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  • Until quite recently, cognitive science steered clear of education, while the sciences of education tended to ignore cognitive science. Things have changed over the last few years, and there is now quite a lot of interaction between the two fields. Between 2009 and 2010, and coherently with it’s editor in chief’s claim that “policy-making needs science” (Alberts, 2010), the prestigious journal Science has dedicated three special issues to science-informed education. Just before that, in 2007, were born the Mind, Brain, and Education conference, collaboration, and journal (Fischer, et al. 2007); during the 2000 decade, while the international organization OECD-CERI was achieving two programs on education and the brain, with relative publications (OECD, 2002, 2007), the ESRC and the Royal Society were producing reports on neuroeducation for the UK (ESRC-TLRP, 2000, 2008; Frith & Blakemore, 2005; Royal Society, 2010); and in the last two years, the EARLI association has birth to a special SIG on Neuroeducation and a new Journal on Neuroscience and education has seen the light. Education, cognitive science and neuroscience have thus become active arenas for the encounter of science and society. The accent has been put in particular on neuroscience, as suggested by the spreading of  neuro-labels: neuroeducation, education and neuroscience, educational neuroscience. These labels remind us how trendy neuroscience is, in our days  - they are indeed in the good company of neuroeconomy, neuromarketing, neurolaw, and many other neuro-manias (Legrenzi and Umiltà, 2010).
  • Production of reports by public institutions, national and internationalPublication of papers in major journals &creation of dedicated publications
  • Publication of papers in major journals &creation of dedicated publications
  • Publication of dedicated books and conference proceedings
  • In France several initiatives are ongoing:In 2012 a conference has been held at the College de France, gathering researchers in cognitive science that have an interest in education and the institutional world of educationLa main à la pâte has a long-lasting interest in mediating and exploiting cognitive science research for teachers’s training, the Académie des sciences as wellThe IEC-Ens has created groupeCompas and this course
  • Birth of societies, with related conferences and/or journalsUniversity-level courses aimed at teachers or at Professional training for teachers and teachers’ trainers
  • Birth of societies, with related conferences and/or journalsUniversity-level courses aimed at teachers or at Professional training for teachers and teachers’ trainers
  • Birth of societies, with related conferences and/or journalsUniversity-level courses aimed at teachers or at Professional training for teachers and teachers’ trainers
  • The sciences that are meant to go at the encounter with education include neuroscience (with a certain rhetorical preeminence today), but more generally encompass all the sciences of learning as a cognitive, social, technologically-aided function: from “classical” cognitive science fields (psychology, AI, linguistics, etc.) to the biological underpinnings of cognitive functions, to more social sciences such as anthropology and social psychology, to studies in the domain of technology and education and in the domain of education itself: Human beings are unique in their ability to learn through schooling and diverse kinds of cultural instruction. Education plays a key role in cultural transformations: it allows members of a society, the young in particular, to efficiently acquire an ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills that took thousands of years to invent. It is time for education, biology, and cognitive science to join together to create a new science and practice of learning and development. The remarkable new tools of biology and cognitive science open vast possibilities for this emerging field.(Fischer et al. 2007) Human learning is distinguished by the range and complexity of skills that can be learned and the degree of abstraction that can be achieved compared with those of other species. Homo sapiens is also the only species that has developed formal ways to enhance learning: teachers, schools, and curricula. Human infants have an intense interest in people and their behavior and possess powerful implicit learning mechanisms that are affected by social interaction. Neuroscientists are beginning to understand the brain mechanisms underlying learning and how shared brain systems for perception and action support social learning. Machine learning algorithms are being developed that allow robots and computers to learn autonomously. New insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform educational practices.(Meltzoff et al. 2009) Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. Learning scientists study learning in a variety of settings, including not only the more formal learning of school classrooms but also the informal learning that takes place at home, on the job, and among peers. The goal of the learning sciences is to better understand the cognitive and social processes that result in the most effective learning, and to use this knowledge to redesign classrooms and other learning environments so that people learn more deeply and more effectively.The sciences of learning include cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, information sciences, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, and other fields.(Sawyer 2008, p. xi) Research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organization that underlie people's abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of areas, including mathematics, science, literature, social studies, and history.Developmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative, and personal intent, and that these capabilities make it possible to create innovative curricula that introduce important concepts for advanced reasoning at early ages.Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings. Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and anthropology is making clear that all learning takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways.Neuroscience is beginning to provide evidence for many principles of learning that have emerged from laboratory research, and it is showing how learning changes the physical structure of the brain and, with it, the functional organization of the brain. Collaborative studies of the design and evaluation of learning environments, among cognitive and developmental psychologists and educators, are yielding new knowledge about the nature of learning and teaching as it takes place in a variety of settings. In addition, researchers are discovering ways to learn from the ''wisdom of practice" that comes from successful teachers who can share their expertise.Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago. All of these developments in the study of learning have led to an era of new relevance of science to practice. In short, investment in basic research is paying off in practical applications. These developments in understanding of how humans learn have particular significance in light of changes in what is expected of the nation's educational systems.(Bransford et al 2000, p. 4) A new field of research is then seeing the light, accompanied by the involvement of institutions and by a growing public interest – both on the side of educators and policy-makers. A body of knowledge is growing together with the multiplication of publications in specialized journals like Mind, Brain, and Education, Trends in Neuroscience and Education, Neuroeducation, but also Educational Reviewer or PNAS, Nature, Science … The field is variously named “neuroeducation”, “mind, brain, and education”, “educational neuroscience”, “new learning sciences”. These names point at the idea that the sciences of the mind, brain and learning can produce useful knowledge for education. It should not be forgotten that these are not the only sciences in town, and that a broader claim is at stake: that education (just as justice, agriculture, energy policies, medicine, and policy-making in general) needs science – a methodologically  rigorous process of evaluation and testing of claims in order to come to informed decisions. 
  • The interaction of education with the study of cognition can be non-neutral in relationship to a certain view of society and what education ought to be; in some cases, people who are interested in education consider the interaction between cognitive science and education as an opportunity for changing education in better. For one thing, this non-neutrality should not be too shocking. Education is not a natural science: it is a form of design, hopefully grounded on relevant knowledge. We do not study education only for gaining a better understanding about how people of the Earth educate their youth, or about the evolution of social institutions; as in the case of medicine: research on education has a practical, applied aim:  try to make up for what the human mind is innately bad at.  Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient… The natural sciences are concerned with how things are …. Design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be, with devising artifacts to attain goals. (Simon 1988, p. 67) In summary: The objectives of the encounter between education and the study of the mind, brain, and behavior  are not only theoretical, but practical, and consist in promoting:-    a better understanding of learning processes, in formal or non formal learning settings-    better learning, in the sense of the production of interventions that work.
  • The views of the researchers of the field, as for what concerns the perimeter:(Fischer et al. 2007)Human beings are unique in their ability to learn through schooling and diverse kinds of cultural instruction. Education plays a key role in cultural transformations: it allows members of a society, the young in particular, to efficiently acquire an ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills that took thousands of years to invent. It is time for education, biology, and cognitive scienceto join together to create a new science and practice of learning and development. The remarkable new tools of biology and cognitive science open vast possibilities for this emerging field.
  • The views of the researchers of the field, as for what concerns the perimeter:(Meltzoff et al. 2009)Homo sapiens is also the only species that has developed formal ways to enhance learning: teachers, schools, and curricula. Neuroscientists are beginning to understand the brain mechanisms underlying learning and how shared brain systems for perception and action support social learning. Machine learning algorithms are being developed that allow robots and computers to learn autonomously. New insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform educational practices.
  • The views of the researchers of the field, as for what concerns the perimeter:(Sawyer 2008, p. xi)Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. Learning scientists study learning in a variety of settings, including not only the more formal learning of school classrooms but also the informal learning that takes place at home, on the job, and among peers. The goal of the learning sciences is to better understand the cognitive and social processes that result in the most effective learning, and to use this knowledge to redesign classrooms and other learning environments so that people learn more deeply and more effectively. The sciences of learning include cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, information sciences, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, and other fields.
