Mindful Agency & Futuribles Enabled via Dispositional Learning Analytics and New Forms of Testing

I just had to change that title slightly when I realized I had deduced the relevance of the 1967 book The Art of Conjecture before in an April 14, 2016 post, but today it goes to the relevance of targeting a student’s Purpose laid out in the previous post. I believe it also goes to the push now for new forms of assessment that hype role playing and gaming simulations as shown here https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/53071/how-schools-spark-excitement-for-learning-with-role-playing-games . That came out after the mention of Georgia’s shift in the last post. An emphasis on Indeterminate Situations, Productive Struggle, or Wicked Problem Solving as ‘rigorous instruction’ makes sense when we are aware of the Ford Foundation-financed global interest (my bolding):

beyond the domain of the true and false, and this ‘beyond’ constitutes another domain, where I can place images that do not correspond to any historical reality. An image of this kind is not a mere fantasy if I have the will and feel I have the capacity to bring about at some later time a state of affairs that corresponds to the image. The image represents a possibility because of my power to validate it in this way, and represents a project because of my will to do so.

Testing about facts, or with right and wrong, algorithmic answers, does not get to this desired “domain in which one can act” in an imagined different world. Purpose matters so much because it goes to that will or motivation to act in a given context.  One more quote from the Futuribles because it fits my assertion that the idea now of assessments as a learning journey from Purpose to Performance or Product is consistent with what that above quote called an italicized project. Futuribles was all about a declared goal to “instigate or stimulate efforts of social and especially political forecasting” and these new forms of testing and use of Dispositional Learning Analytics get at the “inside-out basis” for the desired changes. Education is a ‘social science’ as is psychology and Futuribles insisted that the “social sciences should orient themselves toward the future.” Nothing like role-playing games then to practice a vision:

For man in his role as an active agent the future is a field of liberty and power, but for man as a cognizant being the future is a field of uncertainty. It is a field of liberty because I am free to conceive that something which does not now exist will exist in the future; it is a field of power because I have some power to validate my conception…

Now let’s leave those quotes from the past on the desired transformation in the basis of education and the social sciences and pivot to this recent post https://www.gettingsmart.com/2019/02/preparing-all-learners-for-an-uncertain-future-of-work/ that gives a different rationale but the same aim. We have encountered the formalized False Narrative about an SEL focus as about a database of PII on each student, but let’s quote the Institute for the Future’s employee who authored that piece. She is the source of the “inside-out basis” quote used above.

Putting social-emotional skill development at the center of learning promises to help individuals develop the foundation necessary to navigate uncertainty throughout their lives. The new foundation for readiness shown below illustrates how redefining readiness from the inside out–focusing on human development rather than attempting to prepare learners for any particular future of work–can provide a platform for future success. This new foundation for readiness is grounded in the human qualities that are most central to our relationships with one another and which are most difficult to code.

When I debunked the Database of PII narrative about SEL, many of its advocates moved along to hype ‘Workforce Readiness’ as the purpose of the Common Core and Competency learning standards. That alternative purpose though, as the Getting Smart graphic makes clear, is also a False Narrative. The aim is ‘inside-out’ alteration of the student at the level of their personality and Identity, using Purpose and Project-Based Learning as a main means. The shown common core of each student is Individual Awareness (Emotional Regulation), Social Awareness (Empathy and Perspective-Taking), and Self-Discovery (Deep Self-Knowledge).

That same core gets targeted by the Dispositional Learning Analytics (DLA) work being built into these gaming platforms being used for formative assessment and misportrayed as testing. That readiness foundation gets created at a neural level as described in a 2015 paper by the author of that Chapter 25 covered in the last post.  The paper is called “Developing Resilient Agency in Learning: The Internal Structure of Learning Power.” It states that it is concerned with “the establishment of dispositions, attitudes and values associated with being an effective learner,” but it is the same changed vision of Knowledge and Learning we encountered back in 2014 here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/identifying-education-globally-as-the-crucial-lever-for-nonconsensual-behavior-and-societal-change/ Being an ‘effective learner’ then simply translates to a willingness to alter “dispositions, attitudes, and values”, along with ultimately behavior.

