Understanding Understanding

Understanding Understanding – Video Research Project: (CEP 822)

Students come to class with a large number of entrenched, well-developed naive conceptions and knowledge structures. These structures often interfere with what they are taught in school. In this project we would like each group to select a certain topic and document student understandings of these topics. We will provide a short list of possible topics (as examples only) but this list should by no means limit your choice of topics. It should merely give you a sense of what types of questions/projects have been done before. If you have other topics that you would like to investigate, by all means, please discuss them with us — we are open to whatever it is that is interesting or valuable for you.

We see this project as having 5 parts:

  • Background:
    Is there any prior research in this area that has looked into common conceptions or alternate conceptions of your topic? Or are there misconceptions of your topic, either held by the population or published in textbooks? Use the Internet, including what is available to you online through the MSU library, to find out more.
  • Questions & Methods:
    Develop your research questions and an interview protocol. Decide what it is about your topic that you want to learn and turn this into your research questions. Do you need props such as written questions, artifacts to elicit answers from your students? Your search for existing research will be a great help in this regard. Since you may be able to find existing research protocols that you may be able to use. You may also need to develop a set of interview questions that will hopefully tap into people’s true understandings of your topic. This is not as easy as it looks, as we will spend a large part of a day brainstorming ideas for how to truly tap into people’s understandings.
  • Sample Population & Interviews:
    You will need to select a group of individuals that you will interview and record. We expect each group member to interview at least one individual. Keep these interviews precise and focused. This of course means a careful selection of questions and other probes.
  • Analysis & Synthesis:
    Edit the videos and creatively incorporate them into one group video that will show a variety of people’s understanding of your topic. The idea is not to provide us with a sequence of interviews one after the other but rather to demonstrate patterns and differences in what you see, connect it to the ideas of cognition and learning we have been discussing in class. The goal is to weave your interviews into one coherent, crafted video. At the end of the video, summarize the misconceptions that people had and provide the correct answer or explanation.
  • Presentation:
    Finally, create a web page for this research project. It should include the relevant research your group found, a statement of the group’s research questions, the video, and a summary of what the group found. Please provide a link from each person’s eportfolio.


MAET Year 2 Deadlines