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ERIC Number: ED526484
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 143
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1245-2966-0
Envisioning Competence: Learning, Problem Solving, and Children at Work in the Exploratory Bicycle Shop
Hammond, Charles Florian
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
This study examines the conceptual learning and cognitive development processes of schoolchildren engaged in problem solving activities in a non-school, workplace setting known as the exploratory bicycle shop. The exploratory bike shop is a commercial bicycle shop: a) that has been adapted for combined retail and educational purposes and b) where middle-school and high-school age students participate as bicycle mechanics apprentices. It shares certain educational strengths with other authentic work-learning strategies in which young people perform work with various degrees of economic use-value. For example, like youth media projects such as Oakland's Youth Radio, it provides apprenticeship opportunities with professional personnel such as mechanics and salespersons in a professionally-equipped shop space. Like school gardens, the exploratory bicycle shop engages students in work activity that produces economically viable products. Unlike any other authentic work-learning activity, however, the exploratory bike shop gives young participants, ages 10-19 a neighborhood-based, tool-intensive, commercially viable space where they strongly identify with the experience of having a real job, not just a simulated one. To help reveal how apprentices access that intelligence through thinking and discursive practices, I employ visual anthropology (VA) methods. VA was designed to collect and analyze ethnographic data in ways that more effectively capture and reveal informants' true motives and practices by subordinating the verbal data stream and focusing instead on the visually available aspects of what informants do. Specifically, I videotape apprentices' actions during bike repair activity in order to track changes in their actions over the course of interaction with the bicycle and other bike shop participants. Through in situ dialogue and clinical interviews I then try to determine how changes in apprentices' actions relate to changes in both their conceptual development and technical competencies. In a VA analysis, findings emerge in a manner different from that of more traditional studies since the very idea of studying a culture is subjected to a critical self-examination about the motives for the research and the degree to which the study faithfully represents that culture's voices rather than imposing its own voice, intentionally or not. With regard to student problem solving practices, one finding was that competence in bicycle repair tended to correlate positively with the ability to judge which type of knowing--abstract or concrete--is appropriate for any given problem solving situation. Theoretically speaking, but also related to the above finding , the study also found that problem solving competence relies critically on a student's problem framing competence, an observation that corroborates findings by Hutchins and Lave. One methodological finding is that VA can open up new ways of conceiving competence that were previously unavailable using more traditional analytic methods. The VA ethic aims to understand the informants' attitudes and beliefs at an emic level, the level of the informant, rather than trying to understand verbal data collected from the informant through a series of direct or indirect interventions. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A