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1 THE TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING FRAMEWORK (TfU) AND THE SHERLOCK HOLMES INVESTIGATIVE MODEL (SHIM) FOR TEACHING UNDERGRADUATE ARTS ECONOMICS STUDENTS: A PEDAGOGICAL CASE Daniel Blackshields, BComm, MBS (Business Economics), PGDTLHE Department of Economics, University College Cork, Cork, Republic of Ireland A Presentation for International Developments in Economic Education 9 th -10 th September, 2009 It has always been my habit to hide none of my methods either from my friend Watson or from anyone who might take an Intelligent interest in them Sherlock Holmes in The Reigate Puzzle Work in progress for the award of Masters in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Research partially funded by the National Academy for the Integration of Teaching and Research and Learning (NAIRTL)

2 Spearman suddenly got up from the bed and began to pace. He was usually a jovial man but his mind was troubled. Since arriving at Cinnamon Bay with his wife, on what was to be a happy holiday, there had been two murders and a drowning. Could all these unlikely incidents be unrelated?

3 Milton Friedman Spearman is Dr Henry Spearman - fictional Professor of Economics and amateur sleuth If he lived Dr. Spearman would look like Quote on previous slide (pp 135-6).

4 Spearman discovers who done it by rigorous application of a very simple economic proposition, coupled with acute observation. The essence of the plot is that there is a mysterysomeone is behaving in a way that is not transparent, but we do not know who it is. When Spearman sees someone behaving in a way that seems to be irrational, not the apparent least-cost way of achieving his apparent objective, he knows there is a mystery about that person. That person has some objective or some costs that are not apparent. If Spearman has sufficient observations of apparently irrational behavior, he can deduce what that person is up to. Hebert Stein, 1993, (p. viii)

5 The Statement of the Case I can see nothing, said I, handing it back to my friend.On the contrary, Watson, you can see everything. You fail, however, to reason from what you see. (Sherlock Holmes to Dr Watson in The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle ) There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect: the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen Frederic Bastiat (economist) A goal of economic education is to teach students to reason effectively using economic knowledge in their public and private lives (Van Sickle, 1992). if you cant actually take an idea outside the classroom and use it, you dont really get it. But once you use it on your own, its yours forever. (Frank, 2007, p. 11). However : -01/sherlock-holmes-thomas-watson.jpg

6 … Our focus was far to narrow, we came up with our initial ideas and solutions and stuck to them. We only focused on these ideas not considering other possible concepts or solutions. We didn't consider any other factors effecting Robin. We didn't question our ideas we simply elaborated on what we had already come up with. (MBS (Business Economics) Student) When I originally analysed Robin Hoods business I was not aware of any specific procedure to carry out. I simplydived in at the deep-end, as so to speak… Undergraduate BA Economics Student …I realise that in my initial approach to the Robin Hood assignment I failed to combine my observations, insights and conclusions in a logical progression and tended to convey my points in a sporadic nature. Undergraduate BA Economics Student (INTRODUCTORY PERFORMANCE) Student Reflections: A NOVICE-LED CONVERSATION

7 By George! cried the inspector. How ever did you see that? Because I looked for it. Inspector Martin to Holmes in The Adventure of the Dancing Men IN QUEST OF A SOLUTION – SCAFFOLDING FOR THE LEARNER SHERLOCK_HOLMES_-_07.jpg TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING (TfU) Understanding is …a matter of being able to do do a variety of thought-provoking things with a topic such as explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalising, applying, analogising and representing a topic in a new way. (Perkins in Blythe et al, 1998, p. 12). Introductory Performance Guided Performance Culminating Performance Through these performances students reshape, expand on extrapolate from, and apply what they already know. Such performances challenge students misconceptions, stereotypes and tendencies towards rigid thinking (ibid,. 62)

8 Playing the Sleuth in Economic Investigations ( GUIDED PERFORMANCE) [Economic] research is stripping a layer or two from the surface of modern life and seeing what it happening underneath … the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication and downright deceit is not impenetrable, is not unknowable… (Freakonomics p. xi) * Is a good entry point – C.S.I. Franchise/ Lie to Me/Criminal Minds * Is a good supplement to other examples of the narrative turn in Economics Education: - Freakonomics - The Economic Naturalist - The Undercover Economist THE POSSIBLITY OF POSITIVE TRANSFER DURING LEARNING

9 * Strong links between Economics and the Classical Detective Genre * A detective story is a universe of clues There is a gradual development & reformulation as the story is unveiled What is seen as relevant turns out to not be and what was deemed irrelevant turns out to be of crucial importance As with readers of detective fiction problem-solvers cannot be passive as it is necessary to choose an interpretative approach which foregrounds certain features of reality to the detriment of others (Scaggs, 2005, p. 34). Such stories therefore have a potency as an aid in training a problem-solving mentality in that problems particularly, ill-structured problems, require the problem solver to work through information to find relevant patterns and avoid dead-ends. THE READER AS A COMPANION ON A JOURNEY – A WRITERLY TEXT

