Learning of Expertise: Expert Profile Kaksi

Developing Expertise

An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy. [Steven Weinberg]

decision-making

Proemium

The first year of my LET Studies has now gone, and it is safe to say that I had a blast. During these last nine months I lived incredible experiences, met fantastic people, and had a great fun; I had highs and lows, as it has to be, but most of the time the first ones won on the seconds.

But what about my studies? What happened between the experience at the Oulu Yliopisto and the Oulun Ammattikorkeakoulu? I will for sure write more about these experiences and my learning outcomes during the upcoming summer, as these thoughts are something I would love to share, but it is now time to have a serious reflection about if and how this academic year increased my level of expertise; SPOILER ALERT: it did.

As I did the first time, when I was asked to describe myself as an expert, I will follow some guiding questions, and structure this piece of writing as an interview to myself, with more content, less invented words and less awesome videoclip at the end than this one below ↓

 

1. How is you expertise developed during the bygone LET studies?

Looking back I can safely state that my expertise, during my first year in LET, has widely developed. I admit I have not always been aware if my expertise was developing through the year, but now that I have to look back and analize this proces, it is clear that something has changed. I would never claim to be an expert in the field of education, as it would be too soon anyway, but I feel confident in saying that now I have an expertise of some sort for what concerns education and learning.

First of all, my expertise has developed through the classes at the University of Oulu, where the theory was regularly backed up by individual assignments and, mostly, collaborative tasks. For sure the practical tasks had a huge weight in my learning process, teaching me new skills and making me discovery more about the skills I already have, but I feel that the classes had a bigger impact. Classes in the programme are nothing like the traditional frontal teaching, with a lecturer speaking and the class taking notes, here is why I think they occupy a special place in building my knowledge. The knowledge building is crucial on my path to being an expert: other skill are important as well, but knowledge is the most important, as “there are no experts who lack expert knowledge of their fields” [Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1993]. The form of knowledge Bereiter & Scardamalia [1993] refer to is not the formal one, based on facts and principles, but a mix of the latter one and skill, in a combination of declarative (facts) and procedural knowledge (skill).

Keeping theory and practice on the same track has been crucial for my learning, with the scale more pending towards the practice. EduLAB has been the best experience I have ever had to improve my expertise so far. The way I have been learning during my semester in OAMK can be compared to the way I play videogames, by trial and error or, in an educational point of view, in a sort of Skinner Box style: I found myself mostly completing a task and ask for feedback to a specific coach, and act upon it, adjusting my performance. The tagline for the first two EduLAB Gates was “Fail fast, fail often”, in order to promote the practical part, the “reward and punishment” scheme, and so it was. I learned myself to accept failure not as a punishment, but as a way to improve the product my team and I were working on. This sort of dynamic assesment (Lajoie, 2003) has been a silent, but critical step in my path towards expertise. This sort of scaffolding, this feedback on the way instead of a collective feedback once the work was done, has dramatically increased my problem solving skills and my abilities to work in a team.

2. In what situations your self-regulation skills has been necessary for you? Provide some examples of those situations.

I have never been anything like a self-regulated person, I have always had the tendency to skip my duties until the very last minute, and tend to complete all of my work in a sort of time-induced anxiety, in a triumph of self-handicapping. At least for what concerns individual tasks, I have always struggled find extra motivation to be on time, while for what concerns collaborative ones I have always handed my work on the last minute, but because I finished at least two days earlier and polished every single detail.

In study contexts, I had to often push myself over the obstacle, whether it was to complete a boring assignment or study for a nearly impossible Finnish exam, but results have always proven me that it was worth it. I have learned to put my work first because I am a perfectionist and want to learn something new all the time, no distractions before it is done; it seems like a paradox, but people who lack of self-regulation tend to improve mine, here is why I would never ditch work to go to a party, but actually want to stay in and work. A funny story involving my hobby and my work happened last winter: I had to study for a Finnish exam happening in less than 24 hours, but the northern lights were predicted to grace Oulu, so I went out in the cold with my camera gear… and my tablet, in order to study in the cold.

Even in my favourite hobby I find myself being self-regulated, despite it is not something I must do. My hobby, photography, requires a lot of commitment, especially in Finland, due to the complicated weather conditions. Many times I could simply stay in and enjoy some time being lazy, but when I see a nice sunset outside, or the northern lights through my window, I automatically get dressed and bike away, no matter if the road are covered in ice or the temperature is around -30°C. Once again, I am a self-regulated kuvaja because every time I have the chance to learn something new about my hobby and my camera, by realizing something to be proud of and show proudly to the people who matter to me.

3. How have you performed in difficult or complex situations?

Difficulties make everything fun to me, here is why in a field I can call myself an expert, videogaming, I always tend to increase difficulty; collaboration, sometimes, is challenging enough.

In EduLAB I lived plenty of difficult moments, lived both as a team leader and as a regular team member. Before Gate 1 we lived a very difficult situation: after a whole week of “all rise”, we started to live a rollercoaster of emotions, struggling with our project. I have always believed that individualities are important even in group situations, here is why I have always tried to be the change-maker: I do not mean that I strongly took the lead and led the group as a dictator, but I performed in a different way. When things were going bad, I have always put emphasis on what was going well, underlining how, despite the difficulties, the group was still united. Attitude is everything, and emotions are the key of group dynamics: sometimes I felt like hiding my negative ones and putting emphasis on the positive ones, for the group; and it worked. Working with emotions has also been extremely helpful to inject motivation in teammates who lost their way.

Speaking of work life, I had the chance to merge hobby and work this year, when I was called to shoot in a club as a volunteer. I loved it, also because it was not a problem-free experience. I have never shot in such difficult lighting conditions, and with a camera that was not even mine; plus, I wanted to really meet the expectations of those who asked me to be there, so I felt some pressure. As I always do in these situations, I keep trying everything, “trial and error”, but this time I also asked for help to a real expert for the settings and some tips to make them work: and it worked.