  • The views of the researchers of the field, as for what concerns the perimeter:(Bransford et al 2000, p. 4)Research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organization that underlie people's abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of areasDevelopmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative, and personal intent,Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings. Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and anthropology is making clear that all learning takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways.Neuroscienceis beginning to provide evidence for many principles of learning that have emerged from laboratory research, and it is showing how learning changes the physical structure of the brain and, with it, the functional organization of the brain. Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago.
  • The views of the researchers of the field, as for what concerns the perimeter:(Simon 1988, p. 67)Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient… The natural sciences are concerned with how things are …. Design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be, with devising artifacts to attain goals. For one thing, this non-neutrality should not be too shocking. Education is not a natural science: it is a form of design, possibly grounded on relevant knowledge. We do not study education only for gaining a better understanding about how people of the Earth educate their youth, or about the evolution of social institutions; as in the case of medicine: research on education has a practical, applied aim: try to make up for what the human mind is innately bad at. 
  • Claims that education should be reformed are not new: they are co-substantial to educational policies. Claims that education should be built on the grounds of scientific principles, and in particular on the grounds of knowledge about the human mind, are much more of a novelty, but are not as recent as the new learning sciences either. So what is new in the new learning sciences,  and what constitutes a heritage of older times?  
  • Psychology and education: from skepticism to optimism In 1899, William James addresses a talk to the teachers about psychology. His terms are not too optimistic: he fears that teachers might be misled into placing too big hopes in psychology: Psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical help. And yet I confess that, acquainted as I am with the height of some of your expectations, I feel a little anxious lest, at the end of these simple talks of mine, not a few of you may experience some disappointment at the net results. In other words, I am not sure that you may not be indulging fancies that are just a shade exaggerated. That would not be altogether astonishing, for we have been having something like a 'boom' in psychology in this country. Laboratories and professorships have been founded, and reviews established. The air has been full of rumors. The editors of educational journals and the arrangers of conventions have had to show themselves enterprising and on a level with the novelties of the day. Some of the professors have not been unwilling to co-operate, and I am not sure even that the publishers have been entirely inert. 'The new psychology' has thus become a term to conjure up portentous ideas withal; and you teachers, docile and receptive and aspiring as many of you are, have been plunged in an atmosphere of vague talk about our science, which to a great extent has been more mystifying than enlightening.(James 1925) James’ skepticism had two reasons.First, he doubted there was something really new in psychology at his time but the “old psychology, which began in Locke’s time, plus a little physiology of the brain and senses and the theory of evolution”. At that time the physiology of the brain and the theory of evolution as applied to the mind  (James was one of the first apart from Darwin to understand the potential of the theory of evolution for the understanding of the mind) had not brought big  revolutions, yet. It will take a while for psychologists to feel that they can be useful for other professionals; we will see below that this turn is operated by behaviorism and thus by a transformation in the way learning is portrayed and studied. For consequence, at least one of the conditions that made James skeptical have been changing. However, the question: "is the knowledge we dispose of sufficient for enlightening, rather than mystifying education?" is still present in today’s debates. Second, according to James psychology is a science, and sciences do not generate school programs or other application straightforwardly; an intermediary is required in the form of an art, or design. In other words, educators can be educated to the science of the mind but it is up to them taking the best of it and forging educational actions. I say moreover that you make a great, a very great mistake, if you think that psychology, being the science of the mind's laws, is something from which you can deduce definite programs and schemes and methods of instruction for immediate schoolroom use. Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediary inventive mind must make the application, by using its originality.(James 1925) Psychological knowledge can only provide a theory against which educational methods can be compared - but not evaluated and measured - and a general framework for gaining a better understanding of learners as humans with minds. But if the use of psychological principles thus be negative rather than positive, it does not follow that it may not be a great use, all the same. It certainly narrows the path for experiments and trials. We know in advance, if we are psychologists, that certain methods will be wrong, so our psychology saves us from mistakes. It makes us, moreover, more clear as to what we are about. We gain confidence in respect to any method which we are using as soon as we believe that it has theory as well as practice at its back. Most of all, it fructifies our independence, and it reanimates our interest, to see our subject at two different angles,—to get a stereoscopic view, so to speak, of the youthful organism who is our enemy, and, while handling him with all our concrete tact and divination, to be able, at the same time, to represent to ourselves the curious inner elements of his mental machine. Such a complete knowledge as this of the pupil, at once intuitive and analytic, is surely the knowledge at which every teacher ought to aim.(James 1925)
  • It is when measures become more important, and observable behaviors take the stage in psychology and in the study of learning, that the encounter between the study of the mind and the aims of education appear more fruitful. Edward Thorndike is considered to have been the first to apply principles of psychology to learning, and to education. His theories have been very influential in education in the USA, especially ideas about how the consequences of behavior determine what can be learnt, or not; his research on animal learning paved the way to behaviorism. In particular, he formulated a certain number of laws of learning: readiness, exercise, effect.In 1910, Thorndike affirms that psychology is the science that backs education, like agriculture depends on botany (80 years later the equation will be re-proposed and will include biology and medicine on the one side, cognitive science and education on the other): Just as the science and art of agriculture depend upon chemistry and botany, so the art of education depends upon physiology and psychology.(Thorndike 1910 p. 6) The contribution of psychology to education is twofold. In the first instance, psychology contributes with knowledge about the human mind and its natural propensities (unlearned tendencies); this knowledge is meaningful for informing educational choices, and in particular the aims of education (what can be learnt and what cannot; what should be taught because it cannot be learnt naturally): The foundation upon which education builds is the equipment of instincts and capacity given by nature apart from training. Just as knowledge of the peculiar inheritance characteristic of any individual is necessary to efficient treatment of him, so knowledge of the unlearned tendencies of man as a species is necessary to efficient planning for education in general.(Thorndike 1910 p. 10) Psychology is the science of the intellects, characters and behavior of animals including man. Human education is concerned with certain changes in the intellects, characters and behavior of men, its problems being roughly included under these four topics: Aims, materials, means and methods. Psychology contributes to a better understanding of the aims of education by defining them, making them clearer; by limiting them, showing us what can be done and what can not; and by suggesting new features that should be made parts of them. (Thorndike 1910 p. 5) The role of psychology is not bound to providing knowledge and inform decisions in education through its general principles: psychology provides a method both for measuring knowledge and for testing the efficacy of instructional methods. …in all cases psychology, by its methods of measuring knowledge and skill, may suggest means to test and verify or refute the claims of any method.(Thorndike 1910 p. 7) Finally, contributions are not one-way: as well as psychology enlightens education, education contributes to develop new knowledge about learning and the mind, well beyond school conditions. Thorndike is aware of the potential contributions that the association of psychology with education can provide to psychology itself: Experts in education studying the responses to school situations for the sake of practical control will advance knowledge not only of the mind as a learner under school conditions but also of the mind for every point of view.(Thorndike 1910 p. 12) The end of its paper is a hymn to science as a guide for practice: I hope that it is obvious and needless, and that the relation between psychology and education is not, in the mind of any competent thinker, in any way an exception to the general case that action in the world should be guided by the truth about the world; and that any truth about it will directly or indirectly, soon or late, benefit action.(Thorndike 1910 p. 12) In a sense, almost everything general we can say about the opportunity of favoring the encounter between the sciences of cognition (brain, mind, behavioral sciences) and education has been said by Thorndike: action in the world – thus in education – should be guided by truth – thus by science; the science of the mind contributes to education by providing a better understanding of the aims, limits, methods of education by revealing what comes natural to the mind, and what doesn’t; the science of the mind also contributes with methods, namely methods for measuring the effects of educational interventions. However, the level of comprehension of human learning allowed by Thorndike methods is still far from ours.
