From: May Sarmac
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 16 Nov 1996
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
Laura and her friend, females, age 11; Leila, female, age 7 (?); computer repair man
Laura and her friend (I don't know her name) were the first of four kids to show up. Laura played the Lion King CD and her friend played with different programs on the computer. When Laura was playing the Lion King, I tried to observe her playing and ask her questions. She didn't really respond to my questions (what do you have to do here?, how'd you do that?, etc.) so I stopped asking. When she did talk to me, it was mainly because she was stuck and needed help getting out of a game or going back to it. Laura's friend pretty much did the same thing, ask me for help when she needed to start a new program, when she was having problems with a program or finding a program. After a while, Laura wanted to print a picture from the Lion King so she can color it. I helped her with the set up, but when the printer didn't print, I asked the computer repair guy if he could help us. He told me that the printer wasn't printing because the computer had another printer default on it, so he changed it. When the computer was finally printing, there was no stopping Laura. She went through the part in the Lion King that had pictures she could color and printed out mulitple copies of each picture she liked. When her friend caught on to the printing, she too started printing out copies of what she was doing on her computer. Soon, it became a competition between Laura and her friend to "out copy" each other; one girl tried to make more copies than the other. The printer kept running out of paper so I had to keep reloading the sheet feeder. They caught on to how I was reloading the feeder, so when it ran out of paper, they added more to it. Since they were just printing, I thought that might have been a good opportunity to find out what Leila was doing on another computer. I sat next to her and asked what she was doing. She told me what she was playing and the objective of the game. I think the game she was playing was Reader Rabbit 2. WHen she had problems choosing the correct words to solve the games, she started to randomly choose the words. That's when I asked her to look all the words separately and which words had the most similar spelling. She caught on quickly and then moved to a harder level. At this level, she had to complete compound words. The program gave her half of a word and show her a picture of what the word is (ie:____mill and a picture of it underneath). Again, at first Leila started guessing at the words without looking at the picture or reading the word. She would also ask me what the answer was. Instead of telling her, I told her to look at the picture of the words and ask her what the picture looked like. After she told me what the picture looked like, I asked her if any of the words would solve the problem. She usually recognized the words quickly, but when she didn't, I would ask her more questions that would help her solve the problem. That technique was usually successful. Everytime she solved three words, she would earn a crystal. Once she started earning crystals, her new goal was not just solving the words, but to earn as much crystals as she can.
It was frustrating for me when I was helping Laura and her friend because they didn't respond to me unless they had a question or problem. Maybe it was because they're shy or when they see us undergrads, they see us more as teachers lurking over their shoulders than students like themselves. I think that they also saw us as resources, someone who knows what they don't (especially when it came to the computers) or authority figures. Maybe they weren't as responsive to me since there were only four kids there that day and not enough things going on at the same time.
I noticed these events because I tried to help Laura and her friend as much as I can, but my help could only go so far. I noticed what when on with Leila because I noticed that she was just guessing for answers and maybe not thinking about them.