Using video to teach about transfer: The case of Brandon

PurposesProfessional development activity; Student reasoning
DescriptionFor many years, I used Brandon to teach about analogical transfer in a course in Educational Psychology and colleague Sharon Derry at University of Wisconsin used this in a course in the learning sciences as part of a hybrid problem-based learning course organized around video.

After students worked on the tower and pizza problems themselves, they watched the Brandon video and were asked to solve the following problem as part of the STELLAR project:

Knowing What Brandon Knows

As a teacher, it is important to get a handle on "knowing what students know". This is a major problem that teachers face everyday. In the video that you saw, Brandon has demonstrated some sophisticated understanding in his solution to the pizza problem.
Using your knowledge of the learning sciences, think about the following questions:
1) What makes the pizza problem difficult?

2) What enduring understanding did Brandon demonstrate? What kind of reasoning did he engage in?

3) How do you know what he understood?

4) What activities did Brandon engage in to construct these understandings? What strategies did he use to solve the problem and how did that contribute to his learning?

The undergraduate students in the class typically did not see the isomorphism between the problems and were able to think about ideas related to transfer and what one could infer from about Brandon’s understanding. It provided a window into ideas related to assessment, memory, problem solving, and representations. The students generally worked on the problem over 2-3 weeks.

Research on the STELLAR project:

Katic, E., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., and Weber, K. H. (2009). Material mediation: Tools, representations, artifacts, and collaborative learning discourse. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 13-24.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Derry, S. J., Bitterman, A. H., Hatrak, N. (2009). Targeting Transfer in a STELLAR PBL Course for Pre-service Teachers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning.3(2), 24-42. Retrieved from

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Chernobilsky, E., and Jordan, R. (2008). Understanding collaborative learning processes in new learning environments. Instructional Science, 36, 409-430.

Derry, S. J., Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Nagarajan, A., Chernobilsky, E., and Beitzel, B. (2006). Cognitive Transfer Revisited: Can We Exploit New Media to Solve Old Problems on a Large Scale? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 35, 145-162.

Hmelo-Silver, C.E., Katic, E., Nagarajan, A., and Chernobilsky, E. (2007). Soft leaders, hard artifacts, and the groups we rarely see: Using video to understand peer learning processes. In R. Goldman, R. Pea, B. Barron, & S. Derry (Eds.), Video research in the learning sciences (pp. 255-270). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E. and Derry, S. J. (2007). Developing design principles to scaffold ePBL: A case study of eSTEP. In Tan Oon Seng. Problem-based learning in E-learning breakthroughs (pp. 15-31). Singapore: Thomson Learning.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Nagarajan, A., and Derry, S. J. (2006). From face-to-face to online participation: Tensions in facilitating problem-based learning. In M. Savin-Baden & K. Wilkie (Eds.). Problem-based learning online (pp. 61-78). Berkshire England: Open University Press.

Derry, S. J., and Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2005). Reconceptualizing teacher education: Supporting case-based instructional problem solving on the World Wide Web. In L. PytlikZillig, B. M. & R. Bruning (Eds.), Technology-based education: Bringing researchers and practitioners together (pp. 21-38). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Created on2011-12-15
Published on2011-12-12T14:44:42-05:00
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