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SEMINAR: Using Innovation with Contrasting Cases to Scaffold Collaborative Learning and Transfer

Event Date: April 11, 2013
Speaker: Dr. David Sears, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Educational Studies, Purdue University
Time: 3:30pm
Location: ARMS B071
Priority: No
College Calendar: Show

The current study examined dyadic interaction and transfer resulting from a math lesson presented in traditional lecture-then-practice fashion versus in innovation then efficiency fashion (Schwartz, Bransford, & Sears, 2005). While dyads in the Traditional condition were able to solve the practice problems, only one out of 18 individuals successfully solved a difficult transfer problem on the posttest. By contrast, a clear pattern of steps in the problem solving process of the Innovation dyads showed that most students could perceive and verbalize the correct solution to the practice problems (7 of 9 dyads). Only three dyads successfully translated their perceptions into correct mathematical formulations—suggesting an area for further scaffolding in future work. However, five of the six individuals from those three dyads correctly solved the difficult posttest transfer problem. Progress at solving the contrasting cases during innovation was diagnostic of understanding and appeared instrumental to subsequent individual transfer. Coding levels of mathematical dialogue during the learning phase revealed a strong focus on computational accuracy in Traditional dyads versus conceptual accuracy in Innovation dyads. Higher levels of math dialogue were predictive of higher subsequent transfer results, especially for Innovation dyads.


David Sears is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from Reed College and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Stanford University. His research examines instructional practices for promoting learning and transfer in individual and group contexts with a focus on the STEM disciplines.