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CEN launch, Andrew Tolmie


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CEN launch, Andrew Tolmie

  1. 1. Conceptions of learning within psychology of education: frameworks and issues Andy Tolmie Dept of Psychology and Human Development Institute of Education University of London Contact details 25 Woburn Square London WC1H 0AA Tel +44 (0)20 7612 6888 Fax +44 (0)20 7612 6304 Email
  2. 2. Overview of presentation <ul><ul><li>What might educational neuroscience be aiming to achieve? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What needs to be integrated? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers’ conceptions of learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptions of learning among developmentalists working in education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some key issues where computational modelling/neuroscience might augment our understanding </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  3. 3. Neuroscience and reduction <ul><ul><li>What is the relationship between neuroscience and educational research? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Common assumption of reduction, raising version of classic mind-body problem and critiques of ‘brainism’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varma, McCandliss & Schwartz (2008), Bakhurst (2008) – is it meaningful/ helpful to reduce accounts of educational/psychological events to neural level? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varma et al. – reductionism is unproblematic provided not eliminative (i.e. doesn’t replace higher level description) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But is reductionism even the goal? Focus on learning suggests an alternative conception </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  4. 4. Learners as multi-level systems <ul><ul><li>Nature of learning processes, optimal coordination of these with teaching, are central concerns for educational research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diversity of theorising about learning underscores complexity involved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Influence of work that attempts to integrate cognitive/social dimensions (e.g. Cole & Engestrom’s sociocultural perspective, research on dialogue and learning, EPPE/EPPSE project), addressing aspects of this complexity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full account of complexity of learning also needs to consider how brain function shapes – and may be shaped by – learning in typical and atypical contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emerging framework is system that operates at neural, cognitive and social levels, with extensive interactions between these </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  5. 5. Aims of educational neuroscience <ul><ul><li>Implied objective is to map this system, understand nature of interactions between levels – which is not a reductionist enterprise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To do this, need to build bridges between </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- descriptions/explanations at different levels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- methodologies that generate data relating to these </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- perceptions of phenomena/issues that merit investigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bruer (1997) – a bridge too far? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varma (2008) – need for multiple bridges </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  6. 6. Role of developmental psychology <ul><ul><li>Implication: need to use variety of methods to address defined sets of strategically selected issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developmental psychology as (necessary) common orienting framework: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- concern with models of cognition/neural function in educationally salient populations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- history of application to educational issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- widely shared knowledge of range of relevant theories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- acceptance of diverse methodologies, including those usable in RWEs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- explicit inclusion in theorising of social as well cognitive/neural processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- if any psychological framework is understood by teachers, it is this one </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  7. 7. Teachers’ conceptions of learning <ul><ul><li>Gradual decline in psychological input to teacher training, though offset by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- psychology graduates going into primary teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- uptake of post-training qualifications in psychology (of education) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptions of learning informed by some basic frameworks, overlaid with much experientially-derived insight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Piaget, especially stage theory, concepts of construction, disequilibration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Vygotsky, especially ZPD, notion of intermental to intramental shift </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- knowledge taxonomies/curricular organisation between/within disciplines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- issues of extension/generalisation, skill/concept/knowledge relations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- formalised knowledge of some types of learning difficulty (dyslexia etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- recognition of the complex role of classroom processes </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  8. 8. Frameworks in psychology of education <ul><ul><li>Conceptions of learning within psychology of education can be seen as elaborations of same concerns, reflecting continuity with teacher experience (both training and teaching) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Despite specific concerns with educational issues, basic orientation is that of developmental psychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, well-positioned to serve as one kind of bridge from research into practice (though scale of task should not be underestimated) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key advantage is that much current research is already concerned with interactions between levels of the ‘learner system’ – at least implicitly </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  9. 9. Piaget’s genetic epistemology + <ul><ul><li>Origin/organisation of knowledge remains central concern, following work of Piaget & Inhelder, though notion of stages/global structures now discredited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key research themes include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- relationships between procedural and conceptual knowledge (Karmiloff- Smith’s RR model, Siegler’s overlapping waves model) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- nature of representations and representational organisation, role of language (RR model, Siegler’s rule-based schemes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- triggers for conceptual/representational change (RR model/stability vs overlapping waves/instability vs Howe on priming effects of conflict) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing interest in relation between cognitive/computational/neural levels </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  10. 10. Vygotsky’s social constructivism + <ul><ul><li>Issue of enculturation also remains key concern, though concept of ZPD has been widened, role of mediation by signs/tools has become less focal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key research themes include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- relationships between social practice and apprenticeship/situated learning in and out of clasrooms (Rogoff, Lave, Resnick) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- nature of/constraints on scaffolding and co-construction, especially in classroom context (Wood, Cole & Engestrom, Mercer, Webb) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- role of guided action and dialogue, especially explicit explanation, in representational change at different levels (Howe, Wegerif, Tolmie) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasingly explicit concern with relation between social/cognitive levels </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  11. 11. Domain specificity <ul><ul><li>Idea of knowledge domains (circumscribed areas of conceptual/procedural understanding) widely accepted, if not precise division and origin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key issues here include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- potential influences of modular/evolutionary vs ontological processes, development vs learning (Tomasello, Spelke, Carey) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- relationships/tensions between domains/natural conceptions and discipline-based knowledge (Vosniadou, Hatano) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Considerable work on area-specific processes of development/learning: reading, number/maths, science (biology, physics, psychology) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varying degrees of explicit linkage between social/cognitive/neural levels </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  12. 12. Domain-general processes <ul><ul><li>Contemporary theorising points to diverse range of processes that appear to impact on learning in relatively consistent fashion across domains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key strands of investigation include </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- attention, executive control and working memory (Gathercole) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- dialogue and representational change (cf. earlier points) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- metacognition and self-regulated learning (Pintrich, Boekaerts) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- motivation, self-determination and self-concept (Deci, Dweck, Marsh) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Variety of explicit linkages between neural/cognitive/social levels – though connection between strands limited as yet </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  13. 13. Potentially strategic research issues <ul><ul><li>Effects of early exposure to print/reading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- evidence of general relation between exposure and literacy (e.g. EPPE) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- poor language comprehenders show problems learning to read exception words (Ricketts), WM deficits, SES gradient </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- evidence on trainability of WM in children with ADHD (Gathercole) – route for exposure effect? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extension and generalisation in curricular contexts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- gap between work on prototype extraction and analogical reasoning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- possible applicability of RR model (Tolmie & Tenenbaum), but why the differences between low-level abstraction/high-level connection? </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08
  14. 14. Potentially strategic research issues <ul><ul><li>Relative efficacy of different triggers for representational growth/change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- consistent evidence of impact of dialogue on conceptual change (Howe, Mercer) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- effect of dialogue content more pronounced when initial representation is more elaborated (Philips & Tolmie) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- why is dialogue apparently (differentially) privileged over experience? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- possible clue in work on shared activation in joint tasks (Sebanc)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>List subject to individual preference/interest, but NB attempt here to identify issues of mainstream educational concern: work on atypically developing children important, but crucial to broaden application of multi-level analysis </li></ul></ul>CEN Workshop 29.10.08