  • Thorndike is considered as a precursor of behaviorism, because of the accent he put on measuring behaviors for grounding science on facts. Full-fledged behaviorism is a reaction to the use of introspection, to the absence of controlled experiments, and to the focus on consciousness that characterized psychology at the turn of the XX century; in order to be established as an experimental scientific discipline, psychology must then give away consciousness and turn to what Watson and Skinner believed was the only observable psychological phenomenon: behavior.Behaviorism had the aim of making of psychology a science, and namely a science that could be applied to education (among other professional domains): If psychology would follow the plan I suggest, the educator, the physician, the jurist and the business man could utilize our data in a practical way, as soon as we are able, experimentally, to obtain them. Those who have occasion to apply psychological principles practically would find no need to complain as they do at the present time. Ask any physician or jurist today whether scientific psychology plays a practical part in his daily routine and you will hear him deny that the psychology of the laboratories finds a place in his scheme of work. I think the criticism is extremely just. One of the earliest conditions which made me dissatisfied with psychology was the feeling that there was no realm of application for the principles which were being worked out in content terms.(Watson 1913) But  psychology needs a serious reform if it has to become useful for professionals: The psychology which I should attempt to build up would take as a starting point, first, the observable fact that organisms, man and animal alike, do adjust themselves to their environment by means of hereditary and habit equipments. These adjustments may be very adequate or they may be so inadequate that the organism barely maintains its existence; secondly, that certain stimuli lead the organisms to make the responses. In a system of psychology completely worked out, given the response the stimuli can be predicted; given the stimuli the response can be predicted.(Watson 1913) With behaviorism psychology and education tighten their connections: not only experimental pedagogy is considered by Watson as a good model of the way psychology should be reformed, but learning substitutes consciousness as the exemplary function of the new psychology. In experimental pedagogy especially one can see the desirability of keeping all of the results on a purely objective plane. If this is done, work there on the human being will be comparable directly with the work upon animals. … We need to have similar experiments made upon man...(Watson 1913)
  • The centrality of learning is especially evident in the work of B.F. Skinner on operant conditioning.It is Skinner who develops behaviorism in its radical form, the theory of operant conditioning, which is a theory of learning. The basis of operational conditioning is reinforcement: once the desirable behavior has spontaneously happened, it can be reinforced until it becomes automatic (shaping). Skinner considers that behaviorism finally allows to control learning and not just to understand or formulate theories about it. The idea of shaping can in fact be used at the same time as an explanatory principle, and as a tool for promoting learning in clinical or educational settings. E.g. Operant conditioning has been used to generate “superstitions” in the animal, but also to teach school matters. A few accidental connections between a ritual and favorable consequences suffice to set up and maintain the behavior in spite of many unreinforced instances. The bowler who has released a ball down the alley but continues to behave as if he were controlling it by twisting and turning his arm and shoulder is another case in point. These behaviors have, of course, no real effect upon one's luck or upon a ball half way down an alley, just as in the present case the food would appear as often if the pigeon did nothing -- or, more strictly speaking, did something else.(Skinner 1947) The learning process is now much better understood. Much of what we know has come from studying the behavior of lower organisms, but the results hold surprisingly well for human subjects. The emphasis in this research has not been on proving or disproving theories but on discovering and controlling the variables of which learning is a function. This practical orientation has paid off, for a surprising degree of control has been achieved. By arranging appropriate “contingencies of reinforcement,” specific forms of behavior can be set up and brought under the control of specific classes of stimuli. The resulting behavior can be maintained in strength for long periods of time. A technology based on this work has already been put to use in neurology, pharmacology, nutrition, psychophysics, psychiatry, and elsewhere. The analysis is also relevant to education. A student can be “taught” in the sense that he is induced to engage in new forms of behavior and in specific forms upon specific occasions.  (Skinner 1958) Not only operant conditioning can help learning, but learning at a mass level, which is the level education has reached in the 50s. Skinner knows (or at least is convinced) that 1:1 tutoring is the best strategy for learning. This idea will be re-addressed in 1984 by Bloom, who will ask the community of educators: how can we produce the 2-sigma deviation from traditional classroom education which is produced by 1:1 tutoring, without the costs of 1:1 tutoring? In 1958 Skinner thinks he has the solution: teaching machines. It is a form of self-instruction, instantiated by a primitive computer, with many advantages according to Skinner: it respects the pace of the learner, it provides immediate feedback, it is not stressing; but above all it instantiates the principles of operational conditioning: effective, desirable behavior is rewarded, non desirable behavior is discouraged, and learning ensues. The question asked by the machine is the stimulus and the response given by the student is the answer; all that has to be done is to strengthen the correct association between the two by the means of rewards (immediate positive feedback). The hope is that reinforcements will transfer or generalize to similar stimuli though a mechanism of stimulus generalization - but this mechanism is left unexplained. As Watson, in fact, Skinner is not interested at what happens inside the black box of the mind while all this happens: the attention is wholly shifted from the inside (internal, unobservable processes) to the outside (the environment and how it acts on us). But there's more in this neglect: the implicit assumption that nothing interesting is going on “inside” might lead to the idea that the mind is like a blank slate, or at least to the idea that, in theory, and as a matter of exaggeration, virtually anything can be taught. In other words, not only we do not need to know what happens inside the box, but there is nothing in the box that can influence the way we learn new things, because it is only the environment that can shape learning. The idea of conditioning and shaping and the idea of a blank slate are not necessarily identical: one can think that conditioning works, and it does, but that it is limited by what is inside the box. As a matter of fact even radical behaviorism recognizes that the animal is not a blank slate: only behaviors that are possible, that are spontaneously realized by the animal can be reinforced. Skinner considers that anything the child is ready to learn given her development stage can be taught, not anything in general.
  • Behaviorism has dominated the scene in American psychology up to the so-called “cognitive revolution”, with consequences for education; the main limit that the cognitive science approach to the mind attributes to behaviorism consists in the denial that what the learner knows (representations, skills, beliefs, …) deserves any attention: In the mid 1950s, behaviorism was the prevailing orthodoxy in American psychological science. B. F. Skinner and other behaviorists believed that a scientific psychology had to be based solely on observed behavior. For the behaviorists, acceptable psychological explanations could appeal only to observable environmental stimuli and to the observable responses the stimuli evoked from organisms. Appeals to mysterious, unobservable mental processes were scientifically inadmissible. There could be no science of the mind –such a notion was self‐contradictory, behaviorists claimed. On their theory, to teach an animal a new behavior you expose it to appropriate environmental stimuli and reward it when it makes the proper response. In education, behaviorist learning theory emphasized arranging the student’s environment so that stimuli occurred in a way that would instill the desired stimulus‐response chains. Teachers would present lessons in small, manageable pieces (stimuli), ask students to give answers (responses), and then dispense reinforcement (preferably positive rather than negative) until their students became conditioned to give the right answers.(Bruer 1993 p. 3) By the turn of the century, a new school of behaviorism was emerging. In reaction to the subjectivity inherent in introspection, behaviorists held that the scientific study of psychology must restrict itself to the study of observable behaviors and the stimulus conditions that control them. Drawing on the empiricist tradition, behaviorists conceptualized learning as a process of forming connections between stimuli and responses. Motivation to learn was assumed to be driven primarily by drives, such as hunger, and the availability of external forces, such as rewards and punishments(e.g., Thorndike, 1913; Skinner, 1950). ...A limitation of early behaviorism stemmed from its focus on observable stimulus conditions and the behaviors associated with those conditions. This orientation made it difficult to study such phenomena as understanding, reasoning, and thinking—phenomena that are of paramount importance for education...(Bransford et al. 2000 p. 6‐8) 
