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The effects of videatives on teachers' conceptualizations of children's thinking

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The effects of videatives on teachers' conceptualizations of children's thinking
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Hall, Ellen Lynn
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xiv, 225 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Interactive videos ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Training of ( lcsh )
Cognition in children ( lcsh )
Student teachers ( lcsh )
Cognition in children ( fast )
Interactive videos ( fast )
Student teachers ( fast )
Teachers -- Training of ( fast )
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theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 221-225).
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School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Ellen Lynn Hall.

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ocm57508017
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Full Text
THE EFFECTS OF VIDEATIVES ON TEACHERS CONCEPTUALIZATIONS
OF CHILDRENS THINKING
by
Ellen Lynn Hall
B.S., University of Massachusetts, 1969
M.Ed., Smith College, 1972
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Ellen Lynn Hall
has been approved
by
William L. Goodwin
Laura D. Goodwin
Donna S. Wittmer
'h'leuteJi. 24, 2.004
Date
Jennifer Rudkin


Hall, Ellen Lynn (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Effects of Videatives on Teachers Conceptualizations of Childrens Thinking
Thesis directed by Professor William L, Goodwin
ABSTRACT
The purpose of the research study was to study the effectiveness of videatives as an
innovative way of educating teachers to better observe and interpret childrens
thinking. Specifically, I was interested in the use of videatives to enhance the
teachers ability to (a) recognize the strategies that young children exhibit and (b)
form hypotheses about the theories that young children may hold while engaged in
classroom learning.
The subjects were 36 graduate students enrolled in Boulder Journey Schools
Teacher Education Program for the academic year 2003-2004 and three teachers who
were considering entrance into the Teacher Education Program in the fall of 2004.
Subjects were divided into three groups using previous instructional experience as
the attribute independent variable and then randomly assigned to one of three
treatment groups. The subjects in the videatives treatment group and the traditional
treatment group viewed a series of four video vignettes that included video clips and
printed text. The treatments varied in the way that the printed text and video were
combined to present information about childrens thinking, specifically their goals,
strategies, and theories while engaged in meaningful activities. Subjects in the no
treatment control group did not view the video vignettes.
After the treatments were administered, subjects in all three groups took an
immediate post-test that asked them to view a short video and identify the strategies
and theories they observed. One week after the immediate post-test was
administered, a follow-up post-test was administered to subjects using a new video.
Following the post-test, subjects in the videatives and traditional treatment groups
responded to questions about the treatments. Subsequently, subjects in all three
groups were interviewed.
m


Subjects responses were scored based upon a comparison between their responses
and the responses developed by a team of experts on fluency, sophistication of
understanding, and creativity. Analyses of the data using repeated measures
ANOVAs showed no significant differences in the dependent variables due to
presentation of information or previous instructional experience. However, there was
a significant main effect for time, and there were significant interactions involving
time and treatment and time and experience, for several dependent variables.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.
Signed
William L. Goodwin


DEDICATION
To my children, Sheri, Adam, and Sam, and my grandchildren, Nate and Corey. The
splendor of seeing the world through their eyes is the inspiration for this work, and
for my life. And in loving memory of my father, Abraham Kleinman, who would
have swelled with pride for this chapter in my life.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Throughout the joys and hurdles of this process, I could always count on my
husband, Bruce, for his unconditional love, encouragement, and understanding and
for his belief in me.
I am particularly grateful to George Forman, who introduced me to his idea of the
videative, which is the cornerstone of this dissertation, for helping me to understand
its potential in the education of teachers and for his support in taking the idea to a
reality. This dissertation unfolded under the support and encouragement of my
doctoral committee, Bill Goodwin, Laura Goodwin, Donna Wittmer, and Jennifer
Rudkin and members of the UCD faculty, Joni Dunlap, Alan Davis, and Mark
Clarke. Collecting and analyzing data can be a daunting task, one that could not have
been accomplished without the help of Andrea Sisbarro, Elizabeth Pufall, and Jed
Forman. Thanks to the children, families, and faculty of Boulder Journey School
who made my research possible. And special thanks to my friends and extended
family, especially Sue Mackler, Deborah Dumont, Lori Geismar-Ryan, Angela
Ferrario, Susan Lyon, Rita Swedlow, Carlina Rinaldi, and Amelia Gambetti for their
encouragement, love, and joy.
The capstone of my acknowledgements belongs to my sister, Sandra Kleinman, for
her patient guidance and support and to my mother, Shirley Kleinman, whose
courage has been a North Star for me all of my life.


CONTENTS
Figures......................................................... xi
Tables.......................................................... xii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION...................................................... 1
Purpose of the Research......................................... 1
Background of the Research...................................... 6
Conceptual Framework............................................ 8
Constructivist Theories of Cognitive Development................ 9
Constructivist Theories of Teacher Education................... 13
Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education:
Connection between Constructivist Theories of Cognitive
Development and Reflective Practice through Documentation.. 14
Teachers Conceptualizations of Childrens Thinking............ 15
Instructional Design of Optimal Learning Environments for
Teacher Education.............................................. 16
Instructional Message Design for Teacher Education............. 18
Videatives..................................................... 19
Research Questions............................................. 20
Operational Definitions........................................ 21
Overview of Methodology........................................ 21
Structure of Dissertation...................................... 24
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................... 27
Introduction................................................... 27
Constructivism................................................. 31
History.................................................. 31
Constructivist Theories of Cognitive Development......... 32
Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development.......... 33
Information-Processing Theories of Cognitive
Development....................................... 35
Neo-Piagetian Theories of Cognitive Development.. 36
Contextual Theories of Cognitive Development.. 38
vii


Theory-Based Knowledge Theories of Cognitive
Development......................................... 39
Constructivist Theories of Teacher Education............... 40
Centrality of the Learner in Defining Meaning... 43
Importance of Situated Thinking and Authentic
Contexts............................................ 44
Negotiation and Interpretation Involving Multiple
Perspectives........................................ 44
Importance of Prior or Everyday Experiences..... 45
Technology Scaffolding.............................. 46
Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education:
Connection between Constructivist Theories of Cognitive
Development and Reflective Practice through Documentation..... 46
Childrens Thinking............................................... 49
Instructional Design of Optimal Learning Environments for
Teacher Education................................................. 52
Video Case Studies in Learning Environments................ 53
Multimedia Learning Environments........................... 54
Hypermedia Learning Environments........................... 56
Instructional Message Design for Teacher Education................ 57
Preattentive Perceptual Processing......................... 58
Attentive Perceptual Processing............................ 59
Interpretation............................................. 59
Symbol Systems and Cognition............................... 61
Videatives........................................................ 63
Introduction............................................... 63
Definition and Purpose..................................... 67
Development of the Videative Historical Perspectives. 68
Use of Videatives in Teacher Education..................... 71
Traditional Alternatives to Videatives..................... 72
Similar Projects........................................... 74
Chapter Summary................................................... 77
3. METHODOLOGY......................................................... 79
Introduction...................................................... 79
Pilot Studies..................................................... 82
Design............................................................ 84
Subjects and Sampling Procedures.................................. 86
viii


Presentation of Demographic Information....................... 87
Stratification and Random Assignment of Subjects.............. 89
Setting and Treatment Materials............................... 91
Independent Variable.......................................... 95
Instrumentation: Dependent Variables.......................... 97
Development of Rules for Scoring Post-Tests................... 99
Determination of Interrater Agreement and Content Validity. 103
Data Collection Procedures................................... 105
Data Analyses Procedures..................................... 110
Limitations.................................................. 112
Chapter Summary.............................................. 114
4. RESULTS....................................................... 115
Introduction................................................. 115
Presentation of Results of Repeated Measures ANO VAs......... 116
Summary of Post-test Reflection Questions and Interviews with
Subjects..................................................... 139
Chapter Summary.............................................. 153
5. DISCUSSION.................................................... 155
Introduction................................................. 155
Summary and Interpretation of Findings....................... 158
Limitations.................................................. 174
Measurement........................................... 174
Treatment and Post-Tests.............................. 176
Study................................................. 177
Contributions to Knowledge in the Field of Education......... 178
Recommendations for Redesign................................. 181
Questions for Further Research............................... 184
APPENDIX
A. PURPOSE, PROTOCOL, AND INTRODUCTION...................... 187
B. EXAMPLE OF THE RAISINS VIDEATIVE TEXT AND
IMAGES.................................................... 200
C. INFORMED CONSENT FORM.................................... 206
IX


D. SUBJECTS SCORES
207
E. TIME TAKEN BY SUBJECTS................... 219
BIBLIOGRAPHY...................................... 221
x


FIGURES
Figure
1.1 Conceptual framework..................................................... 9
2.1 Conceptual framework................................................... 29
4.1 Interaction between treatment and time for the dependent variable
creativity of strategies............................................... 137
4.2 Interaction between instructional experience and time for the dependent
variable creativity of strategies...................................... 138
5.1 Reconstructed conceptual framework..................................... 182
xi


TABLES
Table
3.1 Comfort with technology............................................... 88
3.2 Interrater agreement and reliability................................... 104
4.1 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable fluency of strategies on the immediate post-test
(IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)................................... 117
4.2 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable fluency of
strategies................................................................. 119
4.3 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable sophistication of understanding of strategies on the
immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)............... 120
4.4 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable sophistication of
understanding of strategies................................................ 121
4.5 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable creativity of strategies on the immediate post-test
(IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)....................................... 122
4.6 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable creativity of
strategies................................................................. 124
4.7 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable fluency of theories on the immediate post-test (IPT)
and follow-up post-test (FUPT)............................................. 125
4.8 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable fluency of
theories................................................................... 126
xii


4.9 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable sophistication of understanding of theories on the
immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)................ 127
4.10 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable sophistication
of understanding of theories............................................... 129
4.11 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for the
dependent variable creativity of theories on the immediate post-test
(IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)....................................... 130
4.12 Analysis of variance results for the dependent variable creativity of
theories................................................................... 131
5.1 Means and standard deviations by treatment and experience for time
taken on post-tests on the immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up post-
test (FUPT)............................................................. 171
5.2 Analysis of variance of time taken on post-tests.......................... 172
Dl. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
fluency of strategies on the immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up
post-test (FUPT)............................................................ 207
D2. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
sophistication of understanding of strategies on the immediate post-test
(IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)........................................ 209
D3. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
creativity of strategies on the immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up
post-test (FUPT)............................................................ 211
D4. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
fluency of theories on the immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up post-
test (FUPT).................................................................... 213
xiii


D5. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
sophistication of understanding of theories on the immediate post-test
(IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)................................ 215
D6. Subjects scores by experience and treatment for the dependent variable
creativity of theories on the immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up
post-test (FUPT)....................................................... 217
El. Time taken by subjects, by experience and treatment groups, on the
immediate post-test (IPT) and follow-up post-test (FUPT)............ 219
xiv


