Example: Looking at a Think Aloud

August 20, 2008

Jose thinks aloud: Click here to view this video of a student working through a math problem Pasadena City College.

Think alouds are ways of getting a transparent glimpse of what students are thinking when they are trying to learn. Think-alouds prompt students to verbalize their thoughts as they solve a problem, case study, or interpret an important text. The focus in the think-aloud is to gain access to student processes when working on an important topic of the course, central to the discipline, not necessarily whether or not they successfully complete the task.

This think aloud from Jose comes from a case study conducted at Pasadena City College, called “How Jay Got His Groove Back.” In this project, Professor Jay Cho and his colleagues conducted think aloud with their students that provided them valuable insight into where student thinking stalls in working a math problem. An especially interesting insight was how Jose’s problems in working the problem were not just a matter of math operations (totaling two negative numbers) but also of attitude and habit of mind (how to respond to being wrong and having a method for checking each step.)

Read more about Jay Cho and his colleagues work with think alouds in their Windows on Learning case study.

REFLECTION PROMPT: Whether or not this particular think aloud seems relevant to your setting, can you imagine a way that you might make use of think alouds?

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