In conclusion, when I am the one in charge, I always tend to push myself over my limits, while normally I do not mind to request external help when all of my attempts to face a situation fail, and when my expertise level is too low to accomplish a certain task.

4. How collaborative learning has been realized?

Collaborative learning has been the constant of the whole academic year, even in a course like Self Regulated Learning, a name that hints at a more individual way of study. Collaboration has started since the first course of the year in a form of jigsaw sessions, were after the classes my other group members and I were requested to read a research paper and then refer to the others, in order to share what we learned and build our knowledge together.

The collaboration has then gone on, when it was time to take part into the Theory course: in this case, collaboration was more ordinary, with a group work that involved research on a topic assigned to us, and writing a collective definition of the topic itself for our LET encyclopedia.

The main collaborative experience of my first year in LET has been the semester in EduLAB, a sort of work/study environment where theory and practice merged into a whole, unique experience. The classes keynotes were very useful to build factual knowledge around the learning and business areas, but it is mostly with the learning by doing style that I have improved my own expertise effectively.

In collaborative environments I see myself as a Jack of All Trades, as I can cover every single role in a team and commit to it. I have also plenty of respect for my team mates, their opinion and their feedback. In case I join in a preformed team, I tend to respect the existant team dynamics and cut my own role in the team. I happened to be covering a secondary role plenty of times, but I feel it is when I have big responsibilities that I give my best, as challenges do not scare me, but actually ease my way through collaboration with my teammates.

5. Set three goals for your learning for the Autumn Period.

I guess that “continuing this way” is not enough as a goal, as it is plain boring and predictable. My first goal is to complete succesfully the courses left before the end of my degree; “complete” does not mean to get a perfect 5 out of 5, but meet the learning goals set by them and master the theoretical concepts. A second goal is to learn to be one of the best kummi that has ever walked through the hallways of the University of Oulu; I have taken very seriously my role as one of the first personalities that the new LET students will meet at the beginning of their adventure in Finland, and it is my main target to make them feel welcome, help them solving their predictable struggles, and give them a taste of what the LET Master’s Programme is, working in touch with my other two colleagues; I see this possibility as a way to learn to learn more about working in a team. Finally, my last goal for the Fall is to pair my studies with my Master’s Thesis research, and go through another spin of EduLAB, probably; I feel like the first time in OAMK taught me a lot without directly teaching me anything, and for what concerns the first two months I had a great fun working in collaboration.

This is pretty much everything for what concerns my second expert profile; it has been fun to reflect on what I have been doing until now, how my expertise is developing through my LET studies. It is fascinating to see how the expertise I gained through my studies stays under the radar, without popping up until it is needed or, as it happened in this post, when it is time to reflect about it. The Learning of Expertise course will continue next year, with a new task next semester and a new mentoring case in the Spring semester, where I will have to be one of the mentors this time; but this is a whole another story.

 

 

References:

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing ourselves: An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise. La Salle, IL: Open Court.

Lajoie, Susanne P. “Transitions and Trajectories for Studies of Expertise.” Educational Researcher 32.8 (2003): 21-25. Web.

Annunci

Different data analyzing methods in qualitative research [QUALI HW 3]

“There’s no such thing as qualitative data. Everything is either 1 or 0.”

[Fred Kerlinger]

The qualitative data analysis requires a procedure made of different steps:

  1. Preparing The Data For Analysis: In this first phase the data, whether it is audio, video or in written form, needs to be prepared. This means that the data needs to be organized into a text form, transcribed and prepared for the actual computer analysis.
  2. Exploring The Data: During this second phase, the researcher has to go through the text data and write down memos. To accomplish this process, a Qualitative Code Book is needed, so the researcher can create a new one or simply use one of the existing ones.
  3. Analysing The Data: This is the actual analysis phase. The researcher has to code the text data and assign labels to the codes, then group the codes into themes, and finally interrelate the themes into smaller themes. In this process, the researcher can put the coded data into a software to analyze the data.
  4. Representing The Data Analysis: The researcher represents the findings of the research in the form of discussions and visual models, such us charts, tables and figures to make the data understandable for most of of the audience.
  5. Interpreting The Results: In the final phase, the researcher evaluates how well the initial research questions were answered in the results. Here the researcher needs to compare the results with the literature and elaborate the fin– This stage is what seems to be the final stage. Here, the researcher assesses how the research questions were answered. Compare the findings with the literature and reflect the meaning of the findings.

Different data collection methods in qualitative research [QUALI HW 2]

Qualitative research offers many different ways to gather data.

Interviews

Interviews are the most common source of data in qualitative research. The most popular one is the person-to-person one, but group interviews and focus groups can be conducted as well. Interviews can be structured, with questions determined before the actual interview, or more open-ended, following a more conversational and colloquial path, with a tendency to prefer the latter type.

This data gathering method requires that the respondents trust the interviewer, or they won’t open up and describe what is in their minds, and the data won’t be reliable. It’s important that the interviewer makes believe the respondent to be completely free to answer and to talk about the subject of the interview. Another important charachteristic is that the interviewer won’t appear judgemental. Becoming a good interviewer requires time, patience and a lot of training, for example videotaping performances, observing skilled interviewers and role-playing. The interviewer needs to effectively catch verbal and nonverbal messages, and needs to be a good listener.

Digital recorders are the most used device to record interviews, despite many respondents show initially a poor feeling with them. Videotaping seems to be the one that can preserve most of the meaning of the interview, as both verbal and nonverbal messages are recorded. Another common method that requires patience is taking notes during an interview. Recalling the interview and writing it down once the interview is finished seems to be the least preferred technique, as the disadvantages are way more than the advantages.

Focus groups

A focus group is a small group of people interviewed on a specific topic. With this data gathering method, the researcher can collect information about several individuals in one session. The group is usually homogeneous, with people belonging to same areas. In this kind of interview, the interviewer is not a mediator to make the group reach consensus, but simply to interview them.

