Using Technology to Confuse Students

recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights the results of an experiment done about 10 years ago by Derek Muller, then a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney,

Muller created two types of videos to teach science to his students.

In some videos, he had an actor explain the concepts straightforwardly or “concisely.” In other videos, he included more ambiguity which some of the students called “confusing.”

But when Mr. Muller analyzed the results of tests he administered to the students before and after showing them the videos, he found that “the students who had watched the more confusing videos learned more” but the other students seems more confident in their understanding.

In 2011, Muller concluded:

“It seems that, if you just present the correct information, five things happen. One, students think they know it. Two, they don’t pay their utmost attention. Three, they don’t recognize that what was presented differs from what they were already thinking. Four, they don’t learn a thing. And five, perhaps most troublingly, they get more confident in the ideas they were thinking before.”

So maybe law professors should try adding some confusing situations to their cohesive PowerPoint presentations?

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