10 -museum-1.jpg Why Sherlock Holmes Investigative Model (SHIM) ? First consulting detective First scientific-based investigator Deals with reasoning under uncertainty in a context Holmes entire investigative process is public The Holmesian cycle offers us for the first time the spectacle of a hero triumphing again and again by means of logic and scientific method (Nordon, 1967, p. 247, cited in Truzzi, 1983, p. 57). Guided Performances

11 FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF DR SPEARMAN Dr Spearman explains the hidden logic in Ms. Doakes pricing policy for her cooking books Doakes: Why Dr Spearman, Ive never even thought why my last cookbook was priced at $14. To me that just seemed like a fair price. Spearman: But werent you trying to maximise the income from your book? …what if your price had been $16? Doakes: Thats too high. People arent accustomed to paying that much for a cookbook. I doubt if I could sell many at that price. Spearman: Why dont you lower your price to $12 then? Doakes: …you must know how expensive it is to publish a book these days... $12 the price would be below cost and you could not afford to supply the books that people want at that price. At $16 you could not sell the books you would be willing to supply…I would say that you are a better businesswoman than you imagine or let on. You may think $14 to be a fair price, but I would add that it is also the most profitable price. (pp, 32-3)

12 Dr. Spearman exhibits the classic qualities of the classical detective He observes, he infers and he concludes. He collects available data and sets stratagems in motion to collect as yet unseen data. Throughout the Spearman mysteries an economic principle (in this case: the profit-maximising principle) is unobtrusively introduced and reappears throughout the books in totally different contexts key in the solution to a crime mystery Spearman adopts the classic Sherlock Holmes Investigative Strategy (SHIM) The illustration of declarative knowledge within these mysteries and riddles solved in Freakonomics and the Economic Naturalist are complimented by a use of the Sherlock Holmes canon to explore metacognitive Knowledge needed for problem-solving

13 Holmes investigative strategy has been called an abductive reasoning strategy. This is a form of critical thinking where the key tenets are a) pattern-recognition and b) plausible reasoning. Result (observed fact)There was bleeding Abductive process commences RuleAll serious knife wounds result in bleeding Case (result of abducting) HypothesisThis bleeding was caused by a serious knife wound SHIM is a Metacognitive scaffold supporting the underlying processes of individual learning management A CLASSIC ILL-STRUCTURED PROBLEM

14 What qualities enable the development of an intelligent hypothesis by problem- solvers. A MASTERY OF OBSERVATION [t]here is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery A MASTERY OF KNOWLEDGE Ones ideas must be as broad as nature if they are to interpret nature. Holmes in A Study in Scarlet A MASTERY OF INFERENCE DEVELOPMENT... I never guess. It is a shocking habit – destructive to the logical faculty. What seems strange to you is only because you do not follow my train of thought or observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend. Holmes in The Sign of Four

15 The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-time Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention? To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. The dog did nothing in the night-time. That was the curious incident, remarked Sherlock Holmes The Adventure of the Silver Blaze. FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

16 Result (observed fact)The watchdog did not bark as the horse was being stolen Abductive process commences Strategically organised questions Q) Was there a watchdog in the stables when the horse disappeared? Yes Q) Did the dog bark when the horse was stolen? No Q) Who is it that a trained watchdog does not bark at in the middle of the night? His owner, the stablemaster RuleWatchdogs will not bark at their owners Case (result of abducting) HypothesisIt was the stablemaster that stole the Silver Blaze the denouement of almost every successful story or novel in the Sherlock Holmes tradition can be paraphrased in the form of real or imaginary questions Holmes addresses to himself (or to the reader). In some cases, the great detective has to carry out an observation or even an experiment to answer the question. More frequently all he has to do is to perform an anamnesis and recall certain items of information which he had been given… ( Hintikka 1983, p 159). HOLMES USE OF STRATEGICALLY ORGANISED QUESTIONS

17 Why LeMans didnt kill Justice Foote Result (observed fact)Justice Foote was killed on a Saturday afternoon Abductive process commences Strategically organised questions Q) When was LeMans musical services most valuable? Saturday afternoon Q) When was Justice Foote killed? Saturday afternoon Q) Where was Justice Foote killed? On his daily jog RuleA rational person tries to achieve a given objective at lowest cost (THE OPPORTUNITY COST PRINCIPLE) - LeMans could have killed Justice Foote on any day on his daily jog - LeMans would lose the most income by killing Justice Foote on Saturday afternoon - This would be irrational on LeMans part Case (result of abducting) HypothesisLeMans did not kill Justice Foote FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF DR SPEARMAN (Pp 166-7)