Observations

Observation is a data gathering method that implies spending a long time in a certain setting. Field notes are the main source of data, as well as notes about the observed events and what they might mean. The major problem of this method is obtrusiveness, as a stranger trying to record a group’s behaviour can make the behaviour less natural and the data unreliable, here is why the participants need to first become accustomed to having a researcher in their environment.

In an artificial setting, the interviewer can use one-way mirrors and observation rooms, while in a natural setting the situation is way more complicated; in this case, the interviewer should first spend enough time in the setting and be considered the norm, instead of an obtrusive presence.

Other data gathering methods

Among the other data gathering methods available, there is the interpretation of scenarios developed by the researcher. Diaries are another instrument used by researchers, like the analysis of photographs.

About my thesis

As I mentioned in my previous post, I don’t have a clear idea about my thesis just yet, but I would like to use two methods of data gathering: the first one would be person-to-person interviews, the second would be the analysis of pictures taken by the subjects of my study themselves. In my opinion, photography can be a good way to analyze what people feel by “seeing reality with their own eyes”.

What are the main things to consider when planning the empirical part of your research? [QUALI HW 1]

I have to admit that planning my thesis research plan is probably the most challenging task I found myself working on. My thesis topic is still very work in progress, but I have quite set the research method I’m planning on using: despite at the beginning, when I was asked “Qualitative or Quantitative methods?” I was always answering “A mix of them”, I now opted for a qualitative approach, using photographs and interviews instead of merely quantitative methods.

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Qualitative or Quantitative methods?

According to Creswells’s article, the mixed approach is an old method that now tends to be neglected, with the research being either qualitative, quantitative or more a continuum between these two, trying to fill the respective gaps.

Qualitative research is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations; to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into the problem. It provides insights into the problem or helps to develop ideas or hypotheses for potential quantitative research. Quantitative research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative Research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research.

Quantitative vs Qualitative

Stating a knowledge claim means that researchers start a project with
certain assumptions about how they will learn and what they will
learn during their inquiry.

This will be the first step of the empirical research I will have to conduct for my Master’s thesis

What, Why, Who, When, How are the basic questions to take into account when planning a research proposal; the general framework for empirical research includes the methodological elements that compose the main scheme of the research process:

  • Research problem (question, hypothesis, aim)
  • Strategy (experiment, survey, case study, action research, grounded theory)
  • Sampling (random sample, one case, many purposefully chosen cases)
  • Data collection (structured questionnaire, unstructured/open interview)
  • Data analysis (inferential/descriptive statistics, open coding, discourse analysis)
  • Results/Conclusions (descriptions, empirical generalizations, theoretical inferences)

The research design is composed by the following parts:
•Sampling designs: which defines where the data come from;
•Methodological design: which defines how the data will be collected;
•Analytical design: which defines how the data will be treated;
•Operational design: which defines how the results will be reported in written form.

From this first class I had many interesting research ideas and a clear idea of what qualitative methods are. From now on I still have a lot of work to do before thinking about collecting data for my Master’s thesis, but I found useful starting to get deeper into the philosophical assumptions and theories behind the different research methods.

Flying above Oulu

I’ve been visiting many cities here in Finland and already spent a great here in Jyväskylä between 2013 and 2014. Finnish cities all kinda look alike, with the brick roads of the keskusta and very similar building and shopping centres; Oulu quite follows this pattern… but it’s Oulu. It’s somehow unique, maybe it’s because it’s by the sea or the peculiar architecture, but for sure it’s something worth living.

Here’s a video I’ve found on Vimeo thanks to a friend: sure it lacks many places, like the two lakes nearby the Yliopisto or my ‘secret’ beach in Rajäkyla, but it should give you an idea of what Oulu really is. I’m more like a ‘pictures guy’, but I like well made videos, with a good soundtrack.

Enjoy!

Video by Janne Illikainen

12 Months in 12(+1) Pictures

As today is the last day of the year (and also my birthday, I’m turning 27, #feelsoldman), I decided to pick a Top 12 of pictures which made my year. The Oulu adventure is the biggest thing happened in 2015, but there is also much more: just because it’s not on the blog, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Here the choice wasn’t about the quality, but about the meaning, and the order is pretty random (except for the number 1, which is good where it is).

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Bonus: My favourite from this year

 

Siena Dandelion
12) The proof I deserve something better
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11) The best university I’ve ever attended
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10) That sweet weekend in Venice
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9) Breakfast with the Doctor
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8) When I visited Rome for the first time in 26 years
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7) The first day in the first place I called ‘home’ in Oulu, after 24 hours of travel
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6) A lovely bunch of people
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5) My favourite place in Oulu

 

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4) The day after the accident, when I turned into ‘The Terminator’
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3) The best person I met in a long while and I

 

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2) Our classy (AF) family selfie
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1) ‘Only Us’

This was one terrific a year, of major changes, let downs and exciting plot twists. Thanks to all those who played a part in it, we had fun.

I’ve learned I can’t settle with average; I’ve learned that feeling lost is the best feeling in the world; I’ve learned that bad things happen, the only thing to do is to move on; I’ve learned that being alone in the cold with a bag of cookies and a thermos of coffee is a good way to spend a night out; I’ve learned that Summer can be a very cute fun season.

Happy birthday to me, happy new year to all of you, see you on the other side: the Oulu adventure continues in 2016.

 

 

Learning of Expertise: Expert Profile Yksi

Myself as an Expert (?)

 

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.[Niels Bohr]

 

 

Proemium

As part of my LET studies I have the opportunity to take part to a course called “Learning of Expertise”; I admit that the name, at the very beginning, caught my curiosity very quickly, despite I didn’t really know what to expect from it. After the first meetings, experiences and home assignments (readings, videos and own reflections) about what experts and expertise are, I’m here to write about myself, in a reflection abot myself as expert and my own field of expertise: probably the most difficult assignment, blog post or any piece of writing I had ever produced.

