Moodle research

Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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For about 12 years I have looked at that scale that ships by default with Moodle and it has meant nothing to me, it seems niche. Is that really the best idea for a default scale, does anyone here use it?

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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http://lmgtfy.com/?q=separate+and+connected+ways+of+knowing

It is designed to get people to reflect on how they are communicating (e.g. in a forum).

As such, it probably deserves to be used more than it is.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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When I put quotes around the phrase "separate and connected ways of knowing" in Google, three of the first four results are Moodle related sites and one is about Womens development theory. Duck Duck Go returns a similarly Moodle rich results set. 


Is anyone reading this using this scale?  Is it used significantly in the Open University?

 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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If you put the words into Google Scholar, you will see that there were lots of papers in the 1990s.

Given that Moodle started with Martin Dougiamas's education research around 2000, it is perfectly plausible how he would have seen the idea, and decided to add it to Moodle. Martin was using Moodle to teach himself at the time, and I am sure he used this.

Your original question is valid, should this idea live on in Moodle if it is not used?

I don't care really. It is a good idea, even if it is not used. I don't think it is used at the OU.   

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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IMHO, "Separate and Connected ways of knowing" looks like yet another version of learning styles; nowadays considered a pseudo-science. They even attach it to gender, i.e. men tend to be separate and women connected "knowers," as if it were some kind of psychometric personality trait.

Have you ever thought that, depending on the people you're interacting with, how you feel about them, the situation, and about the subject matter under discussion, you might consciously or unconsciously end up responding either "separately" or "connectedly"?

 
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Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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"Separated and Connected" were popular categories used in gender studies to differentiate male and female ways of thinking--or rather to avoid privileging male, logical thinking which tended to separate ideas rather than connect ideas. This was also the era in the 1990's when learning styles were popular as Matt and Tim have pointed out. I wrote some papers back then on VAK--how visual, auditory and kinesthetic preferences for media/activity formats affected learning. I found VAK to be very practical, because self-scoring reflective surveys helped teachers see how they were overemphasizing one type of media in their lessons and how they tended to grade students higher who matched their own learning style. This was one justification for "multi-media" being more helpful for learning than "mono-media" (i.e. text only with no images, graphics, video or audio). The simplest summary of what we learned from these types of studies are:

  • learning is not just developmental, but is also preferential--we prefer certain ways to learn, and those preferences are not deficiencies.
  • teachers are prejudiced towards their own learning styles and must vary their lessons to account for all types of learners (variation theory is built upon this premise)

I have never used separated/connected learning style scales, but it is interesting to see a template in scales that is *not* a number scale. In this way, it is good to see that rubrics, which are more qualitative, have now been built into Moodle. Since the addition of rubrics is more recent, it may mean the original inclusion of separated/connected is no longer necessary. It certainly is hard to justify keeping this a default.  But then again, if Martin wants to put his stamp on this LMS, much like Steve Jobs who kept insisting on the no-button mouse, I don't mind indulging him on this little point. wink

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Hi Don,

I think that if you replaced "learning styles" with "multimodal learning" and replaced "preferences" with "learning strategies" your points would reflect the research evidence more closely. The point being that learning styles claims that they are personality traits, psychometric properties that are fixed, immutable, and unchangeable (the so called fundamental attribution bias/error).

I wrote a (long-ish) article about this recently. Here's an extract:

"So, rather than being psychometric tests which diagnose our intrinsic personality traits, learning styles preferences can be better understood as indicators of our levels of cognitive development within particular domains of knowledge, i.e. where we are on the spectrum between novice and expert. They may be useful for adapting our learning strategies in appropriate ways. For example, rather than learners thinking of themselves as sequential or global thinkers, they should consider their current level of knowledge and understanding and which strategies will help them best, i.e. Novice learners should use a sequential strategy to learn the basic concepts with related concepts presented close together (in time and/or space) and with authentic examples (observational learning) and/or authentic experiences (experiential learning) which can be used by learners to see how they relate to personal subjective experience, while more experienced learners should take a more global approach and make more abstract generalisations in order to situate and connect the concepts they have already learned together in a coherent framework."

Source: http://blog.matbury.com/2015/08/12/learning-styles-mindsets-and-adaptive-strategies/

I hope this helps.