18 The key to Holmes reasoning is the ability to decide the relevant from the irrelevant information. It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognise out of a number of facts which are incidental and which are vital. The Reigate Puzzle The style of Holmes hypotheses is that they: 1) obey an imperative of simplicity and plausibility according to logical and empirical criteria 2) obeys a complementary ban – never guess! Example: The Adventure of the Six Napoleons Dr. Watsons hypothesis is imaginative but only imaginative in its explanation of a unique detail. It ignores the context of the facts It is a poor hypothesis as it is too imaginative as the hypothesis has been developed without reference to the context It also lacks imagination in that it is too contiguous to the circumstantial evidence Never trust to general impressions, my boy, but concentrate yourself upon details. Holmes in A Case of Identity 6.37

19 FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF DR SPEARMAN On the guilt of Prof Dyke for the murder of Justice Foote Observation: Professor Dyke had done something odd (irrational) on the Night of the murder - He violated the law of demand (everyone buys more at a lower price) - On every occasion except on the night of the murder he had availed of the cocktail hour - Yet when the price was zero (night of the murder) he drank less Hypothesis: something had disrupted his normal pattern of life - the only apparent change in the environment was the murder Hypothesis: Prof. Dyke was the murderer The value of an event depends on the lighthouse which lights it. It is the hypothesis which allows us to notice a dissimulated element of the setting….Because the meaning of the already visible data depends upon their relationship with the still invisible data, which can be discovered only through hypothesis… (Caprettini 1983, p. 145) circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing Holmes However: (pp.171-3, 178-84)

20 it [circumstantial evidence] may seem to point very straight to one thing but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different. (Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery) FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF DR SPEARMAN Dr. Spearman reassesses his own hypothesis that Prof. Dyke is guilty But that was the day before. Since then I have received new information Which causes me to doubt the hypothesis that Dyke is the murderer. Why? New information: A report in the New York Times that nutmeg might be poisonous. - Prof Dyke reads the Times religiously - His favourite drink contains nutmeg New hypothesis: He reduced his drink intake because he read this report. One should always look for a possible alternative and provide against it. It is the first rule of criminal investigation. (Black Peter).

21 One could use the same model to appreciate Levitts assessment of the hypothesis that crime in the U.S. declined in the 1990s due to: i) An improving economy ii) Tougher criminal laws/procedures iii) More police Levitt reassesses each hypothesis and instead sets forth a hypothesis that the decline in crime rates in the 1990s was due to the Roe vs Wade decision in 1973 See the value of imagination, said Holmes, it is the one quality which [inspector] Gregory lacks. The Silver Blaze You did not know where to look, and so you missed all that was important A Case of Identity (pp. 1-4. 105-33) FOCUS ON THE RATIOCINATIONS OF PROF. LEVITT

22 Culminating Performances of Understanding 2) Two Different Holmes Cases: Students use SHIM The Adventure of the Three Students Arthur Conan Doyle story You know my method… Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery The Plot: An important Greek examination paper [for the College of St. Lukes) with valuable rewards is impending. The question papers left confidently lying behind locked doors, have been disturbed: the simple question is, by which of the three candidates most likely to have gained access to them – the poor but athletic son of a ruined father; the brilliant but dissipated idler; or the inscrutable Indian, weak in Greek? (Harwick and Harwick 1999, p. 110).

23 The Governments Response to the Housing Crisis Daniel Blackshields story It had been raining now for 3 days and the detection business was slow. In order to reduce boredom, Holmes had purchased a Principles of Economics book. Fascinating subject my Dear Watson, almost as interesting and complex as solving crime. Just then there was a loud knock on the door, without waiting for a response, a tall well- dressed man burst in. Ah, Chancellor Butler come in. Thank you Holmes, apologies for the dramatic entrance but we are at our wits end in Number 10. The Prime Minister himself has sent me. What I am about to say must be kept within these walls, we are in a state of crisis! This housing business, I assume. Holmes motioned. The Chancellor had a look of amazement How the devil did you know this! Holmes smiled; What else would bring the second highest government official in the land out on such a wet day in the middle of a major cabinet meeting Holmes responded holding aloft his copy of the London Times which had a report of a major cabinet meeting on the housing industry. Ah, I see, yes gentlemen, this business is serious, the PM feels that unless we can solve it in some way, we may very well lose the next election! We know that Economics is not your field Holmes, but we feel that your legendary skills of investigation might be able to point us in the direction of a possible solution. Intrigued Holmes replies; Tell me everything, let no detail escape you, I have been intrigued by the science of Economics lately and would very much like to practice my skills. Do go on. Blackshields, 2007 ).

