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Running head: Analysis & Reflection

Analysis, Application, Connections & Reflections

Miles D. Henderson EDU510.90 The Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning Dr. Sandra Foster

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

Introduction There are several representations on how the mind works through the cognitive sciences of the mind. This paper will explore several of these mental representations including: logic, rules, concepts, analogies and images. This paper will also establish how David Perkins, a Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, 7 principles of education can help teachers of any discipline and at any grade level teach more effectively by creating an environment where their students being introduced to the principles as a "whole game" concept.

Play the Whole Game The first principle of Perkins (2009) theory is Play the Whole Game where he believes that a teacher should put learning into action and provide meaningful insight to the student based on the information being taught. As a non-example of this, one might think back to their HighSchool chemistry class where they were asked to memorize the periodic table of elements and be able to recite several elements by name if given the compound and be able to cite the compound if given the element. This violates the first principle because there was a complete focus on the concepts, but a lack of insight as to how the students view of understanding this would benefit them. The real world connection was missing and as a result, the students were not as vested in the materials other than to simply memorize the subject-matter. Perhaps what the teacher should have done instead would have been to try (or ask the students to try) and create a situation where chemistry becomes something that is necessary in the real world such as how through chemical reactions established by the use of the periodic

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

table of elements, rust forms on metal which would establish a connection between what the class was learning and how it might directly impact them in the real world. Make the Game worth Playing The second principle of Perkins (2009) theory is Make the Game worth Playing where he believes that a teacher should choose content that the students will find worth learning. As a non-example of this, one might remember their Sociology 101 class where the teacher was attempting to teach the concept of societal connections and family. The students in the class were asked to define family. This violates the principle because every student will have a different classification of family and there can be no absolute definite answer other than the one that is given to the students. The worth of the knowledge was not imparted on the students in the class and as a result, the teaching of this concept was unsuccessful. Perhaps what the teacher should have done instead would have been to try and have the students more vested in the activities through allowing the students to collaborate and establish what a group of students consider the definitions and how they differ, so that they become more interested in the why it is important rather than the focus on the memorization of facts. Work on the Hard Parts Perkins (2009) third principle, Work on the Hard Parts, says that teachers should predict areas that students will find challenging and provide specific instruction to improve those areas. As a non-example of this, one might consider a soccer coach modeling fundamentals to a group of high-school aged soccer players of varying degrees of skill. This violated the principle because not every player found the fundamental skills challenging and not every player had the desire to improve their skills.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

Perhaps what the coach should have done instead would have been to break the players off into smaller groups rather than individually and create a game where the same skills are being learned, but the competition angle creates an environment where all the players want to achieve a better understanding of the fundamentals. Play out of Town Perkins (2009) fourth principle is Play out of Town where things that are already known to the student are applied and transferred to solving different, but similar, problems, solutions or scenarios. As a non-example of this principle one could think back to their math classes where they were learning matrices and the teacher lectured on the subject matter as a new subject matter without guiding the reflecting or transferring of previously learned concepts. The principle was violated due to the way that this class was structured where there was no attempt to find a way to allow the transference of knowledge. The instructor taught the concept as a foreign one and never guided associations to known concepts and principles because not every student can make the transference without guidance. In order to make this concept easier to understand the instructor should have guided the transference through interaction and discussion with the students in the class and made references to previously learned concepts. Uncover the Hidden Game In Perkins fifth principle he postulates that there will always be a hidden game present in social contexts and systems (Perkins, 2009). As such, a non-example cannot be realized for this section. Instead this researcher has written about an example that perhaps violates other aspects of education.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

As an example of the hidden-game that students are a part of, even if they do not consciously play it, is one of give the teacher what they want. A few years ago this researcher was in a creative writing class where the instructor continuously penalized papers for fantasy based rhetoric by stating things such as the author had never seen a dragon and so how could they write about it? As a result, the author was forced to play the game and give the teacher non-fantasy based prose essays where realism was as important as the story. Exactly what the teacher wanted to hear and as a result ended with a grade that was much more favorable in the class. This violates a principle in education where the student was learning the incorrect subject matter; instead of learning what they should have been learning, the author was instead learning how to please the teacher and get a better grade. To rectify this situation, especially in a class such as creative writing, the assignments should to be structured in such a way that every student is capable of getting an A+ through their own hard work, not just the students that know how to play the hidden game. Learn from the Team In Perkins (2009) sixth principle he says that often knowledge is gained through observations and collaborative work. As a non-example of this one might look at multiplechoice and essay test questions where the students from all disciplines are forced to memorize and regurgitate answers without truly understanding the concepts. Perkins (2009) believes that we gain greater knowledge from working collaboratively, test taking is individual and as such how can they exemplify and hold true to this principle? Perkins might say that it would be better to have the kids learn as a grouped collaborative where they explore and discuss answers rather than a straight memorization of facts.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

