B1 everyday technical meanings: volatile, accommodation (place to stay. Eye focus) B2 Different technical meanings in different fields: molar (tooth, chemical concentration accommodation (eye focus, piaget contrast to assimilation). Relationship to teachers' goals Problems fall into these broad classes, differing in how likely a teacher is to predict a likely problem and provide an explanation without being asked: make Technical words central to the current teaching. Mostly the teacher will explain their meaning: they are part of the content to be taught. Mathemagenic Hidden jargon. Valid (a technical word in psychology). Technical words not the focus but used by teacher Names of other fields. Asymptotic, euclidean geometry, acronyms, iteration.
The problem The overall problem is words used by teachers that learners do not in reality understand. Learners detecting a problem The associated problem is whether the learner can detect that they do not understand. If they do not, they will not even try to discover its needed meaning. In relation to the latter, there are:. Jargon: unambiguously not-understood words. Students immediately know they do not understand, and may therefore ask. Ambiguous words, deceiving learners by having a meaning they know, but that is different from the technical meaning actually intended by their teacher. Learners cannot know they do not understand, and so cannot ask.
The deep problem is how to know which of the words i used conceals a misunderstanding neither I nor my students recognise. Skemp (1976) introduces his paper (which is mainly about kinds of understanding in maths) by discussing the French term "faux amis" for words that look the same in two languages, but actually have seriously different meanings. "chef" in English (means cook) in French (means the head of any organization). This, in a cross-language context, is the issue. Preface to collect provisional thoughts on the vocab. In teaching problem; particularly what to do about. Note too that the situativity view of learning and teaching could be regarded as saying that vocabulary is the whole of education: learning to talk the talk in order to be part of the community.
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We have final year honours students taking a specialist vision course who cannot say, and do not vmou really know, what "psychophysics" means. And one of them seemed pleased to understand for the first time that "physics" and "physiology" were not interchangeable terms. So i guess the research is right, and though I suffer strongly from the normal feeling that surely everyone has the same vocabulary as me and besides which it's not my job to teach English so i shouldn't have to explain what I mean. Having a class discussion of a word list actually felt comfortable, and seemed to go down well; so perhaps I can try to make that a standard practice, and consider the suggestion of beginning as well as ending with that. A longer term project would be to accumulate technical glossaries for our students on the web; as they grow we will realise (as someone i know has already done at Stafford ) that they have to be broken down by year, so as.
(Otherwise it will be: "Welcome to psychology. Here is a 1000 word vocabulary you must learn by tomorrow or else you won't be able to understand the lectures: the lecturers have no way of knowing what words you know, so they will just talk in terms that make sense to themselves. In generating definitions I must just expect those referring to fields to be fuzzy and be up front about. And mind you, all the above is about overtly technical vocabulary. But the most deadly problems are not words like "phenomenography" and "mathemagenic" which everyone instantly recognises as a problem and may ask a question about, but words with a familiar everyday meaning different from the technical one(s) such as "derivative "volatile "subject "cell "attitude and.
By serendipity (or anyway coincidence only an hour or two after that I read some accumulated emails on ITforum about how to define the field of Instructional Technology, in which one person argued that there is not and cannot be a sensible definition for names. They don't have definitions specifying necessary and sufficient conditions. I am still wondering what to make of this. From research literature i know that vocabulary is a serious problem, and that it is ignored by almost all university teachers, but that this damages teaching and I should be doing something about it in my own practice. I certainly feel that I should be able to define the words i use to my students.
But the argument says I shouldn't. And in fact it is true that the terms that had us all stumbling the most referred to fields: neurophysiology, psychophysics. And it must matter. For instance i recently used the word "neurophysiology" in an exam question. What reason do i have for believing the students knew what it meant? I can't remember telling them. And if they didn't know, then the whole question reduces to a trivial surface test of vocabulary. What should I make of this?
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(1976) "Relational understanding and instrumental understanding" Mathematics teaching homework issue.20-26 This is a note i wrote on i recently had an experience i am still digesting concerning vocabulary in teaching. I ended a block of 6 lectures to a final year undergraduate class by putting up an ohp slide with some of the long words that had been used, and asking the class what they meant. I did this because of the research showing that a failure of common understanding between teachers and students of technical vocabulary is a major barrier to effective teaching in my, and probably in all, universities. It felt a comfortable thing to do, both in planning and in execution. The students seemed to say it was useful to them, although one said I should do it at the start as well as at the end of a block of lectures. For technical words I had introduced, this was a good concluding tactic. For some other words it seemed to show some of the worrying problems the literature had warned me about. I also realised that I was as hesitant and inconclusive as the students about actually defining some of the terms.
Practical remedies, asking learners doesn't work very easily, not least because the organization worst problems are the words the learner thinks they understand, but don't because they have both a technical and an everyday meaning. This is one of the (few) things the www could be a real solution for: we can collect terms, we can continually update it, as this problem doesn't stand still, and we can share a glossary across many institutions as it isn't very sensitive. (1980) Language and thinking in science — some investigations with multiple choice questions. Thesis, University of Glasgow Cassels,. (1983) "The meaning of words and the teaching of chemistry" Education in chemistry vol.20.10-11 Cassels,. (1984) "The effect of language on student performance on multiple choice tests in chemistry" journal of Chemical Education vol.61.613-615 The royal Society of Chemistry (1985) Words that matter in science johnstone,. (1991) "Why is science difficult to learn? Things are seldom what they seem" journal of computer assisted learning vol.7.2.75-83 skemp,R.
towards fulfilling this requirement; and for instructional designers, ditto. Part of my problem is that it is not entirely easy to discover what needs to be in the glossary. I ask myself what is clear, but my intuitions are just too different from my students' to be at all reliable. I ask my students, but they seldom tell me, at least in response to a bald question. The most deadly cases, as Alex showed, are not in fact overt jargon like "mathemagenic" which at least every student immediately knows they don't understand, but ordinary words used technically work" in physics, "volatile" in chemistry, "reliable" in psychology, "active learning" here). Everyone thinks they understand, but often they don't understand the same things. It is impossible in practice for communicators to predict as they write how they will be misunderstood, although you can certainly make a damning-looking case after the event. Larry was just using the vocabulary he was most comfortable with, and doubtless uses all the time in the company he feels most at home. So do teachers and contributors to this forum, but it doesn't lead to reliable communication.
Itforum email list in December 1997. (Link to list of itforum participants.). Vocabulary (jargon) has been shown in research by Alex Johnstone here at Glasgow to be a significant barrier to learning, at least in this university. Furthermore, teachers here don't care my job is to teach Chemistry, not English. Alex has convinced me of this, but i am having trouble developing a systematic solution in my practice (i.e. David tai's advice to practice somebody else's sermon). In the current discussion someone said that learning the jargon of a field is an essential part of getting educated.
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Vocabulary and learning, last changed. Length essay about 4,000 words (23,000 bytes). This is a www document. Steve draper, installed. You may copy. How to refer. Draper, contents (click to jump to a section). This document is a note about the issue of vocabulary in learning (in he based on a message i sent to the.