 
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Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Hi Matt,

There are probably dozens of learning style scales.  Some relate to cognitive preferences (separated/connected), social preferences (competitive/cooperative), sensory input preferences (VAK), personality preferences (Myers-Briggs), and some combine a variety of factors (Kolb's experiential learning).

Once you know your learning/teaching style preferences, it becomes easier for a learner or teacher to self-select strategies that fit those preferences. For example, a teacher who realizes that they are heavy on separated ideas can adjust their teaching to use both separated *and* connected types of learning activities.  Asking students to write a summary paragraph which combines two opposite views would be one kind of "connected" way of knowing (I would imagine).

Styles are individual preferences and tend to be stable, but can change.  Strategies are more inclusive, developmental tactics, best applied by individuals in cognizance of their own styles.

And as a very "separated" thinker, I will try to stretch or develop myself by using a strategy to be more "connected". Let's connect this tangent back to Marcus's original question--are separate and connected ways of knowing a 'niche'?  Yes, most definitely. Does it deserve to be default?  No, there are more that 10-20 other niche and mainstream scales of styles/ways of knowing that we could choose from. Martin chose this one and I am OK with that--as long as we are aware it is an arbitrary decision that helps us move away from overly-quantitative thinking.

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Hi Don,

In their review, Hayes and Coffield (2005) identified 71 schemas of learning styles in use, Willingham (2009) has written a brief summary of the history of various attempts to categorise learners according to their preferences stretching back more than a century, and Pashler et al. (2008) did a broad, comprehensive meta-study and failed to find any coherent, supporting evidence that applying the learning styles hypothesis has any observable effect on learning outcomes. This is why I and others call learning styles pseudo-science.

On the Myers-Briggs (personality) Type Indicator (MBTI), it was developed from a misinterpretation of Jung's theories and, likewise, has no supporting evidence (Druckman, n.d.) even though it's still widely used in the US.

All of these hypotheses fall into the fundamental attribution bias/error: at first glance, they intuitively look feasible and reasonable but once you dig down further into what they actually say and the implications for developmental psychology, they turn out to be incoherent. The human brain is a highly adaptive and extremely "plastic", i.e. malleable (See V. S. Ramachandran's work on this) and so psychometric can tell us little about individual differences in how people learn. In education, where we're concerned with learning, what observable behaviours and preferences appear to be fixed almost always turn out to be simply a stage along a developmental trajectory. In addition, encouraging learners to label themselves according to their current "preferences" can be counterproductive.

References

Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2005). Learning Styles and Pedagogy in Post-16 Learning: A Systematic and Critical Review. Journal of Further and Higher Education, (3), 289.

Druckman, D., & Bjork, R. A. (n.d.). In the Mind’s Eye: Enhancing Human Performance. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog/1580/in-the-minds-eye-enhancing-human-performance

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning Styles Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105–119. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x

Willingham, D. T. (2009). Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions about How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom (1st ed.). Jossey-Bass / Wiley. Retrieved from http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-047059196X.html


 
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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Don, did you read any of the links I gave about the Separate and Connected ways of knowing scale?

If is not a cognitive preference, at least not in the context of the Moodle scale. It is about the way a forum post may contribute to a discussion.

A post that exhibits a 'separate way of knowing' will state facts, or a logical argument, without any particular reference to what other people have said.

A post that shows a 'connected way of knowing' will spend more time synthesising what others have said, and building on it.

Neither is necessarily better. A good discussion needs both. Probably in online discussions, there is too much separate, and not enough connected. The point of the Moodle scale is to get people to reflect on how they and others are communicating, to develop better metacognitive skills, and better discussions.

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Framed in the way Tim has, Separate and Connected ways of knowing can be seen as a very simple (binary) example of a behaviourally anchored rating scale (BARS). The key to successful BARS in learning is that they need to be quick and simple so that learners and teaching staff are more likely to use them more often.

If this is the intention of Separate and Connected ways of knowing, perhaps the documentation should reflect this and give some examples? Just a thought.

