Reflections on reading the transcript of David
Hestenes’ Lectures

by
Cindy Hunt, Decatur, AL.

(Cindy was a young teacher when she took
Leadership Modeling Workshops in 1995-97 at ASU. She heard David Hestenes give
his day-long interactive lecture in summer 1997; and she read the transcript in
2001 and wrote her insightful reflections. As of 2013, she has widened her
practice to include English language learners and she has become a state
leader.)

**Hestenes
Lecture: Part 1 - Expertise, and Teaching FCI Significance**

I
remember this lecture. I remember
feeling very confused and inadequate as a teacher. Rereading the lecture notes and reflecting over the last
three years, the evolution in my teaching is evident.

Someone
once told me that teaching was the easiest job in the world, if you committed
to doing only a halfway decent job.
Since being introduced to modeling, I can see so many instances in
teaching where “the method” is truly only “madness”. The idea of “deliberate
practice” is ** so**
necessary. As teachers, we

In
open class discussion, I once posed three questions: “What are the characteristics of ‘good
students’?” “How
do you know when you have ‘learned’?” “What kind of student are
you?” To each question,
students tied success in math to their answer. Somehow, students have been led to believe that the concepts
of math and science are understandable by a few “smart
people”. They are pleasantly
surprised to find that the concepts of science are accessible.

When
I give the FCI initially, scores are LOW!
Until this year, student scores had always improved by ≥3
questions. Even students who
struggled with the concepts had improved post-test scores!

Most
students are able to develop distinguishable concepts of velocity and
acceleration as rates of change. I
find that as we progress through the models, model identification lags. I suspect there may be a “fatigue
factor”.

**Hestenes
Lecture: Part 2 - Preconceptions**

Most
teachers would agree that the piecemeal approach has a short-term, answering
effect. True learning - true
understanding - is the result of
changed views. The effect is
life-changing.

When
students truly understand the little car-big truck problem, the transfer to
other situations is inevitable.
Teachers recognize that “doing” is important, but I believe
that the __purpose__ of having students “do” experiments eludes
most.

Teachers
are puzzled by student inability to answer correctly after instruction. Worksheets are written, lab work
performed, homework checked and corrected, yet students’ understanding
remains unchanged or non-existent.
I believe __most__ of the work __most__ teachers assign does __not__
result in learning by students. I
believe this to be true K-12+. I
believe most teachers would agree.
However, __most__ would assign blame of failure on the student,
rather than evaluate the pedagogy.

Tools
- they are the name of the game.
Common methods fail because the tools are wrong for the task. Additionally, learning takes time, a
long time. We try to require
students to become experts, even though asked to use the wrong tools. The trouble is two-fold: tools and
time.

Focusing
on the three main misconceptions narrows the scope. Planning tasks carefully streamlines the process and
requires fewer resources. Given
proper tasks, students can develop individual solutions

**Hestenes
Lecture: Part 3 - Discourse**

Managing
the discourse is key to modeling success.
I saw a cartoon on the difference between how dogs and cats hear their
master:

Often,
I feel that students come to us with these impressions of how teaching is
done. Teachers must break this
model.

To
students, learning comes from the teacher. Teachers believe students are vessels or sponges to be
filled with knowledge. The reality
is that students must be active to interact with the knowledge. Teachers must set them up.

After
confronting their personal model, students must break their model. Teachers must provide a suitable
alternative, or replacement model.
Discourse is the tool of persuasion. Teachers must use their expertise to direct the discourse.

Careful
direction of discourse must be part of the plan. Teachers __must anticipate misconceptions__ in
preparation for discourse.
Whiteboards can be used to address worksheets, tests, labs . . . We must focus student attention on the
idea that reflection on the ‘wrong’ answer and the reasons for
selection can lead to learning. We
cannot allow them to rest comfortably with our concepts. We must lead them and teach them to
develop __their__ concept--with justification.

**Hestenes
Lecture: Part 4 - Cognitive
Foundations**

Metaphors
have been used by students to understand the world. Modeling requires teachers to develop the metaphor as part
of model; connecting the metaphor to patterns in real world so that models may
be developed.

Teachers
must keep major beliefs in mind, always.
Efforts to drive the students to confront their naive beliefs must be
made daily. Opportunities to
develop, investigate and analyze patternistic situations.

We
must recognize that students’ thoughts about what is heard strikes __their__
metaphors and analogies. Through
modeling, teachers set out to tie everyone’s metaphors to the same
realities, (i.e., labs). Then,
discourse can occur.

Teaching
students to focus on sameness is key in model development. We must provide students with tools to
determine the scope of a model.
Seeing the limits of a model leads to further development. Students must be able to evaluate
models to determine their usefulness in situations.

I
concur with the idea that “The cognitive processes that we use to
understand science involve constructing models and comparing
structures”. Recognizing
structure is important in understanding physics.

**Hestenes
Lecture: Part 5 - What Do We Teach?**

Students
remark that with modeling, they must think to actually learn. Representing observations requires
thinking. Modeling requires
receiving information, forming a mental model and expressing it in a number of
ways. Students learn to translate
internal representations into external representations.

Inventing
meaning is what all teaching seeks to accomplish. So many traditional activities disallow given opportunities
to develop analogies. A
teacher’s job then becomes a facilitator in agreement. As analogies are drawn, teachers must
ensure that the correct external representations arise. Modeling provides a structure in which
teaching and learning can occur.

Use
of tools, such as computers, can be used to further commonality of
representation. Additionally, time
can be used more effectively for analysis of meaning and clarifying expression.

Once
students are armed with conceptual models, as well as model developing tools,
they can successfully play the ‘science game’. Models can be built for any
patternistic phenomena encountered.

Revisiting
the definition of a model and the four inherent components brings order to
lesson planning. Just as modeling
drives students back to clear expression, including the four components in
lesson plans drives teachers back to the ideas of reform teaching.

Recognition
of schema in modeling causes students to focus on the
“action”. Systems of
schema must be identified by teachers!