Engineering Education – Week 9.1 – Reading Notes


Ambrose, 2010, “How Learning Works”
“Conclusion: Applying the Seven Principles to Ourselves” and “Appendices”


Loved the very practical and direct appendices and the acknowledgment of how complex (but not impossible) to teach well and considerately. Some of the strategies are quite simple to implement but with potentially great impacts for the learning and quality of work produced by the students.


  • Teaching is complex
    • “To develop mastery in teaching, we need to acquire its component skills, integrate them, and apply them appropriately. Of course, this requires that we first unpack the multifaceted task of teaching.” (Ambrose, 2010)
  • Formative feedback is essential
  • Strategies:
    • Student Self-Assessment
      • Ask directly what they know or do not know
    • Concepts Maps
      • Good to find out about prior-knowledge
    • Rubrics
      • Makes clear what is being assessed and what is expected
    • Learning Objectives
      • Student-centered
      • Break down task into cognitive processes
      • Use action verbs
      • Measurable
    • Ground Rules
      • Maintain productive course climate
    • Exam wrappers
      • Reflection post-exams
        • Identify own strengths and weaknesses
        • Reflect on how they prepared
        • Characterize nature of own errors
    • Checklists
      • Guide students when completing assignments
    • Reader Response / Peer Review
      • Students learn in the process
      • Wider audience might motivate to produce better work
      • Teacher gets better quality work in the end

Engineering Education – Week 8.2 – Reading Notes


Ambrose, “How Learning Works.”
Chapter 7: “How do Students Become Self-Directed Learners?”


Growth mindset keeps coming to mind obviously, along with the notion that metacognition must be taught starting much earlier than college. But to do so, one must focus on first teaching it to the professors and teachers, who most likely were never taught the topic either. Beyond simply teaching about it, one must recognize that self-monitoring, self-evaluating, planning and so on, are cognitively demanding tasks that must come with high motivation to be adopted by someone who is already overloaded with their practice, research, and work. The same applies to the students who on top of learning the content, they must also think about their own learning. Therefore, we should strive to reduce the load of useless-once-memorized-its-lost content and increase the load of preparing children and young adults to learn and function in real life.


  • Metacognition
    • “Metacognition refers to “the process of reflecting on and directing one’s own thinking” (National Research Council, 2001, p. 78).”
    • Students often do not know how to evaluate their own performance
      • Not a subject that is included in classrooms
  • How to become a self-directed learners
    • Principle: To become self-directed learners, students must learn to assess the demands of the task, evaluate their own knowledge and skills, plan their approach, monitor their progress, and adjust their strategies as needed.” (Ambrose, 2010)
  • Cycle of Self-Directed Learning
    • Not really a core-loop, more like a challenge-loop
    • Assessing the task is actually quite hard to be done by students
    • Evaluating personal performance is done poorly by low performing students
    • Planning, if done at all, is done poorly by low performing students
    • Apply Strategies and Monitor Performance your own behavior increases learning
    • Reflecting on approach taken may not lead to trying another strategy
    • Student’s beliefs also affect how much they learn… growth mindset

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  • Research finding:
    • Metacognition is not used by students (or taught by the teachers)
  • Strategies:
    • Assess
      • Be More Explicit Than You May Think Necessary
      • Tell Students What You Do Not Want 
      • Check Students’ Understanding of the Task
      • Provide Performance Criteria with the Assignment

    • Evaluate
      • Give Early, Performance-Based Assessments

      • Provide Opportunities for Self-Assessment

    • Planning
      • Have Students Implement a Plan That You Provide

      • Have Students Create Their Own Plan When

      • Make Planning the Central Goal of the Assignment

    • Apply & Monitor
      • Provide Simple Heuristics for Self-Correction

      • Have Students Do Guided Self Assessments

      • Require Students to Reflect on and Annotate Their Own Work

      • Use Peer Review/Reader Response

    • Reflect
      • Provide Activities That Require Students to Reflect on
      • Prompt Students to Analyze the Effectiveness of Their Study Skills
      • Present Multiple Strategies
      • Create Assignments That Focus on Strategizing Rather Than Implementation
    • Student’s beliefs
      • Address Students’ Beliefs About Learning Directly
      • Broaden Students’ Understanding of Learning Students
      • Help Students Set Realistic Expectations
    • Metacognition
      • Modeling Your Metacognitive Processes
      • Scaffold Students in Their Metacognitive Processes