  • The turning point is considered year 1956, the place: Cambridge, the occasion: a conference at MIT. Psychologists, linguists, computer scientists gather at the same conference and three publications are produced that are considered the seminal tests of the Cognitive Revolution: George Miller’s The magical number seven, plus or minus two, Jerome Bruner’s A Study of thinking and Noam Chomsky’s Review to B.F. Skinner Verbal Behavior. In 1968 Newell, Simon and Shaw publish their Elements of a theory of problem solving. In 1969 Bruner and Miller founded the Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies, the first institute dedicated to cognitive science. A major problem that is noted by Chomsky in the behaviorist approach to learning concerns generalization: It is also perfectly obvious that, at a later stage, a child will be able to construct and understand utterances which are quite new, and are, at the same time, acceptable sentences in his language. Every time an adult reads a newspaper, he undoubtedly comes upon countless new sentences which are not at all similar, in a simple, physical sense, to any that he has heard before, and which he will recognize as sentences and understand; he will also be able to detect slight distortions or misprints. Talk of "stimulus generalization" in such a case simply perpetuates the mystery under a new title. These abilities indicate that there must be fundamental processes at work quite independently of "feedback" from the environment.As far as acquisition of language is concerned, it seems clear that reinforcement, casual observation, and natural inquisitiveness (coupled with a strong tendency to imitate) are important factors, as is the remarkable capacity of the child to generalize, hypothesize, and "process information" in a variety of very special and apparently highly complex ways which we cannot yet describe or begin to understand, and which may be largely innate, or may develop through some sort of learning or through maturation of the nervous system. The manner in which such factors operate and interact in language acquisition is completely unknown. It is clear that what is necessary in such a case is research, not dogmatic and perfectly arbitrary claims, based on analogies to that small part of the experimental literature in which one happens to be interested.(Chomsky 1967) The cognitive revolution has been a reaction both to the lack of interest for internal processes and to the idea of the blank slate. Not only what happens inside matters, but it matters because there is a lot that it is happening inside that depends not only on the environment, but on the specific way the information incoming from the outside is processed in the inside; capacities, knowledge and structures that characterize the human mind influence and constrain what can be learnt and how. Since science is not ready to use neurophysiological evidence about what is happening inside the brain, the observation of behavior is still necessary. But because what happens inside the box counts for predicting the kind of behavior that will arise in presence of certain stimuli, observation is not direct, and research must be addressed to understanding the capacities of the organism (the nature of the mind). This gives rise to a new research program:  One would naturally expect that prediction of the behavior of a complex organism (or machine) would require, in addition to information about external stimulation, knowledge of the internal structure of the organism, the ways in which it processes input information and organizes its own behavior. These characteristics of the organism are in general a complicated product of inborn structure, the genetically determined course of maturation, and past experience. Insofar as independent neurophysiological evidence is not available, it is obvious that inferences concerning the structure of the organism are based on observation of behavior and outside events....The differences that arise between those who affirm and those who deny the importance of the specific "contribution of the organism" to learning and performance concern the particular character and complexity of this function, and the kinds of observations and research necessary for arriving at a precise specification of it. If the contribution of the organism is complex, the only hope of predicting behavior even in a gross way will be through a very indirect program of research that begins by studying the detailed character of the behavior itself and the particular capacities of the organism involved.(Chomsky 1967) The study of the mind becomes highly multidisciplinary with the advent of cognitive science: since its inception it included anthropology, linguistics, philosophy, developmental psychology, computer science, neuroscience, psychology. Exciting research in cognition today combines computer modeling with neuropsychological studies of the functioning of the brain and with the experimental study of human learning and problem solving. The computer models are compared with findings about brain processes and their organization and findings about the moment-by-moment progress of humans as they learn and solveproblems. This research is helping to test and improve detailed theories of the human symbolic processes used in learning and thinking and to build theories of how skills and knowledge can be taught effectively and efficiently.(Simon 2000 p. 115) Simon correctly points to the fact that neuroscience research has recently joined a field of research on learning that is not new, and not limited to brains made of flesh. Since its onset, the cognitive revolution has dealt with learning, but not necessarily with brains. This is because Artificial Intelligence had a big role in the revolution and one of the problems of artificial intelligence is how to build machines that learn, that show expertise. One way to go is to run simulations, mathematical models or real machines that learn. Another way is the observation of real learners, and in particular experts. Chess experts performances and reasoning processes have been described moment-by-moment. It has been discovered that chess masters outperform normal chess players in memory for tasks that are related to chess (e.g. meaningful configurations on a chessboard), but are just average when confronted with other tasks (non meaningful configurations). It has also been discovered that chess players and other experts gain their proficiency in virtue of repeated, deliberate practice, that they not only know more but are better at organizing their knowledge, monitoring and retrieving it, at least in their domain of expertise. These discoveries are relevant for figuring out how to help other people to become experts, and for facing one of the biggest difficulties of learning: transferring skills and knowledge from one domain to another. The cognitive revolution thus inherits the interest for learning manifested by behaviorism, but broadens the view by admitting innate capacities, a larger number of learning processes** and by stating the necessity of developing new methods for peeping into the black box: models and simulations, experimental devices for testing hypotheses about what is going on in the mind by observing its behavioral consequences, neuroimaging techniques.
  • Bruner is one of the major figures in the cognitive revolution as well as in the encounter between cognitive science and education, having actively participated to the reform of education that took place in the USA in the 60s – after the big smack of Soviet Union’s  Sputnik launches, notably in 1957. THE USA become then concerned about their competitiveness, especially in what we call today the STEM: Sciences, Technology, Engineering, mathematics. Bruner was then appointed (by the NSF and the NAS) to chair a conference (Woods Hole Conference) for the reform of science curriculum, which was at the origin of both “new math” and the idea of discovery learning and of inquiry-based science education: the idea that learning science should be an active, question inquiry-driven process based on one’s own discoveries. Later in his life, Bruner has taken more and more inspiration from Vygotsky and developed a more social constructivist vision.
  • An idea that emerged from Piaget is that children are like scientists: they observe the world, interact with it and try to figure out explanations and predictions about physical events. He observed that their responses to questions related to physical events or quantities are different at different ages, but systematic within a certain age. So, not only children are scientists, but they revise their theories about the world. However, revision does not come easily and not simply on the basis of repeated observations: the theory that a tall and narrow beaker holds more water than a large and wide one can resist the observation that the very same quantity of water is poured back and forth between them. The idea that children act like scientists has been later expanded by authors such as Susan Carey and Alison Gopnik.  Jean Piaget describes two fundamental mechanisms of learning: accomodation of mental structures to the external environment (that is: modification in virtue of experience) and assimilation of experience into internal structures (that is: use of experience according to innate filters that differ at different stages of development and acquired knowledge). Both mechanisms define adaptation and cannot be separated since they are part of the general process of equilibration between cognitive structures and the environment. His views have been very influential since the 60s and are considered as a form of constructivism: the child actively constructs her knowledge, not as a passive recipient but by imposing her internal structures. The child in fact makes sense of the world in ways that are different from one stage of development to another (if the child was just a recipient stages would not be observed, hence stages are the proof of the existence of a process of construction of ideas about the world that do not depend only on how the world is). Because the way experience and information is treated at different stages of development is qualitatively different, Piaget has changed the vision that children have simply less knowledge than adults, and favored the alternative view that their knowledge is also qualitative different. He has also influenced the view that learning implies a change, sometimes a radical or conceptual change, and not a simple accumulation of knowledge. Piaget's ideas have not been developed with education in sight, but they have been adapted to education by Jerome Bruner. Bruner has adopted the idea that learners construct their ideas and concepts starting from their knowledge; he has modified Piaget's stages and described them as three modalities of acquiring knowledge (and relative forms of representations): enactive, iconic, and symbolic. (Successively, Seymour Papert has developed a view of education described as constructionnism, or learning by constructing and designing.)
  • Vygotsky is known for his view of the social construction of knowledge, concepts and cognition e.g. through language, as exemplified by the notion of zone of proximal development: the range of performances a child can reach thank to the presence of more knowledgeable others, and successively interiorize.