Analyse and define in your own words what kind of expertise you have

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Expertise is a difficult concept to define, here is why it is challenging to decide if whether I am an expert or not and, in case of positive answer, in what I can be considered an expert. In my main idea of what an expert is, being recongised as “expert” by authoritative sources is one of the most important requirements to be one.

As for this profile other sources are irrelevant and the focus is on me only, If there is a field in which I may dare to consider myself an expert, that would be photography, my biggest passion: a passion so relevant in my daily life that would be limited to call a simple “hobby”.

Photography, for me, means a lot more than just taking pictures as a tourist; it is about building something for myself, something that lasts, something not destined to grab some likes on social networks, but something to show to my closest ones only.

I can say I managed to evolve through these few years, becoming a self-taught, amateur, passionate photographer, moving from being a skilled expert onmy way of becoming an adaptive one. I used to look on the internet for the perfect camera settings, making mistakes because there is no such thing as the “perfect setting”: it is necessary to adapt to every single little change of environment, light and movement; it is necessary to change.

How have you learned that expertise?

practice

The way I learned am learning this expertise, as in this field the locution lifelong learning applies literally, is fascinating and critically linked to Finland. I have always had interest in static art, wheter it was painting or photography, as the idea of capturing a moment to make it last forever has always had an impact on me. I used to draw, but my skills were limited, so I decided to play with cameras since when I was in the fifth grade. I started with a simple Polaroid, then I decided to move to digital compact cameras, but always keeping it simple. I was always focused on trying to catch what I was seeing, without going too deep into technicisms or rules, which were still a mistery to me.

The rules of the game changed when, in 2010, my parents decided to buy me a reflex camera, a Nikon D3000, a very old entry-level model, ideal for beginners. I started seeing this new device as a responsibility: to me, the word “reflex” itself was synonymous of “professional camera I don’t deserve”, with all of its buttons and words on the menu. For this reason, I simply started using it in the “P” mode, the automatic one, and I kept going for a very long time.

In 2013, the year I consider the turning point of my life, I casually started to make my own mistakes, by getting to know the modes “S”, “A” and the higly feared “M”: needless to say that the pictures I was trying to take, except for some unexpectedly good ones, were really bad, and quite discouraged me from keeping to try, so I decided to leave the camera wheel on “P” for a while. Discovering Instagram, famous social network for pictures sharing, improved my motivation to try to produce something worth sharing, but the real boost came when I got accepted for a place as Erasmus Student in Jyväskylä. As I was about to leave for what might have been the most important experience of my life, I felt that I should have actually learned how to use that reflex camera, as I had the responsibility to report my adventure, not really for the others, but mostly in order to make the memories immortal.

So there it is: the wonders of Finland I was about to see, the idea of being the first one in my family tree to have a Bachelor’s Degree and have the possibility to live abroad, the perspective of seeing the northern lights, one of the natural phenomena which I have always dreamt to see with my eyes, gave me the impulse to start experimenting, and make mistakes again.

How can you still improve it?

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As I wrote above, I am learning this expertise: I can dare to call myself an expert as of now, but I feel that I have to keep aiming to improve. I do not like to make comparisons between me and other colleagues in my field, but it is inevitable to surf the internet or various social networks and compare others’ shots with mine and see that there is no perfection in photography, but a sense of complete satisfaction is miles and miles down the road. During my ‘second advent’ in Finland I got somehow disguised for a professionist during a night photoshooting session, but nobody has ever heard me praising my own pictures.

Looking back to these last two years of serious determination into improving, I followed only one rule: never settle down for what I have, never feel accomplished. When I hear someone praising my shots I never really believe them, as the only reliable compliments come from myself. It is not the right way of thinking, probably, and some told me it could lead to demotivation, but I can confirm that in my field it works.

The field I see as my expertise is in constant development, as at every small change of equipment, camera or lens, needs to correspond an evolution of the photographic skills which almost starts from the scratch: here is why in photography, being an adaptive expert is crucial to succeed, and hopefully I will be able to claim to be one one day.

How do you manage/act as an expert in problem-solving situations?

Being the expert in a problematic situation can lead to a lot of pressure, but it is a stimulating situation. As expert, when it happens to face a crisis, I constantly try to work closely with my team as a peer, without acting as a superior, without forgetting to keep my expertise into account. When it is about the field I see as my expertise, in photography, it is essential to share information and stay in contact, as it can happen that, sometimes, the novice can quickly turn into a skilled expert when it is about facing certain conditions.

How do you work in groups? How do you act as an expert in group situations?

As I say to my friends, being a photographer implies to spend a lot of time alone, looking for the perfect spot or the perfect shot, but I often have the chance to work in groups, and these experiences always gave me something.
In a group, I do not have a precise role since the beginning, I can easily adapt to the group itself: I do not have particular tendencies of being a leader or a ‘soldier’, but I can switch position according to the groups’ needs. I feel free of asking for the leadership only if I see that the group needs someone to lead them, and I feel confident enough to be the guide. In group works I can also simply be part of the group as simple member, doing my best to lead to a succesful collaboration. Something that is common to both of the roles I may cover, is my total commitment to the work, and my availability to my group mates, being also one of those who could easily help the others or even cover the lack of commitment by some of the people involved.

When I am the expert of the group, I feel confident enough to take the lead and be a guide for everyone, trying to explain new things to my group mates as if I were teaching to students without any previous knowledge, sparing no details about everything. I like to be the expert of a group, despite the pressure it may lead to: pressure is always a strong source of motivation for me.

 

Cattura

This was just a first reflection about expertise; it was a useful experience to my journay towards the knowledge of what an expert is. I am looking forward to the next meetings, to know even more about expertise and to know more about myself at the same time.

Itsenäisyyspäivä

Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää, Suomi!!!

Today, Finland celebrates its 98th year and the sky tried to bring us something that looks like a sunset between the clouds. We didn’t see much light these days, both because the sun sets at 14.15 and because of the cloudy weather, but some white and bue sky was seen today.