Perhaps the teacher can instead create open internet quizzes and tests that allow the student to apply and evaluate what they have learned rather than just memorize and not retain mastery of the concepts. Logic Logic can be described as what people use to understand pieces of the world around them that they dont understand based off of their environment and hard truths (Thagard, 2012). Monty Python described logic with the following: All fish live underwater. All mackerel are fish. All mackerel live underwater (MontyPython, 2009). Working in a private school the professional example that can be given is that all teachers at the school are required to use GradeQuick. Because this researcher is a Teacher, he is required to use GradeQuick. In order to properly facilitate this logic mental representation using an instructional event a new teacher orientation session should be established to help new teachers understand that all teachers must use GradeQuick. The instructional event for this would be established through an administrative doctrine to be studied and adopted through signed acceptances by all teachers and staff who, if found in violation, would be disciplined accordingly. In order to improve the instruction of the signing process instruction, adopting Perkins (2009) second principle of Make the Game worth Playing could be utilized. What this would entail is the attempt that each teacher becomes vested in the process of understanding the reasons why it is imperative that they use GradeQuick in order to facilitate better communication between parents and teachers. Altering the instruction would be established through sharing of research findings, guest speakers consisting of teachers and parents, talking directly to the teachers and staff about the merits of using the program.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

The teaching strategy used in this example to help motivate and engage the teachers to believe in the use of the product is one of a round-table debate and open forum discussion whereby collaborative learning can transpire. Rules Rules can be defined as a situation in where a condition exists, and based on that condition, an action follows. This can be seen in if-then functions in computer programming (Thagard, 2012). A non-professional example might be if one exercises and eat right, then chances are that they will live longer. As a professional example that works off of the previous, if one does not use GradeQuick, chances are that they will find themselves in trouble with the Administration. In order to properly facilitate this rules based mental representation, a role-playing instructional event featuring parents, students and faculty, at a new teacher orientation session should be established to help new teachers understand that not using GradeQuick is a violation of their teaching contract and is subject for disciplinary action. In order to improve the instruction of the role-playing instructional even, adopting Perkins (2009) second principle of Learn from the team could be utilized. This would entail the teachers learning the concepts to become part of the role-playing event and allow for a deeper understanding of the concepts. Altering the instruction in this way would create an environment wherein the teachers being instructed on the merits of the program would be able to visualize the other side of the coin by stepping into the shoes of the parents and students. The teaching strategy used in this example to help motivate and engage the learners would be taking place in the role-play itself because the teachers would be instructed to realize the merits of the program by putting themselves in the place of both the parents and students.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

Concepts Concepts can be defined as the mental categories that help us classify objects, events, or ideas and each has a set of common relevant features (CognitiveAtlas, n. d.). An example of this can stem from a discussion regarding the tomato. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a tomato is technically a fruit because it has seeds, yet conceptually we categorize it as a vegetable frequently because of its use in savory foods where fruit is mainly used in sweet foods (Oxford, n. d.). As a professional example that continues from the previous two; the concept of grading using a gradebook is the same as using GradeQuick yet it is a more efficient way to interact with parents in a timely manner. In order to properly facilitate this concepts based mental representation using an instructional event, a new teacher orientation session should be established on how to use GradeQuick and EdLine properly. This instructional event would take place in a classroom setting under traditional classroom rules where there would be a teacher delivering instruction to the other teachers in the room as students. In order to improve the instruction of the classroom environment, adopting Perkins (2009) first principle of Play the whole game could be utilized. This would entail that the instruction be delivered in such a way as to allow the students in the class to establish a connection between what they are learning and how it affects them. Altering the classroom instruction to meet the first principle would be through an open forum discussion where students would engage each other and establish those connections for themselves so as to truly understand the concepts. The instructor would help to lead the discussions in such a way that the students would reach the same conclusions through their own methods of understanding.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