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Purpose of the Research
The purpose of my doctoral dissertation was to study an innovative way of
educating teachers to better observe and interpret childrens thinking. Children
construct and reconstruct their own theories as they build meaning about their
physical and social worlds. The role of the teacher in constructivist learning is to
understand the theories that children hold in order to support and extend their
learning. Currently, teachers spend little time reflecting on the thinking of the
children in their classrooms (Rinaldi, 2001a). I believe that this reflects a lack of
emphasis on this aspect of teaching in most teacher education programs.
Through my research, I was exploring ways to enhance the teachers ability
to (a) recognize the strategies that young children exhibit and (b) form hypotheses
about the theories that young children may hold while engaged in classroom
learning. The direction of my research was informed by the constructivist
foundations evident in the schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and
the seminal work of George Forman in the field of teacher education.
According to Forman, video can capture moments in the classroom when
children are engaged in rich learning experiences during which the childrens
1


process of thinking is observable. Printed text that accompanies the video can isolate
and elaborate on these moments. In such pairings of text and video, the text is a tool
for reflective analysis while the video grounds the analysis in a real context (G.
Forman, personal communication, March 16, 2003).
In traditional teacher education programs, video and text are combined in a
linear way. Teachers observe children engaged in thinking, presented as streaming
video, and read theory that is designed to explain aspects of the video either before
or after the video is viewed. The videative is a teaching tool that weds video and
printed text in an innovative way. Specifically, the printed text that precedes the
short video clips focuses the teachers attention on the details of the childrens
thinking portrayed in the video they are about to view. The significance of the
thinking that is illustrated in the video is discussed in the printed text that follows.
Forman, who coined the term, defines a videative as a map between
conceptualization and exemplification that is designed to facilitate the teachers
ability to relate what the teacher knows about childrens thinking to what is observed
by the teacher in the classroom (G. Forman, personal communication, March 16,
2003).
Forman (2002) stated the importance of teachers carefully observing and
documenting children engaged in meaningful activity, focusing on the childrens
2


goals, strategies, and the theories that the children hold about the physical and social
world. Observation and documentation encourage teachers to think about childrens
thinking, allowing a unity between theory and practice to unfold. Forman
emphasized that if teachers observe and document childrens strategies within the
context of a defined goal, they increase their ability to infer what theories the
children hold and can thereby engage in conversations designed to extend the
childrens nascent theories about how the world works. He proposed that when
teachers think about goals and strategies, they find new ways to help children reflect
on play and work.
Behind every goal and strategy is an assumption, a theory, or an expectation
that makes the strategy plausible. Forman posited that if teachers truly want to have
high-level conversations with children, they must know the childrens beliefs,
theories, fears, assumptions, and expectations so that they might enter the
conversation with paraphrase and counterpoint.
The concept of documentation, as characterized by Forman, includes
observation and interpretation of childrens thinking, and has strong roots in the
educational philosophy and pedagogy developed by educators in the schools for
young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Loris Malaguzzi, founder and director of the
schools in Reggio Emilia, spoke and wrote eloquently about teaching and learning in
3


a school based on relationships (Malaguzzi, 1993). Malaguzzi conveyed an image of
children as curious and eager, as well as able and competent to take an active role in
the construction of knowledge in relationships with other children and adults, as well
as with the environment in which they live (Malaguzzi, 1998).
Additionally, Malaguzzi ascribed the teachers role as a provocateur of
learning. Cognitive development depends upon pedagogical understanding and
facilitation of the childs learning process.
What children learn does not follow as an automatic result from what
is taught. Rather, it is in large part due to the childrens own doing as
a consequence of their activities and our resources so it is that in
many situations, especially when one sets up challenges, children
show us they know how to walk along the path to understanding.
Once children are helped to perceive themselves as authors or
inventors, once they are helped to discover the pleasure of inquiry,
their motivation and interest explode (Malaguzzi, 1998, p.67).
Malaguzzi likened the learning exchange between teachers and children to a
game of ping-pong, in which reciprocal exchanges occur among children and
between children and adults (Malaguzzi, 1998).
Carlina Rinaldi, Executive Consultant to Reggio Children, International
Center for the Defense and Promotion of the Rights and Potential of All Children,
captured the relationship of exchange between teachers and children in the
construction of knowledge, characterizing both children and teachers as researchers
4


engaged in a collaborative search for meaning about the world and about their
relationships within the world.
The search for the meaning of life and of the self in life is bom with
the child and is desired by the child ... that is why we talk about a
child who is competent and strong... Ours is a different way of
thinking and approaching the child, whom we view as an active
subject with us to explore, to try day-by-day to understand something,
to find a meaning, a piece of life. For us these meanings, these
explanatory theories, are extremely important and powerful in
revealing the ways in which children think, question, and interpret
reality and their own relationships with reality and with us (Rinaldi,
2001c, p. 79).
Rinaldi defined the school as a place of shared meaning-making, a place
where children and teachers can support one another in their research.
In this sense, among the first questions we should ask ourselves as
teachers and educators are these: How can we help children find the
meaning of what they do, what they encounter, what they experience?
And how can we do this for ourselves? These are questions of
meaning and the search for meaning (why? how? what?) (Rinaldi,
2001c, p.79).
Childrens learning unfolds through relationships between teachers and
children as researchers. The subtleties of childrens thinking as they engage in
research can be revealed through documentation. I believe that my research will
contribute to practical knowledge in the field of education because it investigates a
potentially effective approach to documentation and analysis designed to help
teachers evolve in their understanding of childrens thinking. With this enhanced
5


understanding, teachers can more effectively support and extend the childrens
search for meaning and construction of knowledge.
Background of the Research
Through partnerships with the University of Colorado at Denver and the
Colorado Department of Education, the Boulder Journey Schools Teacher
Education Program was created in the fall of 1999. This program affords students an
opportunity to earn a teaching license in early childhood education, and a masters
degree in educational psychology or early childhood education. Student interns
participate in a school experience through mentored classroom practice, university
courses, and seminars. The Teacher Education Program, inspired by the Reggio
Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education, seeks to design optimal learning
environments for teacher education that are based on constructivist learning theories.
The focus of my work during the past several years has been the Teacher
Education Program, defining the role of the teacher as researcher, and developing a
community of learners within a community of practice at Boulder Journey School.
The teacher as researcher assumes responsibility for conducting her own research
and facilitating the research of the children. To accomplish this goal, the teacher
must not only understand what the children are investigating and discovering (the
6


content of their learning), but also how the children are constructing knowledge (the
processes they employ as they think and learn). Teachers engaged in research around
childrens thinking must make predictions about the childrens own theories based
on observations of the childrens learning experiences and knowledge of cognitive
development, making relevant connections between learning theory and pedagogy.
While the importance of creating a unity between learning theory and
pedagogy is well established (Freire, 1993; Malaguzzi, 1998), generations of
teachers continue to undergo teacher education and professional development
programs that present theory and pedagogy as if they were unrelated rather than
synergistic (Rinaldi, 2001a). The problem that emerges becomes how to present
theoretical information to teachers that will have meaningful application to their
work.
My research focused on the use of the videative as an effective way to
present theoretical information to teachers using documentation that combines verbal
and visual languages through the use of video and printed text. Specifically, I was
interested in studying how best to focus teachers observations on the subtle details
of information contained in video clips and how printed text might best explain the
significance of the details contained within the video. I was seeking to understand
how printed text and video should be combined to encourage a more reflective and
7


analytic frame of mind that would enable teachers to make relevant connections
between theories of cognitive development and pedagogical practice.
Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework for my research study consisted of both
theoretical and practical components. The theoretical framework was based on
constructivist theories of cognitive development, focusing on classic and
contemporary perspectives on the childs construction of knowledge. The theoretical
framework also included constructivist theories of teacher education, with an
emphasis on the development of optimal learning environments and the design of
instructional messages. The practical framework was based on the Reggio Emilia
Approach to Early Childhood Education, emphasizing the relevance of
documentation as a process that supports the teachers ability to make connections
between constructivist theory and reflective practice in order to understand the form
and level of childrens thinking while engaged in meaningful activities.
The videative as documentation can be used as a tool for teacher education
through the presentation of video cases in combination with printed text within a
hypermedia learning environment. The videative is hypothesized to enhance the
teachers ability to perceive, interpret, and understand childrens thinking,
8


specifically the strategies that a child uses to reach an intended goal and the theories
that the child holds that dictate the chosen strategies.
Figure 1.1 Conceptual framework.
Constructivist
Theories of
Cognitive
Development
X
Reggio Emilia
Approach to
Early
Childhood
Education
Constructivist
Theories of
Teacher
Education
Connection
between
Constructivist
Theories of
Cognitive
Development
and Reflective
Practice through
Documentation
Instructional
Design of
Optimal
Learning
Environments
for Teacher
Education
Teachers
Conceptualizations
of
Childrens Thinking
Instructional
Message
Design for
Teacher
Education
Constructivist Theories of Cognitive Development
For teachers to interpret childrens thinking, they must have a foundation that
is grounded in theories of cognitive development. In my research, I have chosen to
focus on the constructivist theories that are most closely aligned with the Reggio
Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education with an image of children as
9


researchers. To that end, I began my research with an examination of the classic
work of Jean Piaget.
Piaget studied the nature of knowledge and the structures by which it is
acquired. Beginning with the newborn child, he observed and documented the
process by which knowledge comes to be represented in the mind and how it
changes as the child develops. Piagets theory of assimilation and accommodation
reflects the view that all cognitive growth depends on taking in information that is
different from what we already know and then interpreting, transforming,
reorganizing, and restructuring our knowledge to integrate both old and new
information (Mayer, 1992).
Research on cognitive development since Piaget has attempted to test,
clarify, and modify aspects of Piagets seminal theory, resulting in an array of
theories of cognitive development: Information Processing theories, Neo-Piagetian
theories, Contextual theories, and Theory-Based Knowledge theories (Flavell,
Miller, & Miller, 1993). Specific theories that I reviewed within each of these
categories had particular relevance to childrens thinking with respect to their goals,
strategies, and theories.
Within the category of Information Processing theories, I reviewed Sieglers
Information Processing Theory of Cognitive Evolution. According to Siegler, at any
10


point in time, children have a variety of ways of thinking about most topics. These
varied ways of thinking are strategies or procedures aimed at meeting particular
goals. The strategies compete with one another until the more advanced ways of
thinking gradually become more prevalent. In this model, children develop new
strategies through introduction, imitation, and discovery while ceasing to use old
strategies (Siegler, 1998).
Case (1996), a Neo-Piagetian theorist, described the child as a problem-
solver. Cognitive development, in his view, is a sequence of increasingly powerful
procedures for solving problems combined with an increasingly powerful set of
conceptual knowledge structures. Case posited that in an effort to reach their
problem solving goals, children construct new strategies or draw on appropriate
preexisting strategies.
Contextual theories emerge from constructivist thinking (Flavell, Miller, &
Miller, 1993) with strong roots in the classic work of Soviet researcher Lev
Vygotsky (1986). This theory focuses on the child-social context as a single,
irreducible unit of study and stresses the inextricable connection between the social
and cognitive realms in child development. In what is referred to metaphorically by
the contextualists as an apprenticeship, children interact with significant persons in
their social-cultural-historical environment, observe what these persons do, respond
11


to corrective feedback, listen to instructions and explanations, and learn to use these
persons tools and strategies to solve problems (Rogoff, 1990).
The fundamental assumption of the Theory-Based Knowledge theory
(Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993) is that developmental differences in thinking
primarily reflect differences in childrens informational or intuitive theories, which
are their coherent causal-explanatory frameworks about the world. Theory-Based
Knowledge theorists believe that a childs individual concepts are embedded in these
larger theories. A theory is defined as a set of beliefs about the entities in a domain
and about the relationships among these entities. Childrens theories undergo
continual testing and revision and thus theory change defines cognitive development
in this framework (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993).
In developing teachers conceptualizations about childrens thinking, the
above-summarized theories of cognitive development in children can provide the
foundation for an interpretation of childrens learning through work and play. When
documented, these learning experiences, as interpreted through a constructivist lens,
can be revisited as the teachers understanding grows and evolves.
12


