Interactions Curriculum Analysis

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Interactions Curriculum Analysis by Mind Map: Interactions Curriculum Analysis

1. Method of Inquiry

1.1. Dewey: Real-life relevance, collaboration, figuring things out from the beginning (Dewey, 1902, 1938)

1.2. Behaviorism: Conditioning, reinforcement, reward, punishment (Watson & Rayner, 1920)

1.3. Piaget: Assimilation, accommodation, signs, symbols (Piaget, 1969)

1.4. Constructivism: Constructing knowledge through experience and social interaction, different explanations accepted, zone of proximal development (von Glasersfeld, 1980; Vygotsky, 1978)

1.5. Bruner: Scaffolding, structure, intuition (Bruner, 1960)

2. Dewey

2.1. Dewey would approve of Interactions for several reasons. First, Dewey believed that education should have real-life relevance (Dewey, 1902, 1938). Interactions if full of phenomena, examples, and readings which are relevant and familiar to students.

2.1.1. Real-life relevant driving questions guide the curriculum Unit 1 driving question: Why do some clothes stick together when they come out of the dryer?

2.1.2. Investigation 1 - Activity 1.3 - Reading 2: Electrical Interactions in Daily Life

2.1.3. Real-life phenomena and photos

2.2. Dewey would appreciate that students are not given the answers up front in this curriculum. Through observation and investigation students figure things out from the beginning, just as scientists do. The process is streamlined by the deliberate selection of activities. As Dewey suggested, curriculum should not be designed to give students the answers - it should help focus students' thoughts in a productive direction (Dewey, 1902, 1938).

2.3. Dewey would like the extensive collaboration among students in this curriculum (Dewey, 1902, 1938). Students must work together to figure things out.

3. Behaviorism

3.1. Behaviorists would not favor the Interactions curriculum. Behaviorists argue that learning is solely stimulus-response while Interactions is based on deep, individual thought (Watson & Rayner, 1920). In this curriculum, there is no negative reinforcement for incorrect models, and the only positive reinforcement for correct models is the gratification of figuring something out.

3.2. The only example of I found which could be considered mildly behaviorist is a game. Students play this game once the concepts of charge, attraction, and repulsion have been established through discovery. When a student wins the game, a window pops up which says "You Won!" This is an instance of positive reinforcement.

3.2.1. Charge maze game:

4. Constructivism

4.1. Interactions is almost entirely constructivist. Both von Glasersfeld and Vygotsky would appreciate this curriculum.

4.1.1. Interactions requires students to make observations and then work to construct explanations for what they saw. Von Glasersfeld agree with this approach, since he believed that it was impossible to truly understand something without experiencing it firsthand (von Glasersfeld, 1980). Pie Cases on a Van de Graaff Generator

4.1.2. Vygotsky would especially like the frequent collaboration and social interaction which is built into the curriculum (Vygotsky, 1978). For example, in Activity 1.4 students work in teams to determine the charge on various objects using a charged balloon. They are not given specific instructions on how to do this, so they have to figure it out together. Interactions employs a driving question board where all students' thoughts are posted. The driving question board helps the class construct knowledge together.

4.1.3. Interactions is carefully designed to keep students' in the zone of proximal development (ZPD), which would make Vygotsky happy (Vygotsky, 1978). The sub-level driving questions are always one step beyond what students have already figured out, but achievable with the accompanying investigation. For example, students complete the "T" and "B" tape investigation. They observe that like pieces of tape repel and opposite tapes attract. Because the cause of this phenomenon is invisible and occurring at the subatomic scale, students need assistance from a more knowledgeable other (MKO) at this point in order to reach the next level of understanding. Otherwise they would be stuck indefinitely (Vygotsky, 1978). In this case, the MKO is a simulation. The simulation allows students to manipulate the charge on two balls and observe what happens. This small amount of assistance allows them to get to I+1 and move their ZPD forward.

4.1.4. The scientific process of modeling is inherently constructivist. Scientists attempt to construct explanations for what they see, make more observations, revise their models further, and continue the process indefinitely. Science is a continuous construction of knowledge which is never complete. Interactions fully embraces the nature of science and gives freedom to construct knowledge as scientists do. The curriculum provides suggestions for teachers as they guide discussions and modeling. The instructions specifically instruct teachers to NOT give students the answers or tell them that their ideas are wrong. Though additional investigations they will reconstruct their models themselves.

