Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 5
This week’s readings deal with clinical interviews. Not a Cookbook details many techniques and rationale in how to conduct clinical interviews. The subjects within seem to be exclusively little children, but it is still very helpful. One of the most important aspects of conducting a successful interview that I learned is that we’re not trying to correct or evaluate the subject of his thinking, but to extract useful information in order to understand why and how he approaches tasks at hand. In essence you’re treating the subject as the expert, and you’re trying to glean as much from him as possible. This ties in with the reading Using interviews to explore student ideas in science, where the same interview techniques are used to gauge what students know about a scientific topic before formal discussion, so we as educators could identify and clear possible points of confusion beforehand before going down deeper down the rabbit hole. It also helps in probing students and guiding toward the path where they find ways to understand a concept by themselves, rather than we feeding the information to them. I believe that the further we conduct such interviews, the more introspective students become, and this helps them think and put things in logical perspectives. This leads us to the third article, Practicing Representation, where the main message is that students should learn to treat representations (graphs, charts) only as a means for communication and reasoning. Representations serve a purpose, but are not end goals in themselves. One thing I find very interesting is that students often have their own way of approaching tasks, such as the train distance problem in the article. When I was in school I was taught a certain algebra way to solve this sort of distance/speed problem. Reading this, I immediately thought to myself “shit, I haven’t done this kind of math for so long” and was stumped for a second. But then I started drawings arrows and ended up with something like the left side of figure 1 and got the right answer. This really makes me think that we all have some sort of innate understanding that helps us solve problems. It might not be the easiest or the most efficient way, but I think it’s important to have an inkling first. If we as educators treat only one formula or representation as stated in a textbook as the only right way to do it, without first trying to discover and tapping that innate potential, we run the risk of making students doubt themselves and confusing them even more. Clinical interview seems to be very useful, and my question now is how much clinical interview should we do on a day-to-day basis? Is a bellringer for the whole class in the beginning good enough? Is it more focused on lower performing students? Most likely situation-dependent?


  1. In my first blog post I talked a lot about the concept of our innate sense and understanding of the world bringing us closer to the answer, and while it may not be the simplest way, it is probably the most intuitive. Whether or not the student knows it, she/he has an intuitive reaction to everything the student encounters and it would be a great asset as a teacher to gain insight into that every time we start a new lesson. At first glance, I would think that conducting clinical interviews that often can be practically difficult and we might want to seek some degree of differentiation--of course, my main question after this: Is the format/structure of clinical interview presented to us in these materials the only possible format? Is there some large scale interview we can conduct? Navigating these possibilities can help us, possibly, conduct these interviews much more regularly.

    1. On a side note: The title for this post is definitely the most eye-catching title. But I am guessing you didn't type the title yourself and it is just a bunch of HTML code

    2. I copied pasted from word and I don't know what happened to it since there weren't any spaces before the text.