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Some notes on Gestalt learning theory
 

Some notes on Gestalt learning theory

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Notes to accompany a taught session on 10 February 2010. Module blog at http://www.bedspce.org.uk/mod2/2010/02/10-february-gestalt-etc.html

Notes to accompany a taught session on 10 February 2010. Module blog at http://www.bedspce.org.uk/mod2/2010/02/10-february-gestalt-etc.html

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  • Classic optical “illusion”: you are looking at the cube from above or from below, and switch between them; what is difficult is to see it as a purely two-dimensional pattern.
  • Classic optical “illusion”: you are looking at the cube from above or from below, and switch between them; what is difficult is to see it as a purely two-dimensional pattern.
  • Classic optical “illusion”: you are looking at the cube from above or from below, and switch between them; what is difficult is to see it as a purely two-dimensional pattern.
  • Same again—despite the picture not actually being quite symmetrical. Technically, this is the figure/ground problem. Our brains are trying to decide what is being represented, and what is the background
  • Which do you see? Get students involved in explaining to those who can’t see both. One pattern can become extablished almost to the exclusion of another.
  • This is a concave image: the inside of a mask. The light is coming from the viewer’s right. It is possible to hold this view for a few moments but our minds insist on popping it back the other way as soon as we relax.
  • The preceding examples were contrived
  • Silly interlude: get suggestions! Top left: ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch Bottom left: worm sliding across a razor-blade Bottom right: bear climbing a tree
  • Silly interlude: get suggestions! Top left: ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch Bottom left: worm sliding across a razor-blade Bottom right: bear climbing a tree
  • Silly interlude: get suggestions! Top left: ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch Bottom left: worm sliding across a razor-blade Bottom right: bear climbing a tree
  • Silly interlude: get suggestions! Top left: ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch Bottom left: worm sliding across a razor-blade Bottom right: bear climbing a tree

Some notes on Gestalt learning theory Some notes on Gestalt learning theory Presentation Transcript

  • Some notes on „Gestalt” (This is in no way intended to constitute a proper introduction, but to accompany the selective discussion in class.) 10 February 2010 See also http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/gestalt.htm and links from there.
    • Stimulus—Response
    • Stimulus— Organism —Response
    Hard-line behaviourists worked on the basis of relationship between these two... From Skinner onwards there has been a recognition that the Organism itself plays a critical role And it is the study of the learning Organism which takes centre stage in cognitive theories
    • Although actually pre-dating much behavioural theory, the first cognitive theory was „Gestalt”, associated with Wertheimer and his students Köhler and Koffka.
    • Some of the principles of Gestalt can be teased out through visual illusions...
  • Necker cube This is just a two-dimensional pattern—but you can’t see it as such. It insists on being 3-d
  • Necker cube More than that—is this face the front or the back?
  • Necker cube Ditto this?
  • I didn’t use this one; it’s a great illusion, but what is the teaching point? (Perhaps it is that the quality of the illustration is not the point!
  • Faces or Vase? This is the classic “figure-ground” issue studied by the Gestalt pioneers.
  • The appearance and disappearance of the black dots may represent the brain’s search for pattern...
  • Response to overload— habituation and exhaustion may account for this
  • Which circle in the middle is bigger? They’re both the same. (Measure them) But we are influenced by context
  • What is it?
  • Dog sniffing among leaves
  • Old or young woman?
  • Insistence on mostly likely version
    • Which side is the light coming from?
    See the note on the blog about this one (with video)
  • Even when the parts make sense, but the whole? M C Escher, Waterfall , 1961.
  • Dolphins
    • Put up your hand up when you can see at least seven dolphins.
    Children apparently get this a lot faster than adults. I wonder why?
    • Brain insists on finding patterns („Gestalten”) wherever possible.
    • So it is not neutral and passive.
  • Cognitive Theories 1
    • If it ain't biological, behaviourist or humanist, it's cognitive .
    • It all starts with Gestalt theories [Wertheimer, Köhler and Koffka]: originally theories of perception, Gestalt moved into problem-solving learning.
    • Influenced by developmental psychology of Piaget (as amended), focusing on the maturational factors affecting understanding.
    • Broadly, cognitive theory is interested in how people understand material, and thus in;
      • aptitude and capacity to learn (thus fringing onto psychometrics and testing),
      • and learning styles (initially an honorable field of study, now exposed as not even wrong).
  • What are they?
  • What are they? Ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch
  • What are they? Worm wriggling across a razor blade
  • What are they? Koala climbing a tree
  •  
  • OK, you got the others, But this a woman in a dressing-gown bending down to stroke her cat.
    • Mild tension until everything “falls into place” (usually indicated by laughter)
    • Active mental work without behavioural action
    • Learning as problem-solving
    • Not just confined to human beings
  • Learning curves Knowledge/ skill Time Notional behavioural curve The learning curve produced operant conditioning may look something like this
  • Learning curve (2) Notional Gestalt curve “ Ah-hah” or “ knack” This one includes a “step” (exaggerated here) characteristic of a break- through or flash of insight Knowledge/ skill Time Notional behavioural curve
  • K öhler’s chimps 1 Such insight may reasonably be inferred to be demonstrated by one of Kohler’s apes deliberately piling up boxes to get at out-of-reach bananas
  • K öhler’s chimps 2 (1925) Or this one, using shorter sticks to get a longer one to reach the fruit.
  • Betty the crow Or this New Caledonian Crow bending a wire into a hook to fish food out of a tumbler. Search for Betty Crow video for video
    • Can’t leave mind out of it.
    • Mind makes meaning
      • Search for patterns („Gestalt”)
    • “ Trial and error” can take place in a purely mental form
    • So need to study mental processes
      • Development
      • “ Intelligence”
  • “ Range of Convenience” What kind of theory is best for illuminating what kind of learning? Incremental skill acquisition “ Penny dropping” Academic study … . Behavioural   ? Gestalt   ? Cognitive ? ?  … .
  • References and Links at http://www.bedspce.org.uk/mod2/2010/02/10-february-gestalt-etc.html (c) James Atherton 2010