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The Teaching for Understanding Framework and the Sherlock Holmes Investigative Model for teaching un


Daniel Blackshields, BComm, MBS (Business Economics), PGDTLHE ... Holmes in A Study in Scarlet. A MASTERY OF INFERENCE DEVELOPMENT ' ... I never guess. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Teaching for Understanding Framework and the Sherlock Holmes Investigative Model for teaching un

Blackshields, BComm, MBS (Business Economics),
PGDTLHE Department of Economics, University
College Cork, Cork, Republic of

A Presentation for International Developments in
Economic Education 9th-10th 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
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)
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
Spearman is Dr Henry Spearman - fictional
Professor of Economics and amateur sleuth If
he lived Dr. Spearman would look like
Milton Friedman
Quote on previous slide (pp 135-6).
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)
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).

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 simply dived in at the deep-end,
as so to speak Undergraduate BA Economics
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
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
TEACHING FOR UNDERSTANDING (TfU) http//www.pz.har Understanding is a matter
of being able to 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
_bucket/ SHERLOCK_HOLMES_-_07.jpg
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)

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

  • 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
  • ill-structured problems, require the problem
    solver to

Guided Performances

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).
.com/the-sherlock-holmes -museum-1.jpg
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... Spearman 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
supplyI 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)
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
SHIM is a Metacognitive scaffold supporting the
underlying processes of individual learning
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 Rule ? All serious knife wounds
result in bleeding ? Case (result of
abducting) Hypothesis ? This bleeding was caused
by a serious knife wound
What qualities enable the development of an
intelligent hypothesis by problem-solvers.
nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
Holmes in The Boscombe Valley Mystery
ideas must be as broad as nature if they are
to interpret nature. Holmes in A Study in
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
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.
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).
Result (observed fact) ? The watchdog did not
bark as the horse was being
stolen ? Abductive process commences Strategica
lly 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 ? Rule ? Watchdogs will
not bark at their owners ? Case (result of
abducting) Hypothesis ? It was the stablemaster
that stole the Silver Blaze
Why LeMans didnt kill Justice Foote
Result (observed fact) ? Justice Foote was
killed on a Saturday afternoon ? Abduc
tive 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 ? Rule ? A rational person
tries to achieve a given objective at lowest
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) Hypothesis ? LeMans did
not kill Justice Foote
(Pp 166-7)
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 http//
com/watch?vR7jPVSTEao4 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
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.
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
(pp.171-3, 178-84)
circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing
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)
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

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
(pp. 1-4. 105-33)
Culminating Performances of Understanding
You know my method Holmes, The
Boscombe Valley
2) Two Different Holmes Cases Students use
SHIM The Adventure of the Three
Students Arthur Conan Doyle story
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).

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).
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)
2) Developing metacognitive skills and
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)
3) Awareness of the importance of problem
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)
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 methsic 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)
The Adventure continues.
  • 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

Come, Watson, come! The game is still
afoot. THANK YOU
A paper where this material is discussed in more
depth is available from the author. Please email
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