Constructivist Theories of Teacher Education
Just as it is important for teachers to understand theories of cognitive
development in children, it is also important for those who teach teachers to
understand theories of adult learning in order to design effective teacher education
programs. To be consistent with my exploration of constructivist theories of child
development, I examined constructivist theories of teacher education with a focus on
learning environments that would most closely reflect the educational philosophy
surrounding the teacher as a learner that is an important aspect of the Reggio Emilia
Approach.
Winitzky and Kauchak (1997) documented how teachers construct
knowledge within a constructivist theoretical framework. Based on their findings,
they advocated defining and designing optimal learning environments for teacher
education that would effectively combine theoretical and practical knowledge.
Jonassen and Land (2000) wrote that optimal environments for constructivist
learning should be learner-centered. Consistently, Land and Hannafin (2000)
described a framework to implement such learner-centered environments. The values
inherent in this framework include: centrality of the learner in defining meaning;
importance of situated thinking and authentic contexts; negotiation and interpretation
of personal beliefs and multiple perspectives; importance of prior learner
13


experiences in meaning construction; and use of technology to scaffold higher
mental processes.
Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education:
Connection between Constructivist Theories of Cognitive
Development and Reflective Practice through Documentation
In Reggio Emilia, the confluences of constructivist learning theories (among
children and adults) that effectively combine theoretical and practical knowledge are
evident in the learning environments for teacher education. The work of the teachers,
supported by their colleagues, not only produces daily experiences and actions, but
can also become the object of critical appraisal and theory building through the
composition of documentation for study and dialogue around the learning of children
and adults in a school.
Rinaldi (2001c) wrote that in Reggio Emilia, an emphasis is placed on
documentation as an integral part of the procedures aimed at fostering learning.
According to Rinaldi, documentation can be defined as visible listening, the
composition of traces that not only testify to the childrens learning paths and
processes but also make them possible because they are visible. Rinaldi described
listening as a listening context where individuals feel legitimated to represent their
theories and offer their own interpretations of a particular question. Understanding
14


and awareness are generated through the sharing and dialogue inherent in
documentation. Thus, teachers who know how to observe, document, and interpret
the processes that children undergo as they construct knowledge will realize, in this
context, their greatest potential to learn how to teach.
The process of documentation that encourages visible listening and reflection
places an emphasis on the childs construction of knowledge and the role of the
teacher in supporting this knowledge construction. The role of the teacher unfolds as
a result of giving value to a strong image of the child as a competent thinker and
through the teachers conceptualization of the development of the childrens thinking
that is also documented for reflection.
Teachers Conceptualizations of Childrens Thinking
Bruner (1996), one of many scholars of child development who has written
and spoken about the image of the child as thinker, postulated that children are
capable of thinking about their own thinking and of amending their ideas through
reflection. According to Bruner, children test and refine their own theories through
dialogue and negotiation with other children and adults and learn how to construct
understanding about the world and relationships within the world through this
process.
15


With constructivist theories of learning as a foundation, in tandem with the
use of documentation to engender reflection about childrens learning experiences,
teachers can engage in research along with children. The research of children and
teachers, which is a search for meaning in the physical and relational world, evolves
as teachers and children test and refine theories through activity and dialogue. In
order to engage children in high-level discourse around their theories, teachers must
understand the thinking child, by observing and analyzing the childs goals during
meaningful activity and the strategies employed to attain those goals, and by
inferring the theories upon which the childs choices of strategies are based.
Instructional Design of Optimal Learning Environments for
Teacher Education
Reflecting upon and analyzing childrens thinking is essential for teachers in
the design of environments and provocations within these environments so as to
provide myriad opportunities for extending the childrens construction of knowledge
in depth and breadth. What, then, are the optimal learning environments for teacher
education that follow constructivist theories of learning for children and adults and,
in particular, the connections between theory and practice?
Ozkan (n.d.) described the use of cases in the constructivist education of
teachers as a form of learning in authentic contexts that enhance the connections
16


between theory and practice. He defined cases as descriptive research documents
that are based on real-life events. Perry and Talley (2001) extended Ozkans
definition of cases to video cases, stating that traditionally cases have been created in
print format, usually as narrative text, but as new technologies have developed, video
has emerged as a natural medium for enhancing the sense of context and realism in
case studies.
Mayer (2001) furthered the ideas presented by both Ozkan (n.d.) and Perry
and Talley (2001) by combining visual and verbal forms of representation of
material. Mayer defined multimedia learning and outlined principles for the design
and development of multimedia learning environments that could potentially foster
retention and transfer of learning.
Building upon the concept of multimedia learning environments as optimal
for teacher education, Liaw (2001) examined hypermedia and its relation to learning
theory. According to Liaw, hypermedia provides a learning environment where
information can be made available simultaneously in many modes (e.g., text, image,
sound, and animation). The construction of understanding can potentially be
enhanced because the teacher as learner can make choices about sequence, direction,
and methods of content delivery.
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Instructional Message Design for Teacher Education
Consideration of the design of optimal constructivist learning environments
for teacher education leads one to examine the characteristics of effective messages
within the specified medium. That is, how do the form and structure of the messages
and the symbol systems chosen convey the messages and influence understanding?
Winn (1993) hypothesized that the learner organizes and processes
information based upon several principles that refer to time, space, and flow of the
messages presented. Messages, according to Winn, must consider the preexisting
schema within the mind of the learner. Building upon this idea, Salomon (1994)
introduced symbol systems theory as a means for examining the relationships
between media and cognition. He characterized each medium as conveying its
messages through particular symbol systems. The spiraling interactions between the
symbol systems and their interpretation by the learner can enhance cognition and
further the construction of knowledge.
Based upon an examination of the research presented above and additional
research on teacher education and instructional message design including the
practical applications of various forms of media that could be developed in a
hypermedia format -1 chose to study the videative as an innovative strategy in the
18


education of teachers. My ultimate goal was to examine ways to enhance teachers
conceptualizations of childrens thinking.
Videatives
According to Forman (personal communication, March 16, 2003), the
objective of using videatives is to focus teachers on the subtle details of information
- rich video clips using text to focus the teachers attention on the details and explain
the significance of those details. The actual experience being conveyed by the
symbol system of the video is translated into the symbol system of printed text that
allows the message designer to define the subparts, their meanings, and their relation
to each other. Forman stated that it seems reasonable that printed text as a more
reflective symbol system should be the primary symbol system. Short video clips
hyper-linked to specific words or phrases could support the printed text and facilitate
the teachers ability to abstract understanding as they relate theory and practice.
The videative is a unique form of documentation for teacher education that
uses a hypermedia format composed of video and text to communicate specific
instructional messages. The videative is designed so that teachers can revisit and
reflect upon the documented learning experience of children, thus focusing their
attention on the subtle details of childrens thinking. The experimental study that I
19


conducted was designed to measure the effectiveness of the videative in a learning
environment for teacher education as defined by constructivist theories and as
emulated in the schools for young children in Reggio Emilia.
Research Questions
Based upon the stated purpose and proposed significance of my research and
with a foundation in the conceptual framework outlined above, I developed an
experimental research study that asked the following questions:
1. What is the relative effectiveness of different ways of presenting information
(videatives, traditional, no treatment control) to teacher education students on
the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
2. Are there differences among teachers with three levels of instructional
experience (low, moderate, high) on the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
3. Is there an interaction between the treatment variable and the instructional
experience variable in terms of the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
20


(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
In addition to these between-subjects questions, time is a within-subjects
factor in the design. Therefore, the analyses will all show whether there is a
significant main effect for time, and any interaction involving time.
4. After treatment, what are teachers perceptions of the usefulness of the
videative as a tool for teacher education?
Operational Definitions
For purposes of the study, the terms strategy and theory were operationally
defined as follows:
1. Strategy A cognitive or behavioral activity that is under the deliberate
control of the child and employed so as to enhance performance (Siegler,
1998).
2. Theory A coherent, causal-explanatory framework about the world that
includes a set of beliefs about the entities in a domain and about the
relationships among these entities. A theory is explanatory and thus can
answer why questions (Flavell, 1993).
Overview of Methodology
The study was a true experimental design with subjects first divided into
three groups (on the basis of previous instructional experience as an attribute
independent variable), and then randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups.
21


The treatments received by the subjects in treatment groups 1 and 2 varied in the
way that printed text and video were combined to present information about
childrens thinking, specifically childrens goals, strategies, and theories while
engaged in meaningful activities. Subjects in treatment group 3 acted as a no
treatment control group.
In treatment group 1 (videatives), the teacher read a paragraph that isolated
specific actions within the continuous flow of action in the video that she would
view. After viewing the video, the teacher returned to the text and read a paragraph
that described the significance of the actions she observed in the video in terms of
childrens thinking. This paragraph focused on the strategies that the children used to
attain specific goals and the theories that the children held that determined the
strategies they selected to attain these goals. The teacher could navigate backward
and forward through the video and text. Additionally, the teacher could control the
rate of presentation of the material.
In treatment group 2 (traditional), the teacher viewed a video with no prior
pointing or explanation. After viewing the video, the teacher read a paragraph that
explained the thinking of the children in terms of goals, strategies, and theories,
making connections to the actions she observed in the video.
22


In treatment group 3 (no treatment control), the teacher did not view the
series of videos and texts before she took the immediate and follow-up post-tests.
However, the teacher did read the purpose, protocol, and introduction (Appendix A)
that were presented to the teachers in treatment groups 1 and 2.
The sample population for this study consisted of 39 individuals: 36 graduate
students entering the Boulder Journey Schools Teacher Education Program in the
fall of 2003, and 3 teachers in the school who are considering entrance into the
Teacher Education Program in the fall of 2004. Teachers in treatment groups 1 and 2
viewed four video vignettes arranged in order of difficulty from least to most
difficult. Teachers in treatment group 3 did not view the series of video vignettes.
The matrix below illustrates the treatments, where T is the treatment and V is the
video vignette:
treatment 1 Tl-Vl T1-V2 T1-V3 T1-V4 Video for Video for
treatment 2 T2-V1 T2-V2 T2-V3 T2-V4 Immediate Follow-up
treatment 3 Post Test Post Test
After the treatment videos were administered, teachers in all three treatment
groups took an immediate post-test using the video from the last column (see matrix
above). Teachers in the sample were asked to identify and enter the following into
the computer as data:
1. The strategies the teachers observed the children using to attain specific
goals.
23


2. The theories the teachers thought the children held that determined the
strategies the children selected to attain specific goals.
One week after the immediate post-test was taken, a follow up post-test was
administered to teachers in all three treatment groups using a new video to analyze,
as outlined above. The immediate post-test was designed to assess the teachers
retention of information presented in the fourth vignette of the treatment. The
follow-up post-test was designed to assess the teachers transfer of learning to a new
situation.
Teachers scores were based on a comparison between their answers and the
answers developed by a team of experts. Teachers were scored on the following:
1. Fluency Number of responses.
2. Sophistication of understanding Responses that matched those of a team of
experts.
3. Creativity of responses Responses that differed from those of the experts
but were deemed valid by the expert team.
Analyses of the data were conducted using repeated measures analyses of
variance (ANOVAs). Additionally, teachers post-test reflections and responses to
interview questions were transcribed and summarized.
Structure of Dissertation
The dissertation is organized as follows:
24


