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 🙂



Brazilian Education – Week 6 – Class Notes

secretaria-claudia-costin.jpgWe had the honor of being lecture by Claudia Costin, the Senior Director of Global Education at the World Bank and the previous Secretary of Education of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The talk was on “Enhancing Education – Challenges and opportunities in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro’s case)” and the discussant was Martin Carnoy.

It was scary to see the level of Brazilian’s education compared to the rest of the world. Particularly interesting was the fact that even the best performing students in Brazil are doing worse than most.

Another interesting fact is that private schools are NOT producing better students… the reason being that the teachers are being trained in the same manner, or by the same institutions that teach teachers in the public education system.

Teacher PD has to be improved…

Engineering Education – Week 6.1 – Reading Notes


LOFT Process Guides: Define Phase. Techniques: Writing Learning outcomes



  • Creating and online course – tips:
    • Establish a community of practice
    • Start small
    • Start early
    • Gather your team
    • Gear up
    • Be aware of legal issues
    • Vary your approach
    • Use a style guide
  • Learning objectives
    • “Learning objectives describe the knowledge and skills we want students to gain from our instruction. Learning objectives are used to provide a framework for selecting and organizing course content and learning activities, guide decisions about assessment and evaluation methods, and give learners information for directing their learning efforts and monitoring their progress.

       An assessment is an exercise whose output can be used to measure the attainment of a learning objective.  Assessments can serve two purposes: evaluate student performance and foster learning.”

    • Main purposes of Learning Objectives
      • Communicate our intentions clearly to students and to colleagues.
      • Provide a framework for selecting and organizing course content.
      • Guide decisions about assessment and evaluation methods.
      • Provide a framework for selecting appropriate teaching and learning activities.
      • Give students information for directing their learning efforts and monitoring their own progress.
    • Goals vs. Objectives + Topics List
      • Goals are broader and describe the final state:
        • “The end toward which effort is directed”
      • Objectives precisely define observable skills and knowledge the audience must demonstrate to show achievement towards the final goal
        • “Something toward which effort is directed”
      • Topics list is simply a list of content that will be looked at within a course
    • Characteristics of an Effective Learning Objective
      • ABCD approach
        • “The audience is the learner who will demonstrate the behavior under specified conditions and to an acceptable degree.”obj_impl_abcd.jpeg
        • Not every learning objective must include a condition or a degreeobj_overview_abcd__exm_1_nobkg.jpg
        • The order is also not important obj_overview_abcd__exm_2.jpg
        • Audience
          • The better you understand your audience the more effective your learning objective, and thus your course might be
          • Prior Knowledge:obj_impl_working_memory.jpeg
          • Learning objectives are an important tool for the instructor, but most important for the students
            • Teacher- vs. Student-centric learning objectives
        • Behavior
          • An observable and/or measurable action
          • Bloom’s Taxonomy’s domains
          • KSA: Knowledge, Skills, Attitudeobj_overview_blooms_domains
          • Cognitive domain:Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.27.32 AM.png
            • Examples:
              • Remember
                • Students will be able to define mitosis.
                • Students will be able to name the phases of mitosis.
              • Understand
                • Students will be able to explain the process of mitosis.
                • Students will be able to summarize the central limit theorem.
              • Apply
                • Students will be able to sketch the progression of mitosis in a five-stage diagram.
                • Students will relate the law of supply and demand to the costs of health care.
              • Analyze
                • Students will be able to compare and contrast classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
                • Students will be able to select a healthy exercise plan for an overweight child.
              • Evaluate
                • Students will be able to evaluate the George W. Bush administration’s actions in conducting the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq without declaring war.
                • Students will be able to assess current artificial intelligence technology and describe its potential applications in health care.
              • Create
                • Students will be able to compose a villanelle (a poem of 19 lines with two refrains and two repeating rhymes).
                • Students will be able to create a three-dimensional bump map in Adobe Photoshop.
          • Knowledge domain
            • Factual: Knowledge of terminology and of specific details and elements
            • Conceptual: Knowledge of classifications and categories; principles and generalizations; theories, models, and structures
            • Procedural: Knowledge of subject-specific skills and algorithms, techniques, and methods; criteria for determining when to use appropriate procedures
            • Metacognitive: Strategic knowledge; knowledge about cognitive tasks, including appropriate contextual and conditional knowledge; self-knowledgeobj_overview_bloomcolortable.jpg
          • Psychomotor domain Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.31.31 AM.png
          • Affective domainScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.33.57 AM.png
        • Condition
          • What is it?
            • What a student may or may not use to demonstrate mastery of the objective
            • The circumstance under which the behavior is to be performed.
        • Degree
          • Sometimes the degree is implied: “without errors” for example
      • Scope and size
        • Can be broad and all encompassing or small and specific
        • Can be for the entire course and can be for a specific module
        • Questions to reflect upon when creating a learning objective
          • Too big
            • Do your objectives sound generic, as though they could appear on a syllabus in almost any course or discipline?
            • Could your objectives describe an entire curriculum?

          • Too small
            • Do your objectives contain repetition and overlap?  

            • Do your objectives read like the task specifications for an assignment?
        • Developing learning objectives is
          • A time-consuming process: It takes careful thought and revision to produce a polished set of learning objectives. Allow yourself plenty of time for this task.
          • An iterative process: Learning objectives provide the foundation for designing your course, but once they are written, expect to revise and refine the objectives to keep them in alignment with your content, activities, and assessments.
          • A flexible process: You can find helpful tips and guidelines for developing effective learning objectives, but you will not find rigid rules. You (and your team if you work with one) must be flexible as you create objectives that work best for your course.