Writing Research Proposals Sample Research Proposal #1 (used with permission) Study of Contingent Scaffolding and Higher Order Thinking Strategies A Prospectus Submitted In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Education Specialist In the Graduate School of the university of Arkansas at Little Rock College of Education Donna C. Darer, B. s. , M. De.
Conway, Arkansas September, 2004 Contingent Scaffolding and Higher Order Thinking The United States Department of Education is searching for research on basic and Geiger order thinking skills and their links to improve student learning and higher academic achievement (“Education Department Announces New Grant,” 2002). The research described In this report contends that with the right amount of support, and by keeping the task at a manageable challenge, the learner’s cognitive thinking will be lifted to a higher level (Wood, 2003).
To begin, the goal of the task must be identified and the tutor needs to have some understanding of what background knowledge the child brings to the task (Wood, 2003). The child then needs to initiate a plan of action for solving the problem. This could be monitoring, searching or making an attempt to solve the problem. If the child’s attempt t works and the problem Is solved, then the learner moves on to the next step. If It doesn’t work, the teacher moves in to scaffold the learner, and the learner makes another try using the mental tools she has available to her (Wood, 2003).
The scale of help provided by the tutor is contingent on the needs of the learner; if the learner is not making progress toward solving the problem with a low level of help the tutor increases the scaffolding. As the learner succeeds, the tutor fades the amount of help or increases the challenge. In this way the tutor gives less help with each step that gets the learner closer to completing the task alone. Contingent scaffolding Insures that the learner Is never left alone when she has difficulty nor is she “held back” by the tutor who is too directive and interfering (Wood, 1998).
Successful scaffolding directs the learner’s attention on the task and keeps her engaged and motivated to continue to work. Wood (1998) asserts the tutor makes the task manageable by dividing the task into simpler components Ana controlling ten environment so ten learner can alert near attention o the essential and relevant elements. Ditz, Neal, and Mamma-Williams as found in Moll (1990) states, “The scaffolding tutor demonstrates and models such successful performance while keeping the task at a proper level of difficulty, avoiding unnecessary frustration and encouraging children’s functioning.
Research shows that children’s increasing mastery and competence on a given task, therefore, depend on detailed adult interventions that are tailored to and determined by children’s level of mastery and need for external assistance” ( p. 140). If a teacher has been effective at using contingent scaffolding, what student behaviors indicate that this kind of tutoring has helped a child improve complex literate thinking? Teachers can observe behaviors that indicate literate thinking, specifically, how a student makes effective decisions regarding the relevance and presentation of the problem solving task.
Some behaviors that indicate literate thinking include: considering alternative solutions to problems, comparing and analyzing options, weighing choices for making the best decisions, questioning the quality of the decision, and reflecting on the problem and the resolution (Wells & Change-Wells, 1992). Thinking is literate when it exploits the symbolic potential of language to enable the thought processes themselves to become the object of thought” (Wells & Change-Wells, 1992, p. 0) Higher thinking has been exemplified in the student’s ability to self- regulate the thinking process according to the purpose or demands of the problem-solving task (Ditz, Neal, & Mamma-Williams, 1990). There are a number of behaviors that indicate the capacity for self- regulation. First, the child’s behavior indicates that she can formulate a plan or set goals using her own cognitive processes without the help of a more knowledgeable other (Ditz, Neal, & Mamma-Williams, 1990).
In other words, she has the capacity to organize her processing system to make changes and adjust her thinking according to changing goals and situations. Finally, she has the capacity to use aspects of the environment as tools (something that helps to solve a problem or a device that makes an action easy to perform) and as mediators to attain goals. With these mental tools the child has the ability to focus the mind deliberately, and direct attention on the goal. The main point is that the child is reflecting on the mental recesses using self-regulated thinking (Ditz, Neal, & Mamma-Williams, 1990).
Language plays a major role in higher order thinking skills. Levine (2002) explained how parents and teachers should be listening for sophisticated language which indicates the child has the capacity to exercise complex thinking. There are four language types which are evident of higher thinking (Levine, 2002). Literate language uses explicit vocabulary with clear meaning so that it is understood by the listener. It possesses complex sentence structure and diversity of style. It is often decentralized meaning, removed from day-to-day settings.
