Improving the quality of education is closely related to various specific key aspects of school’s profile but, improving teaching-learning-assessment aspect in Science, Chemistry, Physics, Biology at a sensory impaired student is based on a specific set of educational goals.

Quality of education lies in addressing modern methods. An innovative educational method is Thinking At the Edge (TAE). This is based on both theories philosopher Eugene Gendlin “Experimenting and creating of meaning” and “Implicit philosophy” and the theory and practice of concentration. This practice ensures the quality of concentration on the body in situations which we live in and we generally experience them, guided by holistic size of sense. The method has wide applications, starting from study/individually work or, in groups, at all levels and contexts of education (primary, secondary, university or postuniversity). Stimulating innovation in Science, a field so vast and promising, is based on acquiring thinking “out-of-the-box” of sensory impaired students.

TAE method develops in 14 steps which are divided into three main phases: phase zero (preparation), phase 1 (steps 1-5, speaking from the felt sense: let a felt sense form; find what is more than logical in your felt sense; notice that you don’t mean the standard definitions of the words; write a sentence or fresh phrase to say what you wanted each of the three words to mean; expand what you wanted each word to mean by writing fresh, linguistically unusual sentences), phase 2 (steps 6-9, finding patterns from instances: collect facets; allow the facets to contribute detailed structure; cross the facets; write freely) phase 3 (steps 10-14, building theory: choose terms and link them; ask into the inherent relations between the terms; choose permanent terms and interlock them; apply your theory outside your field; expand and apply your theory in your field).

Thinking At the Edge method meets the developing needs of sensory impaired students and ideally complements special education interacting excellently with Art, Literature, Language. Developing and improving educational activities based on sensory impaired students’ ideas rests on inclusive learning methodology. Using e-Learning digital tools from Beaconing platform, students are engaged in alternative ways of thinking and therefore they can assimilate concepts, learning and authentic assessment skills, as well as new ways of learning in order to develop their creativity.

During the last ten to fifteen years, the situation has changed dramatically. Most of the recent research on the use of information and communication technology in education is more or less explicitly considering technology’s possibilities to facilitate social interaction between teacher and students, and among students. Collaboration and communication is certainly a main idea in network-based learning environments, but social interaction has also been increasingly taken into consideration in the design and implementation of systems running in separate workstations (Crook,1994; Lehtinen et al, 1999).

In a collaborative situation individuals have to explain their ideas and conceptions to others, and through this externalisation process they also have to construct a better mental model about the

issue or concept in question. These can be subsequently elaborated further by collaborators. Explaining problems to oneself fosters cognitive achievements. Hatano and Inagaki (1992) have argued that deep conceptual understanding is fostered through explaining a problem to other learners. In order to explain one’s view to one’s peers, an individual student has to cognitively commit him or herself to some ideas, to explicate beliefs, and also to organise and reorganise existing knowledge (Hatano & Inagaki, 1992).

The cognitive value of externalisation in social interaction is based on a process of making internal processes of thought visible (Collins & Brown, 1988: Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991; Lehtinen & Rui, 1996; Lesgold, 1998). From a cognitive point of view, it is particularly important to transform internal and hidden processes into a public form in which they can be examined and imitated. The well known Reciprocal Teaching model, developed by Palincsar and Brown (1984), can also be considered as an example of a model in which externalisation of individual student’s mental processes is essential for the advancement of metacognitive skills. According to this approach students are taught to formulate questions about a text for one another. Students have to process the material themselves and learn how to focus on the essential elements of the reading passages before they are able to do comprehension modelling. Many empirical studies have provided evidence about the effects of reciprocal teaching (Järvelä, 1996).

Computer environments can be used as tools to make the thinking processes visible in many

different ways. The written communication within a learning platform makes the conversation history visible, and so can have a strong effect on the collaborative processes. Many applications, however, go further and try to externalise and make visible, for example, steps and qualitatively different contributions in the inquiry process (Hewitt, 2002; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1994), decision making paths (e.g. Lehtinen & Rui, 1996), and argumentation structures (Suthers, Erdosne

Toth, & Weiner, 1997). Pea (1994) argued that through computer-supported collaborative transformative communication, a type of learning facilitating new ways of thinking and inquiring in education could be fostered. It seems that for the purposes of transformative communication, written communication combined with face-to-face communication is more effective than face-to-face communication alone, because it requires more extensive thinking processes (Woodruff & Brett, 1993).

Traditionally, cognitive theories have examined learning as an individual and mental process. As a consequence, cognitive theories have focused on analyzing how an individual agent processes mental representations. Scientific thinking has traditionally been seen as a characteristic of an individual mind. However, in explaining human intelligent activity, both cognitive theory and the current philosophy of science increasingly emphasizes the socially distributed (or shared) nature of cognition (cf., Hakkarainen, Palonen, Paavola & Lehtinen, 2002; Hutchins, 1995; Pea, 1993; Perkins, 1993; Resnick, Säljö, Pontecorvo & Burge 1997). Distributed cognition refers to a process in which cognitive resources are shared socially in order to extend individual cognitive resources or to accomplish something that an individual agent could not achieve alone. Human cognitive achievements are based on a process in which an agent’s cognitive processes and the objects and constraints of the world reciprocally affect each other.

 

 

Bibliography

 

[1] Gendlin E., Hendricks M., Thinking at the edge (TAE) steps, May 10, 2004 http://www.focusing.org/pdf/TAE-Steps-From-The-Folio-2000-2004-crp.R6.pdf

 

[2] Lehtinen, E. (2003) Computer-supported collaborative learning: An approach to powerful learning environments; Erno Lehtinen, Centre for Learning Research and Department of Teacher Training

University of Turku; In E. de Corte, L. Verschaffel, N. Entwistle, & J. VanMerrieboer (Eds.) 2003, Unravelling basic components and dimensions of powerful learning environments. Elsevier.

 

Article in association with:

Georgeta NĂMOLOVAN

“Saint Mary” Special Middle School for Hearing Impaired, Bucharest