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Claire O’Malley School of Psychology

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1 Claire O’Malley School of Psychology
Theories of Learning Claire O’Malley School of Psychology

2 Outline Three perspectives on learning: Implications for teaching
Associationist skill acquisition Constructivist representational change Sociocultural apprenticeship to communities of practice Implications for teaching

3 1. Learning as skill acquisition
Re-representing declarative (explicit) knowledge as condition-action rules (procedures / implicit) Progressive automatisation of procedures

4 Associationism Fred Skinner John Anderson 1947-

5 Skinner’s Learning Theory
Conditioning stimulus-response (S-R) associations through reinforcement Shaping behaviour through selective reinforcement Operant conditioning

6 Anderson’s ACT theory Facts (knowing that) Skills (knowing how)

7 Experts Remember better
Use different problem solving strategies to novices Have better & more elaborated problem representations Superior performance is based on knowledge not some basic capacity Become expert through extensive practice

8 Stages of skill acquisition
Declarative representation Proceduralisation Condition-action rules IF same weight on each side THEN the beam is balanced IF any side has more weight THEN that side of the beam goes down Automaticity

9 Tutoring Identify goal structure of problem space
Provide instruction in the problem solving context Immediate response to learner errors Provide reminders of the learning goal Support successive approximations to competent performance

10 Implications for design
Learning by doing (active engagement) Learning taxonomies (e.g., concept classification vs rule following) guide selection of learning objectives and instructional strategies Conditions can be identified that lead to effective learning (I.e., to achieve x objective, arrange for y conditions) Explicit formulation of behavioural (observable) objectives Focus on learning outcomes Consistency between objectives, instructional strategies & assessment

11 Implications for design
Decomposition of tasks Parts-to-whole instructional strategy (I.e., learn sub-tasks first) Small successes Response-sensitive feedback The closer the training to job performance, the more effective (I.e., just-in-time learning) Direct instruction, practice & transfer Individualised instruction (I.e., adapted to individual needs)

12 2. Representational change
Restructuring prior knowledge to accommodate new information Process of explicitation of implicit knowledge

13 Constructivism Jean Piaget Jerome Bruner 1915-

14 Jean Piaget Worked with Binet on developing intelligence tests
Clinical interviews and observational methods Interested in the relation between biological and psychological development Goal was to develop a scientific method for understanding how knowledge is acquired Jean Piaget ( ) born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Started out doing biology, then became interested in clinical psychology. Worked at the Binet laboratory on standardising intelligence tests (the Stanford-Binet IQ test was in common use for many years). IQ= (MA/CA)*100 average=90-110 highest=139+ (~1% of pop) lowest=-70 (~3% of pop) Binet was a French psychologist interested in studying children’s thinking through observing them in natural settings. Reason for saying all this is Piaget used clinical interviews and observational methods interested in the development of intelligence interested in the relationship between biological and psychological development his quest was to develop a scientific method for understanding knowledge: what it is and how it is acquired genetic epistemology (origins of knowledge)

15 Genetic epistemology Knowledge develops by becoming increasingly organised and adaptive to the environment Intellectual development takes place through the active construction of knowledge by the individual acting in the world Knowledge construction is driven by the need to resolve conflicts between prior knowledge and new information as it is encountered

16 Evidence for Piaget’s theory
Children in different cultures pass through the same stages and sub-stages predicted by Piaget’s theory (up to & including concrete operations) Rates of development vary across cultures (décalages) Schooling & literacy affect rates of development BUT formal operational thinking is not universal Example 3: Piaget and the universality of stages Piagetian theory was something of a boon to cross-cultural researchers! For the first time, they had a theory at their disposal which made clear and unambigous predictions about the relations between experience, culture and cognition. If Piaget was right, then people from all parts of the world would be found to develop along exactly the same lines and through the same sequence of stages. Furthermore, Piaget had provided a wide range of tasks — such as conservation of volume, number, shape and weight — which were simple and could be adapted for use in any cultural setting. There have now been hundreds of cross-cultural studies using Piaget’s tasks (see Dasen, 1972 for a review). These included people from many African and Asian cultures, Aboriginal Australians, Iran, China and so forth. Four main generalisations can be drawn from this work: 1. Up to and including the stage of concrete operations, children in widely different cultures pass through the same stages and sub-stages as the theory predicts. 2. Rates of development vary widely from culture to culture. Typically, children from Western style cultures progress faster than those from non-developed cultures. 3. Schooling, and to a lesser extent, literacy, affect rates of development. Children from the same cultures who attend school tend to develop faster than those who do not.