 
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Picture of Don Hinkelman
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Hi Tim,

Did you see how I tried to be "connected" in my post? Was I connected enough? I tried to connect my off-topic argument with Matt back to Marcus' original question? My tendency or preference is to use "separated" ways of knowing. I love to use logical argument, as does Matt. However, these logical arguments (as shown by statements, "evidence proves", or "there is no evidence") need to be balanced by "connected" ways of knowing.  In other words, how do we connect the strands of what Marcus is saying, what Tim is saying and what Matt is saying? I agree completely that a balance of connected and separated ways of knowing is desirable and my experience here on this forum is a great example of that. Neither "way" is necessarily better.  Both are necessary.  (Did I do it?  Did I synthesize?)

Now, switching to my separated way of knowing, I would like to logically argue with Matt for a bit. Please skip this paragraph if you are not interested in logical arguments. smile  I find both kinds of research that "proves" and "disproves" learning styles effect on learning outcomes as equally ridiculous.  It is ridiculous because for me, learning styles have nothing to do with learning outcomes.  They have to do with comfort zones and teacher prejudices. Everyone has comfort zones or what I call preferences.  And these preferences are always changing.  The role of the teacher is not to favor learners who are similar to themselves, but to vary the ways of learning so that everyone experiences comfort at some point in the lesson, or has the choice of options to learn using various learning styles.  I agree with you that the claims made by many researchers are pseudo-science.  But I also disagree with researchers who use scientific arguments to disprove their value.   The brilliance of learning styles is the not all learning is developmental.  I disagree that all learning is developmental. Rather I argue learning is both ontological balance and developmental change (ecology and growth).

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I have created https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-52253 to suggest this idea. It would be nice if when the new competencies get into core there was a more commonly understood default scale. Please vote if you agree with this idea.

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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The learning styles proponents explicitly claim that "meshing" learners' preferences with media/modes of presentation will have a measurable effect on learning outcomes.

Of course, you're free to come up with and test your own hypotheses.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I was experimenting with the new competencies (hurrah!), and I noticed that the default scale appeared to still be Separate and Connected ways of knowing. I then did a fresh install of the very latest version of Moodle 3.0 and there it was the default and only scale at installation is Separate and Connected ways of knowing.

What the flip I thought, this makes the Moodle project appear like  somewhere between head in the clouds and smart alec.  To me, including this type of default is exactly the mindset that puts people off Moodle. Can we not have something that normal human beings will be familiar with?

How about Good, Acceptable, Poor or borrowing from Matts excellent blogstrongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree

The code that inserts the default scale is in lib\datalib.php

function make_default_scale() {

https://tracker.moodle.org/browse/MDL-52253

 
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Picture of Daniel Neis Araujo
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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You have my vote on this (here and on tracker ; ), Moodle really needs more better default options.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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How about this for a default. Why not have a defaulted-to-on checkbox for new installations that gives a new user a test course, with examples of all the goodness that Moodle is capable of without having to learn to create stuff from scratch.

That would be a huge help to new users and very little complexity for the people making the change (apart from the excellent arguments about what to include)

People are more motivated to learn stuff if they have existing examples of stuff working.

 
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Picture of Daniel Neis Araujo
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I would also vote for a Moodle Demo course with an example of each standard module and maybe more than one if you have enough different options to justify.

Many software come with demo content and it is really nice to have something to see before starting to fill forms.

Moodle has a "Test course" feature, but it only include less than a handfull of modules, even the "extra large" option only creates a lot of pages and foruns, no assignments, lessons or other cool stuff.

I can also remember an option to create courses based on a template, we could have a template like the Orange School or any other lying somewhere on the web for people to create demo content on install time too.

 
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Just wondering . . .
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I suspect one of you guys should PM someone at HQ.

Or post as link to this discussion on another thread on this topic of outcomes.

Maybe they are ignoring you (which would be surprising) or they do not know you are chatting over in this little nook of Moodle.org or they have noticed - and are very busy.

-Derek

 
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My mug
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I'm just noting that I'm watching. I don't have a personal opinion on the Separate ways of knowing scale, but it's good to see this conversation discussing it an issue proposing a change. That all seems appropriate to me.

I've pointed this conversation out to a few relevant people.

 
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Picture of Ewout ter Haar
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
 

This, and the parent post, seems like ideas for which the new Moodle Association process would be perfect. Hash out requirements, get consensus, solidify the idea and get the votes (one dollar on vote  is the model there).

Just an idea, not at all excluding discussion here or trying other ways to convince Moodle HQ to implement these ideas.



