FN# 4:draft#2: Displays Of Intelligence

From: Jess Thyne
Submit: Post Field Note
VisitDate: 10/21/96
Collaborative: Selected
Unclear-Approach: Selected
Informal: Selected
Date: 22 Nov 1996
Time: 18:56:44
Remote Name: octal-lab-mac02.ucsc.edu



Norma (10, female) Me (male, 21)


After about an hour of setting up the CDrom games, I finally got the Reader Rabitt game to work. Norma who had been waiting for me for an hour to set up her game, came and sat down with me to play it. Neither one of us had seen the game before, but it was fairly simple to figure out. Norma (being in charge of the mouse) would click on pictures, until a reading game would appear. If she ran out of ideas for what to click on, I would point to something as a suggestion.

I have hung out with Norma before, and she had never said very much to me which indicated that she did not speak very good english. She is also the sister or cousin of Manuella who speaks almost no english at all. I figured that she would not enjoy this game much and would have a diffucult time with the reading sklills required. Boy was I wrong. Once she and I figured out the basic nature of the games (simple rules, what to click on when, etc.) she took it from there. What I mean is that she knew all the words in the games, and always clicked on the right ones without hardley a pause to think about it. This was a strong indication to me that she actually had no problem with English at all, and seemed to be progressing at the normal level for her age.

At first I was very impressed with her reading skills, but then it occurred to me that she did not say the words along with the game as sugested by the dancing rabitt and friends. I tried to encourage her to speak by saying all the words myself and by smilling and laughing with her when the characters in the game would do something funny. I hopped that my behavior would loosen her up a bit, and maybe get her to talk, with me, or at least say the words out loud, but she did not decide to talk much today.


I wrote about this episode because when I mentioned it in the debreifing, there was a great deal of disscussion over how I should have handdled the situation. I could see how some kids might think it dorky, or awkward to talk along with a computer, and I could also see that Norma could possibly be too shy to talk much at BU. I'm very extraverted, and I was not sure to handle this diplay of shyness. I did not think that she could not speak English, because she understood it so well in the context of the game. Perhaps I was wrong though, and I could have asked a kid who was also bilingual to help us communicate well.


Did I handle the situation correctly and informally? Should I have tried to make her talk other than just modeling? I have wondered before about the problems that the informal method could pose for intraverts, and those who did not want the attention of university students. I hope that I can make Norma feel comfortable at BU, and want to speak more at her own pace. Maybe next time, I'll try to play a game with her in Spanish (there are a few of these at BU). That may get her to feel more comfortable, but who knows?