Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO)

Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO)

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2176-1.ch007
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Abstract

In the chapter we discuss Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO), a multi-dimensional database that allow sorting and mapping of important concepts in a given knowledge domain through multi-semiotic representations in multiple sign systems, including: exemplary target statements of particular conceptual situations, and relevant other statements. MERLO pedagogy guides sequential teaching/learning episodes in a course by focusing learners' attention on meaning. The format of MERLO assessment item allow the instructor to assess deep comprehension of conceptual content by eliciting responses that signal learners' ability to recognize, and to produce, multiple representations, in multiple sign-systems - namely, multi-semiotic - that share equivalence-of-meaning. Exposure of scholars and learners to multi-semiotic inductive questions enhance cognitive control of inter-hemispheric attentional processing and enhance higher-order thinking. It highlights the important role of representational competence in scholarship, teaching and learning.
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Introduction

Boundary-of-Meaning (BoM) of a Target Statement (TS) is a good measure of the depth of understanding in a given knowledge domain. It documents the results of comparing TS to other representations by two different criteria:

  • Surface Similarity (SS) to the Target Statement.

  • Meaning Equivalence (ME) with the Target Statement.

MERLO is a multi-dimensional database that allows the sorting and mapping of important concepts in a given knowledge domain through multi-semiotic representations in multiple sign systems, including: exemplary target statements of particular conceptual situations, and relevant other statements.

Figure 1 is a template for constructing an item family of MERLO assessment items anchored in a single target statement TS. Collectively, MERLO item families encode the conceptual mapping that covers the full content of a course - a particular content area within a discipline, for example ‘calculus’ in mathematics (Figure 2).

Figure 1.

Template for constructing an item-family in MERLO

Figure 2.

Example of a multi-semiotic MERLO item (mathematics/calculus)

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Main Topics Of The Chapter

Issues, Controversies, Problems

MERLO pedagogy guides sequential teaching/learning episodes in a course by focusing learners’ attention on meaning. The format of a MERLO assessment item allows the instructor to assess deep comprehension of conceptual content by eliciting responses that signal learners’ ability to recognize, and to produce, multiple representations, in multiple sign-systems - namely, multi-semiotic - that share equivalence-of-meaning.

A typical MERLO assessment item contains 5 unmarked statements: unmarked TS (target statement); plus four additional (unmarked) statements A B C D E from quadrants Q2; Q3; and Q4. Our experience has shown that inclusion of statements from quadrant Q1 makes a MERLO item too easy, because it gives away the shared meaning due to the valence-match between surface similarity and meaning equivalence - a strong indicator of shared meaning between a Q1 and TS. Therefore, Q1 statements are excluded from MERLO assessment items.

Task instructions for MERLO assessment are:

At least two out of these five statements – but possibly more than two – share equivalence-of-meaning.

  • 1.

    Mark all statements – but only those – that share equivalence-of meaning.

  • 2.

    Formulate and write down briefly the reasons that guided you in making these decisions.

Figure 2. is an example of MERLO assessment item used at Independent Learning Center (ILC) of TVOntario, a distance education/e-learning high school. The MERLO database for grades 11-12 calculus course was developed by master mathematics teachers who participated in a workshop ‘Learning in the Digital Age with Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO) and Interactive Concept Discovery (InCoD)’ in 2006-2007, following detailed concept mapping. It is a multi-semiotic MERLO item in the following sign systems: symbolic mathematical equations A and E; visualization/diagram B; language and symbolic mathematical equations C and D.

Figure 3.

Example of a multi-semiotic MERLO item (history of architecture)

Figure 3 is an example of a MERLO item in 2nd year course on history of architecture at Ryerson University. It includes 5 representations (at least two of which share equivalence-of-meaning), in the following sign-systems: urban plan A; photograph B; orthogonal drawing C; language D; 3D sketch E.

Learner’s response to a MERLO item combines two formats: (i) multiple-choice/multiple-response (recognition) format; and (ii) short answer (production). Subsequently, there are two scores for each MERLO item: recognition score; and production score.

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