I’ve been waiting in my pyjyama (hey, it’s always Sunday!) on my balcony for the wind to blow and capture a picture of the Finnish flag that the neighbours put in the playground of the Virkakatu area: it was worth it.

It would be difficult to explain all of those extra “ä” in the sentence, but let’s just say that Finnish grammar is terrible, run you fools one hell of a fun!

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Right outside my balcony, in Virkakatu, Oulu

Self Regulated Learning Course: Solo Task 4

Time for the fourth and last SOLO task of the Self Regulated Learning course, this time with one reading more than usual, four instead of the usual three. One of the readings has already been discussed in the first SOLO task, so some concept might be repeated in the working phase or in the ICE note.

INTRO

  • Planning the Work

The semester is almost over, so are the energies; deadlines are quickly approaching and the GROUP task for this Self Regulated Learning course (from now on SRL) required to my group to put a huge effort, in order to deliver a good, understandable and entertaining lecture to our classmates. Luckily, for this SOLO task we had three extra days to complete the work.

The planning, this time, involved a little challenge with my flatmates to see who would have finished the assignment first. The challenge has been immediately abbandoned as I wasn’t offered any box of chocolate cookies as a prize the goal to try to deliver a good assignment won over the desire to be the first to finish it, maybe producing something poor and without interesting content. The actual planning has been challenged by an upcoming exam, tasks for other courses, and the said GROUP task: the original plan was to read one paper a day starting from Friday and start the writing phase on Wednesday, while it actually started and finished on Friday night. One of the challenges I met was that one of the articles was actually protected and I couldn’t use the Adobe Reader function to highlight the meaningful sentences, in order to retrieve the info in a more efficient way; despite the little logistic challenge met during one of the readings, I felt confident throughout the whole task development.

  • Working Phase

Boekaerts, M., & Corno, L. (2005). Self-regulation in the classroom: A perspective on assessment and intervention. Applied Psychology-an International Review-psychologie Appliquee-revue Internationale, 54(2), 199-231.

Think Aloud Protocols

Think Aloud Protocols (TAP) are one of the instruments proposed by Boekaerts and Corno to assess Self-Regulation when learners are engeged in learning. This instrument, in particular, requires students to express out loud what they are thinking and feeling during the task they are required to complete, and which SR strategies they activate in order to achieve their goal. The main advantage is that the thoughts and feeling that emerge during a session are recorded simultaneosly to their expression rather than being recalled at the end of it, removing the bias factor from them and giving full validity to what expressed. One disadvantage is that, as this method produces a huge amount of verbal data collected straight away from those involved, students might not master the language enough to express their thoughts and feelings in the proper way; moreover, they require practice to procede to complete the task and express thoughts and feelings at the same time.

Mental Simulations

Mental simulations are one of the three types of Cognitive-Behavior Modification Interventions, which aims to solve the problems faced in one of the other interventions. Mental Simulations are programs that train students to use specific strategies and to use them in simulated tasks. This intervention encourages SR by putting planning and goal setting at the same level of encouraging self-awareness about what the outcomes of the task will be.

Dignath, C., Buettner, G., Langfeldt, H-P. (2008). How can primary school students learn self-regulated learning strategies most effectively? A meta-analysis on self-regulation training programmes. Educational Research Review, 3, pp. 101-129.

Cognitive Strategies

Cognitive strategies are aSRL directed intervention method that involve the direct treatment of the new acquired knowledge: ‘treatment’ in the meaning that the information goes through a certain series of operations that are meant to facilitate the learning process. Cognitive strategies can be divided in four areas:

Repitition Strategies: these strategies involve rehearsing the newly acquired information in order to easily store it in the long term memory. The knowledge acquired is merely factual, as it doesn’t lead to any further undertanding.

Elaboration Strategies: these strategies are meant to support the comprehension process by including the new information into the previously acquired knowledge, in order to be easily retrieved when needed;

Organizational Strategies: these strategies are meant to group information into units, in order to easily retrieve it when needed;

Problem Solving Strategies: with this strategy, problems are fragmented into sub-goals, which can be solved with the knowledge already available.

Metacognitive Strategies

Metacognition strategies are strategies referred to second order cognitions, so they are processes that can monitor and regulate learning and cognition.

Metacognitive Knowledge: includes learners awareness of their own memory, knowledge and learning style.

Metacognitive Skills: incudes phases that go on during the whole learning process, like during the planning, the prediction of the outcomes, when monitoring the learning process and during the final evaluation.
Järvenoja, H., Järvelä, S., & Malmberg, J. (2015). Understanding Regulated Learning in Situative and Contextual Frameworks. Educational Psychologist. 5(3), 204-219.

Sociocognitive Perspective in Regulated Learning

This perspective has been the dominant one in the Regulated Learning research since the 80’s. Studies embracing this perspective usually consider regulation as an individual process that is influenced by social aspects. This perspective aims to explain the use of cognitive skills, will and self control during an individual’s learning process (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011). Both Zimmerman’s (2000) and Winne and Hadwin’s (1998) models, despite being different from each other, see SRL according to this perspective.

Sociocultural Perspective in Regulated Learning

This perspective puts emphasis on the intersubjectivity and interpersonal social interaction. As it focuses, as the name itself suggests, on the cultural aspect of learning, regulation is not seen as a process that takes place in the learner’s mind, but as something social in nature, interiorized in order to become individual (Nolen & Ward, 2008). Then, interpersonal interactions are crucial in this perspective, in order to understand the undergoing regulation mechanisms.
Winne, P. H., & Perry, N. E. (2000). Measuring self-regulated learning. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego: Academic Press.

Self-Regulated Learning as Aptitude

SRL can be measured as an aptitude, using questionnaries and structured interviews, and teachers’ ratings as well. This kind of measurement is often used in order to predict if a student can or cannot get engaged in SRL as a study tactic. Intended in this way, the measurement of SRL is defined as unary, which means that it is independent form other measurements. Measured in this way, SRL can vary over relatively long time periods and accordingly to the task a learner has to perform.

