FN# :draft#3: Puzzled

From: Jess Thyne
Submit: Post Field Note
VisitDate: 10/14/96
Date: 16 Oct 1996
Time: 15:46:37
Remote Name: octal-lab-mac01.ucsc.edu



Marvin (male, age ?)


Again, this was a very eventful day, but most of my time was spent with Marvin. I found him at the Lion King game trying to figure out how to use the mouse. He was trying to get the pointer to move slowly, and in small incraments, but he could not control the mouse enough to move it slowly. He was almost violent with it. He would push it off the pad, and he had a very strong grip on it. Marvin also seemed to have little knowledge of how the Lion King game worked. I had Victor come over and assit both me and Marvin in the basics of where you could click the mouse, and how to move from game to game.

After nearly an hour, of fiddling around, and Marvin getting the hang of ideas like icons, clicking, and some improvement on basic mouse skills (I showed him how to keep the mouse in the center of the pad, and placed my hand over his to show him how lightly you could hold the mouse), we got to a game where the kid is supposed to complete a puzzle.

Marvin tried, without any helo from me, for a few minutes to grasp the idea of how to start, and how to place the pieces in the square provided. He eventually turned to me and said, "You do it". I asked him if he was sure, and he nodded. I showed him the four corner pieces, and told him that the pieces with corners go in the corners. He seemed to understand, and with the four corners placed by me, he was able to get most of the other pieces in without much assistance.

We then tried the same puzzle again, and he got two corners before he needed any help. I showed him the other corners, and he placed the pieces. Marvin had already begun to place some more pieces in the puzzle when he had a problem with the mouse. He could not get a paticulary pointy piece to fit exactly, as the game demanded almost exact placing of the piece with the mouse. Again he asked me to do it, and I put the piece where it was supposed to go, and then took it out and said, "You do it". He did it! the rest of the puzzle went fast after that. He seemed to feel more confident about his skills from then on. We gave a high five at the completion of the puzzle, and said goodbye.


I thought a lot about the zone of proximal development durring this episode. Marvin seemed to be able to do some tasks by himself, some with a little prodding or modeling by me, and some tasks were too hard to do at all. I tried very hard to spot where and when these zones were occuring, and teach accordingly (I was silent when he could do it alone, I helped, but still made him do the puzzle when he could, and when he seemed to be totally lost, I started the puzzle myself and let him finish.


Is it easier to teach someone a task when it is in reality, or when its on the computer, or are they the same? What I mean, is that it has been very difficult to teach things like puzzles and card games without actually having puzzles or cards in front of the kids. I wonder if the computers are good enough tools, or if we should teach these kids some basic games first, then show them the computer versions.