In the current chapter, I outlined the purpose and significance of the study
and the conceptual framework that supported my research. I stated the research
questions and operationally defined key terms contained in the questions and
treatment designs. I concluded this chapter with a brief overview of the studys
methodology.
In Chapter 2,1 present a review of the literature including classic and
contemporary constructivist theories of cognitive development and teacher education
- and the relevance of documentation as developed in the schools for young children
in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in making connections between theories of cognitive
development and reflective practice. I include reviews of research that focused on
the design of instructional messages in constructivist learning environments and
conclude the chapter with a review of the literature concerning the videative and its
potential use in teacher education.
In Chapter 3,1 discuss the methodology of the study, including the design,
subjects and sampling procedures, and setting and materials. I describe the
independent and dependent variables, instrumentation, and procedures for data
collection and analyses. I conclude the chapter with an acknowledgement of the
studys limitations.
25


In Chapter 4,1 describe the administration of the research study and present
the results of the data analyses organized according to my research questions.
In Chapter 5,1 summarize and interpret the statistical results of my study. I
discuss implications of the research for educational practice and propose questions
for further research based on my findings.
26


CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Introduction
The research study embodied in this dissertation asked the following
questions:
1. What is the relative effectiveness of different ways of presenting information
(videatives, traditional, no treatment control) to teacher education students on
the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
2. Are there differences among teachers with three levels of instructional
experience (low, moderate, high) on the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
3. Is there an interaction between the treatment variable and the instructional
experience variable in terms of the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
27


In addition to these between-subjects questions, time is a within-subjects
factor in the design. Therefore, the analyses will all show whether there is a
significant main effect for time, and any interaction involving time.
4. After treatment, what are teachers perceptions of the usefulness of the
videative as a tool for teacher education?
Before these questions could be adequately addressed, an extensive review of
the literature was conducted. Preliminary sources for this review lay within the body
of research and theory that ascribes to the psychological and philosophical
perspective called constructivism, which asserts that individuals construct meaning
and understanding through reciprocal interactions with their physical and social
environment (Schunk, 2000).
28


Figure 2.1 Conceptual framework.
Following the conceptual framework laid out in Figure 2.1, this chapter
begins with a review of the literature about constructivist theories of cognitive
development, wherein cognition is defined as knowledge, and cognitive development
is the construction of knowledge over time. The literature on constructivist theories
of teacher education was reviewed emphasizing the teachers development of
understanding about childrens cognitive development. This led to an examination of
the literature on the connection between theories of cognitive development and
reflective practice through a lens that focused on the Reggio Emilia Approach to
29


Early Childhood Education, specifically the use of documentation as a fundamental
value inherent in the schools for young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Additionally, the research about understanding childrens thinking where
thinking involves the higher mental process of creating theories about the physical
and social world was reviewed and is reported in this chapter. A review of theories
surrounding the instructional design of optimal learning environments for teacher
education included an examination of video case studies, multimedia, and
hypermedia. Finally, the literature review encompassed the concept of instructional
message design including perceptual processing, interpretation, and symbol systems.
In the second part of this chapter, the conceptualization of the videative as a
resource for teacher education was based upon a review of the literature that focused
on the definition and purpose of the videative: to support teachers in (a) becoming
better observers of children, (b) thinking about childrens thinking, (c) having better
conversations with children, and (d) helping children enhance their own
metacognition. The literature review on videative development from a historical
perspective made connections to the thinking about teachers observations and
interpretations that led to its conceptualization. Finally, the literature on the potential
use of videatives for teacher education was reviewed and compared to more
traditional alternatives to videatives.
30


Constructivism
History
Most philosophical discussions of constructivism, or the theory of knowledge
construction, begin with twentieth century philosopher and educator John Dewey
(1859-1952). However, some would hold that its roots may be traced back to the
German philosopher Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804), or even further to the writings of
French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes (1596-1650) and the
teachings of Plato (4277-347? B. C.).
Plato espoused that people acquire ideas through reasoning or thinking about
what they know. Plato assumed that true knowledge is innate and is brought into
awareness through reflection. He believed that the mind is structured to reason and
to provide meaning to incoming sensory information. Two hundred years later,
Descartes used doubt as a method of inquiry and theorized that because he was
capable of doubting as a means to arrive at conclusions that were absolute truths, his
mind (thought) existed. This belief was reflected in his famous dictum, I think,
therefore I am (Schunk, 2000).
Kant employed the metaphors of the mind as architect, and knowledge as
architectonic to explain the way in which we construct knowledge. Kant postulated
that by employing our understanding of physical concepts, including space and time,
31


we build knowledge in a way that makes sense to us, according to a design plan of
our own (D. Hawkins, personal communication, November 25, 1999).
Dewey (1991) wrote that all knowledge seeks to grasp the meaning of objects
and events. This process always consists of taking the objects and events out of their
apparent isolation and finding them to be parts of some larger whole suggested by
them and that, in turn, accounts for, explains, and interprets them and thus renders
them significant. Dewey held that knowledge is not absolute, immutable, and eternal,
but it is relative to the developmental interaction of man with his world as problems
arise that require solution.
Contributions of the classical scholars, though separated by time, are visible
in contemporary constructivist theories. Aspects of these theories focus on how
individuals acquire and reflect on ideas, methods of inquiry, the design of knowledge
construction within the mind, and the idea of the learner as problem solver seeking to
understand the meaning of the world.
Constructivist Theories of Cognitive Development
In modem times, the term constructivism was coined, and the relevance of
the concept to child development was highlighted (Schunk, 2000).
32


Faced with a barrage of sensory information and the challenges presented by
life, children try to make sense of the world and adapt to it by actively constructing
theories about the world. In this context, the world includes physical objects, events,
the self, and others. The cognitive construction of the world by children is both
facilitated and constrained by their biological endowment, their current cognitive
competencies, their capacity and knowledge, and the opportunities provided by their
environment.
The theories that follow present five main constructivist views on the nature
and development of cognition. The theories are complementary, focusing on
different aspects of cognitive development, and, as a group, portray the richness and
complexity of childrens minds and how they gradually become like those of an
adult (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993).
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
Genetic epistemologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) promoted the theory that
knowledge is invented and reinvented (i.e., constructed and reconstructed) by the
learner. Among his many contributions, Piaget identified three key processes
involved in the growth of a childs intellect: assimilation, accommodation, and
equilibration. Assimilation is the association of new events with background
33


knowledge and prior conceptions, while accommodation involves the changing of
existing structures to adapt to new information (Akyalcin, 1997). Equilibration is a
process engaged in by children to integrate their many particular pieces of
knowledge of the world into a unified whole. Thus, it requires a balancing of
assimilation and accommodation.
Piaget viewed cognitive development as the formation of ever-more stable
equilibria between the childs cognitive system and the external world. He suggested
that equilibration includes three phases. First, children, satisfied with their mode of
thought, are in a state of equilibrium. When they become cognizant of shortcomings
in their existing thinking, they become dissatisfied and enter a state of disequilibria
or cognitive conflict. Finally, they adopt a more sophisticated mode of thought that
eliminates the shortcomings of their initial thinking and, as such, reach a more stable
equilibrium (Siegler, 1998).
Building upon Piagets constructivist theory of cognitive development,
additional views of the nature and development of cognition have been proposed.
For purposes of this dissertation, four of these approaches to understanding cognitive
development have been reviewed as follows:
1. Information-Processing.
2. Neo-Piagetian.
34


3. Contextual.
4. Theory-Based Knowledge.
These approaches are described in greater detail in the following sections.
Information-Processing Theories of Cognitive Development
According to Flavell, Miller, and Miller (1993), the information-processing
approach is a key strategy for studying cognitive development. This approach
conceives of the human mind as a complex, cognitive system analogous to a
computer as it processes incoming information from the environment or information
already stored in the system. The information processed through encoding,
recoding, decoding, comparing, or combining it with other information is stored in
memory and retrieved from memory. The processed information that is brought into
or out of focal attention or conscious awareness is of different types, and organized
into units of various sizes and levels of complexity or abstraction.
While several information-processing theories seek to explain childrens
cognitive development including those of Sternberg, Klahr, and Miller Robert
Sieglers theory of cognitive evolution (Siegler, 1998) represents a good example of
the way in which Piagetian cognitive growth can be studied from an information-
processing perspective. Sieglers theory stems from Darwins theory of evolution
35


that explains how species originate and change through the processes of variation
and selection. Siegler postulates that as in the biological context, competition seems
to be a basic feature of cognition. The competition to which Siegler refers is
competition among ideas. The basic assumptions of this approach are that, at any
given time, children have a variety of ways of thinking about most subjects. These
various ways of thinking compete with one another, with more advanced ways of
thinking gradually becoming more prevalent. According to Sieglers theory, strategy
discovery through which children invent a strategy for themselves, is one source of
such variation. The choice of strategy represents the childs means of selection.
Neo-Piagetian Theories of Cognitive Development
Neo-Piagetian theorists refers to group of researchers who generally endorse
Piagets view of cognitive development. However, in order to address some of the
criticisms of Piagets theory, they adopted aspects of other approaches, particularly
the information-processing approach (Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993). Case (Case &
Okamoto, 1996) postulated what is probably considered the most influential neo-
Piagetian theory. Case wrote about the organization of childrens thinking into
central conceptual structures defined as networks of semantic nodes and relations
that have an extremely broad domain of application and that are central to childrens
36


functioning in that domain. Case focused his research on the central conceptual
structures underlying childrens quantitative, social, and spatial thought, and
examined the parallels of these structures across domains and the process of
structural change.
If Cases theory of cognitive development had a metaphor, it would be child-
as-problem-solver. Case viewed cognitive development as a sequence of
increasingly powerful procedures for solving problems, evolving along with an
increasingly powerful set of conceptual knowledge structures. In an attempt to reach
their goals, children construct new strategies or draw on appropriate preexisting
strategies. The accumulation of strategies for problem solving becomes more and
more substantial as children grow older. Children experiment during attempts to
solve problems, drawing on internal and external resources.
Thus, the context of childrens cognitive activities is critical. If children have
the necessary processing capacity, they can use their experiences to construct more
advanced cognitive structures for problem solving. Case emphasized that children
are able to handle more information when solving problems because of an increase
in the efficiency of working memory that is the result of both practice and biological
maturation. The increase in capacity in working memory, along with experiences,
results in a change in conceptual knowledge structures that affect the interpretation
37


of problems and the strategies selected to solve them (Flavell, Miller, & Miller,
1993).
Contextual Theories of Cognitive Development
Drawing on the work of Piaget, the contextual approach to cognitive
development can be traced back in time to the work of classic scholar Lev Vygotsky
(1896-1934). While Piaget stressed the child as a learner who seeks to communicate
his understanding of the world through relationships with others, Vygotsky stressed
the childs learning as a result of the relationships formed and maintained within his
environment. The contextualists view the child in social context as a single,
irreducible unit of study. Although many versions of contextualism exist as found
in the contemporary work of Bronfenbrenner, Bruner, Rogoff, and Wertsch they
hold in common the belief that the social and cognitive realms are inextricably
connected, with thought, in a sense, being always social (Flavell, Miller, & Miller,
1993).
If the contextual theory of cognitive development had a metaphor, it would
be child-as-apprentice by learning from others how to carry out activities, a child
learns how to think (Rogoff, 1990). The contextual theorists believe that cognitive
growth involves moving through the zone of proximal development, the area lying
38


