Graphics: static or moving? Wait! This is not the post you’re looking for…

This post to serve as article review #5.

I’ve been on the hunt for a great article that might help me understand or support the idea that I have, as a visual learner, to include graphics in more or all of my modules to direct the student’s attention to the objectives.

I found an article that intrigued me because it discussed using animated gifs (over static images) to enhance comprehension. So I followed that rabbit trail and it led to another article, “The influence of visual cognitive style when learning from instructional animations and static pictures.”

What matters most?
Essentially I read through a lot of both of the articles ( Huifen, L., & Dwyer, and Tim N. Höffler, T., & Prechtl, H., & Nerdel, C.) only to understand that neither were really going to answer my question on directing a students attention in a metacognitive way as to how they need to work through the material.

I wanted to find THE article that supports my idea that every module has a flowchart or a Venn diagram, or a mind map or a fishbone diagram, something! I needed to connect the dots to a great visual that covered the scope of the objectives and the method in which a student might interact with the data in order to improve his or her success. Nope. That was better solved by Carol Ormand in her summary of  Dr. Lovett’s slides and podcast from a presentation to the 2008 Educase Learning Initiative conference. Enter ‘article’ number three: I’ll take it.

I’m looking for how to best improve student success while reducing cognitive load. It would be nice if I could also reduce confusion. Best of all would be to streamline the grading process even more so that the majority of my items are educative assessments.

I already strongly believe that students need to make things. In office meetings you can hear my voice–voiced or not–wondering what the deliverable will be.

This web page written by Carol Ormand that covers teaching metacognition. The website”The Role of Metacognition in Teaching Geoscience” is also worth viewing.

An idea Ormand shares, “expert learners can be made” truly resonates. She continues, “Although early attempts to teach students metacognitive skills were unsuccessful, more recent studies demonstrate that metacognition can be taught and learned.” I’ll paraphrase a coworker who ended a well-appreciated iTeach session with ‘students want to be awesome…’ I should really check exactly how he said that, but I believe in the concept that everyone wants to be awesome. We, as teachers and mentors, are incredibly well-placed and lucky to be able to participate in that process.

After reading her summary* it occurred to me that I could integrate metacognition into how I lay out portions of my online course. How would I go about doing that?

*”This webpage is a summary, written by Carol Ormand, of Marsha Lovett’s presentation at the 2008 Educause Learning Initiative conference. Dr. Lovett’s slides and a podcast of her presentation can be accessed via the conference website. (more info)”

  • I could have lecture wrappers in the form of SoundCloud files the student listen to prior to beginning their module reading. I would “give[s] students some tips on active listening.”

While the process suggested is for the face-to-face environment, it clearly translates to the online environment.

  • Tell the students they need to think about the key points of the module write up and the chapters they are to read as well as any pertinent website they are to view. Why are they asked to view that website?
  • Have them jot down a few notes–I could have a form right on the page… if they submit it 3-4 days before the module’s assignment due date to earn up to 3 additional points. You can’t do everything at the last minute. You may want to, but you can’t.
  • I would be foolish to only provide three most important ideas electronically immediately upon submission. It would provide “immediate feedback allows[ing] students to monitor their active listening strategies” but the students who did not participate would miss a key component.

Ormand quotes Lovette directly, “After three successive lecture wrappers (with successively less faculty support, from a mini-lecture on active listening to no advance warning), student responses increasingly matched the instructor’s: 45% the first time, 68% the second time, and 75% the third.”

I could also build in these wrappers for homework assignments. I really like the idea of “students answer a brief set of self-assessment questions focusing on skills they should be monitoring.”

  • Have them do a self-assessment of preparedness; I’d love to give every student 100% all of the time. Unfortunately they skip or miss important elements. I think I need to write my assignments in such a manner that a person could attain full points for doing what is required in essence if not en total.
  • Have them do a follow-up assessment; or have them submit the same materials for other students to review. This would blend the metacognition pieces summarized by Ormand with the opportunity of the cohort to boost each other’s knowledge. I also like the idea of immediate feedback that can occur.

Where’s my review of her page?
Briefly, the good elements are that her writing is short, she provides links to her source materials that are easy to use and those materials are also relatively easy to absorb. Furthermore, her page is part of a much broader series of materials that are also laid out well. Bad: I really wanted more from Marsha Lovett. Now, I’ll have to go and spend more time watching Lovett’s presentation. I’ll also need to view her slides, listen to her podcast… I’m a little jazzed at the idea. Next week, or next month.

Essentially, I’m fully in favor of this resource as it’s leading me to more materials that I can clearly see would help the online student (or any student) connect with what they are supposed to learn. Self-directed leaners or tinkerers might not need this, but tired mammas and papas do.

Author’s Note: “I already strongly believe that students need to make things. In office meetings you can hear my voice–voiced or not–wondering what the deliverable will be. ” That’s who I am. I don’t think this will change soon. I believe it is a key strength that I lend to a team. Owen, how did you finish up that session? I need a new job. I’d like to be a mentor. Or maybe I just need a new business card and a slightly revised approach to how I do about half of what I do.

Höffler, T., & Prechtl, H., & Nerdel, C. The influence of visual cognitive style when learning from instructional animations and static picturesLearning and Individual Differences 20 (2010) 479–483

Huifen, L., & Dwyer, F. M. (2010). The effect of static and animated visualization: a perspective of instructional effectiveness and efficiency. Educational Technology Research & Development58(2), 155-174. doi:10.1007/s11423-009-9133-x

Ormand, Carol “Teaching Metacognition” accessed 8/16