Constructive Controversies

Introduction

Constructive Controversy, is a cooperative learning procedure designed to create intellectual conflict and deepen understanding of complex issues. Unlike traditional debates, however, where the goal is to ‘win’ the argument, the goal of our “Constructive Controversy” (and in science in general) is (a) to ensure a full, and critical understanding of both sides of the issue, and (b) to synthesize respective positions in a consensus statement that includes only the best and most valid arguments from all sides of an issue.

During these first two weeks, we will participate in three Constructive Controversies, at the end of which you will work with a partner to write a brief (1/2 – 1-page, or 125 – 250 word) consensus statement reporting your final position on both sides of the controversy. The final consensus statements will then be posted here.

Should schools embrace technology?

Kristy & William (Pokemon Master)

Our joint position acknowledges the usefulness of technology for educational purposes while recognizing the limits of usefulness. Technology is simply a tool. High-quality teaching is an important aspect of technology use.

We jointly accept that technology can increases equity by narrowing gaps in access to current knowledge, skills, resources, tools and tech training for the work force.

We jointly accept that technology can decrease social barriers by connecting people to other people, thereby building cross-cultural bridges.

This debate is ongoing and evidence is not conclusive. Therefore a specific position cannot be firmly taken without acknowledging the shortcomings of either side.

Kristy & William

Mike McShea & Alexandra Lee

Schools should embrace technology to achieve specific aims at developmentally appropriate times in a child’s education. Young children need to practice essential skills through in-person experiences leading to literacy and social moral development. Motor skill development depends upon physical interactions and should take priority over technological literacy at early stages. Conversely, secondary students, who are preparing for careers and continuing education, need equal access to technology. Technology provides access to authentic interactions with primary sources including experts that are not geographically bound. Technology can also provide these students with opportunities to manipulate factors in simulations and develop inductive reasoning skills.

Kyle and Monaca

Schools should not fully embrace technology without a plan to maximize the benefits for learning while supporting social, ethical and cognitive skills needed for successful use of that technology. Giving students access to technology can foster collaboration, creativity and critical thinking when introduced with regard to age and stage and the skills teachers need to share with students and clear parameters on how to use the technology in relation to the learning goals. However, if technology is presented as a main educational tool without these safeguards, the untoward impacts may be a decrease in achievement, result in decisions that are harmful to the students and others and may impede social, emotional and ethical development. Technology is at its best in education when teachers and students have a clear intention of how and why they are using the technology and how it aligns with the learning goals. Through this process teachers are afforded the ability to demonstrate the ethical and social considerations needed for the positive integration of technology in the learning process and its uses to contribute to society.

Katie & Tommy

We are for technology in the classroom, always and forever.

However, we support the introduction and implementation of digital technology with careful application and consideration of development readiness. Until extensive and more conclusive research is proved positive for early implementation in child development, we recommend that technology use move in tandem with developmental progress. We also recognize the unique affordances that digital technologies bring to learning environments for both instructors and learners, including differentiated instruction and greater capacity for multimodal content delivery. With graduated implementation, learners will be better able to avoid the myopia of past generations and the consequences of injudicious decision-making resulting less than ideal academic outcomes. We also look forward to future advances in educational technology to support diverse learning audiences and wide ranging learning opportunities. In conclusion, wise technology utilization can support and provision learners to thrive in the digital age.

Brooke and Zac

We believe that schools should embrace technology use in the classroom throughout K-12 setting while still emphasizing the skills learned from real world interactions. Schools can help provide equal access to technology and the skills necessary to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. Without schools providing this access many of our students would not otherwise have the opportunity to grow these skills. Through cross-curricular instructional methods, students can develop valuable life skills (technology skills, collaboration, analyzing sources) while learning subject area content. Technology affords students the opportunity to engage in cross-curricular instruction. While they are learning subject area content, students are also developing life skills. Technology should never replace authentic, hands-on learning experiences. Technology-based curriculums offer flexible learning environments that adapt to students’ learning levels. Students should be provided with opportunities to strengthen self-discipline, moral judgment, and empathy in parallel to using technology tools.

Is Rose’s research unduly influenced by his own subjectivity?

Kyle and Tommy

Although the author notes his own inherent bias, he balances this ethnographic study with professionals in the field to produce coherent arguments in favor of his hypothesis. By overtly naming his personal experience in the field, Rose’s background actually provisions a unique perspective on his research question allowing him to ask questions from an insider’s perspective. Rose also recognizes the limitations of ethnographic research and works to overcome this by seeking the opinion of other professionals. He could have gone even farther by offering some counterfactuals and using peer-assessment of the data he collected.

Katie & Kristy

Our position is that, while Rose presents strong evidence to support his argument that we, as a society, ought to broaden our understanding of what constitutes intelligent work, he nonetheless sometimes allows his emotional connection to his argument and subjects to unduly influence his conclusions. Specifically, his unique perspective and efforts to control personal biases were commendable (e.g., member-checking interviews, and consulting outside experts); however, at times he oversteps the actual data in the interest of evangelizing what is clearly a strong personal belief. For instance, in the introduction, he emphasizes his unique capacity for studying this work by virtue of having grown up “witness” (p. xi) to it; this subsequently undermines his objectivity, as he follows this compelling position statement with the assertion that this background is the same thing as “know[ing]” (p.xi) the cognitive capacity necessary to perform such work. Thus, while all research is biased and he certainly takes important and effective steps to account for this bias, he nonetheless allows his personal beliefs and connection to overstate his conclusions.