 
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Me!
Re: WTF: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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We will include a new scale to use with CBE - because the ways of knowing scale is meant for a different purpose - you cannot say that some of the values are "proficient" and some are not.
 
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Martin Dougiamas
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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This scale is very old - in fact it was there from the first version of the forum.

While it was excellent in my original Moodle courses, and I do hope some people do think about using it I very much doubt that many do, simply because it's too far from their previous experience and it won't fit into their paradigms.

In any case I never had any particular wish to enforce it as a default scale - it just kinda hung around because no-one got around to coming up with a better one.

I would love it if those of you who care about these things came up with some better ideas and made an MUA project out of it.

Just, please, think about things that have some good solid proactive educational principles behind them and don't go for lowest common denominator stuff like Amazon stars or Facebook likes.

 
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Picture of Marcus Green
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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My antipathy to Facebook is vast, wide and deep.

 
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Matt Bury
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Re: "Just, please, think about things that have some good solid proactive educational principles behind them and don't go for lowest common denominator stuff like Amazon stars or Facebook likes." -- I couldn't agree more. In my experience, most teachers don't read research and tend to simply transpose methods, strategies, and techniques from elsewhere into their learning environments without considering whether what's suitable for getting mouse clicks, encouraging personal over-disclosure (e.g. Facebook), and/or manipulative (in other words counter to the principles of genuine participation in learning). Default scales will more than likely be considered as officially endorsed by Moodle and so in some way pedagogically valid.

Here's a review of a paper that looked into star- and "like" type ratings systems: http://matbury.com/wordpress/2014/05/29/ratings-systems-on-social-platforms-can-unexpected-effects/

Abstract

“Social media systems rely on user feedback and rating mechanisms for personalization, ranking, and content filtering. However, when users evaluate content contributed by fellow users (e.g., by liking a post or voting on a comment), these evaluations create complex social feedback effects. This paper investigates how ratings on a piece of content affect its author’s future behavior. By studying four large comment-based news communities, we find that negative feedback leads to significant behavioral changes that are detrimental to the community. Not only do authors of negatively-evaluated content contribute more, but also their future posts are of lower quality, and are perceived by the community as such. Moreover, these authors are more likely to subsequently evaluate their fellow users negatively, percolating these effects through the community. In contrast, positive feedback does not carry similar effects, and neither encourages rewarded authors to write more, nor improves the quality of their posts. Interestingly, the authors that receive no feedback are most likely to leave a community. Furthermore, a structural analysis of the voter network reveals that evaluations polarize the community the most when positive and negative votes are equally split.”

 
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Picture of Mark McKay
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
 

Martin et al,

I think we have to keep in mind that Moodle used in a variety of ways, as are the activities [even] within a single course. Not everything in a course is about learning, so I wouldn't be so quick to choose only one default scale. Sure, an admin can create their preferred [global] scales, and a user can create whatever [local] scales they want, but that's added steps, and it's nice to have useful examples pre-loaded. 

There is currently a project proposal in the Moodle Users Association about applying percentages to scales, which I am conflicted about. Our institution does not aggregate scales in the gradebook, in part because scales behaved differently between aggregation methods, and in part because I don't think it's necessary. If I want to give students  a range of percentages (eg 100% 90% 80% 70% 0%), I'll make the assignment out of 10 points and only assign the values 10,9,8,7,0. 

FYI,  the most used scales at our institution are Not Satisfactory/Satisfactory/Outstanding; Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent; Absent/Present; and Fail/Pass.

-Mark


 
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Martin Dougiamas
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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Totally agree there should be a whole bank of default scales.  Remember they need to be international and translated too.

Scales with percentages kinda crosses into letter grades for me, they need to be rationalised.

 
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Me!
Re: Default scale of Separate and Connected ways of knowing
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I have put a patch and comments on MDL-52253. This is only to get a default useful scale for rating competencies (which require values to either be "proficient" or "not proficient"). The default separate and connected ways of knowing does not imply that any of the values are preferred over other ones - so can't really be used for rating the proficiency of a competency.

I think that a range of useful default scales would still be very helpful - and would encourage more careful thinking about the scales used for assessment. I just don't think there is enough before 3.1 is released to do more than the minimum required to provide a useful scale for competencies.

 
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