Teaching Tech Together

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  • Great book for everyone, even better for those interested in teaching CS. Tons of citations. Added to reading list.
  • What do we know about how humans learn? And how might we use that knowledge to learn better, as individuals?
  • Three levels of skill:
    • Novices don’t know what they don’t know — that is, they don’t yet have a usable mental model of the domain.
    • Competent practitioners can do normal tasks with normal effort under normal circumstances because they have a mental model that’s good enough for everyday purposes. The model doesn’t have to be complete or accurate, just useful.
    • Experts have mental models that include all the complexities and special cases that competent practitioners aren’t able to handle. This then allows them to handle situations that are out of the ordinary. It also allows them to quickly diagnose and solve problems.
  • The way you teach novices is to help them construct the right mental models, so they have somewhere to put your facts.
  • Mental model: a simplified representation of the most important parts of some problem domain that is good enough to enable problem solving. One example is the ball-and-spring models of molecules used in high school chemistry.
  • Novice mental model: novice-mental-model
  • Competent practitioner mental model: competent-practitioner-mental-model
  • Expert mental model: expert-mental-model
  • Experts are often so familiar with the subject that they can no longer imagine what it’s like to not see the world that way. This is so pervasive that it has a name: ‘the expert blind spot’. The expert blind spot may be overcome by training, but it explains why experts are often less good at teaching the subject than people with less expertise who still remember learning it themselves. They also build intuition and are better at diagnosis
  • Deliberate practice is defined as doing similar but subtly different things, paying attention to what works and what doesn’t, and then changing behaviour in response to that feedback to get cumulatively better.
  • Individual learning strategies:
    • Spaced practice: space out your study time
    • Retrieval practice: remember things
    • Interleaving study of different topics
    • Elaboration: talk to yourself
    • Concrete examples: talk in the concrete
    • Dual coding: combine images and words to have concepts reinforce each other