Empowering students through double stimulation: Lessons from science and education

Year: 2018

Author: Cripps Clark, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a rapidly changing information and teaching environment, students need to be epistemically agential in developing the knowledge and skills they will need as professionals. This paper compares two formative interventions using Vygotsky’s method of double stimulation to examine the challenges and opportunities in tertiary classrooms.
To have the flexibility to productively participate in a society awash with emerging and disruptive forms of knowledge creation and distribution, students need to be taught the skills to collaboratively develop their own criteria for evaluating the validity and mechanisms for communicating information. The first study drew on a sequence of teaching and research development projects Judging Accuracy and Reliability of information and Perspectives, arising from a collaboration between Library and Academic staff which has been taught for the past four years across two campuses to over 300 university students each year. The science students confronted contradictions in their digital literacy and developed resources for judging the accuracy and reliability of information, thus externalising the generation of criteria before ascending from the abstract to the concrete. The second stimulus is provided by the collaborative creation of a mediating conceptual artifact, a tool for accuracy and reliability of digital information, which is reformulated and applied. Using such artifacts to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of complex and problematic sources externalizes the generation of criteria. This process nurtured students’ emerging identity as scientists through increasingly sophisticated decision making and metacognitive refl ection, and motivates students to embed more sophisticated, reasoned judgments. This paper reports on
In the second study video gives pre-service primary teachers the opportunity to reflect on specific aspects of their teaching. This study developed a pedagogy using small-group teaching as a first stimulus and video as a second stimulus. The video afforded multiple pedagogical foci and enabled students to work individually, then in pairs and finally in groups to organise and give meaning to their developing pedagogical skills and understandings. In this way, the video acts as Vygotsky’s second stimulus: it has the property of providing a generalisable tool that pre-service teachers can use to overcome the problem of their science phobia and develop agency.
The examination of double stimulation in these two cohorts of students from different disciplines and year levels reveals the potential and limitations of double stimulation in tertiary pedagogy.