Core Mechanics – bye bye

Decided to drop (not take) Core Mechanics – although the topic is very interesting, it is not a requirement for me since I alredy took Understanding Learning Environments and because it is heavily based on a book, which from what I’ve read so far, is pretty self-explanatory.

More time to dedicate to the other course which are going to be heavy both in terms of reading, group work, off-campus site visits, and final projects – not to mention the need to focus on my Master’s project plan and finding an internship for next quarter.

Core Mechanics – Weew 2.1 – Class Notes

  • Sleep help us to see or formulate patterns
  • Memorization also is helped by time – better to study over 3 days rather than all in one day


  • Pie charts are hard to show differences in sizes
  • Line charts imply that the horizontal axis is a continuum


Core Mechanics – Week 2 – General Notes

This class uses a book written by the Dean of the Graduate School of Education and his 2 research assistants (our teachers for the course)

Schwartz, D. L., Tsang, J. M., & Blair, K. P. (forthcoming Feb. 2016). The ABCs of How We Learn: 26 Scientifically Proven Approaches, How They Work, and When to Use Them.  W. W. Norton.

Daniel L. SchwartzJessica M. TsangKristen P. Blair

  • Class Topics:
    • A is for Analogy
    • B is for Belonging
    • C is for Contrasting Cases
    • D is for Deliberate Practice
    • E is for Elaboration
    • F is for Feedback
    • G is for Generation
    • H is for Hands On
    • J is for Just-in-Time Telling
    • N is for Norms
    • R is for Reward

Core Mechanics – Week 1 – Reading Notes


Brown, A. L., & Kane, M. J. (1988). Preschool children can learn to transfer: Learning to learn and learning from example. Cognitive Psychology,20(4), 493-523.


Studies on how learning can happen through only one or few examples, both for children and machine learning. Explaining the one example leads to greater transfer, vs just looking at the example. Learn by teaching.

“In this series of studies we examined whether young children can abstract a general rule from examples and, if so, whether their learning is influenced by their ability to explain why the concept is an instance of the rule.”

Mental Notes

  • Video Games must be an effective way nowadays to test transfer in children.
  • Learn by teaching, by explaining – create a schema in your head prodcues learning.


“Transfer is not automatic but depends upon insight into general principles.”, p.495

“Telling children that problems are the same, without specifying how, is one of the methods that has promoted successful transfer in young children (CrisatI, 1986; Crisafi & Brown, 1986). Therefore, this obvious mention of the common action and of problem similarity should promote transfer if anything would; thus, the hint condition was regarded as a yardstick against which the other manipulations could be measured.”, p.500

“This means that the 3-year-olds show a reliable learning to learn effect only if they are encouraged to reflect on their solutions, either through discussions, instructing Kermit, or explicit prompts to problem similarity.”, p. 501

“Taken together the results of Studies 4 and 5 suggestthat examples are more useful in promoting transfer than the provision of an explicit statement of the general rule.”, p.512

“Taken together, Studies 5, 6, and 7 demonstrate the efficacy of having learners generate explanations of why an example is an instance of a concept.”, p.516

“Exposing children to a variety of transfer experiences teaches them to search for underlying commonalities.”, p.516

“If children spontaneously recall, or elaborate on why an example is an instance of a deeper relational mechanism, or if they are led to such elaborations by probing questions, they transfer readily. Elaborations and explanations provided by the subjects themselvesare more effective in promoting transfer than those provided by the experimenter, an effect reminiscent of the use of self-produced elaborations in adult learning (Reder et al., 1986).”, p.517

“Efficient learners prepare for transfer by engaging in reasoning processes aimed at elaborating knowledge. With experience, efficient learners develop a mind set to regard new problems, not as isolated examples, but as instances of a general class. Efficient learners come to expect what they learn to be relevant elsewhere. Efftcient learners perform thought experiments in which they actively seek out appropriate analogies. In short, efftcient learners understand some of the principles involved in learning and reasoning; they have a greater metaconceptual grasp of the domain ‘ ‘learning. ’ ’”, p.520

Core Mechanics – Week 1.2 – Class Notes

(insert class slides here)


  • Applying a skill learned in one context in a different one
  • Relational reasoning must occur to overcome different surface features.
  • For it to occur, one must be able to understand the underlying structure or “deep features”.