17 Two major problems The progressive construction of logic passes through a series of universal stages The same (i.e., isomorphic) problems framed in different ways could be solved by very young children or could present problems for adults Logic as the appropriate framework for thinking about the development of mind but logic is only one (specialised) form of reasoning other forms (e.g., pragmatic reasoning schemas) are just as rational

18 J.S. Bruner (1915- ) Emphasis on processes of coming to know rather than structure of knowledge Domain dependent individual differences rather than universal stages But shared Piaget’s emphasis on the importance of action and problem solving

19 Modes of representation
Enactive – similar to Piaget’s notion of practical intelligence E.g., child can sort objects according to shape Iconic – representations bearing one-to-one correspondence with represented object E.g., picture of object Symbolic – representations that do not have one-to-one correspondences E.g., ‘+’, ‘x’

20 Instruction Instruction should concern the experiences and contexts that make students willing and able to learn (readiness) Curriculum should be structured so that it can be easily grasped (spiral organisation) Instruction should be designed to enable extrapolation (going beyond the information given) NB: scaffolding (and relation to Vygotsky…)

21 Development and learning
Piaget Development as active construction of knowledge; learning as passive formation of associations (therefore not of interest!) More recent developmental theory reconciles the distinction between learning and development E.g., Constraints theory (Case; Karmiloff-Smith; Gelman) NB: see Siegler (2000) Through extensive studies of children, involving observational in natural settings, and particularly, the clincial interview method, Piaget developed the following model of the stages of intellectual development NB: these stages characterise behaviour across all domains of knowledge, both of the physical and the social world It is a theory of the development of general thinking and reasoning processes

22 Implications for design
Stages of information processing Cognitive task analysis can be used to identify errors and target instruction Attentional demands Prior knowledge Working memory load Distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge But see Rittle-Johnson et al., 2001

23 Implications for design
Skill compilation Meaningful encoding (chunking; elaboration) Forms of representation Metacognition, self-regulation Motivation Experts versus novices Developmental constraints on learning Conceptual change (schemas, mental models)

24 3. Apprenticeship Learning as legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice Learning as situated in practical action Learning as meaning-making

25 Sociocultural theory Lev Vygotsky Michael Cole

26 Vygotsky (1896-1934) Genetic (developmental) method
Higher mental processes in the individual have their origins in social processes Higher mental processes can be understood by studying how they are mediated by tools, artefacts and signs Zone of proximal development

27 The Social Origins of Mind
‘Genetic law of cultural development’ “development appears on two planes, first on the inter-psychological then on the intra-psychological” (Vygotksy) Vygotsky was heavily influenced by Marxist theory — i.e., if you want to understand the individual you have to understand the social relations in which the individual exists. He saw individual mental functioning as arising from social processes. The type of social processes which Vygotsky focused on were not societal processes but interpsychological processes involving small groups (often dyads) interacting. These interpsychological processes are reflected in Vygotsky's "general genetic law of cultural development": development appears on two planes, first on the interpsychological then on the intrapsychological. In other words, to understand individual mental processes we first have to understand interpsychological processes. Vygotsky was similar to Piaget in believing that internalisation was a process whereby certain external activities come to be performed internally. However, he defined social processes in terms of semiotic mediation which led him to focus on the internalisation of speech. In contrast, Piaget's focus on the child's interaction with the physical world led him to focus on the internalisation of representations of objects and object manipulation.

28 The Zone of Proximal Development
"the distance between a child's actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the higher level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky) The concept of the zone of proximal development is the most concrete example of the relation between inter- and intrapsychological processes. In Vygotsky's view, most assessment of development or of a child's mental age is focussed on the actual developmental level. He believed that it is just as important, if not more so, to measure the child's potential level of development. The view was based on observations that if you take two children of the same stage as measured by actual development then help them in doing harder problems or tests, it turns out that one is able to perform at a level much higher than the other. Recent studies by Ann Brown in the States have provided experimental evidence that interpsychological performance (i.e., performance with adult help) provides a much better indicator of developmental level than intrapsychological measures (such as IQ). We will return to this concept next week.