5. Bruner

5.1. Bruner would agree that Interactions is well scaffolded. Bruner believed that students should start with abundant supports which are gradually removed (Bruner, 1960).

5.1.1. For example, the concept of modeling is new to most students at the start of this unit. Therefore, the initial activities include readings about what scientific models are and how they're developed. Meanwhile, students receive abundant guidance from the teacher while forming their initial models. These supports are gradually removed. By the end of Unit 1 Inv 1, students are forming their own models with minimal teacher support. Investigation 1 - Activity 1.1 - Reading 1: Scientific Models Investigation 1 - Activity 1.3 - Reading 1: Aspects of Scientific Models

5.2. Bruner would appreciate that Interactions focuses on learning structure, not just facts (Bruner, 1960).

5.2.1. For example, students do not simply learn that there are two types of charge, positive and negative, and that likes repel and opposites attract. Interactions focuses on how these basic properties are responsible for various electrostatic phenomena, as well as how the phenomena are similar and different. Relationships between different activities are thoroughly developed.

5.3. The modeling process would likely appeal to Bruner because it depends partially on intuition. Bruner believed that intuition should be valued (Bruner, 1960). When creating models, students often start with their intuition and revise based on observations.

6. Description

6.1. Interactions is a 9th-10th grade physical science curriculum. It is inquiry-based and designed to align with the NGSS. The entire curriculum is available online for free (The Concord Consortium, 2015). I specifically analyzed Unit 1-Investigation 1, which is broken into five activities. the curriculum has four units total.


7. References

7.1. Bruner, J. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

7.2. Dewey, J. (1902, 1990). The school and society and the child and the curriculum (93rd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

7.3. Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York: Simon & Schuster.

7.4. Piaget, J. (1969). The psychology of the child. Basic Books: New York, NY.

7.5. Skinner, B. F. (1954). The science of learning and the art of teaching. Harvard Education Review, 24(1), 86-97.

7.6. The Concord Consortium (2015). Interactions [Online Version]. Retrieved from

7.7. Von Glasersfeld. (1980). An introduction to radical constructivism. In P. Watzlawick (Ed.) The invented reality: How do we know what we believe we know? (contributions to constructivism), (pp. 17–40). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

7.8. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

7.9. Watson, J.B. & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology 3(1), 1-14.

8. Piaget

8.1. Interactions requires students to develop models for what they observe. Piaget would consider these models symbols because they resemble the phenomena they represent (Piaget, 1969).


8.2. Interactions also requires students to communicate extensively about their observations and interpretations. This requires the use of words and numbers which do not directly resemble the physical phenomena. Piaget would call these signs (Piaget, 1969).

8.2.1. For example, "+" and "-" are used throughout the curriculum to designate positive and negative charges. These signs don't resemble anything physically, but students come to understand their meaning. Eventually students begin to use "+" and "-" signs in their own representations.

8.3. Students work to answer the driving questions by making observations and using simulations. As students take in new information from these sources, they must either add it into existing schema (assimilation) or modify their existing schema (accommodation) (Piaget, 1969).

8.3.1. Assimilation example: Unit 1 - Investigation 1 begins by showing students images of several electrostatic phenomena. These include flyaway hair, Styrofoam sticking to fur, and clothes sticking together when they come out of the dryer. Though they do not know the underlying reason for these phenomena yet, most students associate them with "static." As they see additional electrostatic images and demos, they assimilate them into their electrostatic schema. Electric Slide cat + packing peanuts = funny

8.3.2. Accommodation example: For most students, the electrostatic phenomena they witness in this unit are interesting and surprising. This is because the electrostatic force acts at a distance (e.g. the tape activity, charged balloon attracting and repelling objects). Therefore, most students must accommodate their existing "force" schema to include non-contact forces. Later, when we talk about magnets, the at-a-distance influence of magnets will more easily be assimilated into the force schema because it has already been accommodated to include non-contact forces.