Self-Regulated Learning as Event

Measuring SRL as event means that subsequent events must be taken into consideration, so it can be seen as copmposed of occurrence, contingency and pattern contingency. Occurence is noticed when there is a transition from an initial state, where no SRL can be observed, to a second state, where SRL can be noticed. Contingency is represented in a form of binary conditional relationship, as “if-then” form, some of the data describe the first part of the statement, some the second part of it. Patterned contingency assembles several of the “if-then” contingencies described above in a structured ensemble.

  • ICE Notes

Boekaerts, M., & Corno, L. (2005). 

Modern Socioculturism based interventions have changed SRL. Based on Vygotsky theories, it influenced the SRL environment helping in the development of new strategies that appear dramatically different from those elaborated during the 70’s. The integration of these theories has been crucial in the development of SRL as much as the development of new technologies. In the article the authors mention Computer Mediated Learning Environments and Collaborative Learning as new methods of intervention on the SRL environment, two concepts that are the basics of the Master’s Programme I am attending here in Oulu, two concepts that should be developed more in my country’s educational system. It’s impossible to think about SRL without CL: despite this may seem a paradox, as one is an individual activity, while the other one is a collective one, it is exactly how it works. Research have shown that students who have better performances tend to help effectively the lower achieviers, CL puts the basis on the theory of collaboration between peers. Peers can easily influence each other not only by exchanging knowledge, but also motivation. It is the case of methods such as the jigsaw, a teaching method I experienced in Oulu already, where peers ‘educate’ other peers, a collaborative work based on self-regulation; these kind of methods are risky, as the information exchanged might be of second/third hand and many imprecisions might be involved, in my opinion. Therefore, as personal experience, I think that if the students involved are good self-regulated learners who can be included in Zimmerman’s definition (2002), this is a crucial method to enhance SR, share motivation and allow students to share concepts using concepts ‘translated’ with simple words. Also new technology such as computers can enhance self-regulation: for example, scaffolding could easily be enanched by using properly designed software.

Dignath, C., Buettner, G., Langfeldt, H-P. (2008). 

A fascinating point of this article is how SRL is already effective in early school years among the students. I have always grown up with the idea that children are exactly like sponges who easily absorbe the knowledge and the teachings that surround them. Since my third grade, I’ve found very interesting the study of foreign languages, showing to be quite keen on the learning of English as second language. Despite after my school years I finished my official English teachings, I kept improving my linguistic skills without any instruction, as a self-taught student. I think that learning a new language, since the first stages, require the application, conscious or not, of the principles of SRL, as self-efficacy is one of the key aspects to be successful. As the article states, SRL should be taught and activated since the early school years, in order to bring the students to coltivate and improve their own self-efficacy, exactly as it happens with languages.

Järvenoja, H., Järvelä, S., & Malmberg, J. (2015). 

Both Sociocognitive and Sociocultural perspectives prove valid points on how SRL should be treated, but the Situative one presented in this article can better integrate all of the aspects needed to research self-regulation, bringing a deeper understanding in the exchanges within a group.

One of the strongest concepts of the article is that regulation of learning is goal-directed and deliberate, which means that this process needs goal setting in order to be activated, and also it needs to be voluntarily activated by the learner: if the learner doesn’t feel the need for self-regulation, then it cannot happen. This awareness is crucial to activated the modulation of one’s motivation, emotion and cognition. This statement reinforces of SR is a learner-centred process, that can be taught and catalyzed by outer agents, but it is mainly centred on the learner: it is initiated and kept going just by the learner’s will. There are many theoretical models of SRL, many strategies to enhance it and many ways to measure (or try to measure) it, but without an aknowledgement of need, it cannot be activated.

How to help underachieving students to embrace SRL is one of the big challenges that this discipline has to face. A student can simply try to embrace it by himself, or because heavily suggested by outer sources, or because grades convince him to change. As it is a lifelong skill, in my opinion it should be included in every subject since the first years of school. One of the challenges about SR I have been facing was that no one taught me how to regulate myself; I have learned to do it by myself through the years, but I think that an external preventive intervention could be preferable, in order to minimize learning problems before they show up.

Winne, P. H., & Perry, N. E. (2000). 

The main point that comes up from this article is that there are two main views to see SRL and many different attempts to measure it, but no one seems to be perfect yet. An integretation of SR as aptitude and event seems necessary, in order to provide a satisfactory measurement method. More work, in particular, should be done in measuring SRL as event: on this optic I find very interesting the Think Aloud Protocols, which I managed to get to know during my last Problem Solving group task in class. In short, a student is required to express verbally the cognitive processes ongoing during a task development. TAP seem to be effective and a useful way to measure SRL, as the learner is simply required to think aloud and express his feelings and thoughts. It can be a double edged sword, though, as data could be affected by external interventions (a researcher who interrupts the flow of thoughts or that is too invasive), or, in case of young subjects, it could face problems such as lack of rich voucabulary to express what requested.

My hope is that research will keep going forward and find a way to merge SRL views as aptitude and event, so to find a way to provide good measurement of something that is an inner process, which makes it already difficult to measure.

  • Reflection

 

I must admit that looking at the number of readings to prepare I felt scared initially, as I found the artcile by Boekaerts and Corno quite challenging the first time, and trying to read it with ‘new eyes’, finding something new, was a difficult task before the planning phase. The readings were quite long and difficult to me, but related to the last theoretical class I attended and very interesting, providing some interesting reflection points.

This was my last SOLO task for this course, probably the most challenging one also due to different technical issues that slowed down my writing process; as I like challenges and I am a perfectionist, I can say I am completely happy with my work, but I enjoyed definining new concepts every week and try to find interesting reflection points in every single reading.

  • References

Boekaerts, M., & Corno, L. (2005). Self-regulation in the classroom: A perspective on assessment and intervention. Applied Psychology-an International Review-psychologie Appliquee-revue Internationale, 54(2), 199-231.

