Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

12 July 2017

Reflection ‘out loud’

Clark @ 8:04 AM

I am a fan of Show Your Work and Work Out Loud, but I’m wondering about whether they could mislead.  Not that that’s the intent, of course, but they don’t necessarily include reflection, a critical component. I believe they care about it, but the phrase don’t implicitly require annotating your thoughts. And I think it’s important.

The original phrase that resonated for me was ‘narrate your work’, which to me was more than just showing it.  When teachers told you to show your work, they just wanted intermediate steps. But Alan Schoenfeld’s research has documented that’s valuable to show the thinking behind the steps. What’s your rationale for taking this step?

Teachers would be able to identify where you went wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily say why you went wrong. On things as simple as multi-column subtraction, the answer would tell you whether they borrowed wrong or reversed the number or other specific misconceptions that would reveal themselves in the result. But on more complex problems, the intermediate steps may not preserve the rationale.

The design rationale approach emerged on complex projects for just this reason. New people could question earlier decisions and if they weren’t documented, you’d revisit them unnecessarily.  It’s important to capture not only the decision, but the criteria used, the others considered, etc.  It is this thinking about what drove decisions that helps people understand your thinking and thereby improve it.

I don’t really think “reflection out loud” is the right term. I like ‘narrate your work’ or ‘share your thinking’ perhaps better.  And I do believe that those talking about working out loud and sharing your work do intend this, it’s just that too often I’ve seen people take the surface implications of a phrase and skip the real importance (*cough* Kirkpatrick’s levels *cough*). So, worst case, I’ve confused the terminology space, but hopefully I’ve also helped illuminate the valuable underpinning.  And practiced what I’m preaching ;).  Your thoughts?

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