An information processing perspective conceptual systems theory
NUR SHAHIDAH MARDHIYYAH
Major constructs in conceptual systems theory.
Relationship among constructs in conceptual
Studies Of Educational Organization
Implications of conceptual systems theory for
enhancing student learning outcomes
Definition: offers a framework for interrelating
people, situations and behaviors in term of
Why and how people interpret situations in
divergent ways, why and how their behaviors differ in
response to situation and how situations differ from
• Decision Making
• Problem solving
Is the pattern of information
processing that an
individual uses to interpret
interpersonal stimuli. This
pattern is similar to
• Refers to the ways in which stimuli are dimensionalized
by the perceiver’s conceptual system
• For example, people can be perceived as differentiated in
term of height, sex, intelligent and etc
• The refinement of differentiations along any given
aspect. Degrees of refinement can range from
dichotomous discriminations through categorical
• For example, one perceiver might consider people as
“smart” or “stupid”. Or “bright”, “average” “dull”.
• The extent the various perceived dimensions are
interrelated. Varied perspectives, combinatory rules
• Another example, people might be perceive as
intelligent if they are creative, intelligent if they are have
lot of knowledge, intelligent if they have sense of humor.
An individual’s environment
complexity refers to the nature of the
stimuli (signals) that are generated by
people in an interpersonal situation.
For example, the signals in the form
of facial expression, actions,
statements, postures and etc.
• Refers to the speed or rapidity with which signals are sent within any
given unit of time
• For example, a class might be regarded as a teacher’s interpersonal
environment. When the students are all sitting quietly and reading, the
signals students emit are slow, but when the discussion starts, they
interrupting each others, the signals are faster. The greater the rate of
signal, the more complex the interpersonal environment
• Refers to the total number of signals emitted by persons in the
environment over period of time. Rate and load are interrelated,
since faster signals result in a greater total number in any time
span. The greater load of signals, the more complex the
• Refers to the variation of signals within a time period, the
changeability of signals, their unexpectedness or surprise value
• For example, in a classroom, when students making conflicting
comments, exciting argument and reacting in diverse emotional
ways, making irrelevant comments, there is wide variability of
signals and great predictability or surprise value to any particular
Varies to the degree that behavior
requires or show evidence of
differentiation, discrimination and
integration on the part of the behaving
individual. Classes of behavior that can
be seen in a person such as decision
making, communicating, problem
solving and etc.
• Can vary in
depending on the
rage of information
used, the amount of
information in the
• Can vary in complexity
depending on the extent
to which messages sent
authoritarian, similar or
generalize as rules.
• Simple communication
pattern characterize by
predictable and rulebound statement.
speculative, varied or
sensitive to the
• Is a class of behaviors
that can vary in
on the alternative
• Simplistic problem
by few alternative
solutions, rigidity in
combining pieces of
• Complex problem
broad range of
combining pieces of
(in many different
ways) and inventing
A Simple Conceptual
Called low integrative complexity, a
low integration index or concrete
functioning-is characterized by few
dichotomous or grossly categorical
discriminations and one fixed
perspective for integrating
A Moderately Simple
Is characterized by few dimensions,
discriminations and few alternative
perspectives for interrelating
dimensions. These perspectives
represent alternative viewpoints
not integrated perspectives.
A Moderately Complex
Has many differentiating
dimension, quite refine
discriminations and interrelated
perspectives for interpreting
interpersonal situations. These
diverse perspectives can be used
simultaneously in perceiving people.
A Complex Conceptual
Characterized by very many dimensions, highly
refine discriminations and multiple interrelated
perspectives for integrating dimensions. People
having this complex conceptual system also
called high integration index, high integrative
complexity or abstract functioning- have a
theoretical outlook on life, they can create new
generalizations about situations they experience,
so that other persons are perceived according to
dynamically changing pattern of thought.
Related Research On Instruction
The studies of teaching or teacher-student interactions.
The conceptual level of teachers’ classroom behaviors.
For example, integratively complex teachers were found
to be more resourceful and task oriented, less dictatorial
and less punitive than integratively simple teachers
(Harvey et al, 1966, 1968).
Research On Educational
The studies of administration or administrator teacher interaction.
The elementary school principals’ conceptual levels were found to
be related to the complexity of their interpersonal environments
and to the frequency of their person-oriented leadership behaviors
(silver, 1975). That is, the more conceptually complex principals
had more function performed in their schools, more professionally
oriented faculty members and more frequent interactions with
faculty, they also exhibited greater tolerance of uncertainty and
freedom, greater consideration for teachers.
Taxonomy of Bloom in which cognitive, affective and
psychomotor goals are classified in terms of
increasingly higher order learning.
For example, objectives for learning range from simple
recall through more complex application and synthesis
The parallel between learning objectives and
conceptual systems is apparent, the higher order
cognitive objectives demand higher order conceptual
functioning on the part of students.
But the research on higher order objectives are often
ignored, the teacher tend to strive for memorization
and repetition rather than for deeper understanding,
integration and creative etc.
In applying conceptual system theory in education,
theorists suggest to focus on process of learning rather
than content of learning.
Emphasize on how to think rather than what to think.
To understand human behavior differences in
perceiving varied interpersonal environment and
response to the environment.
Each individual has a conceptual system that is more
complex or less complex in interpreting the situations,
the response for the situation is behavior complexity
which are more or less complex and environment
complexity refers to the signals available to be
perceived by an individual.
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