Another language option is higher language. This talk is symbolic, abstract, technical and packed with ideas and information. It gives a point of view as opposed to facts. Higher la engage also reveals complicated ideas that become a tool for learning. Expressive language Is written language; It Is ten means AT translating outing Into words Ana messages. The last language type is abstract speech. This is language that cannot be represented by the senses. As children advance through the grade levels in school there should be a similar movement in language development.
If this goes not occur, a red flag should go up for teachers and parents as an alert to the child’s difficulty in cognitive processing (Levine, 2002). Purpose of the Study This study investigates the teacher’s use of language in contingent scaffolding during literature discussion groups with third graders, how language influences children’s responses, and how that language is linked to children’s thinking strategies as they progress to higher levels. Research Questions The approach to which teachers help children learn to use higher order thinking strategies will be addressed through the following research questions: 1 .
How does a cheer use contingent scaffolding to help children improve thinking strategies and lift their processing to a higher level? 2. What student behaviors indicate that this kind of instruction is improving complex cognitive development? Review of Literature The review of literature presents a structure for the study and is organized around several assumptions that link contingent scaffolding and complex cognitive thinking processes. Contingent Scaffolding In order to help a child complete a task that t is too difficult one must provide a scaffold.
Scaffolding refers to the help a tutor gives to a child by performing a number of unction which allows the child to carry out a task that she would not be able to complete alone (Wood, 1998). Two key rules facilitate the approach of assisting a child to succeed in her efforts. First, when a child is having difficulty, the tutor immediately offers more help, but then reduces the scale of help as the child’s performance improves. On the other hand, if the task no longer presents a challenge, the tutor increases the stakes so that the child is on the cutting edge of problem solving.
The scale of help changes depending on the child’s needs, giving less help at every turn until the child manages the task alone. David Wood (1998) created the term “contingent scaffolding” for this type of tutoring. He stated, “Such contingent support helps to ensure that the child is never left alone when he is in difficulty, nor is he ‘held back by teaching that is too directive and intrusive” (p. 100). Wood (1998) described several studies from the sass and sass which were conducted around contrived situations between a mother and her child.
In these studies the child was asked to perform a task she could not complete alone, while the mother was asked to initiate some kind of assistance so the child could accomplish the task (Wood, 1998). While this interaction between mother and child was occurring an experimenter recorder toner Interplay. Slice tens was not a naturalistic Into reaction this style of research had its limitation (Wood, 1998). Wood reported findings by Care and Wells who found that in the natural setting of the home, the child initiated 75 percent of the interaction.
Based on this study Wood (1998) concluded, “the issue of task induction’, where the adult takes responsibility for maintaining the child’s involvement in task-relevant activity, is less of an issue in natural interactions than it is in ones contrived for experimental purposes” (p. 00). A related theory of scaffolding was explained by Barbara Oregon (1990) when she reviewed the idea of guided participation as a broader concept of the term “scaffolding. ” Guided participation includes social interaction intrinsic in relationships with classmates, parents, teachers, neighbors and other people in the community.
The interplay among the participants is focused on shared cultural activities that allow children to participate in varied roles. Even though there are a variety of roles in guided participation, Oregon (1990) suggested this theory of scaffolding enlists some general characteristics: 1 . Tutors serve to provide a bridge between a learner’s existing knowledge and skills and the demands of the new task. Left alone, a novice might not appreciate the relations between what the task demands and what they already know or can do that is relevant and hence, fail where, with help, they can succeed. . By providing instructions and help in the context of the learner’s activity, tutors provide a structure to support their tutee’s problem-solving. For example, while focused on their immediate actions, learners, left alone, might lose sight of the overall goal of the activity. A tutor can offer timely minders. 3. Although the learner is involved in what is initially, for them, “out of reach” problem-solving, guided participation ensures that they play an active role in learning and that they contribute to the successful solution of problems. 4.
