Dylan: “Hints can promote learning in five ways”

Michael cites Kluger & DeNisi (1998), and argues that hints can cause learning in two ways:

  • Locus of Attention – Feedback can draw the student’s attention towards something that matters for their learning.
  • Motivation – You can ask a student to do something that they otherwise wouldn’t do.

This is interesting, and I think I buy it, but I think we can make this more specific and actionable. Here’s my proposal, which is really just breaking down the two ideas above:

Hints can promote learning in five ways:

  • Redirect attention to features of the problem (What is it saying?)
  • Redirect attention to student knowledge (What do I know?)
  • Redirect attention to student cognition (How am I approaching it?)
  • Promote students’ beliefs in their mathematical efficacy (I think I can solve it)
  • Provide missing information (I know what I need to solve it)

This is from Dylan, and it’s such a great start. One piece of work that we need to do is get clearer on what we mean by “promote learning.” I think we probably need to make a basic distinction here too, and I’ll start by distinguishing two different goals that I have with hints.

  • Promote learning, in the moment – It’s during problem solving, and I see an opportunity for the student to learn. (e.g. this)
  • Preparation for future learning – We’re going to have a follow-up activity, or a whole-group conversation, and in order to participate in that opportunity to learn the student will have to notice certain problem features.

A lot to think about with Dylan’s post. I’m going to stew on it for a while.

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