 

Dignath, C., Buettner, G., Langfeldt, H-P. (2008). How can primary school students learn self-regulated learning strategies most effectively? A meta-analysis on self-regulation training programmes. Educational Research Review, 3, pp. 101-129.

 

Järvenoja, H., Järvelä, S., & Malmberg, J. (2015). Understanding Regulated Learning in Situative and Contextual Frameworks. Educational Psychologist. 5(3), 204-219.

Winne, P. H., & Perry, N. E. (2000). Measuring self-regulated learning. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego: Academic Press.

Zimmerman, B.J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview.Theory Into Practice, 41 (2), 64-70.

Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of self-regulation
of learning and performance. New York, NY: Routledge.

Winne, P. H., & Hadwin, A. (1998). Studying as self-regulated learning. In
D. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in educational
theory and practice (pp. 277–304). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation. A social cognitive
perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.),
Handbook

Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2008). Sociocultural and situative approaches
to studying motivation. In M. Maehr, S. Karabenick, & T. Urdan (Eds.),
Advances in motivation and achievement: Social psychological perspectives
on motivation and achievement (pp. 425–460). London, UK:
Emerald.

 

Self Regulated Learning Course: Solo Task 3

Time for the third solo task of the Self Regulated Learning course, this time orbiting around the topic of metacognition. I didn’t feel too satisfied with my work of last week, which is why I tried to put extra effort in this task, using all of the time available to try to deliver a complete post.

INTRO

  • Planning the Work

The planning for this SOLO task is always the same: it is not easy to keep up with all of the deadlines and assignments in this particular period, which is why taking some time and plan the work before the Friday class is crucial. Luckily this week we attended the scheduled lecture as planned, which made my reading comprehension way easier than previous week one. Despite I had the possibility to read the material way ahead of the class, I preferred to wait for the actual lecture in order to have a description of the topic, Metacognition and learning strategies in SRL. I started reading the papers starting from the shortest one on Friday, proceding with the reading on the remaining week-end days, in order to complete the reading part and start the actual writing phase on Monday afteroon and finish the whole work on Tuesday evening.

I am confident enough to be able to complete the work on time and to provide some interesting points of view in my ICE notes.

I usually use the Adobe Reader tool to highlight some of the most important concepts I find in the articles, but this time I decided to use two different colours, in order to guide my interest in the theoretical concepts (yellow) and potentially interesting poins to reflect on in my ICE notes (green).

  • Working Phase

Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2004). Promoting Effective Task Interpretation as an Important Work Habit: A Key to Successful Teaching and Learning. Teachers College Record,  106 (9), pp. 1729-1758.

Academic Work

The concept of academic work is quite simple and at the same time broad. As a main definition, it can be described as the work students are given in schools (Doyle, 1983). Entwistle and Tait (1995) define it as the learning environment where students operate, including into definition all of the activities concerning learning, such as frontal teaching, group tasks, assignments, assesment, etc…, continuing towards the large possibilities offered by new technologies and media. Learning environments are important in the definition of how students face learning activities; teachers design the academic work basing it around the learning environment previously established.

Engagement

Student’s engagement is described as the “active, reflective coordination of learning processes in light of metacognitive knowledge and motivational beliefs and in the context of academic work” (Butler and Cartier 2004). Engagement is an active process which can be defined as successful when a right task interpretation is operated. In self-regulated learning, engagement is seen as the combination of different independent tasks: task interpretation (understanting the requirements of a certain task), planning (establishing a working plan about how to complete the task), enacting (actual working task, where the planned strategies are translating into action), monitoring (keeping the progress under control) and evaluating (reviewing the work at the end of the task).

Weinstein, C. E., Acce, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). Self-regulation and learning strategies. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 126, 45–53.

Strategic Learner

A strategic learner is what could be described as the ideal learner, someone who is versatile and can modulate their approach in order to be successful in different tasks and subjects. The main characteristics owned by a strategic learner are skill, will and self-regulation (Weinstein et al., 2004, 2006). Skill includes the knowledge and the awareness of different learning techniques and their application into a study environment; will involves the sphere of affection, bringing on the table the matter of the motivation and how it affects strategic learning and its successful or poor application; self-regulation is the key of the process, and requires the learner to keep under control external and internal factors of the learning process.

Learning Strategies

Learning strategies are different ways to ease the learning process activated by the student accordingly to the subject taken into account. As specified in the chapter, they can be numerous, but here the following four are described.

Rehearsal strategies imply the repetition of what has been learned operated by the student, involving the simple repetition out loud or mnemonic of concepts studied, flash cards or other instruments; other strategies may involve recordings, tapes and podcasts. They can both be active (require a certain level of cognition and give the chance of a deeper level of proper understanding) or passive (simple repetition of definitions, based on memory instead of understanding);

Elaboration learning strategies are strategies which require an active involvement by the learner, who intervenes on the study material in order to make it easy to remember. Paraphrasis and rielaboration are a common way of relaborate the material given, while another one could be to associate colours to different concepts in a sort of Synesthesia.

Organization strategies are other active strategies operated by the learner in order to reorganize and relaborate the material in a graphic form instead of a simple relaboration. More creative graphic representations require more complex cognitive processes which may lead to satisfactory outcomes.

Need for a strategy repertoire include all of the mentioned strategies, with the ability of knowing how and when to use them, in order to activate the right strategy in the right subject or topic. This repertoire can drive the preferences of the students in order to choose the most useful strategy to match a task requirements.

Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. a., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008). Focusing the Conceptual Lens on Metacognition, Self-regulation, and Self-regulated Learning. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 391–409.

Metacognition

Flavell defined the concept of metacognition as “thinking of thinking”, breaking it in four areas: metacognitive knowledge, metacognitive experience, goals and the activation of strategies. The interaction of these areas is important for the development of the metacognitive skills, but the key of the process is salways situated in the mind of the individual. Monitoring is an important part of metacognition, which links it to the concept of self-regulation that will contribute to the expansion of the concept initially provided by Flavell.