between where the child is cognitively and where the child could be with assistance.
According to the contextual theorists, the social environment provides the necessary
support system or scaffold to allow the child to move forward and construct new
knowledge. The concept of scaffolding connotes a warm, pleasant collaboration
between a teacher and a learner who are engaged in a joint problem-solving activity.
During the collaboration, the adult supports the childs autonomy, providing
sensitive and contingent assistance, which facilitates the childs thinking and
prompts the child to assume increasing responsibility for the activity as the childs
understanding increases (Berk & Winsler, 1995). Vygotsky used the term zo-ped to
connote the place where the childs empirically rich (but disorganized) spontaneous
concepts meet the logic of adult reasoning. The final product of this adult-child
meeting is a solution, which, being internalized, becomes an integral part of the
childs own reasoning (Vygotsky, 1986).
Theory-Based Knowledge Theories of Cognitive Development
While the previously cited constructivist theories focus on the childrens
construction of knowledge from various perspectives, the theory-based knowledge
theory adds a dimension that concerns structure and organization. The theory-based
knowledge theory is found in the work of Carey (1985), who posited that infants and
39


children rapidly acquire several framework theories in core domains, foundational
understandings of the world that in turn frame further conceptual acquisitions
embedded within more specific knowledge domains. According to Carey, a theory is
characterized by the phenomena in its domain; its laws and other mechanisms of
explanation; and the concepts that articulate the law and the representations of the
phenomena. Carey stressed that explanation is at the core of theories.
Wellman and Gelman (1992) established that well before the beginning of
formal schooling, children distinguish the physical world (naive physics), the
animate world (naive biology) and the mental world (naive psychology) and begin to
reason appropriately about these three quite different realms of explanation.
According to theory-based knowledge theorists, although childrens naive theories
are not as precise and consistent as scientific theories, one of the ways in which they
are similar is that both undergo continual testing and revision. Thus, cognitive
development can be defined as theory change.
Constructivist Theories of Teacher Education
In keeping with the conceptual framework in Figure 2.1, we turn our
attention to the essential role of teacher education as viewed from a constructivist
theoretical perspective. Just as the teacher must understand constructivist theory in
40


the cognitive development of children, so too must the teacher of teachers
understand constructivist theory as it applies to adult learning.
Richardson (1997) wrote that teacher educators advocate for two essentially
different forms of constructivist teacher education. The first form attempts to teach
teachers how to teach in a specific constructivist manner. The second form focuses
on the teachers understandings of their own understandings about childrens
cognitive development, how these develop, and the effects of these understandings
on their actions, and it introduces new conceptions and premises as potential
alternatives to those held by the teachers. This model of teacher education attempts
to model a manner of involving teachers in investigations of premises and
perspectives that it is thought may be used by the teachers when they begin to teach.
The second form of constructivist teacher education was the focus of my research
study.
Winitzky and Kauchak (1997) conducted research designed to document how
teachers construct knowledge, to understand this knowledge growth within a
constructivist theoretical perspective, and to apply their findings in refining and
redesigning teacher education programs. As a result of their review of the research
on knowledge construction, they concluded that abstract knowledge derived from
systematic research on teaching plays an important role in helping teacher candidates
41


make sense of, and effectively teach within, complex learning environments. Thus,
they argued that knowledge of general principles of cognitive development deserves
a central place in teacher education programs.
In their research of constructivism in teacher education, Winitzky and
Kauchak (1997) contended that there is an essential gap between the abstract
knowledge that teacher candidates are taught and the aspects of knowledge that
students attend to and use in tandem with prior knowledge to construct meaning.
They endorsed the development of constructivist learning theories of teacher
education that would describe optimal learning environments. These learning
environments would offer ways to combine theoretical and practical knowledge in
effective ways and would thus minimize the problems of misconstruction.
Liaw (2001) identified six characteristics of constructivist learning
environments that could be used in teacher education. These environments, as
described by Liaw, provide multiple representations of reality, emphasize knowledge
construction, endorse authentic tasks in a meaningful context, encourage thoughtful
reflection on experience, enable context-dependent and content-dependent
knowledge construction, and support collaborative construction of knowledge
through social negotiation.
42


In addition, Jonassen and Land (2000) posited that the constructivist
environments optimal for learning should be learner-centered, focusing on the
affordances they provide learners for making meaning. Land and Hannafin (2000)
identified key values that can be used as a framework for analyzing, designing, and
implementing learner-centered environments that align foundations, assumptions,
and practices grounded in a constructivist epistemology. These values include the
following:
1. Centrality of the learner in defining meaning.
2. Importance of situated thinking and authentic contexts.
3. Negotiation and interpretation involving multiple perspectives.
4. Importance of prior or everyday experiences.
5. Technology scaffolding.
These values are described in greater detail in the following sections.
Centrality of the Learner in Defining Meaning
According to Land and Hannafin (2000), in learner-centered environments,
learners actively construct meaning. Although external-learning goals may be
established, the learners determine how to proceed based on individual needs and
questions that arise while generating and testing beliefs. Successful learners also
43


develop a variety of cognitive strategies and self-regulation procedures to plan and
pursue goals, integrate new knowledge with existing knowledge, formulate questions
and inferences, and continually review and reorganize their thinking. The mediating
role of the individual in both uniquely defining and monitoring understanding is
essential to promoting an autonomy and ownership of the learning process.
Importance of Situated Thinking and Authentic Contexts
Wilson and Myers (2000) described situated cognition (SitCog) as a research
approach grounded in the premise that knowing, learning, and cognition are social
constructions, expressed in the actions of people interacting within communities.
Through these actions, cognition is constructed; without the action, there is no
knowing, no cognition. Land and Hannafin (2000) wrote that in situated contexts
learning occurs naturally as a consequence of the learner recognizing knowledges
practical utility as well as the need to use it in an attempt to interpret, analyze, and
solve real-world problems.
Negotiation and Interpretation Involving Multiple Perspectives
Land and Hannafin (2000) noted that in many constructivist learning
environments, the socially mediated aspects of learning are emphasized, based on the
44


assumption that through exploration, interpretation, and negotiation, understanding is
deepened as multiple perspectives are considered. As such, varied perspectives from
teachers or experts can be coordinated to form a knowledge base from which
students evaluate and negotiate sources of meaning. These varied methods and
perspectives are viewed as critical in the development of deeper, divergent, and more
flexible thinking processes.
Importance of Prior or Everyday Experiences
With a foundation in the Piagetian theory that background knowledge and
experience form the conceptual referent from which new knowledge is organized
and assimilated, constructivist learning environments assume that individual beliefs
and experiences provide the uniquely personal framework for new understanding.
Students hold powerful beliefs that are deeply rooted in their experiences. These
beliefs, which provide the basis through which they interpret and explain events,
tend to persist in the face of contradictory evidence. In constructivist learning
environments, beliefs are often externalized and formalized so they can be tested.
Personal theories based upon prior knowledge and experiences are considered
theories-in-action that can be accessed, elaborated, and revised through interaction
with the environment (Land & Hannafin, 2000).
45