24 Reflections of the students 1) Importance of edutainment approach Watching the detective Sherlock Holmes and studying him was for me the most successful part of the course….. When we were shown the videos on him I found it easier to understand the process that a critical thinker goes through. I find it easier to understand something when it is simplified or acted out so the video really helped. (FBAS5, my emphasis ) Using the case study of Sherlock Holmes, watching the DVD and filling in the question booklet made me put what I learned into practice. By watching the DVD and filling in the answer book I felt more confident doing assignment 2. I felt more confident because I had already put my new found skills into action with the DVD. Both the DVD and the assignment helped my problem solving process hugely and I have become more structured not only in my work but also in my thinking. (FBAM1, my emphasis ) The most successful aspect of the course for me has been the time spent on Sherlock Holmes, scientific exploration and the economic consultant. This section concentrated on problem-solving which I found the most beneficial. It allowed me to understand my way of thinking and way of solving problems, through the explanation of concepts and through the use of videos, which allowed me to see the concepts in action. (FBAS3, my emphasis ) Again for me the most successful piece of the course was the Sherlock Holmes investigative segment. It was great to see the whole web of knowledge in action and being used to solve problems (MBAJ8, my emphasis)

25 2) Developing metacognitive skills and confidence I have begun to notice how more and how I am thinking about how I think. I find myself experiencing meta-cognitive thinking, whereas previously I would have just gone ahead with what first popped into my head whereas now I think about how I go about finding a solution of gaining the correct information. I also have come to terms with the fact that as of late I find myself questioning solutions to everyday problems and also have began to look at the likes of films and music with an economic mind, which I would have never previously done. (FBAJ1, my emphasis ) I noticed in the last number of weeks, that Im beginning to ask more questions. Particularly when I read the newspapers or watch television of just listening to friends boost about events and stories that actually happened. Ive noticed Ive become more curious. If that actually happened, how do you know? Show me the evidence? (FBAS8, my emphasis ) Firstly I must say that my economics has improved entirely on the confidence factor. This is so as I now know I have the knowledge and proper elements to approach a problem and I am self-assured that what I depict from the piece or article as an important element in solving the problem is correct. (FBAS4, my emphasis)

26 3) Awareness of the importance of problem construction I think I will most likely take this ability [solving problems] from this workshop because this I always presumed my perception of what the problem was, was always correct. However, I now know that in future I must not assume my perception is correct and that I must do further research to be sure, because without research I may not be solving the actual problem at all and wont be able to find a solution. (FBAS2, my emphasis ) In my opinion the most important part of the scientific problem solving process is the detectives ability to analyse the source of the problem. (MBAS2, my emphasis) I believe that the most important part of the problem solving process is ascertaining ones initial research questions. When these initial questions are set out, one can go about researching the required information and the background knowledge required to solve the problem in hand. (MBAJ11, my emphasis) I think that the most important part of the scientific problem-solving process is the research you do in finding all the relevant information... As Sherlock Holmes shows in assignment 2 sometimes it is best to just listen. By not being quick to judge or form an opinion, one has the luxury of having the best opinion on what to do as they will be the best informed with the knowledge of many. I think that the key to problem-solving is to not let any detail go unnoticed as if you do it could be to your demise. (MBAS6, my emphasis)

27 4) The Performance Perspective It gave us a great chance to stretch our imaginations because we had to apply what we knew about economics with a case that we had no solution for to begin with. Its like being an actor who has also learned how to dance, as a simple example. This workshop in particular developed another part of my brain. It helped to teach me to take the knowledge I have learned in economics and apply it to something of use, a real world situation. Its much more useful to apply knowledge like this than to list off random economic facts to my parents to prove that I belong in college! ( MBAJ4, my emphasis ) Overall I must thank this assignment for the mass improvement I have made in solving problems. (FBAS4, my emphasis I feel as though the assignment work was the most successful aspect of this course for me as it was the most effective way to get me to put my thinking skills into practice. …. (FBAM3, my emphasis) …the most successful part of the course for me was the Sherlock Holmes case, this was my real first taste of using economics in a real (although completely fictional) scenario and I loved it. (MBAJ12, my emphasis) I think that the most effective part of the course for me was the second assignment…. This allowed me to really use my met[h]sic acognitive thinking when taking economics from the Leaving cert, to first year and also second year to issue some recommendation to the chancellor. I loved every minute of this assignment as it allowed me to go out and express myself through the economics that I believe in. (MBAS5, my emphasis)

28 Come, Watson, come! … The game is [still] afoot. THANK YOU Need more evidence of the impact (if any) of this approach To the retention of knowledge To be developed this year as a thesis for the award of Masters in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education The Adventure continues…. A paper where this material is discussed in more depth is available from the author. Please email


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