Effective guidance involves the transfer of responsibility from tutor to learner. These characteristics of guided participation can occur in informal as well as formal encounters with members of the child’s community. What are the tutor’s challenges of knowing the how, what, and when of tutoring? Wood (2003) outlined six features of contingent scaffolding: Knowledge of the task Relating knowledge to performance Perspective taking Sell- Millington: Trot long, to gunning, to Talon Communicative competence Timing Knowledge of the task as well as helping in a contingent fashion will result in effective tutoring.
Carrying out a task that could not be achieved independently depends on the contingency of the tutoring experience. Knowledge of the task alone is not enough for proficient task performance, one must also know how to interpret and react to the various stumbling blocks the learner encounters as she develops knowledge and skills to complete the task herself. The tutor must be able to take on the perspective of the learner otherwise she is unlikely to provide helpful scaffolding. The tutor may desire to intervene and help before the child has a chance to demonstrate whether she can accomplish the task on her own.
The tutor needs to be self- inhibited because she has to resist the urge to take action, allowing time for the learner to make a try before intervening. The challenge of communicative competence refers to resisting the urge to say too much as the learner works on the task, because this could muddy up the problem-solving effort. The tutor should also educe the scale of help and eventually become inactive. The tutor needs to be cognizant of timing. She needs to consider when and where to move quickly and what occasions to slow down to give the child time to process information.
Wood (2003) described scaffolding functions in the tutor- learner relationship. He described seven essential activities involved in establishing and maintaining the tutorial relationship. Task induction Highlighting and salience Removing distractions Recycling degrees AT Try memo Reminding State maintenance Modeling Each of these scaffolding functions defines what happens when a more knowledgeable person helps another to solve a task that, when left alone, he could not solve on his own. Task induction refers to finding a task that is challenging but manageable and into which you can encourage the learner.
Maintaining the attention of the learner and finding the Just right problem that the learner can manage to begin to work on is essential to completing the task. Many times the tutor will need to highlight or make the task salient so the learner will focus his attention on aspects that he has not noticed. Reducing distractions and reducing degrees of redeem involves controlling the environment so the learner is free to concentrate on the task. The tutor can accomplish this by verbally asking the child to ignore some features of the task or to pay attention to other features.
This allows the tutor to simplify the task and make it more manageable. Reminding in a strategic way will promote recall of previously known information or analogies from past experiences and bring direction to the new task. The learner needs to be in the right state of arousal to learn and if you go on for to long you risk losing the child. Modeling or demonstrating can be a powerful tool for learning. Giving a model makes the task clear to the learner. Wood (2003) asked the question, what kind of support are we going to use? He described five levels of contingent support for learning.
Level 1: General verbal intervention Level 2: Specific verbal intervention Level 3: Specific verbal intervention plus nonverbal indicators Level 4: Prepares for next action Level 5: Demonstrates action Wood stated that the levels are really hypotheses about how much help the learner needs to accomplish in the task. At Level 1 a low degree of help is provided and signals the current state of the activity; it does not reduce the scale of freedom by ere much. Some examples are: “It could be” or muff have a go’ or “Oh, that’s great. “.
It is a very general way of letting the learner knows what is happening. A specific verbal intervention (Level 2) begins to focus on a particular action or to search for something specific. This is usually expressed in the form of a question. After the question is asked it is up to the learner to take the next step to problem-solve on the task. The tutor gives a specific verbal condition of the next step or some specific feature that needs to be put right. Specific intervention and nonverbal information Level 3) is when the tutor uses some nonverbal intervention with a prompt to the learner.
This could be when the tutor points to something that is being referred to verbally or a frame in which you’re going to concentrate the child’s attention by nonverbal cues. This kind of support helps the child see where to search. Prepares for the next action (Level 4) involves offering the learner two choices to choose from; either an alternative for attention or action, or a choice between acting or of not acting at this point. Demonstrates action (Level 5) simply means you provide a model of the action you want achieved. In summary, contingent scaffolding means changing the scale of help based on observed behaviors of the learner.