Technology Scaffolding
According to Land and Hannafin (2000), the use of technology in
constructivist learning environments enables students to represent their thinking in
concrete ways and to visualize and test the consequences of their reasoning. Land
and Hannafin found that technological tools and resources could be used to extend
and augment thinking capabilities, rather than supplant integral cognitive processes
and operations.
Reggio Emilia Approach to Early Childhood Education:
Connection between Constructivist Theories of Cognitive
Development and Reflective Practice through Documentation
In describing optimal learning environments for teacher education that are
based on constructivist learning theories and that effectively combine theoretical and
practical knowledge, we can focus our attention on the world-renowned schools for
young children in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In Reggio Emilia, theory and practice are
bound together by the binding power of the ongoing research that characterizes the
role of the teacher and permeates the teachers daily routines. Teachers engage in
action research as they observe and interact with children, exchange understandings
with parents, and join colleagues in their ongoing inquiry into children abilities and
potentials (New, 1998). The work of the teachers, supported by their colleagues, not
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only produces daily experience and action, but can also become the object of critical
appraisal and theory building. Practice, then, is not only a field of action necessary
for the success of the theory, but is an active part of the theory itself, containing it,
generating it, and being generated by it (Rinaldi, 2001b).
In other words, while the educators in Reggio Emilia affirm the inseparability
of theory and practice, they propose a dynamic theory that is nourished through
practice and made visible for examination, interpretation, and discussion through the
production of documentation. Documentation is not seen as a final report but rather
as a process of reciprocal learning that makes it possible for teachers to sustain
childrens learning while also learning to teach from the childrens learning.
(Rinaldi, 1998).
Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (1999) stated that the process of documentation
through the use of many types of media must become an integral part of the
everyday work and not something lying outside. It is a process that requires an
alternation between different foci: ones own experiences, a theoretical
understanding of what is occurring, and the philosophical and socio-political values
that determine the directions and visions for the pedagogical work. According to
Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (1999), in order for the process of documentation to
evolve, there is a need for both closeness and distance, for continuously working the
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tensions between theory and practice, and for a form of spiraling that allows for
taking multiple perspectives. The evolution of the process of documentation must
also involve a looping between self-reflection and dialogue, passing between the
language of ones professional community and ones personal passions, emotions,
intuitions, and experiences.
Gandini and Goldhaber (2001) conceptualized the process of documentation
as a cycle of inquiry that repeats itself in an upward spiral, allowing all of the
participants involved to build an understanding of childrens learning that grows
more meaningful and deeper over time. The cycle of inquiry, as outlined by
Goldhaber, included: (a) framing questions; (b) observing, recording, and collecting
artifacts; (c) organizing observations and artifacts; (d) analyzing observations and
artifacts, building theories; (e) reframing questions; and (f) planning, projecting, and
responding. Goldhaber noted that the analysis and interpretation of recorded and
organized observations, in order to build theories and hypothesis about the meaning
of the childrens behavior, represented the most challenging and intellectually
engaging aspect of the process.
Thus, it becomes evident that the process of documentation developed and
evolving in the schools in Reggio Emilia embodies the key values identified by Land
and Hannafin (2000) as critical for the construction of optimal learning environments
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for teacher education and professional development grounded in constructivist
epistemology. To repeat, these values include centrality of the learner in defining
meaning, importance of situated thinking and authentic contexts, negotiation and
interpretation of personal beliefs and multiple perspectives, importance of prior
learner experiences in meaning construction, and use of technology to scaffold
higher mental processes.
Childrens Thinking
Seidel (2001) referred to documentation inspired by Reggio as full of the
stuff of understanding: the ideas; theories; hypotheses; feelings; experiments;
deductions; notions of cause and effect; imagination; intuitions; performances; and
the relationship of experience, skill, knowledge, and insight that are the cognitive
processes involved in coming to know something. In order to analyze and interpret
the stuff of understanding, or the cognitive processes in coming to know something
as described by Seidel, we must define our image of the child as thinker, learner, and
constructor of knowledge.
Dahlberg, Moss, and Pence (1999) stated that in Reggio Emilia the educators
always say that they have taken as a starting point for their pedagogical practice, the
idea of the rich child and that all children are intelligent. Rather than an empty
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vessel awaiting enrichment, from the beginning of life the young child is engaging
actively with the world the child is bom with the potential to learn and does not ask
or need adult permission to start learning. As such, the young child who is active and
competent should be taken seriously. The child-as-thinker has ideas and theories that
are not only worth listening to, but also merit scrutiny and, where appropriate,
questioning and challenging.
Rinaldi (2001c) wrote that the search for the meaning of life and of the self in
life is bom with the child-as-thinker and desired by the child-as-leamer and
constructor of knowledge. For the educators in Reggio Emilia, the meanings created
by children, along with adults, are explanatory theories that are extremely important
and powerful in revealing the ways in which children think, question, and interpret
reality and their own relationships with reality. For both adults and children,
understanding means being able to develop an interpretive theory, a narration that
gives meaning to events and objects of the world. But in order to truly exist, theories
- from the simplest to the most complex must be expressed, communicated,
listened to, and understood by others.
Bruner (1996) discussed an image of children as thinkers. In this view,
children are capable of thinking about their own thinking and of amending their
ideas through reflection. Childrens theories about the world and about the mind and
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how it works are brought into congruence with those of their parents and teachers
through discourse, collaboration, and negotiation. Children learn that truths are the
product of evidence, argument, and construction rather than of authority. Bruner
identified four categories that are the focus of contemporary research around this
view of children as thinkers:
1. Intersubjectivity How children develop their ability to read the minds of
others; the ability to know what others are thinking or feeling.
2. Theories of mind Childrens understanding oi another persons beliefs,
promises, intentions, and desires; sorting of beliefs and opinions into those
that are true or right versus those that are false and wrong.
3. Metacognition What children think about learning, remembering, and
thinking with an emphasis on how these cognitive operations affect their own
mental procedures.
4. Collaborative learning and problem solving Explication and revision of
beliefs through discourse.
Based on their research, Flavell, Miller, and Miller (1993) asserted that
young people show a great deal of curiosity and contemplation about thinking. They
are turning their thoughts toward their own thinking, even as that process is
developing in them. Expanding on this idea, Astington (1993) wrote that
communicative competence is connected to childrens discoveries of mind. Children
need to think and talk about their thinking, learning, and knowledge. Although these
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concepts are not directly observable they can be made into objects of reflection
through language.
Instructional Design of Optimal Learning Environments for
Teacher Education
The literature review surrounding constructivist theories of teacher education,
viewed through both theoretical and practical lenses, led to a consideration of the
literature focusing on the construction of optimal learning environments for the
education of teachers as proposed by Winitzky and Kauchak (1997). In the
construction of these environments, we want to design instruction that supports
teachers abilities to make relevant connections between theory and practice through
the process of documentation that also includes observation and interpretation.
Essentially, we want to support teachers abilities to observe and interpret childrens
thinking in order to support childrens understanding and communication of their
own thinking, thereby enhancing the deconstruction and reconstruction of their
theories as an important aspect of the process of cognitive development. Several
possible instructional designs for teacher education are described in the following
sections.
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Video Case Studies in Learning Environments
Ozkan (n.d.) described the use of cases in the constructivist education of
teachers as one way of learning in context in order to make connections between
theory and practice. He defined cases as descriptive research documents that are
based on real-life events. Perry and Talley (2001) extended Ozkans definition of
cases, stating that traditionally cases have been created in print format, usually as
narrative text. As new technologies have developed, video has emerged as a natural
medium for enhancing the sense of context and realism in case studies. Perry and
Talleys (2001) survey of 38 experts, nationally recognized as knowledgeable about
using case studies in teacher education as well as video and web technology, resulted
in several recommendations about the components that should be included in online
video case studies. These recommendations included the following:
1. Use video case studies as examples of best practices.
2. Ground video case studies in theory and research.
3. Situate video case studies in real-world classroom experiences and events.
4. Include background information such as context factors, what led up to an
event, and what followed the event.
5. Show practices that can be replicated, revisited, and adapted to other
situations.
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6. Include examples of active learning, hands-on activities, and student-based
and project-based learning.
7. Include situations that are open-ended and unsolved.
Experts agreed that case methodology requires a learning environment that is
conducive to interacting, discussing, reflecting, meaning-making, and revisiting
cases from multiple perspectives. The idea of using combinations of media to extend
and enhance the scope of case study information presented to teachers, in order to
encourage reflection and dialogue that includes multiple perspectives, emerges as a
concept for consideration.
Multimedia Learning Environments
Mayer (2001) defined multimedia as the use of technology for presenting
material in both verbal and visual forms, and multimedia learning as a sense-making
activity in which the learner seeks to build a coherent mental representation from the
presented material applicable to new situations. Mayer stated that the goal of
multimedia instructional messages or presentations should be to both present
information and to provide guidance for how to process the presented information.
Guidance, as defined by Mayer, included determining what to pay attention to, how
to mentally organize it, and how to relate it to prior knowledge.
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Based on an information processing theory of cognitive development that
assumes that the human mind is a dual-channel, limited-capacity, active processing
system and supported by empirical research that measured both retention and
transfer of learning of presented material, Mayer developed seven principles for the
design of multimedia learning environments:
1. Multimedia Principle Students learn better from words and pictures than
from words alone.
2. Spatial Contiguity Principle Students learn better when corresponding
words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the
page or screen.
3. Temporal Contiguity Principle Students learn better when corresponding
words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.
4. Coherence Principle Students learn better when extraneous words, pictures,
and sounds are excluded rather than included.
5. Modality Principle Students learn better from animation and narration than
from animation and on-screen text.
6. Redundancy Principle Students learn better from animation and narration
than from animation, narration, and on-screen text.
7. Individual Differences Principle Design effects are stronger for low-
knowledge learners than for high-knowledge learners and for high-spatial
learners rather than for low-spatial learners.
In order to address aspects of Mayers principles, it seemed prudent to examine
innovative technologies that allow for non-linear navigation of information presented
in multimedia learning environments.
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Hypermedia Learning Environments
Liaw (2001) described hypermedia as one of the most recent tools for
education, a powerful medium that can reshape the format of traditional instruction,
which is often both linear and controlled both in space and time. According to Liaw,
hypermedia has the following characteristics:
1. It offers a multimedia information environment in which information can be
simultaneously represented in any combination of media format, including
text, image, graphic, sound, and animation.
2. It supports non-linear access to information that allows for multiple-
dimensional navigation through a body of data.
3. It supports interactive communication that gives users dynamic control of
information.
4. It integrates the information format.
Liaw examined the concept of hypermedia-based learning environments from
the perspectives of four learning theories, which include dual coding theory, the
theory of multiple representations, cognitive flexibility theory, and Bruners three-
form theory. Dual coding theory emphasizes the power of using words and images
together, the theory of multiple representations indicates the importance of
presenting different conceptual views, and cognitive flexibility theory stresses
making information accessible in a maimer that imitates the non-linear nature of
many knowledge domains. Bruners three-form theory indicates that individuals
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represent the real world through actions that include enactment and demonstration,
icons that include images and pictures, and symbols that include words and numbers.
Thus all three forms of instruction should be integrated when creating a hypermedia
learning environment. Based on his review of these four theories, Liaw concluded
that the advantages of hypermedia instruction include multiple perspectives,
collaborative learning, learner-orientation or learner control, and interdisciplinary
learning.
Instructional Message Design for Teacher Education
Beyond a review of the literature on various methods of instructional design
appropriate for optimal constructivist learning environments for teachers, it was
important to examine the characteristics of effective messages, and how the form and
structure of the messages and the symbol systems chosen to convey the messages
influence understanding.
Winn (1993) postulated that that the manner in which perceived information
is transformed as it passes through various stages of perceptual processing is of
primary importance in the design of messages for instruction. He stressed that while
existing knowledge and attentive processing are important for recognition,
identification, etc., a great deal of organizing happens preattentively. Thus,
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conscious attentional processes are given data to work with that already contain an
organization that can predispose the perceiver toward specific interpretations. Winn
enumerated several principles of preattentive and attentive perceptual processing and
interpretation for consideration. These principles are described in the paragraphs that
follow.
Preattentive Perceptual Processing
Configuration of parts into potentially meaningful units is an important
feature of preattentive perceptual organization. It occurs whenever the parts are not
attended to selectively. The configuration of parts into perceptual units takes place
when such a configuration permits an emergent property that unifies the parts to
become evident, influenced by the physical proximity of the parts to each other, in
time as well as in space. Early processing organizes the perceptual units into groups,
and groups into other groups in a hierarchical manner. Therefore, the way the
elements of a message are clustered by the designer may have an important influence
on perceptual organization.
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Attentive Perceptual Processing
The way in which cognitive processes operate on perceptual data is in large
measure directed by the organization that has been imposed preattentively. Attentive
processing draws directly on cognitive resources and is therefore constrained in its
ability to handle information, and as a result, must be highly selective.
The sequential flow of attention to the parts of a message is determined by
