Monday, May 25, 2015

The Educational Technology Industrial Complex offers yet another reason to make students show their work

It helps sell technology!

Specifically, “screen casting technology.” As a recent article in Edweek notes, such technology can get “students to create a multilayered record of their thinking while attempting to solve math problems.” According to one paper presented a few weeks ago at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association

Such an approach could help teachers “go beyond determining whether students correctly solved the problem, to understand why students solved the problem the way they did.”
Here's the screencast example showcased by the article:

In an ongoing study in which “students generate screen casts of their problem solving processes” and “recorded themselves as they verbally explained their work,” one particularly remarkable result was recorded:
One student… incorrectly solved a word problem that required division. By reviewing the screencast of the student’s work in conjunction with her audio-recorded narration, the researchers were able to ascertain that the student had used a sound problem-solving strategy, but made an arithmetic error caused in part by her haste to finish quickly (and thus demonstrate that she was “good at math”).
The authors go on to highlight the crucial role played here by the screen casting technology:
Without the screencast… “it would have been difficult to pinpoint where exactly the mismatch took place, and it could have been incorrectly concluded that [the student] did not understand the problem from the start.”   
It really makes you wonder how people functioned back in the dark ages, when all you could do was talk to your students face to face and look directly at the sheets of paper they did their work on.

Of course, back in the really dark ages, when students weren’t required to do arithmetic in multiple steps and explain their answers verbally (which, incidentally, allowed them to do at least 10 times as many math problems per problem session as kids do today), there must have been no way to tell who didn’t understand the problems and who was simply prone to stupid mistakes.


Barry Garelick said...

Looking at the student's work, do you think she "understands" that adding 6 8 times is the same as 6 x 8? Or does she need more practice writing that out before she's allowed to use multiplication as an explanation?

Anonymous said...

Obviously she doesn't understand at all. There was no grouping into 10s!