to put all the old teachers in pension in order to promote the use of ICT in schools.

In my opinion it’s important not only to tell about the possibilities of ICT but also to enable teachers to learn with it as people don’t learn by only getting information, we also need to put it in practice. It should also become clear that the use of ICT doesn’t depend on the teacher’s opinion. The ICT skills are needed in work life, so they should be practiced in schools.

In jigsaw session we made posters of the weaknesses, strengths, threats and opportunities of educational use of ICT. Here you can see ours:

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My own version:

Educational ICT-1


Week 39

The focus points of last week were collaborative learning, self regulated learning and expertise. We had a short lecture of each issue and on jigsaw we worked on them by taking in groups a photo describing each theme.

The most important point for me in Essi’s lecture of Collaborative Learning was that successful groups should be group-related. That means that the group members use a lot of time in coordinating the group work and to sosioemotional aspects. They have their own humor and a good atmosphere so they have a safe feeling to work.

When collaborative learning occurs, there are a join understanding, new knowledge and the ability of learner’s grow. It requires comments, arguments and questions.

 

In our home group we picked three main points from the articles about Collaborative Learning:

1. CL doesn’t happen automatically when people are put together

2. CL is made of four paradigms: situation, interaction, processes and effect

3. It’s important to realize the connection between interaction and the effects

Self regulated learning is a cycle:

  1. “What should I do?”
  2. “My goal is to…”
  3. “Today I’ll read , tomorrow I’ll write…”
  4. Study study work work
  5. Task completed!
  6. and again and again

 

In the beginning the learner has some idea of his possibilities to perform the task; a positive image can motivate him to work. During the task and when it’s done his image of him as a learner can strengthen or change. Again, the image affects to the next learning occasion. SRL can happily be learned. It takes only practice in setting realistic goals and schedule.

The expert differs from the novice in his knowledge: it’s like leaves in a tree: interconnected and organized when novice’s knowledge is like leaves on ground.

The important and great thing from expertise is that anyone can learn to be one. Its building involves knowledge construction, expert-like performance and self-regulation. For becoming experts the novices should understand their own processes of knowing and problem-solving but most of all they need to be deeply interested in something. They can develop a great understanding of that and other interesting phenoms and thus form an archipelago of  Islands of Expertise.


My Islands of Expertise

Nature

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My grandmother has a summerhouse in Kuusamo. As we were living in different places when I was a child, this summerhouse was more than any place my home. I’m far of being an expert of nature – I wonder why it never came to my mind to study biology – but I’m an expert in picking berries. People from warm countries can’t understand why berries are so important for Finns. When my grandmother was young berries were the only sweet and healthy thing they got from nature. Even now when the supermarkets are full of fruits from far away I think berries are the best and most ethical way to have vitamins. That’s why I have tried to follow my grandmother in knowing were to find berries, in persisting to pick them in spite of the mosquito and finally conserving them late in the evening.

Visual Arts

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Maybe because of the nature – since it’s so intriguing – I started to love visual arts. I enjoy watching people and drawing them, watching everything and drawing, painting or taking a photo of what I see. Or only watching. I studied visual arts a long time but finaly I didn’t want to try being an artist. I felt that it’s too difficult to get people in art galleries and to touch them.

Education

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I ended up studying education. It’s a very interesting and frightening issue of which I’m far of being an expert. The old problem of education: to sosialize children to this world and in the same time hope that they’d do it a better place is still there and on the side a teacher should deal with motivation and self-esteem problems, harassment, difficult parents etc.