the sequence in which the information is presented. Of equal importance is the rate at
which sequential information is presented. It should be slow enough to allow
accurate perception, attentive scrutiny, elaboration, and comprehension, but at the
same time rapid enough to prevent attention from wandering. Under some
circumstances, the learner can determine the rate or presentation.
Interpretation
Winn (1993) postulated that the recognition and understanding of what is
perceived are affected primarily by the relationships between messages and peoples
internal representations of what they entail, and not by the way the messages relate
to their referents. Building on this idea, Salomon (1994) argued that what a message
means to a person is determined by how that persons internal representation of the
messages content matches the relevant knowledge that the person already possesses.
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The assimilation of perceived information to existing schemata, and the
accommodation of those schemata to new information, require effort. Sometimes
interacting with messages presented in ways that require a modest degree of mental
effort will allow people to develop a greater ability in the mental skills necessary for
decoding the message. Also, the way the message is presented can model these skills
for the perceiver. Expectations concerning the degree to which different media and
messages require different amounts of effort in order to be understood are as
important to learning as the perception of the message itself.
The context in which a message should be interpreted may be activated by
means of an advance organizer (Ausubel, 1963). Ausubel postulated that learning
would be more meaningful if information were presented to the student using an
advance organizer that would create cognitive scaffolding on which to build the
understanding of new information. The purpose of the advance organizer is to help
students anticipate the structure as well as the content of the message. Advance
organizers may direct the learners attention to important concepts in materials,
highlight interrelationships among ideas presented, or link new material to what
learners already know (Schunk, 2000).
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Symbol Systems and Cognition
Instructional message design also takes into consideration the symbols that
are utilized to represent messages and their potential effects on cognition. Goodman
(1976) wrote the following:
Symbolization is to be judged fundamentally by how well it serves the
cognitive purpose: by the delicacy of its discriminations and the
aptness of its allusions; by the way it works in grasping, exploring,
and informing the world; by how it analyzes, sorts, orders, and
organizes; by how it participates in the making, manipulation,
retention and transformation of knowledge. Considerations of
simplicity and subtlety, power and precision, scope and selectivity,
familiarity and freshness are all relevant and often contend with one
another; their writing is relative to our interests, our information and
our inquiry (p. 258).
Salomon (1994) introduced symbol systems theory as one way to explore and
investigate how specific media interacts with or impacts cognition and learning.
According to Salomon, each medium is capable of conveying a message via certain
inherent symbol systems. Additionally, cognition and learning are based on internal
symbolic representations. Salomon postulated that a person may acquire information
about a subject he is familiar with equally well from different media, but the ability
to gain or comprehend novel information may be significantly influenced by the
symbol systems used in different media. Salomon asserted that a spiral as the image
of choice represents the relationship between the nature of the coded message, ones
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differential utilization and cultivation of skills, and the resultant acquisition of
knowledge.
Building on Solomons work, Olson (1994) postulated that all thought
consists of the formation, updating, and revision of beliefs. We see and think about
the world in terms of our beliefs, and thus our beliefs make us conscious of the
world. Literacy, as a medium composed of one or more symbol systems that
communicate a message, contributes to our thoughts by turning the thoughts
themselves into objects worthy of contemplation. Through literacy, ideas can
become hypotheses, inferences, and assumptions that can then become knowledge
through the accumulation of evidence.
In the design of optimal learning environments for teacher education that are
based on constructivist learning theories for both children and adults, we are seeking
effective ways to present theoretical and practical information about childrens
thinking using documentation that includes case studies of children engaged in play.
The symbol systems utilized in the documentation that convey instructional
messages about childrens theories of the physical and social world explicated
through visual images can become a forum that inspires contemplation and dialogue
among teachers about the processes of constructivist teaching and learning.
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Videatives
Introduction
Stepping back from the details of symbols systems theory within hypermedia
learning environments, it becomes evident that reflection on an important goal in the
education of teachers, the teachers conceptualization of childrens thinking as a
protagonist in childrens learning, is worthy of revisiting as part of the literature
review. The second part of this chapter focuses on the videative as a tool for
answering the questions posed by Rinaldi and referenced in the first chapter of this
dissertation:
In this sense, among the first questions we should ask ourselves as
teachers and educators are these: How can we help children find the
meaning of what they do, what they encounter, what they experience?
And how can we do this for ourselves? These are questions of
meaning and the search for meaning (why? how? what?) (Rinaldi,
2001c, p.79).
Malaguzzi (1995) pointed to the methods of observation as well as
interpretation as inextricably linked to the strategies and aims of an educational
project. Educational theories must be clearly defined and shared, particularly in
terms of the roles of children, adults, and contexts in the processes of learning and
development. Further, there must be strong interaction and a critical coexistence of
theory, practice, and the educational project itself.
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Defining the role of the teacher in the learning and development processes,
Malaguzzi described the teachers task as follows:
1. Being convinced that ways of knowing and learning can be identified, and
that what is interesting is the discovery and understanding of the interactive
processes through which children construct their knowledge and abilities, and
how these processes can be enhanced or modified.
2. Respecting childrens times of thought and action, as well as those of pause
and indecision.
3. Helping children reflect on the possible differences of their opinions from
those of others, and on their complete freedom, if they so choose, to oppose
other opinions.
4. Helping children present their ideas clearly, without overriding those of their
peers, helping them not to be afraid of making mistakes and assuring them
that their ideas are legitimate.
5. Being a mediator, offering carefully measured and pertinent loans of
knowledge and skills, periodically producing summaries of the childrens
convergent and divergent elements and the points of arrival of their work,
highlighting the emerging meanings, and soliciting the participation of each
and every child through increasingly cooperative and productive interaction.
6. Ensuring that children express the best of their resources and the maximum
ability to internalize and reorganize the meanings that emerge from their
experiences, so that the realization of the educational project maintains its
promises and its objectives for personal development.
Malaguzzi (1998) wrote, Stand aside for awhile and leave room for learning,
observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps
teaching will be different from before (p.82).
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Hawkins (2000) provided a more pragmatic example that furthers the
definition of the role of the teacher as described by Malaguzzi. In the chapter titled,
What it means to teach, Hawkins referred to a film from Cornell University, in
which a series of kindergartners come spontaneously to a table to play with an equal-
arm balance and a large number of washers and other weights. He noted that in
watching the film, one begins to recognize in oneself assuming that one is
personally familiar with the large variety of balance situations that are possible and
with some of the underlying ideas surrounding the study of balance the ability to
read the levels and specialized interests represented by the kindergarten children,
recognizing that no two children are alike. What one finds oneself doing is beginning
to build what Hawkins called a map of each childs mind and of the trajectory of
each childs life. This map of the mind is fragmentary, fallible, and subject always to
correction. As the teacher-observer, one begins thinking about what could be done to
steady, extend, and deepen the engagement that the child has begun.
Similarly, in a keynote address presented in Seoul, Korea, titled, Wondering
with Children, Forman (2002) stressed that it is important for teachers to know
children deeply, in order to extend the childrens nascent theories about how the
world works. According to Forman, the process of knowing children must begin
with observation, but questions about what teachers see when they observe and how
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teachers use their observations to be more effective as teachers remain to be
answered. Forman listed five attributes of children that can be gleaned through
observation:
1. Their interests and preferences.
2. Their level of cognitive development.
3. Their strategies for creating a desired effect.
4. Their skills and accomplishments.
5. Their personalities and temperaments.
While each of the above objectives for observation has the potential to
improve the quality of teaching young children, one of them is best suited for having
high-level conversations with children. Forman posited that by observing childrens
strategies within the context of a defined goal, teachers are able to infer what
theories the children might hold. Revisiting experiences with children using these
inferred theories as entry points into the dialogue allows teachers and students to go
beyond discussions of behavior to reflections on the actual assumptions, beliefs, and
theories that give meaning to the behavior as this meaning has been constructed by
the children. When children engage in conversations with teachers that encourage
them to revisit their experiences and reflect on their thinking, they become
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increasingly adept at building and repairing their understandings of how the physical
and social world works.
Definition and Purpose
The videative, as defined by Forman (personal communication, October 5,
2001), is a description and commentary of a child or children engaged in play. Each
time the printed text mentions something that the child or children have done that the
author believes is worthy of note, the reader is invited to click on a blue word or
phrase that opens a video clip that has been hyper-linked to the phrase or word. The
video plays, allowing the reader to observe aspects of the play that have been noted
and discussed in the text. According to Forman, the reader sees so much more in the
clip because of the text and understands the text so much better because of the clip.
Thus, the purpose of the videative in the design and communication of instructional
messages using a hypermedia format is to enhance the teachers ability to recognize,
interpret, and understand childrens thinking that has been observed and
documented.
Forman (personal communication, October 5, 2001) stressed that what the
videative provides is the reverse of adding narrative to a linear video. In the
traditional format, the linear video was the primary symbol system and the text was
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the narrative that told the reader why she was watching the linear video. In the
videative, the text is the primary symbol system with video added for
exemplification. The video becomes the narrative that is embedded within the linear
text. Forman stated,
If your primary symbol system is print, the mind already has taken a
more reflective and abstract stance toward the subject matter. But if
the main load of information is carried by the video, then the mind
falls into a come what may attitude and just lets the video unfold the
story.
Print as a symbol system more actively engages the mind to predict, infer, and make
speculations about the childs thinking.
Development of the Videative Historical Perspectives
The development of the videative has at its core a belief in the importance of
close and careful observations and analyses of children engaged in thinking and
learning activities by teachers in order to enhance and extend their construction of
knowledge. Forman (2000) pointed to the video camera as a tool of the mind that
allows children to download the details of their actions to the videotape. Because it
affords a more reflective attitude toward an experience, video causes educators to
pay attention to those moments in the classroom where children are being purposive.
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In reviewing videotapes, Forman (2001) emphasized the relevance of the following
behaviors:
1. Looking for the strategies that children use to solve problems.
2. Thinking about what the child did not do, as well as what the child did.
3. Identifying the theories that give plausibility to the childrens strategies.
4. Looking for variations in actions that put the general theories into relief.
5. Speculating about a theory that the child might hold.
6. Making connections to theories of child development with a focus on
milestones and misconceptions within knowledge domains.
7. Creating lists of inferred theories that have been identified.
8. Looking for the emergence of subtle details by reviewing tapes several times.
9. Looking for laughter that often means a theory has been violated.
10. Looking for the aborted or abbreviated action that means that the child has
changed his mind.
11. Looking for the co-construction of knowledge, where children are adding to
each others words or work.
12. Looking for examples of representation, where children are inventing new
ways to capture or express meaning.
13. Looking for examples of meta-cognition, where children are thinking about
thinking.
14. Looking for examples of meta-symbolization, where children are thinking
about how a symbol works or if a symbol has been understood.
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Forman, Hall, and Berglund (2001) stressed the importance of observing
children during the ordinary moments of activity that fill most of their days.
According to Forman, the ordinary moment is a microcosm of the childs way of
thinking, thus a deep analysis of a single episode brings with it the possibility of
more broadly understanding the child in many episodes.
Continuing Forman, Hall, and Berglunds interest in ordinary moments of
learning, Viadero (2002) described a relatively new school of thought called
microdevelopment, ascribed to by researchers who want to study how learning
occurs in real time, rather than relying on snapshots of what children learn at specific
points in time. Viadero wrote that microdevelopmental scientists are interested in
videotaping children as they deal with specific tasks and tracking their comments,
gestures, and answers as they work. Researchers record hundreds of hours of
videotape, code the responses or words and gestures of the learner they are studying,
and systematically analyze all of the information they have recorded.
The development of the videative, as previously defined, was the result of
Formans (personal communication, March 16,2003) interest in effectively
conveying microanalyses of moments of childrens thinking during play, combining
print as a medium for reflective analysis and video as a medium to establish context
and continuity.
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Use of Videatives in Teacher Education
Forman stated (personal communication, March 16, 2003) that the objective
of the use of videatives in the education of teachers is to enhance the teachers ability
to reflect upon and analyze video and textual documentation in order to
conceptualize childrens thinking. To accomplish this, the printed text that provides
the primary symbol system of the videative seeks to focus the teachers attention on
specific details of experiences illustrated through video clips. These details are coded
into units that frame the experience and provide an interpretation that enriches the
videos meaning and gives it depth.
If the teacher begins the study of the experience with the printed text,
supported by short video clips targeted to exemplify specific printed phrases, the
teacher would work with a more reflective and analytic frame of mind, rather than
the more holistic and casual mind one uses while watching linear video. Forman
continued that if teacher educators want teachers to generalize their theoretical
knowledge to new situations, and if they want teachers to be able to identify the form
and level of a childs thinking while engaged in meaningful activity, teacher
educators must help teachers abstract theories from spontaneous play and work. The
videative that includes both printed text and hyper-linked video clips could facilitate
the teachers ability to relate theory and practice.
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Schick (personal communication, May 2, 2002) extended Formans thinking,
characterizing the videative as a resource that provides a common reference point for
socio-constructivist learning. Schick proposed that the videative becomes iconic in
a way, and teachers therefore remember the commentary because they remember
the icon. The theory is crystallized into an event structure, and as such, becomes a
