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Theories of Learning Claire OMalley School of Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Theories of Learning Claire OMalley School of Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theories of Learning Claire OMalley School of Psychology

2 Outline Three perspectives on learning: 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

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

6 Andersons 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

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 Children in different cultures pass through the same stages and sub-stages predicted by Piagets 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 Evidence for Piagets theory

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 Piagets emphasis on the importance of action and problem solving

19 Modes of representation Enactive – similar to Piagets 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)

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 ( ) 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 Genetic law of cultural development development appears on two planes, first on the inter-psychological then on the intra- psychological (Vygotksy) The Social Origins of Mind

28 "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 Zone of Proximal Development

29 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 Co-ordinated interaction with peers and teachers filters the cultural framework. This interaction is itself defined by culture. The Individual, Social & Cultural Smith, Cowie & Blades (2003), p. 494

30 Scaffolding & contingent tutoring David Wood (based on Bruners 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 1General encouragment Carry on!, Youve made a pair Level 2Specific verbal information Get a bigger one, Turn them round Level 3Selection Pointing at or handing over material, as well as verbal cues Level 4Orientation Lining up blocks Level 5Demonstration 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 arent 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 dont just act in task environments they help to create and maintain those task environments

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

40 "take three-quarters of two-thirds of a cup of cottage cheese" 3/4 x 2/3 OR Situated Problem Solving

41 Situated Learning Learning as apprenticeship, or legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, 1991)

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 childrens learning. Child Development, 71(1), Smith, P., Cowie, H. & Blades, M. (2003) Understanding Childrens Development. Blackwell (4th Ed.) Chapter 15. Wood, D.J. & Wood, H. (1996) Vygotsky, tutoring and learning. Oxford Review of Education, 22,

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