FN#8:draft#1: Challenging Tasks & Being Watched

From: Christie M. Thomas
Submit: Post Field Note
VisitDate: 11/08/96
Children-Run: Selected
Unclear-Approach: Selected
Informal: Selected
Date: 20 Nov 1996
Time: 03:44:29
Remote Name: tsa-45.ucsc.edu



Ariana - female - grade 5, Christie - female - undergrad (me)


Ariana was playing Reader Rabbit. She had been playing at the computer for a while by herself so I decided to join her. She seemed to be doing very well. She was in a cave and had to match the word given with one that had the same sound in it. She went through this level fairly quickly, gathering up a barrel full of crystals. She decided to change the difficulty level to dificult where she had to up a prefix given and a choice of word ending to make a real word. She tried one, then immediately quit that level and went back to the level she was on before.


She played contently by herself before I came over. When I got there she was doing very well. I noticed she came up with the answer immediately (her mouse pointer would hover over the correct answer while I watched her read over the remaining possibilities. It seemed like she had already glanced and saw the most likely answer but wanted to double check first before selecting it. She seemed extra careful. I wonder if it had anything to do with me joining the game late just to "watch" her and she didn't want to make a mistake. She also did not stay on the difficult level although I believe she could have figured it out but for this same reason (me watching) she may not have wanted to make any mistakes.


Does being "observed" by undergraduates make the kids behave in ways they would not if we weren't watching? How might Ariana's play of Reader Rabbit differed if I wasn't hovering by. ( I wasn't really 'hovering', my point is I was an observer not an active participate).

Does having an observer present enhance or distract from the learning process?

What ways are others encouraging kids to tackle the seemingly challenging tasks, one they would rather quickly quit like Ariana did? ( I asked her why she stopped, and she just shook her head, saying she didn't want to do it... I didn't want to push.. maybe another day.