Negative Transfer – when you use a ‘learned’ skill in an analogous situation incorrectly.


  • How to increase creativity using analogies?
    • Analogies in scientific discovery are usefull to tangibilize abstract concepts
      • Kepler – speed of planets to derive gravity
      • Dunbar – biological analogies
  • Strong prior knowledge is essential for creating effective analogies
    • Learning facts therefore sometimes is needed

Exercise: create analogies for the following:

  • A robbed safe
    • A pearl removed from a closed shell – NA
    • A person who’s lover has left – HQ
    • A hacked database – NA
  • A light bulb blowing out
    • A candle extinguished by the wind
    • A tire popping flat
    • Collapsing while running a marathon
    • An overheated engine
  • A budding cocoon
    • A flower blossoming
    • A transformative chemical reaction
    • A chick being born
    • A sprouting seed

Structure coding of analogies:

“A robbed safe”

Not Analogical

  • Someone taking something out of a protected space
  • An empty box
  • A stolen wallet

Low Quality

  • Squrrel digging nuts
  • Expect something from computer and it’s broken, you can’t get it

High Quality

  • Cheating on a partner
  • Soldier coming back from war with PTSD


Asked people to create analogies, sitting or moving indoors or outdoors. From lowest to highest scores for High Quality Analogies:

  • Indoors – sitting
  • Indoors – walking
  • Outdoors – sitting
  • Outdoors – walking

So… study/create outside 🙂 Is that why Steve Jobs always had long walks as meetings?

From lowest to highest scores for Novelty of Analogies:

  • Indoors – sitting
  • Outdoors – sitting
  • Indoors – walking
  • Outdoors – walking

So… walking helps with novelty or divergent thinking.

=> Moving around outside improves creativity and thinking BUT most of Edcuation is done indoors with the students sitting around.

Analogy as a Core Mechanic for Transfer

Analogical Transfer

  • Initial learning – need to learn underlying structure of the base
  • Spontaneous access – need to be able to retrieve information

Example: The Radiation Problem

  • No previous story – 10% solved it
  • Spontaneous transfer – 30% solved it
  • Hint condition – 75% solved it

Method: Give them 1 analogue, 2 analogues and compare, principle, and/or diagram.

Result: 2 analogues + principle + diagram was the best. But mainly it is the 2 analogues that make the difference.

With 2 analogies, you are able to create a Schema to solve the problem.

But bad analogies can be dangerous leading to wrong schemas.

Core Mechanics – Week 1.1 – Class Notes


IMG_1743 IMG_1744


Core Mechanics come from the Game world – what are the mechanics that a user goes through while playing a game – and the course looks at how there mechanics apply to learning.

We’re going to look at the “ABC’s of How we Learn” – a book our TA’s and Dan Schwartz wrote. TAs: Kristen Blair & Jessica Tsang

A is for Analogy

Learn from examples

H is for Hands On

Educations works nest when all the partes are working:
Teacher <-> Students <-> Parents

F is for Feedback

Not all feedback is good… be carefull or thoughtfull

Readings – focus on methods and findings – most people focus on introduction and conclusion – we’re going to flip it.

Assignment – Graph

  • Upload to Dropbox section in Coursework before Friday 7am.
    • PowerPoint – name file with your last name
  • Activity
    • We were shown pairs of words: Synonims, Opposites, Generative words
    • Try to memorize words
    • Write down words you remember
    • Check your results
    • Submit results
  • Assignment
    • Draw a graph with the data

Activity #2

Go to one of the links below and explore one of the simulations.

Talk about the:

  1. Learning objectives
  2. Did the designers do well?
  3. How could they improve?

Good class – still deciding if I’m going to take it or not…