Distributed cognition in the middle years: Using a forum format to elicit mental models of assessment

Year: 2006

Author: Edwards-Leis, Christine

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The project, Mental Models, Robotics, and Middle Schooling, was an empirical qualitative study centred within information processing theory and linked with the introspection mediating process tracing paradigm. The study involved students and their teacher in a socio-economic diverse urban primary school and aimed to establish how the identification of participants' mental models can assist in the authentic assessment of learning through a richer understanding of the cognitive development taking place in a technology based learning experience.

Semi-structured and stimulated recall interviews, questionnaires, teach back episodes, and teacher and student journals were used to externalise participants' mental models. However, the effect of distributed cognition in learning and the shared understanding of the nature, process, and response to assessment could not be determined by these instruments alone. A videoed forum of the student participants, held subsequent to an assessment episode designed by them, was used to elicit the mental models of assessment from teacher and learner points of view. Their teacher was shown the video and interviewed. Results of this forum and interview indicate students can inform their teacher of their understanding and need for authentic assessment practices that would clearly demonstrate their individual learning journey while adhering to systemic assessment principles.