See if this quote reminds you of the Futuribles one from decades ago as well as the New Readiness Foundations from last week:

the concern with learning power was to develop a range of competencies crucial for success in the complex, information-rich and radically uncertain world of the emerging twenty-first century. These competencies are now to the forefront- forming the outcomes focus for institutions and organizations the world over…assessment data included aspects of a person’s learning that were both ‘internal’ and ‘social’–influenced by a person’s sense of ‘self’ in a sociocultural and historical context. Feedback was in the form of an immediate visual image of an individual’s learning ‘profile’ as a spider diagram. This provided a framework for a coaching conversation which moved between the coachee’s [aka the student or child] identity as a learner and his or her learning experiences and purposes. The ELLI instrument [acronym for Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory] was designed to identify and strengthen an individual’s learning dispositions, attitudes and values and provide a starting point for self-directed learning and teacher-facilitated pedagogical change.

Any of those sought changes of a student’s internalized core at the level of his mind, personality, and motivations is Learning. We also hear the same aim euphemized as Student Growth, Mastery, Success, or Achievement. The student’s mind and personality, depicted via a Spider Diagram profile to show the changes created by curricula and learning experience,s gets treated as a “complex systems architecture…that sets out the key parts of a system, what they do and how they fit and work together.” A student’s Identity and Purpose get mapped and targeted for change [Learning] because:

effective learning requires the identification of personal desire or purpose, in response to first identifying a need or a problem that requires a solution of some sort. Learning that begins from this point in lived, concrete experience is ‘bottom up’ and usually both interdisciplinary and interdomain–in other words it transgresses traditional subject boundaries. Articulating a purpose in learning requires that I or we know something about ourselves, our story and what is of value to us, and it is thus associated with identity as well as a particular time and place.

The authors go on to point out that 21 C learning outcomes require “learners who can persist in learning, responding effectively to open-ended and complex problem spaces.” Any parent who has ever wondered why math became about ‘productive struggle’ in Indeterminate Situations instead of taught algorithms can take that quote to the bank for enlightenment. It’s not about teaching math any longer. It’s using activities in a class labelled as math to develop  Mindful Agency from the ‘inside-out’ in the student. What goals to set and how to go about achieving those goals or purpose is called meta-cognition. The needed metacognition to act on the future in the present using Mindful Agency are “products of nonanalytic, nonconscious inferential processes particularly when there are conditions that do not allow full analysis of the situation such as under conditions of uncertainty.”

It’s now pretty clear that it will take a Trilogy to finish this discussion so let me finish with these online platforms providing trace data that allow formative assessment, usually mislabeled as ‘testing’ for public relations purposes, to get at and profile a student’s internalized “tripartite structure for mindful agency, which is about the self as agent of his or her own learning, able to take responsibility for the process, as well as managing feelings in learning (such as feeling confused) and being able to judge how long something may take and how to go about it (meta-cognitive strategy). This serves to integrate three distinct strands in the research literature: metacognition, the role of affect in self-regulation (emotional intelligence) and self-efficacy of agency.”

We are back in the sought domain of Futuribles so let me close with a quote from it on the role of purpose, planning, imagining, and training to act in uncertainty on the basis of:

fabrications of the mind…that do not represent any reality past or present…these fictions are of major importance in our life. Although we discard the vast majority as fantasies, we value a small number of them, and these can serve as the cause of future realities. There is no volition without object, and the object of a volition is that a fiction of the mind become a ‘fact’. This fact is the goal of the action…When we retain a fiction as something to be enacted, it serves as the source of systematic action. This fiction–a non-fact–can be situated only in the future, which is necessary as a receptacle for a fiction accompanied by an injunction to become real.

Learning standards grounded in performances, projects, and activities are creating the needed internalized cores for future action. Whether called ‘bottom up’ describing Mindful Agency, or ‘inside-out’ in the new Foundations for Readiness, we are dealing with the same, poorly understood basis for transformation in the student.

All as needed to guide future action is reliable, predictable ways. Which that 2014 post established as the new 21st Century definition of Knowledge.





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