Between Academic Research and Classroom Examples

sig27

SIG27 was a unique experience for me especially when I reflect it as a part of the process  in transforming a novice to an expert.  On top of all the introductory and core courses we had this Autumn semester, SIG27 also exposed me not only to the theories, researches and current trends in the field of learning sciences, but also to experience constructively in a very coherent way how a student and research-to-be should have, cognitively, emotionally, socially and perhaps spiritually too.

Measurement in SRL to me is a very challenging field of study. It raises many fundamental questions related to the reliability and validity of data and analysis in the science of learning. SRL via Jonna Malmberg’s lecture several weeks before SIG27, she highlighted many important topics during the lecture regarding the key points of measurements of SRL, among them:

  • Measurement of SRL should reflect a model of SRL
  • From the description of SRL it is obvious that many facets of SRL are not readily observable.
  • One challenge of studying SRL is to find ways to document its components.
  • How to study SRL as an aptitude and / or as an event, and
  • Objective vs subjective measures.

To be frank, SIG27 helped me to realise what I do not know far much greater than what I know.  To me, this is important because Susanne P. Lajoie suggested in her article, Transitions and Trajectories for Studies of Expertise (2003), “… to foster the development of expertise, two goals must be achieved. The first is to determine what experts know and the second is to determine how to help novices acquire similar competencies…”. SIG 27 exposed us to the most advance and up-to-date researches and it challenged me to predict and plan my pathway to become an expert myself.

I attended several topics randomly because most of the time during the first and the last day, I was taking charge of the registration desk and luggage. But I specifically planned to attend this parallel sessions and it was:

“Do prior beliefs and prior knowledge affect how we read? Reading texts on controversially discussed topics – an eye tracking study”  by Yasemin Türktorun, Gerald Weiher, Mark Ullrich, Katja Knuth-Herzig and Holger Horz.

The session was delivered by Yasemin Turktorun and accompanied by Gerald Weiher.  They are researchers from Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany.

The reason I chose this topic is due to my interest with the discussion on activating prior knowledge in metacognition. I believe that making connection between students’ prior knowledge and the new knowledge to be constructed is very critical for students to engage in learning more effectively.  I would love to see how measurement is done to identify the reading process involving schemas.  The researchers hypothesised that more time is needed to process schema inconsistent information, meaning that the more schema consistent as given text is the shorter the fixation durations should be when a person reads conflicting information. Moreover, they assumed a direct link from prior knowledge to prior beliefs. The relationship between knowledge and epistemological beliefs is also within my interest.

When I attended the session, like many other sessions I managed to, I understood the research questions and issues behind the problem statements. I would also say that I can understand the discussion at the end of the presentation regarding the findings and conclusions. However, SIG27 is mainly concentrates on the measurement, especially on the eye tracking, and therefore majority of the discussions concentrated on how the study was conducted. This is where I lost my connection with the presentation because I do not understand how the experiment was done.

I couldn’t get further information on the study since it was done in Germany and nothing much can be found from the researchers personal account on researchgate.net, neither their institutions’ site.

My major highlight from the session as a reflection to my study in LET is that studying the science of learning requires multidisciplinary skills to be developed in order to become an expert in the field. One of the most challenging part is on the measurement. Eye tracking is one of the most advance tools used to observe and measure.  In my home country, Malaysia, eye tracking had become an important focus for research in education. Since 2014, MOU was signed between Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia / The National University of Malaysia (UKM) and National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) for eye tracking studies.

DISTURBING QUESTIONS IN NOVICE’S MIND

During the presentations, I had many disturbing questions in my mind. I realised how difficult it is to measure what human feels, thinks and senses. The process is very complicated and it opens to many theories, welcoming the most advance technology. But the question is, how all these studies benefit classroom and improve learning at schools? For instance, Finland is known as a country where the educational system is researched based, I eagerly want to know how the advancement in the field of learning sciences influence what happened in Finnish schools? How the findings are brought into practise?

Professor Roger Azevedo presented so many crucial points in the keynote speech he delivered, demonstrating how advance research has been done in measurement and self regulated learning. There was even a hot debate on the fundamental aspect of metacognition, if it is real or not.

But why the education system in the United States of America is still in so many crisis? Is it because the schools are neglecting research, or the researches and researchers lost touch with the reality? Where is the missing link? Even though these questions do not have a direct link with the content of SIG27, but it is significant enough to influence the way I am thinking of my future research in LET.

I want to become an expert in the field of learning sciences. But my aim is not to become an academician. I want to remain as a school teacher, who is empowered with theories and methodologies in research, reflective enough to identify problems and have the ability to propose the workable solutions. This is the first step for me to demand more autonomy for teachers and reduce the interference of the highly centralised administration of education in my home country.

At this early stage of learning we couldnt contribute our mind to SIG27. We contributed our heart, so guests remember the data & the smile, and I am happy to send off the few last participants, safe and sound.

HASRIZAL
LET, Oulu

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