Self-Regulation vs Self-Regulated Learning

SR and SRL are two heavily linked concepts. SR defines the dicotomy environment – individual and how they affect each other, with the mediation of one’s behaviour. There can be no SR without interaction with the environment. SRL is the natural consequence of the development of the new technologies, especially when they have been associated with learning, focusing on the self.regulatory processes operated by the learner, who became central and active figure of the learning process.

  • ICE Notes

Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2004). 

As described in the article, task interpretation is crucial in order to succeed in generating task engagement, one of the most important features of a succesful learner. Providing a correct interpretation of the task is a double responsibility of both the teacher and the learner: the first one need to give the right instruments and explanations to the second one, so expectations and outcomes will end up matching and successful learning can be achieved. Task interpretation can be influenced by different factors, such as teacher’s involvement, metacognition and experience based in previous tasks and has a great influence on motivation itself. I found myself multiple times in the condition of examining how task interpretation works “on the field”, especially when I had been introduced to a new learning environment. Task interpretation is important to generate engagement especially when tackling the learning of a foreign language. I found out that it’s easier to achieve succesful learning when the task is well highlighted and fully explained by a teacher, instead of being left open to the student’s interpretation. In my studies I have already been facing the learning of a foreign language, such as English and Spanish, so I’m familiar with the tipology of excercises that this kind of study includes, but I find this is not enough to generate engament into the study of a discipline.

Talking about task interpretation I can also refer to the current course to provide a good example; before my first SOLO task I received a complete explanation of what I was supposed to do in order to complete it in a succesful way, but the description left me a lot of space to put something personal into the task developing and completion. The teachers provided an explanation which lead my work in a certain direction, but it didn’t anchor it on a certain standard, leaving me the possibility to follow my own path.

In conclusion, I think that there is not a standard way for teachers and pupils to obtain a satisfactory task interpretation; instead, the working method should be adapted to the subject. Of course the learner needs to be the most active player in this activity, but the teacher should shape the task explanation around the task itself, providing a complete guide or simply suggest a working method, leaving to the student enough space to express him/herself.

Weinstein, C. E., Acce, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). 

As I wrote in my first assignment on this blog, learning strategies have always existed. I knew very little about them, but I knew that everyone can learn in different ways and unconsciusly or consciously activate certain operations to ease the learning process. Before studying SRL or investigating learning strategies, I found myself using different learning strategies in different subjects, despite at that moment I didn’t know how to name them. I have a background in linguistics and a personal interest in languages, which combined to my laziness (laziness that could be a gift sometimes, as it helps me to activate different strategies in order to achieve the best result with the smallest effort) aided me during the preparation of my Survival Finnish exam. In order to remember the words I applied what now I know they are called active rehearsal strategies: as an active example, to remember and be sure to understand the meaning of certain words, I went deeper on the significance level. One of the words I managed to store in my long term memory was “valkosipuli”, garlic in Finnish: I associated the Finnish word for onion, “sipuli”, to the Italian one, similar in sound, “cipolla”; to finish, I remembered that “valkoinen” means white, so I associated valkosipuli with the locution “white onion”.

Going through these learning strategies is impossible not to mention the S.M.A.R.T. techniques introduced by Winne (2001), that I had the chance to define first during a jigsaw session and secondly during my THEORY course, which include procedures of Searching and selecting, Monitoring, Assembling, Rehearsing and Translating, recalling the learning strategies mentioned above. These S.M.A.R.T. operations can syntetize a good strategy repertoire, suggesting a path to ease the learner’s job.

Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. a., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008).

As stated in the article, self-regulation and environment are two concepts which can’t be seen separately, as they are interconnected. The individual affects the environment and viceversa, reminding me of last week’s SOLO task, when I talked about environmental structuring, a self-regulatory strategy operated by the student to have active effect on the study environment and reduce the distractions or enhance the possibilities to stay focused and motivated.

  • Reflection

Completing this SOLO task has been challenging, as I had to manage the work properly, in order to respect all of the deadlines. I personally found unexpectedly difficult reading Dinsmore’s article, as I think it wasn’t easy to extrapolate meaningful concepts from it, especially considering that I have already studied and gone deeper in this concept in other lectures. Being a review instead of a theoretical article, I found it interesting, but not suitable to my working method and to my expectations, and quite repetitive. As a final conclusion, I found easier to complete my SOLO task after attending the lecture, instead of simply reading the essays and completing the task without theoretical guidance.

After this SOLO task, I’m ready to see what’s in store for the last one and I’m looking forward to experience the group section of this course by writing the collaborative essay and holding the teaching session with my classmates.

 

 

  • References

Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2004). Promoting Effective Task Interpretation as an Important Work Habit: A Key to Successful Teaching and Learning. Teachers College Record,  106 (9), pp. 1729-1758.

Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. a., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008). Focusing the Conceptual Lens on Metacognition, Self-regulation, and Self-regulated Learning.Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 391–409.

Doyle, W. (1983). Academic work. Review of Educational Research, 53(2), 159–199.

Entwistle, N., & Tait, H. (1995). Approaches to learning and perceptions of the learning environment
across disciplines. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 64, 93–103.

Weinstein, C. E., Tomberlin, T. L., Julie, A. L., and Kim, J. Helping students to become strategic learners: The roles of assessment, teachers, instruction, and students. In J. Ee, A. Chang, and O. Tan (eds.), Thinking about Thinking: What Educators Need to Know (pp. 282–310). Singapore: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

Weinstein, C. E., and others. Teaching students how to become more strategic and selfregulated learners. In W. J. McKeachie and M. Svinicki (eds.), McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers (12th ed., pp. 300–317). Lexington, Mass.: Houghton Miffl in, 2006.

Weinstein, C. E., Acce, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). Self-regulation and learning strategies. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 126, 45–53.

Winne, P. H. (2001). Self-regulated learning viewed from models of information processing. In B. J. Zimmerman & D. H. Schunk (Eds.), Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives (2nd ed., pp. 153–189). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.