  • Very soon after the cognitive revolution, many cognitivists became dissatisfied with the computational, representational view of cognition put forward by the classical cognitive sciences, and started to consider how intelligent organisms (from beetles to humans) exploit their environment in order to do better cognitively, by anchoring problems to concrete examples; they asserted that interests and motivation makes us perform better, that machines can be used to externalize a part of our capacities, etc. Their idea is that one cannot really understand learning and more generally cognitive processes if one bounds oneself to abstract processes instantiated by thinking machines of the Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (GOFAI). This criticism can be more or less destructive: Artificial intelligence research has foundered on the issue of representation. When intelligence is approached in an incremental manner, with strict reliance on interfacing to the real world through perception and action, reliance on representation disappears. In this paper we outline our approach to incrementally building complete intelligent Creatures. The fundamental decomposition of the intelligent system is not into independent information processing units which must interface with each other via representations. Instead, the intelligent system is decomposed into independent and parallel activity producers which all interface directly to the world through perception and action, rather than interface to each other particularly much. The notions of central and peripheral systems evaporate everything is both central and peripheral. Based on these principles we have built a very successful series of mobile robots which operate without supervision as Creatures in standard office environments.(Brooks 1991) I will attempt to show that the classical cognitive science approach can be applied with little modification to a unit of analysis that is larger than an individual person. One can still ask the same questions of a larger socio-technical system that one would ask of the individual. That is, we wish to characterize the behavioral properties of the unit of analysis in terms of the structure and processing of representations that are internal to the system. With the new unit of analysis, many of the representations can be observed directly, so in some respects, this may be a much easier task than trying to determine the processes internal to the individual that account for the individual's behavior. Posing these questions in this way reveals how systems that are larger than an individual may have cognitive properties in their own right that cannot be reduced to the cognitive properties of individual persons (Hutchins, 1995). Many of the outcomes that concern us on a daily basis are produced by cognitive systems of this sort.(Hutchins 1995) Situated learning … emphasizes the idea that much of what is learned is specific to the situation in which it is learned.(Anderson  Reder Simon 1996) Together with situated views of cognition and learning have emerged the Learning Sciences. Within their view learning takes places in concrete situations, and it is there that must be studied. So, what's better than observing learners, and meshing with the world of education? Since the movement arises from people in Artificial Intelligence dissatisfied with classic Artificial Intelligence (the first conference of the Learning Sciences Institute, held in 1987 stems from the Artificial Intelligence and education previous series of conferences), the Learning Science take issues related to technology very seriously, and one of their main research topics is technologies for promoting better learning. But they are also engaged in the step-by-step observation of learning processes, thus adopting a variety of methods of research, and give a great importance to the social framework of learning. In the USA cognitive science and the Learning Sciences inspire a program of Science of Learning Centers (they are 6 at present). More and more, the program and the centers are “infiltrated” with neuroscience. Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. Learning scientists study learning in a variety of settings, including not only the more formal learning of school classrooms but also the informal learning that takes place at home, on the job, and among peers. The goal of the learning sciences is to better understand the cognitive and social processes that result in the most effective learning, and to use this knowledge to redesign class- rooms and other learning environments so that people learn more deeply and more effectively. The sciences of learning include cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, information sciences, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, and other fields. In the late 1980s, researchers in these fields who were study- ing learning realized that they needed to develop new scientific approaches that went beyond what their own individual disciplines could offer, and they began to collaborate with other disciplines. Learning sciences was born in 1991…(Sawyer 2006)A dichotomy is produced between the socio-constructivist movement and the evidence-based movementToday, the two are still often opposed.The socio-constructivist movement becomes ideological and looses scientific ground by avoiding evaluationThe standard-based, then “what works” factually grounded movement somehow grows in opposition to the reforms of the 1960sSocio-constructivism and cognitive science interest for education continues to spread, especially in relationship with the development of educational technologies: videos, then elearningEvidence-based approaches gain momentum in the UKThe pressure upon education grows with the fear of being replaced by emerging countries at the level of the international market
  • This is also because knowledge about the human mind has grown fast during the last 50 years, grossly after the so-called “cognitive revolution” (September 1956, MIT Symposium on Information Theory). The cognitive revolution consists in opening the black box of the human mind and looking inside rather than limiting scientific research to the observations of behaviors and environment. It states that looking at what’s going on “inside” counts and that there are methods for doing it scientifically: constructing models about the mind, performing experiments for checking if they fit, using technologies for discovering the neural underpinnings of behavior and mental states. It also brings about a theoretical framework for performing the observations: the mind is like a computer that operates on information (incoming or stored) by the means of algorithms; both the nature of the information and the algorithm that it is used count for predicting the output. The mind is a multiple structure: it is made of many functions or organs that operate specifically on certain kinds of information. The cognitive revolution has largely focused on learning processes: in fact, the cognitive and the learning sciences are intermingled at least since the beginning of the cognitive revolution. More recently there has been a brain revolution (1969 Society for Neuroscience; 1979, cognitive neurosciences; 1990, Decade Of the Brain). With the birth of the cognitive neurosciences it becomes clear that - in the case of human beings and other animals - the “mind” is an integrated set of functions performed by a biological organ, the brain. We can consider these revolutions as being as meaningful for the design of education as biology and molecular biology have been for medicine. We have new top-down research techniques that enable us to observe and model the step-by-step progress of thinking and learning with shorter and shorter steps, even on the scale of seconds and fractions of a second. These techniques include analysis of thinking-aloud protocols (the verbalization of research participants while they are thinking), analysis of eye movements, and simulation of thinking with computer models. We have new bottom-up research techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging and single-cell recording, that enable us to study the localization of the neural processes that occur during thought and learning and to study the chemistry of neurons. With the help of these new tools, we are even beginning to forge links between bottom-up and top-down advances, gaining glimpses of the neurologic bases for human symbolic processes. Just as the revolution in molecular biology changed the whole face of medicine by providing both new understanding of physiological processes and new means of intervention when the processes are out of kilter, so the revolution in the study of the mind, usually called the cognitive revolution, is allowing us to enter a new era of human learning and teaching. This era does not reject the practical knowledge that has built up over millennia but greatly improves and enriches it. Good teachers and good learners may be born, but they cannot reach their potential, or anything close to it, without a deep understanding of the learning processes and how to enhance them. We are becoming more and more able to provide that understanding.(Simon 1988, p. 116) The latest developments in neuroscience have joined the vision of the mind purported by cognitive scientists; in fact, the term “cognitive neuroscience” describes the effort of providing neural bases to the cognitive functions and architecture that are otherwise expressed in a mental or functional vocabulary (that is: in terms of beliefs, desires, etc.). Both levels of descriptions seem to be required, at least for the moment: we are not ready to give away descriptions in terms of desires and beliefs because they still hold a significant explanatory power, unattained by descriptions in terms of neural activations, regions and release of neurotransmitters. However, the two levels of description often mesh well. In the book The educated brain (2008), neuroscienstist Wolf Singer defineslearning in terms of the functional structure of the brain: knowledge resides in the functional architecture of the brain and the determination or acquisition of new knowledge occurs through the modification of the functional architecture of the brain. … any learning, i.e. the modification of computational programs and of stored knowledge, must occur through lasting changes in their functional architecture.(Singer 2008 p. 98) Today neuroeducation is promoted at several levels: by the Society for neuroscience, by the Dana Foundation and the Neuro-education Initiative of the Johns Hopkins University, by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Mind, Brain, and Education initiative (conferences, journal, society), by reports produced in the UK by the Royal Society and ESRC-TLRP, in collaboration with Bristol University and Cambridge University. Outside the USA and UK, the 2002 Brain and learning project developed by OCDE-CERI has made projects grow in France, Germany, Japan, and more. In 2008 Neuroeducation Quebec has started its actions and the most important European organization for education, EARLI, has a SIG on neuroeducation since 2010. We might have the impression that neuroscience has occupied the entire field, but this is not true, even if the reference to recent developments in brain studies has certainly attracted much attention, and tends to cover the fact that there is more than neuroscience in the study of cognition and learning. One reason why neuroscience is apparently so preeminent is that neuroscience is recent, is growing fast, seductive and well promoted. In fact, the brain hype has grown after the Brain Decade and a number of neuro- suffixes have seen the light at the same time: neuro-theology, neuro-law, neuro-ethics, ... neuroeducation. But also, that neuroscience is providing some relevant contributions, e.g. in terms of plasticity of the brain and the limits/opportunities of learning. 