The tutor uses knowledge of the learner and experience with the learner to determine which level of contingent support the learner needs at a specific time and place for performing the task. Higher Order Thinking Skills Several ideas fall under this heading: literate thinking, self- regulation, and the use of sophisticated language. When considering literate thinking Wells and Change-Wells (1992) referred to “all those uses of language in which its symbolic potential is deliberately exploited as a tool for thinking’ (p. 6). Usually we think of the linguisticcognitive processes of reading and writing when we think of literate development.
But, Wells and Change-Wells reasoned, thinking that demonstrates many of the same characteristics in reading and writing can transpire in oral communication between literate people. They gave the example of a book club group who discuss the theme, motives, action and characters of a book they have read. Wouldn’t this group be using literate thinking even though they are not reading the book or writing about the book while discussing? They argued that if we accept this dead, then we must accept that the process of becoming literate can potentially take place tongue talk as well as tongue rearing Ana writing.
Not all talk can De talent as literate thinking, it must be talk that utilizes the symbolic possibility of language to facilitate the cognitive processes themselves to become the object of thought. This can happen in either writing or verbal language. If we believe that schools exist for the purpose of promoting effective think inning then we can assume that one responsibility of the school is to develop literate thinking. Wells and Change-Wells remind us that only certain talk has he potential to have literate consequences, they labeled this talk collaborative talk.
Collaborative talk is “talk that enables one or more of the participants to achieve a goal as effectively as possible” (Wells & Change-Wells, 1992, p. 97). Talk that considers relevance, and recognizes the need to consider alternatives and to Justify them by calling to mind systematic knowledge are instances of literate thinking. Another characteristic of literate thinking is reflection on an outcome and considering if it needs to be revised and changed. Collaborative talk will facilitate planning, goal eating and execution of the task.
However, it is not the talking through the task that is advantageous in itself; rather, it is when planning and similar processes are raised to the level of conscious attention that they may be brought under intentional control that merits being considered as literate. Teachers can support this deliberate thinking by encouraging children to question their own efforts. This kind of thinking is not self- generated, it is deliberately developed. Therefore, schools should be making a deliberate effort to develop literate thinking through collaborative talk. Mel
Levine (2002) explained the differences between four language option pairs used by nonverbal thinkers and those who use elaborate oral skills. The automatic versus literate language option will be investigated first. Automatic English is the everyday language used in casual conversation. This is speech that might be heard in lunchrooms and informal occasions such as sports events. Automatic language can be deceptive language because the speaker can appear to be very articulate by using colorful language, but in reality it is strictly concrete chatter that uses very common words.
In contrast, iterate language consists of specific words that have sophisticated concepts and content. It could be classroom talk around a scientific topic, a mathematical process or analysis of a Great Book. Literate language takes in technical terms seen in academic reading and writing. Another speech option is concrete versus abstract language. Concrete language depicts words that can be seen, heard, smelt, touched or tasted. They are sensory words such as “horse,” “salty,” “soft,” and “fragrance”; words that come directly from our senses. Concrete talk also includes conversation about personal experiences.
On he other hand, there is abstract language which describes idealistic words such as “democratic,” “Justice,” “attractive,” and “resourceful. ” It is language that can’t be translated into sensory talk, and is terminology found in the sciences, literature and mathematics (Levine, 2002). A third type of talk is basic versus higher language. Basic language is literal, practical and to the point, it is used by most elementary or lower level school children. Higher language Is more cataracts Ana symbolic, more technical, more elastic, Interrelate and deductive in nature.
It is likely to be ambiguous in a way that more can be read onto it. This language is utilized in symbolic poetry, writing in which a point of view is expressed or which implies a philosophical or political position. As children’s language rises to a higher level they are able to attain new heights of sophisticated thinking, reading and writing. Finally, Levine defined receptive versus expressive language. Receptive language consists of a child’s comprehension of spoken and written communication. Included in this type of talk would be the understanding of the clues in a mystery story, or the ability to appreciate a Joke.
