Apple | An evidence-based jolt

A jolt is an engaging learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points …  A typical jolt does not teach a skill. Instead, it helps you experience an important principle in action and provides you an “aha” moment … They capture your attention by startling you … During the activity, jolts encourage you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. After the activity, during the discussion, jolts encourage you to share your insights with other participants and to discover that different people have different perspectives.

Thiagi

I design a lot of activities using research published in the Harvard Business Review. There’s a regular feature called “Defend your research” which always inspires me to create a task, a discussion activity or in this case a jolt. Over the next couple of months, I’m going to try to share a few evidence-based activities on this blog.

Apple

———————————————

Objective

This activity encourages metacognition and gets Ss to think about how their memory is not infallible and what that might mean for their performance or behaviour at work.

Pre-work

It might be a good idea for the T to read this HBR article – Defend your research: We can’t recall logos we see everyday.

Materials 

Paper to draw on; the Apple logo on a slide or a printout; crayons and colouring pencils are optional

Procedure

  • Take a quick poll to see if the Ss use any Apple products. Ask them work in triads to discuss which products they use, their experience overall with Apple and what they think of the brand.
  • Ask Ss to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, how familiar they are with the Apple brand (where 10 means extremely familiar). Have them write this number down.
  • Ask Ss to then rate how familiar they are with the Apple logo. (To make this interesting, ask them to draw a scale and then mark the two ratings on it).
  • Now ask Ss to draw the Apple logo. They can’t look at their phones, look it up on their phones and look in their bags. They must draw it from memory.
  • Once they’ve finished drawing, have them to compare their drawings with their neighbour. Then show them the actual logo and ask them to evaluate how near or far their drawings are from it. They should consider:
    • The shape of the apple
    • Where and how the bite mark is drawn.
    • Where and how the leaf is drawn
  • Get the Ss to take another look at the rating they gave themselves – how well do you know the Apple logo? Would they change the rating in light of this experience? What would they change it to?
  • Ss work in triads to discuss why most of them were over-confident about knowing the Apple logo.
  • Take whole class feedback and introduce the research:

“… there’s a lot of research proving we have a good memory for visual information. But we’re also dealing with attentional saturation. It would be overwhelming … to mentally record everything we see. So subconsciously we let some things fall away.”

The researchers thought that they would get different results with the Apple logo because it’s so ubiquitous. Of their 85 subjects …

“… only one got every part of the logo right, and just seven could draw it with three or fewer errors. And when we put the actual Apple logo in a line-up with seven altered versions, only 47% of people could identify it. We all know it looks like the fruit, but most of us don’t pay attention to the bite or the leaf. And that’s natural. We don’t burden ourselves with information we don’t think we’ll need to use.”

This fact most people are confident about drawing the logo is called “the availability heuristic: “I’ve seen this many times, so I should remember it.”

The researchers ran a similar experiment where office goers were asked to identify the location of the nearest fire extinguisher. Most got it wrong.

“In the study on fire extinguishers we also found evidence that people didn’t recall the location of the one nearest to them because they thought they knew where it should be—a phenomenon called gist memory. Several remarked that it was probably near the elevator and were surprised it wasn’t. We saw the same kind of thinking in the logo experiments. Many students assumed that if they were drawing a leaf, they should also draw a stem. In my own mind, the bite had teeth marks because no real bite is smooth. So our memories are contaminated by all the knowledge we’ve accumulated.”

  • Ask Ss to review this research and discuss its implications in the context of their own jobs. The researchers point to the following connection “Sometimes the information on the periphery is what leads us to the greatest insights, so
    we might want to fight our tendency to filter, our inattention, and our gist memory.”
  • The researchers suggest that failure and a greater understanding of metacognition – how our minds work- can help us combat these effects.

This activity worked well with my learners although the discussion was more about mindfulness in general rather than metacognition at work. I’d love to hear from you if you happen to run it in your classroom.

References

  • Castel, A. (2015) Defend your research: We can’t recall logos we see everyday in Harvard Business Review June 2015, pp.32-33.

Listen to the beat | An intercultural jolt

6845838363_9b000ca3f2_oA jolt is an engaging learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points …  A typical jolt does not teach a skill. Instead, it helps you experience an important principle in action and provides you an “aha” moment … They capture your attention by startling you … Thiagi.

This quick jolt is inspired by a YouTube clip that Dr. Broady posted yesterday over on her blog.

Materials

Access to YouTube to play this clip – Ghanian funeral dance, speakers.

Procedure 

  • Don’t tell Ss the title of this clip. Tell them that you are going to play some music and they should think about where this might be taking place in terms of the country or region as well the event or venue. They should try to imagine what people at this event might be doing while listening to this music and what sort of people they might be.
  • Play only the audio – doing whatever you need to (depending on the device) to block the video.
  • Ask Ss to share their ideas in pairs. Take whole class feedback.
  • Now play the clip again, allowing Ss to see the video.
  • Ask Ss to work with their partner to discuss how close or far their guesses were.