William & Alexandra

Our position is that Rose’s approach is not unbiased, but helps lay a foundation for this research. His personal experience, and case study of his mother’s work, provides the basis for his primary research question and hypothesis. After laying out this foundation, Rose uses an appropriate methodology, ethnographic research, to answer his question. Given the nature of this methodology he does make a concerted effort to address his subjectivity by reviewing prior literature, confirming case studies with participants and third party researchers, and includes multiple cases studies for each field.

However, Rose’s study is not without limitations. For example, the nature of ethnographic study faces limitations of small group research. He also, must consider his own influences as the researcher on the actual outcome. Rose did not adequately address how, for example, “social desirability” might influence his results. Another limitation is that Rose was not able to test a null hypothesis. He came into the study with a particular worldview of intelligence and sought confirmation of this. Naturally, Rose’s hypothesis is one most would agree with. However, there is value in testing the opposite. We acknowledge the challenges of operationalizing this though.

Monaca and Zach

We agree that Mike Rose’s observations were influenced by his own subjectivity, however his subjectivity did not unduly influence his research. His lived experience framed how he saw the world and served as the impetus for curiosity on the topic of the mind at work and desire to integrate new concepts into the conversation. He clearly communicated his bias and subjectivity from the onset and took steps to account for that bias through repeated measure, confirmation of story, comparison to theory and use of story. He framed this in relation to the creation and implementation of feminist theory, that one must live difference in order to capture knowing beyond the current conversation. Rose was unique position with dual citizenship in the realm of scholar and that of lived experience in seeing the mind at work. This allowed him to make connections between his lived experience, that of others doing similar work, with widely held social convention and long standing social theory. This unique position, which was inherent to his subjectivity, it what allowed to navigate and connect contradictory views on the conversation of the mind at work and offer qualitative evidence for an inclusion of skilled trades and labor as a considerate in the larger conversation.

Mike & Brooke

Our position on Rose is that although we do consider this work to be research, like all research – it is flawed.Rose’s research methodology is sound but his biases may have influenced the outcome, in a number of subtle ways. Rose admits that his presence may have influenced the responses and behaviors of his subjects. The use of a co-investigator would have neutralized some of this bias in his observations created by social desirability effect.
All research is biased but do not reject it because of the strength of the methodology which helped create strong external validity. Case studies, ethnography, and naturalistic observation are all accepted practices that Rose buttresses with checking against external studies.
There is the notable absence of a counter narrative which may be resulting from his framing of the research question and his selection of only successful exemplars. In conclusion, Rose’s study is quality research that calls out for replication to confirm the strength of his methods and conclusions against accusations of bias.

McShea and Thomas

Our position on Rose is that although we do consider this work to be research, like all research – it is flawed.Rose’s research methodology is sound but his biases may have influenced the outcome, in a number of subtle ways. Rose admits that his presence may have influenced the responses and behaviors of his subjects. The use of a co-investigator would have neutralized some of this bias in his observations created by social desirability effect.
All research is biased but do not reject it because of the strength of the methodology which helped create strong external validity. Case studies, ethnography, and naturalistic observation are all accepted practices that Rose buttresses with checking against external studies.
There is the notable absence of a counter narrative which may be resulting from his framing of the research question and his selection of only successful exemplars. In conclusion, Rose’s study is quality research that calls out for replication to confirm the strength of his methods and conclusions against accusations of bias.

William & Alexandra

Our position is that Rose’s approach is not unbiased, but helps lay a foundation for this research. His personal experience, and case study of his mother’s work, provides the basis for his primary research question and hypothesis. After laying out this foundation, Rose uses an appropriate methodology, ethnographic research, to answer his question. Given the nature of this methodology he does make a concerted effort to address his subjectivity by reviewing prior literature, confirming case studies with participants and third party researchers, and includes multiple cases studies for each field.

However, Rose’s study is not without limitations. For example, the nature of ethnographic study faces limitations of small group research. He also, must consider his own influences as the researcher on the actual outcome. Rose did not adequately address how, for example, “social desirability” might influence his results. Another limitation is that Rose was not able to test a null hypothesis. He came into the study with a particular worldview of intelligence and sought confirmation of this. Naturally, Rose’s hypothesis is one most would agree with. However, there is value in testing the opposite. We acknowledge the challenges of operationalizing this though.

Mike & Brooke

Our position on Rose is that although we do consider this work to be research, like all research – it is flawed.Rose’s research methodology is sound but his biases may have influenced the outcome, in a number of subtle ways. Rose admits that his presence may have influenced the responses and behaviors of his subjects. The use of a co-investigator would have neutralized some of this bias in his observations created by social desirability effect.
All research is biased but do not reject it because of the strength of the methodology which helped create strong external validity. Case studies, ethnography, and naturalistic observation are all accepted practices that Rose buttresses with checking against external studies.
There is the notable absence of a counter narrative which may be resulting from his framing of the research question and his selection of only successful exemplars. In conclusion, Rose’s study is quality research that calls out for replication to confirm the strength of his methods and conclusions against accusations of bias.

Should schools adopt a constructivist approach?

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