powerful learning tool that builds on the learning of children. Schick suggested that
the videative levels the playing field by allowing the students who do not
understand the message on the first reading/viewing to navigate back and forth
within the hypermedia learning environment.
Traditional Alternatives to Videatives
According to Forman (personal communication, March 16, 2003), while
much is said about the value of unique and spontaneous episodes of play, in most
videos designed for early childhood educators, the video images do not in any
specific way exemplify the avowed value. Although the video may show children at
play, the accompanying narration does not explicitly isolate the acts within the play
that substantiate specific theories about children and play.
Essentially, the mapping between the theory and the behavior that
exemplifies the theory is rather loose. This looseness may actually be the result of
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the constraints imposed by linear video. The linear video plays in real time and the
narration has to keep up, identifying actions in a general way because the video does
not give the narration much time to give more details or to point to specific acts.
According to Forman, The viewer has to mentally isolate the relevant acts on the
fly (personal communication, March 16,2003). Forman proposed that freezing a
video frame, while the narration explains the significance of the action about to be
observed, could potentially solve the problem. Using this format for educational
videos would allow the teacher more time to reflect on theory before seeing a
confirming action.
However, Forman emphasized that in this situation the video medium is still
the anchor medium, or primary symbol system, and the narration is the supporting
medium, or secondary symbol system. The teacher is watching a video that is
enhanced by the narration. The relation between video and narration could establish
a mindset that is counter to the search for meaning of a more scholarly or theoretical
level. When the linear video is the anchor medium, the teacher might view the video
without a useful focus, or with an orientation to the emotional tone of the children or
to some personal story line that may not relate to the forthcoming explanatory
narration. Thus, when the narration appears, the teacher is less able to map
backwards to make connections between actions and explanations. The student,
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familiar with broadcast television, does not usually encode streaming video into acts
that exemplify theories. The teacher simply observes the total flow of the story.
Thus, it seems reasonable to design an instructional message system that does not
begin with video as the primary symbol system.
Similar Projects
While the videative as an innovative strategy for teacher education has not
been formally studied, a review of the research and reports on learning environments
that held some similarity to the videative resulted in several examples from Wood
(2002), Evans (1996), and McManus (2000).
Wood (2002) described a teacher education program that offers interactive
and web-based videos of teachers in real-life classrooms for analysis. Teachers can
navigate videos of actual classroom encounters, take notes, and post comments or
questions to a chat room shared by other online teachers. The program described by
Wood involves video case studies presented in a multimedia learning environment.
Distinguishing this program from the videative, the program does not facilitate the
connection between theory and practice by combining text with video to support
teachers in their thinking about childrens thinking. In the program described by
Wood, teachers can potentially observe the flow of the story without considering the
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meaning underlying the actions observed. Additionally, there is no evidence of any
formal assessment of the effectiveness of this program.
In an on-line paper, Evans (1996) described the background and rationale for
the development of an interactive multimedia case study of a primary school to be
used by students in a teacher education program at Deakin University. In the design
of the Hathaway on CD project, the goal was to develop a hypermedia environment
that would provide students with information about teaching and curriculum issues,
the Hathaway community, and the effects of polices and practices related to the
School of Education at Deakin University.
In the area of teaching and curriculum, the CD-ROM contains examples of
lesson plans, handout material for lessons, childrens class work, and video footage
of learning activities, in addition to video clips of interviews with teachers, classes in
action, and children talking about themselves and the school. The videotapes are
linked to transcripts of the interviews. The Hathaway on CD project provides
information in multiple formats that can be accessed through a variety of paths
designed and navigated by the student. However, the videos do not include
supporting text that point to relevant actions and examine their significance, as
provided by the videative. Rather, information is merely reported and not explained.
Evans outlined next steps in the Hathaway project that would include educational
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outcomes testing in which students would work through sample tasks. Here again,
the research on the Hathway on CD lacks formal assessment.
In a formal study of a web-based hypermedia learning environment
(McManus, 2000), researchers attempted to determine what combinations of
nonlinearity and advance organizers worked best for learners with different levels of
self-regulation. While the results of the study showed no significant main effects or
interactions, McManus recommended that future studies examine the effects of the
variables (self-regulated learning, nonlinearity, and advance organizers) on
knowledge retention or transfer. Additionally, McManus suggested that researchers
explore ways of assessing the actual use of self-regulated learning strategies within a
learning environment through analyses of their navigational patterns. The research
study that informs this dissertation addressed the issues of knowledge retention and
transfer utilizing the videative to create a learning environment that included learner
control of pace and pathways, and text that utilized advance organizers preceding
video clips. Additionally, it compared the navigational patterns of the learners with
the learners assessment of the learning experience using written reflections and
post-study interviews for data collection.
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Chapter Summary
The videative as a hypermedia-based learning environment, combining video
and printed text that can be navigationally controlled by the learner, utilizes video
case studies that are carefully parsed and embedded in text. Recognizing the
importance of message design in preattentive and attentive perceptual processing and
interpretation of the message, the printed text as a symbol system that supports
reflective practice, focuses attention on, and explains, the actions exemplified by the
video results in documentation that makes relevant connections between
constructivist theory and practice. Returning to the definition of constructivism that
asserts that individuals construct meaning and understanding through reciprocal
interactions with their physical and social environment (Schunk, 2000), the videative
becomes a constructivist lens designed to offer the teacher a view of children in their
context, both physical and social, and the time and opportunity to construct a deeper
understanding of the childs thinking, learning, and construction of knowledge.
The literature review contained in this chapter, though not exhaustive,
affirmed the uniqueness of the videative as a resource for teacher education, a
resource that merited investigation to determine its effectiveness in enhancing the
teachers ability to understand childrens thinking. In the chapter that follows, I
describe the methodology that I designed for my research study. In subsequent
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chapters, I report and interpret the data that emanated from my research, and discuss
limitations of the study as well as implications for further study around the concept
of the videative.
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CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Introduction
In the first chapter of this dissertation, I described the purpose of my
research: to formally study the effects of the use of videatives in teacher education. I
asserted my belief that this study will contribute to practical knowledge in the field
of education because it examines the videative as an innovative learning strategy
designed to help teachers evolve in their conceptualization of childrens thinking
about the physical and social world. I discussed the conceptual framework that
emphasized constructivist theories of cognitive development and teacher education
and the philosophical foundations of the Reggio Emilia Approach to Early
Childhood Education that makes connections between theory and practice through
documentation.
In the second chapter, I presented a review of classic and contemporary
literature surrounding constructivism and childrens thinking. I examined and
reported the results of current research with an emphasis on the instructional design
of learning environments that included video case studies, multimedia and
hypermedia learning, and the composition and communication of instructional
messages. The chapter concluded with a review of the literature on the history,
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definition, and purpose of the videative, and the potential use of the videative as an
alternative to strategies employed in more traditional teacher education programs.
In the first two chapters, I developed a rationale for my research on the use of
videatives in the education of teachers based on the conceptual framework and
review of the literature. I was interested in studying how best to focus teachers on
the subtle details of information contained in video clips and how the printed text
could best explain the significance of the details exemplified by the video. I wanted
to understand how printed text and video should be combined to encourage a
reflective and analytic frame of mind. Essentially, I sought to explore ways to
enhance the teachers ability to recognize theoretical concepts in the spontaneous
play and work of young children.
My research questions as stated in the previous chapters were as follows:
1. What is the relative effectiveness of different ways of presenting information
(videatives, traditional, no treatment control) to teacher education students on
the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
2. Are there differences among teachers with three levels of instructional
experience (low, moderate, high) on the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
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(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
3. Is there an interaction between the treatment variable and the instructional
experience variable in terms of the teachers ability to identify:
(a) The strategies that children use to attain specific goals?
(b) The theories that children hold that determine the strategies they select to
attain specific goals?
In addition to these between-subjects questions, time is a within-subjects
factor in the design. Therefore, the analyses will all show whether there is a
significant main effect for time, and any interaction involving time.
4. After treatment, what are teachers perceptions of the usefulness of the
videative as a tool for teacher education?
This chapter, which describes the methodology for my research study,
includes, in addition to the introduction, sections on the following:
1. Pilot Studies.
2. Design.
3. Subjects and Sampling Procedures.
4. Presentation of Demographic Information.
5. Stratification and Random Assignment of Subjects.
6. Setting and Treatment Materials.
7. Independent Variable.
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8. Instrumentation: Dependent Variables.
9. Development of Rules for Scoring Post-Tests.
10. Determination of Interrater Agreement and Content Validity.
11. Data Collection Procedures.
12. Data Analyses Procedures.
13. Limitations.
14. Chapter Summary.
Pilot Studies
In order to assess methodological procedures and treatment content, I
conducted a sequence of small pilot studies in the spring and summer 2003. The first
of these involved eight mentor teachers in the Teacher Education Program at
Boulder Journey School. I learned a great deal from the mentor teachers responses
on the post-tests and from their reflections during a focus group meeting that was
conducted several weeks after the study. While the treatments seemed to be clearly
written and comprehensible, there was a great deal of confusion about the protocol
for the tests, specifically surrounding what was required in terms of responses. The
teachers stated that they would have appreciated a reiteration of the instructions after
the last treatment in the series and before the immediate post-test. Additionally, they
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did not understand that they were being asked to identify each relevant action by the
child as a strategy motivated by an underlying theory that also necessitated
identification. The teachers did not realize that they were being assessed on fluency,
sophistication of understanding, and creativity and therefore did not list all of the
strategies and theories they observed.
Based on this initial pilot study, I clarified the protocol, which was then
presented in hard copy to teachers for reference during administration of the
treatments and tests. I also added tutorials for navigating the videative and taking the
two post-tests, reminded teachers to take notes and speculate about the strategies and
theories of the children, and created templates for the lists of strategies and theories.
I gave the children in the video clips pseudonyms and added introductions and
conclusions to the video vignettes.
The second pilot study was administered to one of the teachers in the first
pilot study group who verified that all of the concerns stated by the teachers had
been addressed. Based upon this pilot study, I added time for reading text to the
treatment for treatment group 2.
The final pilot study was conducted with two teachers from New Zealand
who were participating in a teacher exchange program with Boulder Journey School.
Unlike the teachers who participated in the first two pilot studies, these teachers had
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not been previously introduced to videatives. I interviewed the teachers as they
viewed the treatments and took the immediate post-test and, based on these
interviews, further refined the study protocol and expanded the introduction to
childrens thinking, clarifying the definitions of strategies and theories and adding
examples of these concepts.
Design
My research was a true experimental design. I studied the relative
effectiveness of three different ways of presenting information to teacher education
students on the teachers understanding of childrens thinking. Teachers were
randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups after being stratified on the
attribute independent variable, which was years of experience with young children in
educational settings. The sample was split into three groups on the attribute
independent variable before they were randomly assigned. Two of the treatment
groups viewed a series of four videos with text using different combinations of the
text and video. The third treatment group served as the control group and received no
treatment. Following the treatment, each teacher was assessed based on analyses of
two videos, one viewed right after the treatment program and one viewed one week
later.
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The following design of the study is graphically depicted. In the graph, R
indicates random assignment; Tl, T2, and T3 the treatment groups; Oi the
immediate post-test; and O2 the follow up post-test.
In this study, the independent variable was the particular program presented
to each teacher. The independent variable was composed of three levels, identified as
follows:
1. Tl Videatives.
2. T2 Traditional.
3. T3 No treatment control.
The dependent variables were fluency, sophistication of understanding, and
creativity as measured by teachers abilities in the immediate post-test and follow-up
post-test videos to identify the following:
1. Strategies that the children used to attain specific goals.
2. Theories that the children held that determined the strategies they selected to
attain these goals.
In addition to these dependent variables, the post-study interviews used to
answer the fourth research question yielded information about teachers perceptions
R
IJ Ul U2
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of utility, possible changes in treatments, time dimensions of the experience, and
comfort with technology.
Subjects and Sampling Procedures
The 39 subjects in the research study were 36 teachers entering the Boulder
Journey Schools Teacher Education Program in the fall of 2003, and 3 teachers who
are considering participation in the program during the 2004-2005 school year. Each
treatment group consisted of 13 teachers. The teachers in the sample were selected
because of their interest in furthering their knowledge about the education of young
children. The program to which they applied and were accepted offers the
opportunity to obtain a masters degree in early childhood education or educational
psychology, an early childhood teaching license, and a mentored teaching
experience. The study represents an important component of the Teacher Education
Program curriculum. The educational experience provided by the videatives was
further developed through classroom experiences, seminars, and course assignments
during the school year. The Boulder Journey Schools Teacher Education Program is
open to teachers of both genders and all ages. However, since its inception, the
program has typically attracted female Caucasian teachers between 20 and 30 years
86