Debrief

  • Use open-ended questions to facilitate a discussion and elicit the following learning points:
    • In cross-cultural interactions, when we jump to conclusions, based on our own frames of reference, without taking the time to observe, we may make decisions or base interactions on incorrect perceptions and information.
    • And when we jump to conclusions and receive new information through this flawed lens, we may become overly judgemental about cultural differences.
  • Ask Ss to relate these points back to the cross-cultural interactions they have at work.

Image attribution: Flickr | Jolt Cola by Brent Moore | CC BY-NC 2.0

Lucian Freud | An art inquiry exercise

head-of-a-naked-girl

Source: Wikiart 

I was lurking in yesterday’s webinar on Evidence-based Observation by Silvana Richardson because I had some work to complete away but talk of a painting quickly hooked me.  Silvana used an activity built around Lucien Freud’s painting ‘Head of a Naked Girl’ to lead in to the session and get attendees to think about objectivity and subjectivity in observations. I thought it was a fairly effective exercise. However, when I looked online I didn’t find any references related to the incident or the quote she used. Maybe it’s an apocryphal story but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

Materials

Lucien Freud’s Head of a Naked Girl perhaps on a slide or as a printout; the quote from the model who’s the subject of the paining.

Procedure 

  • Display the picture and ask Ss to describe what they see.
  • Ask Ss to categorize responses into objective and subjective statements.
  • Now ask them to consider what the artist’s mood might have been when he was painting this portrait and what he might have wanted to express through the painting.
  • Finally have them consider their personal opinion – what do they think about the painting? Would they want to have it in their homes?

Debrief 

  • This could potentially be a very powerful ‘jolt’. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down the picture Silvana used of the model who is the subject of this portrait. She’s young and pretty and this is what she had to say about Lucian Freud:

The truth is that he is in all his paintings. One day he blacked my eye – the painting’s eye. That day he’d shut his ear in a door and it went nasty black. The finished face has been interpreted by one critic as me being “in a strop”. But it wasn’t my temper. It was about Lucian’s ear.

  • Lucian Freud’s paintings were ostensibly of other people but they were often reflections of himself. Ask Ss to reflect on the observations they made earlier in light of this new information. Ask them to relate Freud’s subjective observation to observations made by teacher trainers for the purposes of giving developmental feedback.
  • The exercise could be used in the business classroom to discuss performance appraisals and feedback. Here’s an article from Telegraph on 10 little known facts about Freud’s paintings.

Evernote Comparisons | A Business English Jolt

In one of his newsletters,  Thiagi, an exceptionally talented facilitator and designer of learning games describes one of his most engaging creations, a class of activities called jolts.

A jolt is an engaging learning activity that lasts for a brief period of time and illustrates one or more important learning points …  A typical jolt does not teach a skill. Instead, it helps you experience an important principle in action and provides you an “aha” moment … They capture your attention by startling you … During the activity, jolts encourage you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. After the activity, during the discussion, jolts encourage you to share your insights with other participants and to discover that different people have different perspectives.

This is not a conventional jolt because it requires some pre-work but I hope the potential for an “aha” moment would nevertheless qualify it as a jolt.

__________________________

Prerequisites 

Evernote

Ss should be familiar with using Evernote and able to access it in class on their own devices (laptops, smartphones, whatever).

Pre-work

Assign the following research task as pre-work.

  • Choose a topic that’s trending in business circles e.g., big data, gamification, deep analytics, social intelligence etc.  Now make it specific and relevant to your Ss e.g., big data in offshored healthcare services.
  • Before coming to the next session, ask Ss to find seven interesting articles, posts or sites on this topic. They should do this in not more than seven minutes. Instruct them to use an online countdown timer or their phones to ensure that they don’t take more than seven minutes doing this task.
  • Ss should skim articles/sites quickly and use Evernote to clip interesting ones to a notebook labelled with the topic.

In class 

  • Ask Ss to walk around with their devices and compare their Evernote lists with others.  
  • Whenever two Ss find a common link, they should delete it from their list.
  • Continue the activity till each person has had a chance to interact with a reasonable number of Ss.  Use a timer to hurry things along.
  • Get Ss to count the number of links they have left in their lists.

Debrief 

It’s highly likely that most Ss will end up deleting at least half their links, more for in-company settings.  Take a quick poll to understand how many links were common. Here are some questions to get the discussion going:

  • Why do you think so many of the links were common/so few were unique?
  • What does this imply about the way in which we seek and select information?
  • What does this say about the search engines we use and how they rank information?
  • What could be the impact of people in the same team/department/organization reading the same sources?
  • How do our reading choices influence our perspectives?
  • How might this influence business decisions?

When you think to yourself “let me look that up”, everyone else is looking it up as well and in all probability surfing the same site.  Is something ranked high on a search engine because it’s a rich source of information that can truly inform your perspective on a topic or for less noble reasons?  Get Ss to explore issues such as shallow reading, group think, and search engine ranking and their impact on business outcomes.