Media Will Never Influence Learning

I’ve been getting my academia on lately. If I don’t test the efficacy of science rap music videos in schools – who will? So in an attempt to catapult my research to the highest levels of social science rigor, I’ve been talking to anybody at the University of Otago with an expertise vaguely (and it’s bound to be only vaguely) related to science rap video education.

My latest trip has taken me to the shadowy forests of SkepticLand –  a place I find both entertaining and invigorating. I’m feeling particularly motivated by a 1994 article by Richard E. Clark, an Educational Psychology professor at USC. I’ve borrowed the article’s title for this blog post.

Here is a highlight:

We begin with an enthusiasm for some medium… and search for a sufficient and visible context in which to establish evidence for our solution. Negative evidence is suspect and we are predisposed to believe that it is flawed… Positive evidence is accepted easily because it confirms our expectations and helps to attract research support… If we begin by implicitly and explicitly attempting to validate a belief about the solutions to largely unexamined problems, we are less open to evidence that our intuitions might be very far off the mark.

Such problems (which should be the starting point for research) include the need to “increase achievement, or access to instruction, or to address the labor intensiveness of instruction”.

The more I see myself in Clark’s straw man researcher seeking to validate the legitimacy of his own favored solution (science rap), the more fired up I get about doing things right.  Simply formulating the problem I’m aiming to solve as “too many students aren’t engaged in the science classroom,” isn’t going to cut it.

One goal is to better formulate the “problem” I’m addressing by talking to more middle school science teachers on the front lines. Know any 7th or 8th grade California science teachers who would be happy to chat with me? Hit me up!

Another goal is to become familiar enough with the literature and the shortcomings of my methods to be able to sit comfortably in SkepticLand myself.

And if I put in enough work… “Point the biggest skeptic out, I’ll make ’em a believer.” Tell ’em Drake (at 1:33).

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4 Responses to Media Will Never Influence Learning

  1. I’m a Californian teaching middle school life science in Massachusetts. Let’s chat!

  2. Thanks Amanada! I just realized I still have your email. I’ll be in contact shortly.

  3. Steven Crane says:

    You can do it Tom! Let reality shape your conclusions, not the other way around : )

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