PENS: Problem-solving Examples with Narration for Students
The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Loyola Marymount University for support of the Problem-solving Examples with Narration for Students project under the direction of Jeff Phillips, Jeremy McCallum, Katharine Clemmer, and Thomas Zachariah.
The Problem-solving Examples with Narration for Students (PENS) project is creating and assessing instructional materials that target one of the central skills required for success in the STEM fields: problem-solving. Instead of focusing solely on the refined end product of problem-solving, written solutions, students are instructed on how to focus explicitly on the problem solving process, with particular attention paid to self-regulation.
To make what is essentially an internal thought process explicit, students and instructors record think-alouds that are then be included in mathematics, chemistry, physics and teacher preparation courses to support teaching STEM problem-solving. To assist students in actively learning how to problem solve through the analysis and interpretation of these recordings, a rubric has been created and integrated into class activities. Through these activities students are better able to plan, monitor and adjust their work as they solve complex, real-world problems. Raising student efficacy in problem-solving may help otherwise competent students see STEM disciplines as positive career options.
Think-alouds are recorded using the Livescribe Pulse smartpen, a ball-point pen with an embedded computer and microphone. When used with Livescribe Dot paper, the pen records and synchronizes pen strokes and audio to create a “pencast.” Once uploaded to the Internet, users see an animation of the written work that displays the writing in real time with synchronized audio. Pencasts, and associated keywords identifying topic, problem characteristics, and solution features, are listed in a database and available to students, instructors and researchers at LMU and in the teaching community.