Think Aloud Analysis

Think Aloud Analysis Guidelines

This project is a rather open-ended investigation. While you will generate a written analysis, there is no concrete end-product I envision; rather this project is about process and discovery. That said, I do want you to proceed deliberately, guided by the concepts we have encountered in our discussions on expert and novice learners, the question of difficulty, and the “protocols of reading” that we rely upon when faced with unfamiliar or challenging texts.

  1. To get started, watch one of the online videos of the two “think alouds” we did in class: Group One reading Louise Gluck’s “Gretel in Darkness” (JJ, Matt, and Edith); or Group Two reading William Carlos William’s “Between Walls” (Naomi, Sara, and Jennifer). Remember you only need to analyze one video.
  2. Upon your first viewing simply jot down your impressions. Note which specific moments are interesting to you or catch your eye. Use the video’s time code to keep track of these points.
  3. Watch the video again, this time trying to describe what makes those moments you noticed interesting. Is it a moment of deepening understanding? A moment of frustration or confusion?
  4. Either building upon the previous step or focusing upon other spots in the video, begin to analyze the specific reading strategies (“reading protocols”) used by the students. What techniques do the readers — either individually or collectively — use to negotiate meaning? Do they fixate on certain words or patterns? Do they ignore others? What do the readers gravitate towards? What other strategies advance or hinder understanding?
  5. Here is the meta-moment: what kinds of knowledge come into play during the interpretation? Broadly speaking, we can think about experts having several types of “knowledge” at work in any given moment:
    1. Formal Knowledge (Content-based knowledge in a specific field of expertise, say American poetry, or even more generally, knowledge of poetic terms and techniques)
    2. Informal Knowledge (Knowledge outside a specific field, what we might think of as “common sense” or “intuitive” knowledge)
    3. Procedural Knowledge (Skill-based knowledge, familiarity with relevant methodology or approaches; if formal knowledge is “knowing about…” then procedural knowledge is “knowing how…”)
    4. Self-Regulatory Knowledge (Awareness of the limits or gaps in one’s own knowledge; knowledge that guides the application of other knowledge)

    (These categories of knowledge are adapted from Carl Bereiter, Surpassing Ourselves: An Inquiry into the Nature and Implications of Expertise, Chicago: Open Court, 1993.)

Exactly how you write up this analysis is up to you. As a more traditional paper, it might be 5-7 pages long. If it makes sense, you might want to incorporate visual elements, such as a timeline or chart, or even a concept map. Whatever your approach, the goal is both (1) to highlight specific reading strategies and their deployment, and (2) to synthesize your findings about knowledge and the process of the reading. This analysis is due in class on February 13.