Topics in Brazilian Education – Week 8 – Class Notes


We had the opportunity to hear from Engin Walter Bumbacher on “Remote Biology Laboratories for Model-based Science Inquiry” 

“Recent curricular frameworks (NGSS, 2013) are pushing for scientifically more authentic inquiry-based curricula that integrate relevant scientific practices revolving around data, models and theory. However, there are various obstacles to the classroom implementations of such a view of inquiry that range from logistical, structural and economic constraints (Abd-El-Khalick et al., 2004) to teachers’ knowledge and beliefs about science (Wallace & Kang, 2004). I argue that another important obstacle is the lack of proper learning tools and environments that integrate all the practices, yet that are robust enough to be used within the requirements and constraints of a science classroom. I will present a technological framework that provides an alternative approach to these types of labs; it combines remote biology labs with a modeling interface to enable inquiry-based activities that promote more authentic practices in line with the bifocal modeling framework (Blikstein, 2014). I will show results from a study implementing a first version of this technology in a middle school science lab. I am looking forward to the questions and discussions on these ideas.”

Engineering Education – Week 8.1 – Reading Notes

Ambrose, 2007, Chapter 3: “What Factors Motivate Students to Learn?”

  • Motivation -> towards a goal
    • Subjective: values of the goals
    • Expectancies: what do you expect out of it

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  • Goals
    • Multiple goals are usually in operation simultaneously
      • Conflicting, simultaneous, and even synergic goals – potentially reinforcing
    • Performance goals
      • “Performance goals involve protecting a desired self-image and projecting a positive reputation and public persona”
      • Two kinds
        • Performance-approach goals: focus on attaining competence
        • Performance-avoidant goals: focus on avoiding incompetence
    • Learning goals
      • Produce deeper understanding
    • Work-avoidant goals
      • Finish as fast as possible with minimum effort possible
    • Affective goals
    • Social goals
  • Values
    • Attainment value
      • Pleasure of getting there, making it to the next level
    • Intrinsic value / motivation
      • Do it for the sake of doing it
    • Instrumental value
      • Extrinsic rewards
  • Expectancies
    • Outcome expectancies
      • Positive or negative expectation of outcome
    • Efficacy expectancies
      • Belief of own’s capability of reaching the expected outcome
    • Students attribution to success
      • More likely to succeed when
        • Internal causes (talents, ability)
        • Controllable (effort, persistence)
      • Less likely to succeed when
        • External causes (easy task)
        • Uncontrollable causes (luck)
  • Context / environment
    • Supportive environment + values + efficacy expectancies
      • “Thus, our framework for understanding motivation suggests that if a goal is valued and expectancies for success are positive and the environment is perceived to be supportive, motivation will be highest.”

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  • Strategies
    • Establish Value
      • Connect material to student’s interests
      • Provide authentic, real world tasks
      • Show relevance to student’s current academic lives
      • Demonstrate the relevance of higher-level skills
      • Identify and reward what you value
      • Show your own passion and enthusiasm about the discipline
    • Positive Expectancies
      • Ensure alignment of objectives, assessments, and instructional strategies
      • Proper level of challenge
      • Early success opportunities
      • Articulate expectations
      • Provide rubrics
      • Targeted feedback
      • Be fair
      • Educate students about the ways we explain success and failure
      • Describe effective strategies
      • Provide flexibility and control
      • Give students an opportunity to reflect

