Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Week 5 Readings

Greeno & Hall
I felt like this article was the odd one out of the three.  The others are talking about clinical interviews and this one is discussing representation.  Anyways, the major point of this article is that in order for students to truly understand methods of representation, they should be the ones to come up with a way to represent the data as opposed to teaching students about the different types of representations.  Other points:

  • Having students choose how they want to represent their models helps them understand their models better and may help or spur them to refine or even rework their model
  • Using models dealing with real-world situations that they might find in a job helps students pay more attention and motivates them to understand.
  • Students often require multiple forms of representation to truly understand a problem or model
This chapter felt like it was written by researchers for researchers conducting clinical interviews, likely in the process of psychology studies.  Even so, it still has useful information to offer teachers who choose to conduct clinical interviews with their students.  One of the underlying themes was the importance of establishing trust between yourself and the student.  Other thoughts:

  • Some parts of the article seemed to assume that we would have close to 30 minutes with the child.  If we do clinical interviews in class, I would expect to have no more than 7 minutes with an individual student or 16 minutes with a group.
  • The sections on how to draw information out through the interview looked to be very useful, and not just for interviews.  The “Assessing Thinking: What does the Child Know?” section  in particular appears to be very useful for general teaching.
Russ & Sherin
This article seeks to answer the question that I started having as soon as I learned what a clinical interview was, “Why?”  The authors present clinical interviews as an alternative to a pretest to discern what the class knows about a particular upcoming topic. 

  • Timing for the interviews: during lunch, free period, before/after school, while rest of class works on an activity
  • Can use the interview to “seed new ways of thinking”.  Not teach, but get them thinking on a topic they’ve never given much consideration to before.

I’m honestly still not sure why the Greeno & Hall article is in this week’s readings.  It has some good points, but it seems like it belongs with last week’s readings on modeling.  Clinical interviews seem like a potentially useful method of measuring student prior knowledge, but I do have some questions/concerns about it.  First of all, if we’re teaching middle/high school students who have never done this before, how do we get them interested in the interview?  Offering extra credit is the only thing I can think of, and that will not work for everyone I’d like to interview.  Second, how effective is it for teaching the material we talked about in the interview?  Even if we just interview 5 students from each class for 7 minutes, that’s a lot of time we are devoting to interviews.  I’d like to know that it is going to be worth that time before I commit to doing them.


  1. I think the Greeno paper is there to show us that students may use a wide variety of "representations" to illustrate their ideas, and this is likely to happen during clinical interviews, and that we shouldn't dismiss them because they don't follow a certain norm.

  2. Hmm quite the interesting blog post. Yet I think that honestly it occurs in succession. Ginsburg allows us to see the importance of a clinical interview. Russ and Sherin tells us how we go about conducting the interview and Green and Hall allows us to see how an interview can be beneficial in a child's education . I do however see how this particular reading from this week doesn't seem to fit. I also really appreciate your questioning of the reading ,that's the fundamental basis of teaching answering students questions .