Major Ideas Key Theory Learning is an active, social process in which students construct new ideas or concepts based on current knowledge. The student selects information, originates hypotheses, and makes decisions in the process of integrating experiences into their existing mental constructs. "Learners are encouraged to discover facts and relationships for themselves."
Assumptions The outcome of cognitive development is thinking. The intelligent mind creates from experience “generic coding systems that permit one to go beyond the data to new and possibly fruitful predictions.” Children as they grow must acquire a way for representing “recurrent regularities” in their environment. Bruner believes that important outcomes of learning include not only just the concepts, categories, and problem-solving procedures invented previously in the culture, but also the ability to “invent” these things for one’s self.
Assumptions Cognitive growth involves an interaction between basic human capabilities and “culturally invented technologies that serve as amplifiers of the capabilities.” These culturally invented technologies include not just the obvious things such as computers and television, but also more abstract notions such as the way a culture categorizes phenomena, and language itself. Bruner would likely agree with Vygotsky that language serves to mediate between environmental stimuli and the individual’s response.
Cognitive growth involves an interaction between basic human capabilities and “culturally invented technologies that serve as amplifiers of the capabilities.”
Instructional Theory Four Major Components of Instructional Theory
Predisposition toward learning
Ways in which the body of knowledge can be structured so that it may be more readily grasped by the learner
Effective sequencing in the presentation of material
The nature of pacing rewards and punishments
Instruction Design Three Principals of Instruction Design
Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness)
Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student (spiral organization)
Instruction must be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given)
Modes of Representation of Intellectual Development Bruner hypothesized that intellectual development moves through three distinct stages. However, unlike Piaget, Bruner did not confine his observations of development to age.
Enactive Stage : Knowledge is primarily stored in the form of motor responses. This is not just limited to children. Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks such as typing, sewing, or mowing the lawn that they would have difficulty describing in iconic (picture) or symbolic (word) form.
Modes of Representation of Intellectual Development
Iconic Stage : Knowledge is stored primarily in the form of visual images. This may explain why, when we are learning a new subject, it is often helpful to have diagrams or illustrations to accompany verbal information.
Modes of Representation of Intellectual Development
Symbolic Stage : Knowledge is stored primarily as words, mathematical symbols, or into other symbol systems. Bruner’s taxonomy states that icons differ from symbols in that symbols are considered “arbitrary”
“ Any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development”.
“ The subject matter must be made ready for the child”
The instructional challenge is to provide problems that fit the manner of the child’s thinking and temp him/her into more powerful modes of thinking.
The notion of enactive, iconic, and symbolic stages may also be applied to adults learning unfamiliar material
Modes of representation imply the ideal sequence for instruction, but when learners have well-developed symbolic systems, it may not be necessary to go through the entire sequence
The notion of “spiral curriculum” embodies Bruner’s ideas by ‘spiraling” through similar topics at every age
Discovery is not just an instructional tool, but an important learning outcome
Educators should remember that different cultures will exhibit different kinds of reasoning and inference
Special Interests Spiral curriculum – On Knowing 1960, similar to Vygotsky’s “scaffolding theory”. Computational Learning and Culturalism – The Culture of Education 1996, two theories that are important and required for effective learning. Basic Tenets of Psycho-Cultural Educational Approach – The Culture of Education 1996, nine tenets or principles In understanding the learning process.
Spiral Curriculum ”… I was struck by the fact that successful efforts to teach highly structured bodies of knowledge like mathematics, physical sciences, and even the field of history often took the form of metaphoric spiral in which at some simple level a set of ideas or operations were introduced in a rather intuitive way and, once mastered in that spirit, were then revisited and reconstructed in a more formal or operational way, then being connected with other knowledge, the mastery at this stage then being carried one step higher to a new level of formal or operational rigour and to a broader level of abstraction and comprehensiveness. The end stage of this process was eventual mastery of the connexity and structure of a large body of knowledge”…(p.3-4).
The proposal that the mind is both constituted and realized by human culture.
Culturalism The tenets of this theory state that the mind cannot exist save for culture. Development is linked to a way of life that defines reality as represented by symbolism shared by the members of a cultural community in which a technical-social way of life is both organized and constructed in terms of that symbolism.
Computational Thinking and Culturalism Both theories are important and required for effective learning. One must know how information is input and organized. However without the appropriate cultural symbolism, the information is without meaning and is much less likely to be remembered.
Basic Tenets of Psycho-Cultural Educational Approach
In Summary To instruct someone….is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowing is a process not a product. (1966)