  • An extract from a text of Herbert Simon, one of the fathers of cognitive science illustrates the point:
  • The field is much more diverse that psychology + neuroscienceA research on the mind, brain, and behavior that has gained momentum recently is that related to the study of the evolution of mind, brain, behavior, culture
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  •  In recent times, societal transformations have occurred that pose new problems to education. E.g. the information revolution has changed in many ways how we work, make research, communicate, and opens new opportunities for learning and education (new potential tools for education: computer simulations, e-learning). Some consider that the transformation of the industrial society and economy into the knowledge society requires new forms of education. But how? In the absence of past experience, tradition, and habits some ground is needed to take decisions about how to transform education and how to introduce “new technologies”. Moreover, even the ideas that shape the “old school” have never been tested scientifically. The preoccupation about innovation and international competition has spread in developed countries during the last decades. Policy makers have turned towards knowledge, in two ways. First, they have expressed an urge for “better education” (more prepared students, more competitive work force, more innovation) and renewed their interest in instruction and its quality; one visible outcome is the multiplication of standards and indicators, both national and international level (NCLB, PISA, ARWU, EU Key competences for life-long learning, Soclecommun, ...). Second, policy makers have looked at science as a source of knowledge and evidence for grounding choices and shaping reforms. The fading of ideologies has possibly reinforced the trend: pushed by the opportunity of grounding choices in policy making on some other ground than classical values, knowledge and “what works” have become political strategies in the UK and USA during the 80s and 90s. So, the “science-informed” movement in education is correlated with the “evidence-based” movement asking for evidence about what works (and not only a deeper understanding of learning processes to shade light on education), because they share a common objective: understanding and promoting what works in education; and a common path: knowledge and evidence (as opposed to intuition, tradition, experience). However, they do not necessarily converge, and in many cases they are even opposed. In particular they do not make the same use of the notion of knowledge and evidence, and sometimes they are aimed at different political agendas.A consideration about the opportunity of favoring the encounter between mind-brain sciences and education (or more generally: science and policy-making) comes directly from the study of cognition:  we are not necessarily very good at using experience, observation and intuition to take good decisions in things that matter, such as education, or medical treatments. Our observations and reasoning are biased, our experience limited, the experience of experts is soon outdated… How can evolution have worked so badly?  Some have advanced that our skulls host the brain of stone age hunter-gatherers and are not necessarily good at doing professional science in everyday life and ground decisions on objective facts; meanwhile, mechanisms that are adapted for giving us the capacity of focusing attention, retaining facts, see patterns and quickly draw connections and causal links that can save our life in the forest have side-effects that reveal themselves in the form of illusions and biases.  So, evolution has worked fine, but the world around us has changed (we changed it) while we were remaining the same efficient hunter-gatherers.
  • Connected with the brain-hype are a number of pseudo-scientific approaches to education that claim to be based on neuroscience. Two methods and a movement have had a special echo, and are still diffused among teachers. In 1981, the year of birth of the Journal of neuroscience, Paul and Gail Dennison create an approach to education, which is known as edu-kinesthetics or Brain Gym. The approach consists in a vision, and in a series of activities that are supposed helping learning. Educational Kinesiology becomes a trade mark in 1987, Brain Gym in 2000. The method has hence established its place in the educational panorama all along the growth of the interest for neuroscience and education. In 1985, Colin Rose, publishes Accelerated learning, and the book becomes a method (Rose, 1985). Rose asserts that the method stems from research on the functioning of human brain, which has undergone an impressive development. While the assertion parallels those of scientific paths to the learning science, Accelerated learning is grounded on the unproven principle that people have each a specific learning style (visual rather than kinesthetic or auditory, for instance), and that learning is easer when the appropriate style is matched. However, brain-based education is a varied educational movement, not restricted to copyrighted, commercial methods. In 1991, for instance, Renate and Geoffrey Caine publish Making connections: teaching to the human brain, and propose 12 principles for a new view of learning, that they affirm to be substantiated by research on the brain and call ‘the science of natural learning’. In a recent brain-based learning guide for educators, Jensen (2008) comments literature about mind and learning (including hemispheric dominance and bio-cognitive cycles), and offers boxed “what this means to you” (the educator): The nostril we breathe through affects which brain hemisphere we use. When our breathing is left-side dominant, our learning will be right-side dominant, ad vice versa....In some cases, problems in learning might be a result of the learning taking place at the wrong time of day. Learners who are at the peak of their right- or left- hemisphere dominance may need cross-lateral activation to ‘unstick’ them. Proponents of cross-lateral physical activity suggest that exercises that encourage limb movement across the body’s lateral center can stimulate both sides of the brain and energize thinking.  (Jensen 2008 p. 27) Assertions do not need to be as far from consensus in biology as those that we find in the Brain Gym commercial method. One can have the right science and nonetheless be unable to apply it directly just because·     it is too general, maybe it can provide an attitude or ideas for applications·     it is too far from the interests and practical problems of teachers·     we do not need to know.

Gdp2 2013 14-1 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Cognitive studies meet education A NEW FIELD OF APPLIED RESEARCH TO EDUCATION AND ITS PERIMETER A BIT OF HISTORY & WHAT’S NEW REASONS FOR FAVORING A GOOD ENCOUNTER
  • 2. Birth of a new field Policy-making needs science. (Alberts 2010) 20022006 2008 20002005 2008 2011 20092013
  • 3. 2007 2012
  • 4. Perimeter of the field: who’s who and what’s up
  • 5. Sciences cognitives et éducation – 2012, Conference at Collège de France Ens Paris: - Institut d’études de la cognition - Groupe Compas - CogMaster Fondation La main à la pâte (Académie des sciences, Ens Paris, Ens-Lyon): training & ressources for educators French Research in cognitive science/Educational institutions
  • 6. Brain & learning Neuroedu cation Mind Brain Education Neuroscie nce and education Brain decade (Cognitive ) Science of learning Learning sciences 1999-2006 OECDCERI: Brain and Learning Project 1999-2008 TLRP: programm e neuroscie nce and education 2006 Harvard Graduate school of education MBE program 1990s Decade of the brain 2000sDana Foundatio n Programm e in neuroeduc ation 1990sMcDonnel Foundatio n programm e 2002 ISLI Internatio nal Society of the learning sciences Initiatives in member countries (japan, Germany, France, USA, …) Ongoing Research in neuroscie nce & learning/l earning disabilities ,… 1990s2000s USA NSF Science of Learning Centers
  • 7. Brain & learning Neuroedu cation Mind Brain Education Neuroscie nce and education Brain decade (Cognitive ) Science of learning Learning sciences 2003 Mind, Brain, Education Conferenc e at the Accademi a Pontificia Teachings & research in neuroeduc ation at the universitie s of Bristol, UCL, Cambridge , Birbeck college MBE Teachings in several USA Graduate Schools 2008 SfN – Neuroedu cation Summit 2008 Dana Foundatio n Art & Brain Initiative/ Neuroedu cation Johns Hopkins University 1990sMcDonnel Foundatio n programm e 2002 ISLI Internatio nal Society of the learning sciences 2005 Cognitive Science & Education conferenc e Académie des Sciences 1990s2000s USA NSF Science of Learning Centers
  • 8. Brain & learning Neuroedu cation 2011 Royal Institution reports 2010 Europe EARLI Sig 22 Neuroedu cation/Co nferences Mind Brain Education Neuroscie nce and education 2012 Neuroedu cation Quebec – Conferenc es, Journal Brain decade 2008 Dana Foundatio n Art & Brain Initiative/ Neuroedu 2012 cation Trends in Johns neuroeduc Hopkins ation University Journal (Cognitive ) Science of learning Learning sciences 1990sMcDonnel Foundatio n programm e 2002 ISLI Internatio nal Society of the learning sciences 1990s2000s USA NSF Science of Learning Centers
  • 9. Perimeter of the field: the disciplines involved Biology Cognitive science Education Technology Neuroscience Cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology Educational psychology Computer science Cognitive neuroscience Information sciences Social sciences Robotics Genetics neuroscience Developmental Learning and Emerging psychology transfer studies technologies Social Instructional psychology, ant design, wisdom hropology of practice
  • 10. Perimeter of the field: the topics and aims Knowledge & Design For better learning Everywhere Understanding the many cognitive processes involved in learning & teaching Design better environments & tools for learning & teaching Learn/Teach more effectively Formal and informal settings, School age and lifelong (Measure their effects) Understanding the social processes involved in education & learning Understanding the impact of technologies for learning
  • 11. • (Fischer et al. 2007) – Human beings are unique in their ability to learn through schooling and diverse kinds of cultural instruction. – Education plays a key role in cultural transformations: it allows members of a society, the young in particular, to efficiently acquire an ever-evolving body of knowledge and skills that took thousands of years to invent. – It is time for education, biology, and cognitive science to join together to create a new science and practice of learning and development. The remarkable new tools of biology and cognitive science open vast possibilities for this emerging field.