29 The Individual, Social & Cultural
INTRA-INDIVIDUAL DOMAIN INTERPERSONAL DOMAIN SOCIOCULTURAL DOMAIN The child experiences concepts in practice & through negotiation of meaning The child learns, through media, parents, teachers & peers, the frameworks for making sense Not only is the zone of proximal development a way of measuring developmental levels, it also provides links between development and instruction. In Vygotsky's view, development and instruction do not simply coincide but are fundamentally interrelated. Instruction creates the zopd but this doesn’t mean that the upper bound of the zopd can be arbitrarily high. The child can only function within certain limits that are fixed by the state of the child's development and the child's potential for development. In other words, the zopd is jointly determined by the child's level of development and the form of instruction involved, rather than being a property of the child or the interpsychological functioning alone. In Vygotsky's view, instruction is only good if it precedes development — it provides a lead for drawing out what is latent within the zopd. This is in contrast to Piaget, who saw instruction and independent of development (or even instruction as depending on development). Again, we will return later to the implication of Vygotsky’s theory for education. For the moment, let’s now return to a focus on language and its relation to cognition. Co-ordinated interaction with peers and teachers filters the cultural framework. This interaction is itself defined by culture. Smith, Cowie & Blades (2003), p. 494

30 Scaffolding & contingent tutoring
David Wood (based on Bruner’s theory) Goals The learner should not succeed too easily Nor fail too often Principles When learners are in trouble, give more help than before (scaffolding) When they succeed, give less help than before (fading)

31 Example: ‘Tower of Nottingham’

32 Levels of instruction Level 1 General encouragment
“Carry on!”, “You’ve made a pair” Level 2 Specific verbal information “Get a bigger one”, “Turn them round” Level 3 Selection Pointing at or handing over material, as well as verbal cues Level 4 Orientation Lining up blocks Level 5 Demonstration Successful construction by tutor

33 Contingent Instruction

34 Situated Learning Jean Lave Barbara Rogoff

35 Problems for cognitive psychology
Practical action is not always driven by plans People aren’t very good at formal reasoning Transfer of knowledge from context to context is hard to achieve Ecological validity is problematic because we treat context as a ‘nuisance variable’

36 Paradigms of person-environment interaction
Behaviourism individual as passive recipient of information from the environment Constructivism focus on individual activity; environment seen as a ‘trigger’ Contextual/Sociocultural environment mediates individual activity

37 Characteristics of a situated or contextual approach
Recognition of the relationship between psychological processes and their social, cultural and historical settings Explanation of how different contexts create and reflect different forms of mental functioning Explanation of how human action is mediated via context

38 School vs Everyday Life
Different types of social ‘niche’ Differences in who determines what is of interest and when Tasks in everyday life are socially negotiated and reflexive People don’t just act in task environments — they help to create and maintain those task environments Cole distinguishes between the laboratory and the everyday in two senses: (i) everyday life and the psychologist’s laboratory can be contrasted as different types of social niche (ii) There is a distinction in the methodological assumptions that underlie what is considered a useful description of any scene and how such a model can be used to model aspects of the real world. In particular, it is assumed that the experimenter can determine beforehand what is of interest, whereas in real life, post-hoc analyses are often required to make sense of activities. Note that Cole is not just distinguishing observational and experimental studies — even observations are guided by “laboratory-based” assumptions. Cole and others argue that cognition resides neither solely in the head nor in the environment, but refers to the principles organising interactions between individuals and their environment. Exclusive reliance on experimental techniques can obscure the possibility that our theories are necessarily limited in relevance to the specifically designed task environments from which (and sometimes for which) the theory was derived. They also argue that certain principles that appear to guide the organisation of everyday life may be difficult to simulate with current experimental assumptions and technologies. Tasks in everyday life appear to be multiple, socially negotiated and reflexive — reflexive in the sense that people help to create and maintain the very task environments in which they are said to operate. Evidence from cross-cultural studies and from studies comparing performance on, for example, formal reasoning tasks by ‘literate’ or schooled people with those who are not schooled suggests that such performance differences represent school-specific achievements. However, Cole is sceptical about this, arguing that observations of unschooled people are difficult to interpret unless one assumes that they have intellectual abilities that have failed to show through (cf. the ‘Vai’ study). There is an assumption that these type of tasks are representative of everyday reasoning.