The teaching strategy used to engage and motivate students for this example would be an instructor led open forum discussion with the topic of how the software will directly impact the teachers themselves. Analogies Analogies can be defined as a comparison of similar items to draw conclusions based off of prior knowledge (Thagard, 2012). An example of this can be portrayed by a four year old learning a new video-game. When playing a video game that he is familiar with, he knows that pushing the B button makes him jump; as a result, when he plays a new game he first attempts to jump by pushing the B button. As a professional example, posting weekly updates of grades on EdLine using GradeQuick, and posting an assignment on EdLine, which most teachers are capable of following through with; are similar in concepts and as a result should be easily replicated by the teachers. In order to properly facilitate this analogy based mental representation using an instructional event in a traditional classroom setting where professional development classes should be held every semester on how to grade, upload and post grades in GradeQuick and Edline. This class should be optional and open to any teacher who struggles with this concept. In order to improve the instruction of the signing process instruction, adopting Perkins (2009) sixth principle of Learn from the team could be utilized. This would entail that a true collaborative effort would take place within the classroom environments. Students in the class who had a greater understanding of the concepts would be used to help teach and instruct the other students in the class.

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

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This would improve not only the quality of instruction and the understanding of the instruction, but would also allow for the students in the class to become more motivated and engaged in the concepts because they were being taught by their peers who understood every aspect of the school environment and the students perceptions themselves. Images Images can be defined as what people using what they see to make mental images of situations within their minds then manipulating those images to create plans and explain situations that they might not understand (Thagard, 2012). An example of this can be when determining the best route to a nearby movie theatre; mental imagery can used to navigate the route and guess the outcome. As a professional example EdLine is frequently updating their website; when EdLine makes a change to their software and changes the layout of the site, teachers often get confused because of the imagery in remembering what the site looked like. In order to properly facilitate this images based mental representation using an instructional event, when EdLine makes a change, the instructional technology coach should create a screenshot PDF handout of the new locations of icons and buttons along with a how to walkthrough to navigate any changes made to the site. In order to improve the instruction of the signing process instruction, adopting Perkins (2009) fourth principle of Play out of town could be utilized. This would allow for the students to make their own connections to the website based off of prior knowledge and how things have directly changed based off of their own understanding. This would increase the students engagement and motivation to learn the concepts because it would establish a baseline within which they were familiar, and create an environment

Running head: Analysis & Reflection

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where they are learning the differences that they see based on what was there previously and how that directly impacts them. Personal Connections & Reflections Prior to this class, I had a general understanding and knowledge of the concepts of cognitive learning concepts and used them frequently while I was teaching. I have found it very interesting to conceptualize the various comparisons that we have been making between technology and the cognitive brain. This class has allowed me to delve further and gain a thorough understanding of the several pieces of mental representation and allowed me to give form to thoughts that I had previously because it helped to establish definitions for concepts that were familiar to me. Mental representations for me in the classroom allow for me to facilitate a better understanding of my students and help to deliver proper instruction based off of the different concepts that weve covered. For me personally, I find that logic and rules mental representations are what I grasp the concept of the easiest. For the future, my hope is to eventually become a Technology Integration Coach and helping teachers to facilitate using more technology in their classrooms. Using these mental representations will help in that capacity as I try to not only understand how the teachers understand the concepts, but also how better to reach them. On a personal level, Perkins truly understands how to keep student interest and how to create an environment where the ease of learning becomes second nature to the teacher. Baseball analogies really help to facilitate my own understanding of the concepts and allowed me to use principle #4 (Play out of Town) and have my own prior knowledge of not only baseball but education to familiarize myself with the principles.

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Each of the principles can be utilized in my everyday teaching practice and this unit has forced me to truly think about my message and how I deliver it. I do feel that I follow many of these concepts and perhaps it is because of the subject matter that I teach, but the principle example with the soccer coach was me and allowed for further reflection into my own teaching (and in this case coaching) environment. The one concept that really opened up to me was that of the hidden game and how the game is omnipresent in all interactions and social environments. It truly becomes a concept where if you dont look for it, you just might miss it. Going forward in my own teaching world, I will incorporate several of the principles that Perkins has discussed, I have experienced both sides of the equation and I do completely embrace the thoughts behind them. One of the environments that I am currently working on is a flipped classroom environment in the school. This concept uses many of David Perkins principles and I am excited to review my research and delivery methods to ensure that I adhere to even more of them.

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References Thagard, P., Zalta, E. N., (2012). Cognitive science. The Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved on May 25, 2013 from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2012/entries/cognitive-science/

CognitiveAtlas. (nd). Concept learning. Retrieved on May 25, 2013 from http://www.cognitiveatlas.org/concept/concept_learning

MontyPython. (nd). The logician. Retrieved on May 26, 2013 from http://www.montypython.net/scripts/logician.php

OxfordDictionaries. (n. d.). Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable. Retrieved on May 26, 2013 from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/is-a-tomato-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable

Perkins, D. N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.