  • 12. • (Meltzoff et al. 2009) – Homo sapiens is also the only species that has developed formal ways to enhance learning: teachers, schools, and curricula. – Neuroscientists are beginning to understand the brain mechanisms underlying learning and how shared brain systems for perception and action support social learning. Machine learning algorithms are being developed that allow robots and computers to learn autonomously. New insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform educational practices.
  • 13. • (Sawyer 2008, p. xi) • Learning sciences is an interdisciplinary field that studies teaching and learning. Learning scientists study learning in a variety of settings, including not only the more formal learning of school classrooms but also the informal learning that takes place at home, on the job, and among peers. The goal of the learning sciences is to better understand the cognitive and social processes that result in the most effective learning, and to use this knowledge to redesign classrooms and other learning environments so that people learn more deeply and more effectively. The sciences of learning include cognitive science, educational psychology, computer science, anthropology, sociology, information sciences, neurosciences, education, design studies, instructional design, and other fields. • •
  • 14. • (Bransford et al 2000, p. 4) – Research from cognitive psychology has increased understanding of the nature of competent performance and the principles of knowledge organization that underlie people's abilities to solve problems in a wide variety of areas – Developmental researchers have shown that young children understand a great deal about basic principles of biology and physical causality, about number, narrative, and personal intent, – Research on learning and transfer has uncovered important principles for structuring learning experiences that enable people to use what they have learned in new settings. – Work in social psychology, cognitive psychology, and anthropology is making clear that all learning takes place in settings that have particular sets of cultural and social norms and expectations and that these settings influence learning and transfer in powerful ways. – Neuroscience is beginning to provide evidence for many principles of learning that have emerged from laboratory research, and it is showing how learning changes the physical structure of the brain and, with it, the functional organization of the brain. – Emerging technologies are leading to the development of many new opportunities to guide and enhance learning that were unimagined even a few years ago.
  • 15. • (Simon 1988, p. 67) • Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient… The natural sciences are concerned with how things are …. Design, on the other hand, is concerned with how things ought to be, with devising artifacts to attain goals.
  • 16. Cognitive studies meet education A NEW FIELD OF APPLIED RESEARCH TO EDUCATION AND ITS PERIMETER A BIT OF HISTORY & WHAT’S NEW REASONS FOR FAVORING A GOOD ENCOUNTER
  • 17. William James’ mild optimism William James 1899: Talks to teachers on psychology Philosopher pragmatism Psychology – scientific vs introspection
  • 18. – Psychology ought certainly to give the teacher radical help. And yet I confess that, acquainted as I am with the height of some of your expectations, I feel a little anxious lest, at the end of these simple talks of mine, not a few of you may experience some disappointment at the net results. In other words, I am not sure that you may not be indulging fancies that are just a shade exaggerated. – That would not be altogether astonishing, for we have been having something like a 'boom' in psychology in this country. Laboratories and professorships have been founded, and reviews established. The air has been full of rumors. The editors of educational journals and the arrangers of conventions have had to show themselves enterprising and on a level with the novelties of the day. Some of the professors have not been unwilling to co-operate, and I am not sure even that the publishers have been entirely inert. 'The new psychology' has thus become a term to conjure up portentous ideas withal; and you teachers, docile and receptive and aspiring as many of you are, have been plunged in an atmosphere of vague talk about our science, which to a great extent has been more mystifying than enlightening.
  • 19. – There is nothing but the old psychology, which began in Locke’s time, plus a little physiology of the brain and senses and the theory of evolution – I say moreover that you make a great, a very great mistake, if you think that psychology, being the science of the mind's laws, is something from which you can deduce definite programs and schemes and methods of instruction for immediate schoolroom use. Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediary inventive mind must make the application, by using its originality.
  • 20. – … the use of psychological principles certainly narrows the path for experiments and trials. We know in advance, if we are psychologists, that certain methods will be wrong, so our psychology saves us from mistakes. – It makes us, moreover, more clear as to what we are about. We gain confidence in respect to any method which we are using as soon as we believe that it has theory as well as practice at its back. – it fructifies our independence, and it reanimates our interest, to see our subject at two different angles,—to get a stereoscopic view, … to be able, at the same time, to represent to ourselves the curious inner elements of his mental machine
  • 21. Edward Thorndike’s franck optimism Thorndike 1910: The contribution of psychology to education The first to apply principles of psychology to learning, and to education. His theories have been very influential in education in the USA Laws of learning: readiness, exercise, effect (positive)
  • 22. – Psychology is the science that backs education, like agriculture depends on botany – Just as the science and art of agriculture depend upon chemistry and botany, so the art of education depends upon physiology and psychology. – The foundation upon which education builds is the equipment of instincts and capacity given by nature apart from training. – Just as knowledge of the peculiar inheritance characteristic of any individual is necessary to efficient treatment of him, so knowledge of the unlearned tendencies of man as a species is necessary to efficient planning for education in general.
  • 23. – Psychology contributes to a better understanding of the aims of education by defining them, making them clearer; by limiting them, showing us what can be done and what can not; and by suggesting new features that should be made parts of them. – …in all cases psychology, by its methods of measuring knowledge and skill, may suggest means to test and verify or refute the claims of any method. – Experts in education studying the responses to school situations for the sake of practical control will advance knowledge not only of the mind as a learner under school conditions but also of the mind for every point of view.
  • 24. – I hope that it is obvious and needless, and that the relation between psychology and education is not, in the mind of any competent thinker, in any way an exception to the general case that action in the world should be guided by the truth about the world; and that any truth about it will directly or indirectly, soon or late, benefit action.
  • 25. J.B. Watson’s plan Watson 1913: Psychology as the behaviorist views it Full-fledged behaviorism is a reaction to the use of introspection, to the absence of controlled experiments, and to the focus on consciousness that characterized psychology at the turn of the XX century
  • 26. – Behaviorism had the aim of making of psychology a science that can be applied – If psychology would follow the plan I suggest, the educator, the physician, the jurist and the business man could utilize our data in a practical way, as soon as we are able, experimentally, to obtain them. – Those who have occasion to apply psychological principles practically would find no need to complain as they do at the present time. Ask any physician or jurist today whether scientific psychology plays a practical part in his daily routine and you will hear him deny that the psychology of the laboratories finds a place in his scheme of work. I think the criticism is extremely just. One of the earliest conditions which made me dissatisfied with psychology was the feeling that there was no realm of application for the principles which were being worked out in content terms.
  • 27. – The psychology which I should attempt to build up would take as a starting point, first, the observable fact that organisms, man and animal alike, do adjust themselves to their environment by means of hereditary and habit equipments. These adjustments may be very adequate or they may be so inadequate that the organism barely maintains its existence; secondly, that certain stimuli lead the organisms to make the responses. In a system of psychology completely worked out, given the response the stimuli can be predicted; given the stimuli the response can be predicted. – In experimental pedagogy especially one can see the desirability of keeping all of the results on a purely objective plane. If this is done, work there on the human being will be comparable directly with the work upon animals. … We need to have similar experiments made upon man…
  • 28. B.F. Skinner’s teaching machines Skinner 1954: Teaching machines Centrality of learning in radical behaviorism Theory of operant conditioning, Reinforcement Behaviorism allows to control learning, not just describing it
  • 29. – The learning process is now much better understood. – Much of what we know has come from studying the behavior of lower organisms, but the results hold surprisingly well for human subjects. – The emphasis in this research has not been on proving or disproving theories but on discovering and controlling the variables of which learning is a function. This practical orientation has paid off, for a surprising degree of control has been achieved.