39 The culture of learning
just plain folks causal stories situations negotiable meanings socially constructed understanding students laws symbols fixed meanings immutable concepts practitioners causal models conceptual situations negotiable meanings socially constructed understanding Jean Lave talks about this as the "culture of acquisition". An interesting illustration of this point is a study cited by Greeno (Herndon, 1971) of baseball "experts" who were able to solve problems in the context of a baseball game, but when asked to do exactly the same thing in the context of the classroom, were unable to. He argues that our perceptions of what knowledge and knowing are constrain our abilities to construct knowledge. Lave also talks about similar phenomena in mathematics. She notes that students expect maths problems to e.g., take a certain amount of time and that if they can't solve the problem within this time, they must be unable to. She argues that students believe that maths and science is a body of knowledge to be received, not discovered or constructed, rather than seeing it as a form of activity, argumentation and social discourse. In other words, students believe that maths is taught as being what experts know to be true rather than as a process of scientific inquiry (i.e., what experts actually do). This is the import behind the notion that school is a particular institutionalised activity, where activity is meant in the soviet sense — socially constructed activity. Such institutions are also self-perpetuating: these activities are created by the participation, beliefs and actions of students and teachers as much as they are created by the society as a whole. Lave's work suggests that one way to resolve the dichotomy between formal and informal learning is to motivate students, not by merely constructing "realistic" tasks, but by making the activity of e.g., maths, genuine. She is not arguing that formal maths should be replaced by everyday maths, but that doing maths should be presented not as a specification of what it is to do maths (i.e., learning the rules), but arranged as an opportunity to practice the activity (where practice desn't mean rehearsal in the cognitivist sense, but i.e., genuinely doing maths). In other words, the proposal is that students should engage in scientific activity in the same way that real scientists do.

40 Situated Problem Solving
"take three-quarters of two-thirds of a cup of cottage cheese" 3/4 x 2/3 OR Lave compared the behaviour of what she calls "just plain folks" (JPFs) and the ways in which they learn from the ways in which students learn. This comparison is made with respect to the particular context in which each of these groups operate. Schools demand a qualitatively different set of behaviours from everyday activities. In school, general strategies for intuitive reasoning, resolving issues and negotiating meanings are replaced by precise, well-developed problems, formal definitions and symbol manipulation. For JPFs, activities are situated in the cultures in which they work and the issues and problems that arise are resolved within the constraints of their everyday activities. A good example of how the JPF uses the context to help in finding a solution to a problem is given in Lave's study of a weight-watchers class. The problem was to work out a portion of cottage cheese where the amount laid out for the meal was three-quarters of the two-thirds cup the program allowed. One subject filled a measuring cup two-thirds full of cottage cheese, put it out on a breadboard, patted into a circle, marked a cross on it, scooped away one quadrant of it and served the rest. Lave argues that the "take three-quarters of two-thirds of a cup of cottage cheese" was not just the problem statement but also the solution to the problem and the procedure for solving it. The setting was part of the calculating process and the solution was simply the problem statement, enacted with the context. The weight-watcher didn't need to check his solution against a paper-and-pencil algorithm. This sort of problem solving, carried out in conjunction with what is available in the context, is quite different from the sort of problem solving encouraged at school. However, even though students are expected to behave differently at school, they often use the same sort of informal and situated approaches to problems as JPFs. The problem is that these practices are labelled as inappropriate (at best) and worse, even backward.

41 Situated Learning Learning as apprenticeship, or
‘legitimate peripheral participation’ in ‘communities of practice’ (Lave & Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, 1991) Lave outlines 3 dimensions by which activity can be constituted in situationally specific ways: (i) situations shape activities (e.g., in shopping food items are quantified one way; in cooking another) (ii) the relation between the problem solver and the problem — it may be created by the problem solver or given to him/her (cf. bowling experts losing their expertise in the classroom) (iii) the salience of the activity varies in different settings

42 Implications for design
Learning in context Communities of practice construct and define appropriate discourse, practices Learning as active participation Knowledge in action Mediation of artifacts Tools and artifacts as cultural repositories

43 Implications for design
Cognitive tools embody cultural rules, norms and beliefs Situations make sense within a historical context Cognition as dynamic interplay between individual and social levels of activity Interactionism: just as situations shape individual cognition, individual cognition shapes situations Roles, identities and constructions of self (e.g., as worker, learner, etc.)

44 Readings & resources Alessi, S. & Trollip, S.R. (2000) Multimedia for Learning. Pearson Higher Education. Chapter 2. Bransford, J. et al. (2000) How People Learn. National Academy Press. Chapters 2-4, 6-7. Jonassen, D.H. & Land, S.M. (2000) (Eds.) Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Chapter 3. Laurillard, D. (2001) Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology. Routledge. Chapters 1-4. Rittle-Johnson, B., Siegler, R.S. & Alibali, M.W. (2001) Developing conceptual understanding and procedural skill in mathematics: An iterative process. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2),

45 Readings & resources Siegler, R.S. (2000) The rebirth of children’s learning. Child Development, 71(1), Smith, P., Cowie, H. & Blades, M. (2003) Understanding Children’s Development. Blackwell (4th Ed.) Chapter 15. Wood, D.J. & Wood, H. (1996) Vygotsky, tutoring and learning. Oxford Review of Education, 22, 5-15.

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