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Mid - to late- Winter ’ 13 LAs view student thinking as: Instrumentally valuable

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Development of Novice Teachers’ Views of Student Ideas as Sensible and Productive. Clarissa E. Lovegren and Amy D. Robertson.

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Development of Novice Teachers’ Views of Student Ideas as Sensible and Productive

Clarissa E. Lovegren and Amy D. Robertson

Seattle Pacific University (SPU) Learning Assistants (LAs) expand their views of student thinking as sensible and productive. We propose that articulating teaching values, searching for kernels of correctness, and intentionally developing curricular knowledge foster these views.

SPU LAs  Novice Teachers

  • Mid- to late- Winter ’13
  • LAs view student thinking as:
  • Instrumentally valuable
  • Morally valuable
  • Intellectually valuable* – sensible & productive starting place for instruction
  • *See Robertson’s poster for more info

Mechanisms that Fostered the Shift

  • Fall ‘12 to early Winter ’13
  • LAs view student thinking as:
  • Instrumentally valuable – useful for teaching & learning goals
  • Morally valuable – significant to student’s personhood
  • LAs search for “kernels of correctness”
  • LA course instructor challenges LAs to ‘try on’ student ideas
  • LA Jess writes:
  • "…In one part of the tutorial it asks the students to compare tensions in 2 springs of different linear mass densities…one student[…]said that Spring 1 had a greater tension because the wave speed was faster and that’s what we saw in the first page. She also said that the spring just seemed tenser…This is true in the sense of how people feel tension…but this didn’t necessarily fall in line with the physics definition of tension…In this situation I really understood where she went wrong and just how it was easy to believe what she believed. I believe I learned how to analyze how students argue the[ir] point and find the kernel of truth in it and make it flourish from that."
  • LAs articulate teaching values
  • Winter ‘13, LAs debate: okay to leave students with wrong answer?
  • LA David says:
  • “[M]y interaction [Fall] quarter was mainly me talking, asking leading questions and trying to direct student thinking in the way that I wanted it to go. How close minded of me! Those unique student ideas, even when incorrect, can provide so much insight, and usually offer a strong starting point on which to instruct that particular material…In our class discussions, we have talked about the...idea that student reasoning and understanding can be held in the highest priority, while simultaneously ensuring that the students walk away with correct answers.”
  • LAs develop
  • curricular knowledge
  • Fall ‘12-Winter ‘13, LAs pedagogically dissect Tutorials
  • Look for ways Tutorials:
    • Address common student difficulties
    • Build models
  • LA Sarah explains:
  • “Understanding the instructional strategies used by the tutorial has definitely [a]ffected my teaching because now I am less focused on the students knowing the exact answer because I feel it is more important for them to understand their thinking.”

SPU Learning Assistant Experience

Value of “Intellectually Valuing”

  • Pedagogy
  • Treats students as capable & intelligent
  • Promotes conceptual learning
  • Aligns with constructivism
  • Content Preparation
  • Practice
  • “Intellectually Valuing”
  • Seeks out “kernels”
  • Participates in class discussion
  • Expands curricular knowledge


Reviewed LAs’ reflections that intellectually value student ideas

Looked for connections between LAs’ values and aspects of the LA program

Analyzed how and why plausible mechanisms fostered shift

  • Significance of Research
  • Promotes LAs’ careful consideration of what student reasoning has to offer:
    • Intrinsic sensibility
    • Productivity
  • Shows what it looks like to act on views of student thinking as sensible & productive
  • Suggests how such views might be developed elsewhere
  • Analyzes and understands student idea
  • Alters teaching focus
  • Views of student ideas changed
  • “Believable” idea that can “flourish”
  • “Strong starting point on which to instruct”
  • “Understand their thinking” valued over the exact answer