  • 30. – By arranging appropriate “contingencies of reinforcement,” specific forms of behavior can be set up and brought under the control of specific classes of stimuli. – The resulting behavior can be maintained in strength for long periods of time. A technology based on this work has already been put to use in neurology, pharmacology, nutrition, psychophysics, psychiatry, and elsewhere. The analysis is also relevant to education. A student can be “taught” in the sense that he is induced to engage in new forms of behavior and in specific forms upon specific occasions.
  • 31. ECC2012-13
  • 32. • (Bruer 1993 p. 3) – In the mid 1950s, behaviorism was the prevailing orthodoxy in American psychological science. – In education, behaviorist learning theory emphasized arranging the student’s environment so that stimuli occurred in a way that would instill the desired stimulus‐response chains. Teachers would present lessons in small, manageable pieces (stimuli), ask students to give answers (responses), and then dispense reinforcement (preferably positive rather than negative) until their students became conditioned to give the right answers. • (Bransford et al. 2000 p. 6‐8) – A limitation of early behaviorism stemmed from its focus on observable stimulus conditions and the behaviors associated with those conditions. This orientation made it difficult to study such phenomena as understanding, reasoning, and thinking—phenomena that are of paramount importance for education...
  • 33. The cognitive revolution hits the field 1956 Cambridge MIT Miller: The magic number 7 Chomsky: A review of B.F. Skinner Verbal Behavior Bruner: A study of thinking 1958 Herbert, Shaw, Simon: Elements of a theory of human problem solving 1960 Harvard Center for Cognitive Studies (Bruner & Miller)
  • 34. • Noam Chomsky: A review of BF Skinner Verbal Language – One would naturally expect that prediction of the behavior of a complex organism (or machine) would require, in addition to information about external stimulation, knowledge of the internal structure of the organism, the ways in which it processes input information and organizes its own behavior. – … Every time an adult reads a newspaper, he undoubtedly comes upon countless new sentences which are not at all similar, in a simple, physical sense, to any that he has heard before, and which he will recognize as sentences and understand; he will also be able to detect slight distortions or misprints. – Talk of "stimulus generalization" in such a case simply perpetuates the mystery under a new title. – These abilities indicate that there must be fundamental processes at work quite independently of "feedback" from the environment.
  • 35. Jerome Bruner’s (cognitive) process of education Bruner 1960 The process of education 1959 Woods Hole conference on teaching science & mathematics USA post-Sputnik era Educational reforms: science teaching & mathematics new textbooks & methods
  • 36. Jean Piaget’s constructivism Piaget 1957: The construction of reality in the child Swiss psychologist Not directly interested in education but in epistemology: the construction of the representation of reality by the means of the processes of accomodation and assimilation Proposed a staged development of intelligence in the child starting from sensorimotor and ending with abstract
  • 37. • Piaget (1955) - - The successive study of concepts of object, space, causality, and time has led us to the same conclusions: the elaboration of the universe by sensorimotor intelligence constitutes the transition from a state in which objects are centred about a self which believes it directs them, although completely unaware of itself as subject, to a state in which the self is placed, at least practically, in a stable world conceived as independent of personal activity. How is this evolution possible?
  • 38. - - It can be explained only by the development of intelligence. Intelligence progresses from a state in which accommodation to the environment is undifferentiated from the assimilation of things to the subject’s schemata to a state in which the accommodation of multiple schemata is distinguished from their respective and reciprocal assimilation. To understand this process, which sums up the whole evolution of sensorimotor intelligence, let us recall its steps, starting with the development of assimilation itself.
  • 39. - - In its beginnings, assimilation is essentially the utilisation of the external environment by the subject to nourish his hereditary or acquired schemata. It goes without saying that schemata such as those of sucking, sight, prehension, etc., constantly need to be accommodated to things, and that the necessities of this accommodation often thwart the assimilatory effort. But this accommodation remains so undifferentiated from the assimilatory processes that it does not give rise to any special active behaviour pattern but merely consists in an adjustment of the pattern to the details of the things assimilated.
  • 40. - - - Hence it is natural that at this developmental level the external world does nor seem formed by permanent objects, that neither space nor time is yet organised in groups and objective series, and that causality is not spatialised or located in things. In other words, at first the universe consists in mobile and plastic perceptual images centred about personal activity. But it is self-evident that to the extent that this activity is undifferentiated from the things it constantly assimilates to itself it remains unaware of its own subjectivity; the external world therefore begins by being confused with the sensations of a self unaware of itself, before the two factors become detached from one another and are organised correlatively. On the other hand, in proportion as the schemata are multiplied and differentiated by their reciprocal assimilations as well as their progressive accommodation to the diversities of reality, the accommodation is dissociated from assimilation little by little and at the same time ensures a gradual delimitation of the external environment and of the subject.
  • 41. Yves et la conservation des quantités
  • 42. Lev Vygotsky’s role of language and social interaction Vygotsky : The construction of reality in the child Russian psychologist Role of social interaction in cognitive development Zone of proximal development Link between development of language and thinking
  • 43. Then something goes wrong…
  • 44. Then new things happen (at several levels): accumulation of knowledge
  • 45. • (Simon 2000 p. 115) – Exciting research in cognition today combines computer modeling with neuropsychological studies of the functioning of the brain and with the experimental study of human learning and problem solving. – This research is helping to test and improve detailed theories of the human symbolic processes used in learning and thinking and to build theories of how skills and knowledge can be taught effectively and efficiently.
  • 46. • (Simon 1988, p. 116) – We have new top-down research techniques that enable us to observe and model the step-by-step progress of thinking and learning with shorter and shorter steps, even on the scale of seconds and fractions of a second. – We have new bottom-up research techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging and single-cell recording, that enable us to study the localization of the neural processes that occur during thought and learning and to study the chemistry of neurons. – With the help of these new tools, we are even beginning to forge links between bottom-up and top-down advances, gaining glimpses of the neurologic bases for human symbolic processes.
  • 47. – Just as the revolution in molecular biology changed the whole face of medicine by providing both new understanding of physiological processes and new means of intervention when the processes are out of kilter, so the revolution in the study of the mind, usually called the cognitive revolution, is allowing us to enter a new era of human learning and teaching. – This era does not reject the practical knowledge that has built up over millennia but greatly improves and enriches it. Good teachers and good learners may be born, but they cannot reach their potential, or anything close to it, without a deep understanding of the learning processes and how to enhance them. We are becoming more and more able to provide that understanding.
  • 48. diversification of the disciplines that study the mind
  • 49. Cognitive studies meet education A NEW FIELD OF APPLIED RESEARCH TO EDUCATION AND ITS PERIMETER A BIT OF HISTORY & WHAT’S NEW REASONS FOR FAVORING A GOOD ENCOUNTER
  • 50. societal changes translate into preoccupation for educational systems
  • 51. Learning is a pervasive function but it is not always easy…
  • 52. Not a blank slate
  • 53. • (Pinker 2002, p. 222) – Education is neither writing on a blank slate nor allowing a child's nobility to flower. – Rather education is a technology that tries to make up for what the human mind is innately bad at. – Children don't have to go to school to learn to walk, talk, recognize objects, or remember the personalities of their friends even though these tasks are much harder than reading, adding, or remembering dates in history... – Because much of the content of education is not cognitively natural, the process of mastering it may not always be easy or pleasant, notwithstanding the mantra that learning is fun... they are not necessarily motivated in their cognitive faculties to unnatural tasks like formal mathematics.
  • 54. The human species has created a special technology for the transmission of knowledge …
  • 55. Intuition is not enough
  • 56. Pseudo-science & market issues
  • 57. What the new field can do for education • Help designing educational tools & methods - That are coherent with the functioning of the human mind - Help evaluating and validating them - Scientific, experimental methods • Provide a general knowledge of the human mind for guiding daily actions an decisions • Help avoid the slippery slopes and correct mistakes
  • 58. YES BUT HOW????