BJ Fogg, 2009, “A Behavior Model for Persuasive Design”

  • The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM)
    • For a person to perform a target behavior they must:
      • Be sufficiently motivated
      • Have the ability to perform the behavior
      • Be triggered to perform the behavior

  • Core Motivators
    • Pleasure / Pain
    • Hope / Fear
    • Social Acceptance  / Rejection
  • Elements of Simplicity
    • Time
    • Money
    • Physical effort
    • Brain cycles
    • Social deviance
    • Non-routine
  • Trigger types
    • Spark as a trigger
    • Facilitator as a trigger
    • Signal as a trigger

BJ Fogg, 2009, “The Behavior Grid: 35 Ways Behavior Can Change”

  • Behavior Grid
    • How to study and design persuasive technologies
    • Horizontal axis
      • Types of behavior change
    • Vertical axis
      • Schedule

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Engineering Education – Week 6&7 Assignments

Finally catching up with the homework and blog posts… here are the assignments for the last 2 weeks:

EdTech Game Critique Assignment

Empirical cognitive task analysis

Learning Outcomes



Jan L. Plass, Bruce D. Homer & Charles K. Kinzer (2015) Foundations of Game-Based Learning, Educational Psychologist, 50:4, 258-283 


I highly appreciated the reading in the sense that it does not claim to have found a holistic and generalizable theory or framework for game-based learning. It comprehensively analyzes the several aspects or considerations one takes (or should take) into account when designing a game-based learning experience, and concludes that no single approach is the most effective or essential. It also states that when designing, one can use several learning theories and several game design aspects to enhance the experience.

“In this article we argued that the integrated viewpoints of cognitive, motivational, affective, and sociocultural perspectives are necessary for both game design and game research in order to fully capture what games have to offer for learning.” (Plass et al, 2015)

I particularly enjoyed the definition of gamification which reduces it to a gimmicky buzz-word. Like most buzz-words, it is over and incorrectly utilized – with the best intentions of course – but creating a false sense that any process or interaction can be magically transformed into a game and thus increase customer satisfaction, retention, or engagement.

“What exactly is meant by gamification varies widely, but one of its defining qualities is that it involves the use of game elements, such as incentive systems, to motivate players to engage in a task they otherwise would not find attractive.” (Plass et al, 2015)

“Consider as an example the gamification of math homework, which may involve giving learners points and stars for the completion of existing activities that they con- sider boring. Game-based learning of the same math topic, on the other hand, even though it may also include points and stars, would involve redesigning the homework activi- ties, using artificial conflict and rules of play, to make them more interesting and engaging.” (Plass et al, 2015)

Ambrose, Chapter 6 (“Why Do Student Development and Course Climate Matter for Student Learning?”)


This passage only reinforces the notion that being a classroom teacher is one of the most complex and demanding professions around. It really is an art to be able to balance delivering the content in a pedagogically sensible way and manage an entire classroom with very different individuals with particular needs and different interests, motivations, and previous knowledge. There is no silver bullet, but it does not mean we have to stop trying.

2 day update

Full days!

May 12

Started early at the DMV where I got a renewed temporary license while Homeland Security verifies my legal status in the US… it’s been 5 months… did I do something wrong? Hehehehe

I talked to Max from General Assembly where we discussed how I might help them with their new iOS curriculum and hopefully work more closely in the future.

I then rushed back to school to have lunch and go to work at my internship at VPTL. There I talked to Grace about my future plans and the possibilities of continuing our work there.

Also talked to Paulo, as my advisor, about the changes in my Master’s project… he gave me some great advice and ideas about how to make the project more interesting pedagogically speaking, innovative, and using technology to support the process.

May 13

Long bike ride in the morning. Caught up with another cyclist and we swapped drafting off of each other. Fun!

Arrived late for LDT seminar where we had Mingming talking about prototyping as a form of gaining knowledge about a problem. She is awesome.