On the other hand, expressive language is the capability f producing language that puts thoughts into words. Expressive speech allows challenging ideas to be translated into words. Reading uses receptive language, whereas writing uses expressive language. The last higher order thinking process to be considered is self- regulation. Agglutination is a major element in the Whisky cognitive development theory. Ditz and colleagues (1990) define self-regulation as “the child’s capacity to plan, guide and monitor his or her behavior from within and flexibly according to changing circumstances” (p. 30). Hoosegows theory proposes that higher psychological recesses, such as selective attention, voluntary memory, and problem solving can be differentiated from basic processes in four specific ways. The higher functions are (1) self- regulated rather than bound to the immediate stimulus field; (2) social or cultural rather than biological in origin; (3) the object of conscious awareness rather than automatic and unconscious; and (4) mediated through the use of cultural tools and symbols (Wretch, 1985).
The capacity to become self- regulated depends on the ability to problem solve with greater efficiency and make better decisions about what strategies to use to solve the problem. It is the brain’s ability to initiate a plan, follow through with the plan and monitor and adjust if needed. Wretch asserted this planning is accomplished without the assistance of a more knowledgeable person to help, hence, the term self-regulated (Moll, 1990). Definitions The following definitions describe important terminology which is related to this proposal.
Higher-order-thinking – the kind of thinking needed when the path to find a solution is not specified, and that yields many solutions rather than one. Higher-order thinking requires mental effort because it involves interpretation, self-regulation, and he use of multiple criteria, which might be conflicting. Contingent scaffolding – the level of help the tutor gives to the learner based on what kind of support he or she needs. The scale of help has three dimensions (1) how to support the task, (2) what to focus on next, (3) if and when to intervene.
Literate thinking – reflections on personal experiences through literature, it is the use of language in which its symbolic potential is deliberately exploited as a tool for thinking in reading, writing and speaking. Sell-regulation – ten learners addle TTY to make plans Tort Improvement Dates on ten assessment and evaluation of his or her own work and thinking. Abstract language – ideas or concepts that have no physical referents, which can have different meanings at different times. They are imprecise terms. Higher language – language which is abstract, symbolic, technical, idealistic and more informative in nature.
Literate language – this is language that uses sophisticated concepts and content with specific vocabulary. Literature discussion group – groups of four to six students who come together to read and discuss a shared piece of literature. Triangulation – using multiple investigations, multiple sources of data or multiple ethos to confirm the emerging findings and strengthens findings in a study. Open coding – is data analysis that deals with the labeling and categorizing of phenomena as indicated by the data.
Data are initially broken down by asking questions like what, where, how, when, how much, etc. Axial coding – data are put back together in new ways by making connections between a category and its sub-categories (I. E. , not between discrete categories, which is done in selective coding). Thus, axial coding refers to the process of developing main categories and their sub-categories. Selective coding – involves the integration of the categories that have been developed to form the initial theoretical framework.
Method The research questions will be answered using a grounded theory research. This is a qualitative research approach used to understand and explain the meaning of a social phenomenon in a natural setting (Merriam, 1998). The researcher hopes to present an insider’s perspective into the events that will occur in the study as data are collected and analyzed. This type of research employs an inductive approach, meaning it moves from the specific to the more general, and will use descriptions ether than numbers to understand the phenomena (Merriam, 1998).
The researcher assumes the role of a participant-observer, allowing the researcher to provide vividness and detail in the data collection process. The situation also allows the researcher to directly observe and review data in a timely manner, and to use multiple methods of analysis in order to plan for the next step in the learning process. An underlying assumption in qualitative research is that “reality is holistic, multidimensional, and ever-changing; it is not a single, fixed, objective phone moon waiting to be discovered, [or] observed, .. ” (Merriam, 1998, p. 202).
In the current study internal validity or reality will be determined by the following procedures: (a) comparing multiple sources of data, (b) long-term observations, (c) peer examination by a Reading Specialist, and (d) clarifying researcher biases. In qualitative research, reliability is concerned with consistency of the theory with the data or how dependable the theory is as related to the data. This is achieved through triangulation of multiple data sources and pattern analysis. Patton (as cited in Merriam, 1998) described external validity as that which should “provide perspective