February 9, 2006

Reflections for 2/3-2/8

I must admit, I disliked the Zhao and Frank article. I just did not believe the metaphor of computer uses being like zebra mussels. Since I didn't buy into their central theme, I nitpicked my way through the entire article. In my opinion, if Zhao and Frank wanted to use an ecological perspective, they should have built their case around the ecology of ideas in the schools. The ecology of ideas could then be compared to the biological species. However, the author grouped non-ideas like projection systems and desks along with the computer uses. These groupings made no sense to me. It seemed like they were grouping automobiles, tropical fruit, and interpretive dance and suggesting that they were all in the same category. Instead, if they would have treated specific technology ideas as the invading species, they could have focused on the teachers' and students' already existing ideas in their ecosystem, and thus would have had a cleaner model. The authors discussed memes, and I was surprised that they did not carry their arguments forward using more of the work surrounding memes.

I also did not like how they did their data collection and interpretation. They used a survey with Lickert scales which tends to be a fairly weak starting point for statistical analysis showing causal relationships. Collecting data via interviews usually results in better qualitative analysis rather than quantitative analysis. They only did observations in one one school per district, and they didn't describe how they choose that one school per district, so I am a bit skeptical about generalizability. Also, observations tend to lend themselves better to qualitative interpretation rather than quantitative interpretation with a causal claim. When the authors used direct quotes on p.825 to back up the quantitative claim, I didn't find that believable at all. First, the effect size for their analysis on the teacher-ecosystem interaction was only 11-14%. Though that is likely large enough to be noted, it isn't so large to be accepted as groundbreaking. Using direct quotes from only two teachers does not confirm anything. It only lends support in a qualitative claim for those teachers, not for a generalization. I found their findings and arguments around opportunities for mutual adaptation completely unbelievable. With an effect size of 1%-3% it isn't even worth noting, and their argument tying it to the ecological metaphor in the case was a gain a massive stretch.

I am also going to nitpick their model on p.829. First it is really unclear, even after read the preceding page with what all the lines and symbols meant. Second, if district in-service is so insignificant why does it have a huge bold arrow? also, it penetrates much to far inside of the model. If it is as insignificant as the authors claim, it should not penetrate at all and should be a slight arrow or not in the model at all.

The Niederhauser article was much better. Similar to the Klingner article it was useful in describing the publication process. The appendices were particularly useful in helping understand the process. The Booth chapters were again useful, though I wonder how well people really follow the claim, reason, evidence chain well. Zhao and Frank did follow the chain, I realize upon reflection. However, I didn't believe many of their reasons or evidence. In the Williams book, I am a bit unsure as to what is a "good" normalization. Though he gave examples, he spent so much effort in getting rid of them, the exceptions didn't seem to all that logical.

Posted by danil003 at February 9, 2006 9:33 AM
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