Difference between revisions of "Refinement and Fluency"

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=== Glossary ===
 
=== Glossary ===
[[:Category:Refinement and Fluency|Refinement and Fluency glossary]].
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[[:Category:Refinement and Fluency|Refinement and Fluency]] glossary.
  
 
=== Research question ===
 
=== Research question ===

Revision as of 11:09, 2 October 2006

The PSLC Refinement and Fluency cluster

Abstract

The studies in this cluster concern the design and organization of instructional activities to facilitate the acquisition, refinement, and fluent control of critical knowledge components. The core issue examined in this cluster include:

  1. task analysis: To design effective instruction, we must analyze learning tasks into their simplest components.
  2. fluency from basics: For true fluency, higher level skills must be grounded on well-practiced lower level skills.
  3. in vivo evaluation: The work in this cluster is targeted toward the in vivo evaluation of instruction in basic skills.
  4. scheduling of practice: The optimal scheduling of practice uses principles of memory consolidation to maximize robust learning and achieve mastery.
  5. resonance: The acquisition of knowledge components can be facilitated by evoking associations between divergent coding systems.
  6. explicit instruction: Explicit rule-based instruction facilitates the acquisition of specific skills, but only if the rules are simple.
  7. implicit instruction: On the other hand, implicit instruction or exposure serves to foster the development of initial familiarity with larger patterns.
  8. immediacy of feedback: A corollary of the emphasis on in vivo evaluation, scheduling, and explicit instruction is the idea that immediate feedback, which is a strong point of computerized instruction, facilitates learning.
  9. cue validity: In both explicit and implicit instruction, cue validity plays a central role in determining ease of learning of knowledge components.
  10. focusing: Instruction that focuses the learner's attention on valid cues will lead to more robust learning than unfocused instruction or instruction that focuses on less valid cues.
  11. learning to learn: The acquisition of skills such as analysis, help-seeking, or advance organizers can promote future learning.
  12. transfer: A learner's earlier knowledge places strong constraints on new learning, promoting some forms of learning, while blocking others.

The general hypothesis is that the structure of instructional activities affects learning. These activities can include practice, scheduling, recall, explicit instruction, implicit presentation, focusing, combining, resonance, and other activities.

This hypothesis can be rephrased in terms of the PSLC general hypothesis, which is that robust learning occurs when the learning event space is designed to include appropriate target paths, and when students are encouraged to take those paths. The studies in this cluster focus on the formulation of well specified target paths with highly predictable learning outcomes.

Significance

A core theme in this cluster is that instruction in basic skills can faciliate the overall solidication of knowledge in a domain. Computerized instruction is particularly good at providing practice and feedback for basic skills according to a schedule that closely matches observed student abilities. In the area of second language learning, these strengths of computerized instruction are matched by certain weaknesses. In particular, computerized tutors are not yet good at speech recognition, making it difficult to assess student production. Moreover, contact with a human teacher can increase the breadth of language usage, as well as motivation. Therefore, it appears that an optimal environment for language learning would combine the strengths of computerized instruction with those of classroom instruction. It is possible that a similar analysis will apply to science and math.

Glossary

Refinement and Fluency glossary.

Research question

The research pursued in this cluster tests the empirical adequacy of the nine core assumptions listed in the Abstract. Studies focusing on these various issues include the following:

  1. task analysis: All studies in the cluster rely on task analysis to generate stimuli, instructional procedures, and evaluation methods.
  2. fluency from basics: All studies in the cluster focus on basic skills, such as vocabulary, dictation, grammatical categorization, and auditory learning. The Yoshimura-MacWhinney study of sentence production shows how fluency on the sentence level arises from consolidation of lower basic vocabulary skills. The MacWhinney study of dication points in a similar direction for the influences of phonemics patterns on the overall sentence dictation.
  3. in vivo orientation: All studies in this cluster target the development of in vivo instruction.
  4. scheduling of practice: The Pavlik and MacWhinney studies emphasize the role of scheduling in minimize the time students require to achieve mastery of a basic skill.
  5. resonance: Studies that examine resonance between representations as a facilitator of learning include: the study of Hanzi character learning by Liu et al., and the Pavlik-MacWhinney study of vocabulary learning in Chinese,
  6. explicit instruction: The studies examining explicit instruction include the Presson-MacWhinney study of French gender cue learning, the Zhang-MacWhinney study of pinyin dictation, and the Mitamura-Wylie study of article selection.
  7. implicit instruction: No studies are currently examining the generalized effect of implicit instruction.
  8. immediacy of feedback: All the studies in this cluster provide immediate feedback, often with careful diagnosis, based on tracking of individual subject performance.
  9. cue validity: The Presson-MacWhinney gender study, the Zhang-MacWhinney pinyin dictation study, and the Mitamura-Wylie study of article selection all specifically examine the role of cue validity in predicting initial learning and robustness.
  10. focusing: The study of articulatory cues to consonant and tone production by Liu et al. emphasize the role of focusing. The Tokowicz-Degani study of vocabulary learning examines the role of novelty in increasing attentional focusing during learning episodes.
  11. learning to learn: The Roll-Aleven-McLaren study of help-seeking examines how students learn to learn, and
  12. transfer: The Zhang-MacWhinney study of pinyin dictation examines negative transfer from English phonology to the learning of Mandarin phonology. The Mitamura-Wylie study of article selection examines negative effects of L1 article usage on learning of English article usage.

Independent variables

Alternative structures of instructional events based on alternative analyses of task demands, relevant knowledge components, and learner background. Assessing the learner’s background is essentially part of the learning task analysis.

Dependent variables

The dependent variables in these studies are typically percentage correct and time to mastery of a structure at a certain level.

Hypotheses

The general hypothesis is that learning is increased by instructional activities that require the learner to attend to the relevant knowledge components of a learning task. The specific hypotheses are:

  1. task analysis: To design effective instruction, we must analyze learning tasks into their simplest components.
  2. fluency from basics: For true fluency, higher level skills must be grounded on well-practiced lower level skills.
  3. in vivo evaluation: The work in this cluster is targeted toward the in vivo evaluation of instruction in basic skills.
  4. scheduling of practice: The optimal scheduling of practice uses principles of memory consolidation to maximize robust learning and achieve mastery.
  5. resonance: The acquisition of knowledge components can be facilitated by evoking associations between divergent coding systems.
  6. explicit instruction: Explicit rule-based instruction facilitates the acquisition of specific skills, but only if the rules are simple.
  7. implicit instruction: On the other hand, implicit instruction or exposure serves to foster the development of initial familiarity with larger patterns.
  8. immediacy of feedback: Instruction that provides immediate, diagnostic feedback will be superior to instruction that does not.
  9. cue validity: In both explicit and implicit instruction, cue validity plays a central role in determining ease of learning of knowledge components.
  10. focusing: Instruction that focuses the learner's attention on valid cues will lead to more robust learning than unfocused instruction or instruction that focuses on less valid cues.
  11. learning to learn: The acquisition of skills such as analysis, help-seeking, or advance organizers can promote future learning.
  12. transfer: A learner's earlier knowledge places strong constraints on new learning, promoting some forms of learning, while blocking others.

Explanation

Attention to features of the task domain as a knowledge component is processed leads to associating those features with the knowledge component. If the features are valid, then forming or strengthening such associations facilitates retrieval during subsequent assessment or instruction, and thus leads to more robust learning. However, the robustness is also dependent on the scheduling of learning events that promotes the long term retentiono of the associations.

Descendents

Annotated bibliography

Forthcoming