The Corine and Omair presented us with a very impressive editing tool – Da Vinci Resolve  – FREE!! No compositing though but unparalleled color correction.

Then rushed out to get a Zip car… first try the car I reserved was not there… rushed to another location… the app would not work, or the network… after several app relaunches and network resets I was able to get the car I was standing next to. All this to go to LinkedIn to meet with Eduardo Saito, who I know from way back when we worked at Zip.Net. Great lunch and great conversation.

Stopped by the tuxedo rental place to pick mine up, then spoke to Brian Buttler, friends with Alex while living in Recife. Now he’s living in Miami and thinking about what to do after his Summit Global Education – a study abroad program – he founded. Interested in EdTech… great conversation about the market and the kinds of companies that are being built nowadays.

Then at night we went to the Venetian Ball at Stanford – a formal party with around 1000 graduate students. Pretty much all of the LDT cohort went – great fun!


Big Update

This past week has been crazy with a change in my Master’s project and searching for a job. I was unable to keep up with the blog postings so I decided today to do a quick overview of the past week since the last post:

Sunday, May 1

  • Went to a flower shop 🙂
  • Bounced some tennis balls of the wall

  • Decided upon a road bike instead of another hybrid – more hand positions, faster, more efficient, and makes me want to go on long rides again.


Tuesday, May 3

  • Attended a workshop on Optional Practical Training (OPT) at the Bechtel International Student Center where all the details and deadlines were explained.

Wednesday, May 4

  • Met with Mingming in the morning to help her with her iOS app
  • Did the readings for Engineering Education
  • The class itself was interesting but my mind is tuned out…


  • Met with James to talk about Slingshot

Thursday, May 5

  • Internship day – all day – progressed a good deal on the necessary updates and started talking about the internship over the summer.

Friday, May 6

  • First long ride with the new bike – 2 hour ride
  • Presented slingshot to the group good reception
  • At night we went to Omair’s apartment for an LDT party – great fun!

Saturday, May 7

  • Game Design workshop: more on looking at processes as Core Loops:
    • Assess
    • Decide
    • ActReward
  • B.J.Fogg’s B = M. A. T.
    • Behavior = motivation + ability + trigger
  • Went all out and ate the best burgers we’ve ever had at Umami Burger

Sunday, May 8

  • Picnic on the hills!
  • Mother’s day!


Monday, May 9

  • Biked in the morning – too short
  • Called DMV to see what’s up with my license – will have to go there to get a new temporary document
  • Met with Grace and Andy (Internship) and went ahead with the 20 hour a week internship for the summer 🙂
  • Met with James then Karin for a long time discussing Slingshot and what we have to do to make it a Master’s project.

  • Engineering Education – hum… went over Assessments…

Tuesday, May 10

  • Brazilian Education – Bertrand presented his work on sequencing hands on learning experiences with direct content delivery/presentation. Very interesting. Pity we’re loosing him to Harvard!


  • Lytics Seminar – talking about student performance predictor algorithms to identify weak instructional segments and improve assessments.


  • Went into work for a little bit – filling in the hours since on Thursday I won’t be able to put in all the 8 hours.
  • Talked to Pedro Martelo, with whom I’ve probably not spoken with for over 20 years! He’s been working in the EdTech sector for a long time and gave me some great insights about the market, the available roles, and potentially interesting companies to look into.

Wednesday, May 11

  • In the morning I worked on the Engineering Education assignment… not too proud of it but here it is:

  • Class was ok… have to catch up with the readings and assignments… uff
  • Borrowed Jame’s car and went to the Tuxedo rental store for this Friday’s Formal! Should be fun.

Internship – Week 6

schultzt_faculty.jpgMet with Alison to talk about helping Professor Thomas Schultz with the creation of an online course on Schoenberg’s Opus.

Also met with Grace earlier this week to talk about my Master’s project and summer internship – decided to go forward with it to get more experience in Instructional Design and the difficulties one faces when planning and creating online courses.

Good stuff 🙂