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Getting Started Select Design Task Learn About Design
MOVIE 1:   4 minutes 50 seconds MOVIE 2:   3 minutes 5 seconds
Memorizing/Understanding

In their paper on building understanding of mathematics in children, Carpenter and Lehrer (1999) suggest that for students to build understandings of what they are learning, they should:

  • build connections between what they learn and know
  • extend and apply their knowledge
  • be reflective about what they are making
  • articulate it to others
  • make their knowledge their own
Design tasks in themselves are great assessment tools for checking students' understanding. One study [How People Learn (p. 44)] by Bransford and Stern (193) showed how students who memorized facts about veins and arteries were less able to make informed decisions when designing an artificial circulatory system compared to students who were taught about the structure and function of these elements with the goal of understanding the circulatory system.

In MOVIE 1, Vanderbilt's Richard Lehrer MOVIE 2 describes ways to build in students identities that allows them to create understandings that go beyond what is initially studied. Rich site one student as saying, "I good question is one where you can 'piggyback' on it. "In MOVIE 2, Farmington HS teacher Earl Carlyon tells his "pig-clicking" story, to which he refers throughout the year, which stressed the difference between learning-as-memorizing facts versus learning-as-understanding concepts.

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