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

The current study examined dyadic interaction and transfer resulting from a math lesson pre-sented 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 trans-fer problem on the posttest. By contrast, a clear pattern of steps in the problem solving proc-ess of the Innovation dyads showed that most students could perceive and verbalize the cor-rect 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 scaf-folding 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 individ-ual transfer. Coding levels of mathematical dialogue during the learning phase revealed a strong focus on computational accuracy in Traditional dyads versus conceptual accuracy in In-novation 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 Uni-versity. 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.