Tag Archives: learning gain

Christmas mindbender – “Learning Jounce”: real or imaginary?


Here’s an idea that may or may not make sense. Stemming from one of those after dinner conversations that ended up with a “what if … ?”. Starting from the idea that things move at a certain speed and in a certain direction – velocity. This has some resonance with current discourse on learning – ‘learning gain’ being the distance travelled by a student over a period of time. So students learn at a certain speed. So we can see an analogy between velocity and learning gain – see the left side of the figure below. Learning gain has been under-theorised up until now – so let us problematize!

Now we can consider things like accelerated learning – where there is a change in the velocity of learning. We could have learning acceleration as an idea. So far so good. So the 1st derivative of the position vector (of understanding) would be learning gain  and the second derivative of the position vector would be learning acceleration:


PDF FIGURE:  learning-jounce

Accelerated learning is widely known, where students are taken along at a faster speed than is typically anticipated. So what if we push the analogy along? It might be more fun than trying to figure out the jokes in your Christmas cracker. And the discussion might make more sense after a glass or two of mulled wine! Anyway, here goes:

A change in acceleration is known as ‘Jerk’. So if the rate of acceleration increases or decreases we would have +ve or -ve Jerk. So if we had a change in the acceleration of learning we would have ‘Learning Jerk’. This is something that perhaps we could get our minds around. If learning gain has a ‘normal speed’ (e.g. one module per semester), then accelerated learning would have an increased speed (e.g. one module per semester, then two modules per semester, then three, and so on). A change in that rate of acceleration (e.g. suddenly back to one module per semester or up to four modules per semester) would be a ‘learning jerk’. So learning jerk would be variation in learning acceleration – a break in the smooth pattern of acceleration. If we then take the student voice into consideration, we could have ‘student-initiated acceleration’, where students felt they could move ahead more quickly, or ‘student-initiated jerk’ where the student body were allowed to vary the rate of learning acceleration at different points in their learning journey in response to changes in other factors.

For those who would like to apply the maths for Jerk:    j = \frac{da}{dt} = \frac{d^2v}{dt^2} = \frac{d^3x}{dt^3}   .

So logically (perhaps after another glass of wine), we should be able to proceed to a change in learning jerk – learning jounce. This would be a change in the change in the change of learning gain. In a student-led institution there will be variation in jerk across the student body and this will need a dedicated administrative team: possibly overseen by a new senior post (PVC – JOUNCE). Just imagine the learning analytics (Jounce analytics), wouldn’t they be fun. But what would learning jounce look like? And more importantly, what would be the metric that we could apply to TEF?

The ‘Jounced University’ would certainly be student-focussed, and may even come to the realisation that assessment inhibits  Jounce. Within the TEF, universities that acknowledge Jounce could be awarded a Bronze level in the TEF, those that implement ‘Assessed Jounce’ awarded a Silver, with Gold reserved for those institutions who manage to operate ‘Free Jounce’.

As an aside (and I think we need one here so we don’t get too serious), Jounce (the 4th derivative) is also known as ‘snap’. So can you guess what the 5th and 6th derivatives are called?  Yep – ‘crackle’ and ‘pop’. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have metrics for snap, crackle and pop with which to confuse our political masters? The Boxing Day game here is therefore to imagine your university league table for 2017, ranking institutions for “snap, crackle and pop”.

Merry Christmas!



MrReid.org at: http://wordpress.mrreid.org/2013/12/11/jerk-jounce-snap-crackle-and-pop/