Thursday, October 28, 2010

Situated cognition and the culture of learning; cognitive apprenticeship

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18, 32-41.

Key ideas:

1. The activity in which knowledge is developed and deployed is not separable from or ancillary to learning and cognition. Nor is it neutral. Rather, it is an integral part of what is learned. Situations might be said to co-produce knowledge through activity. Learning and cognition are fundamentally situated. (p32)

2. Concepts are like tools. Like physical tools, it is quite possible to acquire a conceptual tool but to be unable to use it. (p33)

3. People who use physical tools actively rather than just acquire them, by contrast, build an increasingly rich implicit understanding of the world in which they use the tools and of the tools themselves. (p33)

4. Learning how to use a tool involves far more than can be accounted for in any set of explicit rules. The occasions and conditions for use arise directly out of the context of activities of each community that uses the tool, framed by the way members of that community see the world. The community and its viewpoint, quite as much as the tool itself, determine how a tool is used. Thus, carpenters and cabinet makers use chisels differently. (p34)

5. Activity, concept, and culture are interdependent. No one can be totally understood without the other two. Learning must involve all three. p33

6. Students are too often asked to use the tools of a discipline without being able to adopt its culture. [i.e., acquire conceptual tools but not use them in authentic ways] p.33

7. The ways schools use dictionaries, or math formulae, or historical analysis are very different from the ways practitioners use them (Schoenfeld, in press). Thus, students may pass exams-(a distinctive part of school cultures) but still not be able to use a domain's conceptual tools in authentic practice. p34

8. Authentic activities are defined simply as the ordinary practices of the culture. p35

Examples of authentic activity (p35)
a. Weight-watchers: take 3/4 of 2/3 cup of cottage cheese. Mathematically 3/4 of 2/3 cup is 1/2 cup (.75 x .6666 = .500). But the dieter solved this problem by measuring out 2/3 cup of cottage cheese, dividing the portion into 4 parts, and removing one part.

9. Authentic activity is important for learners, because it is the only way they gain access to the standpoint that enables practitioners to act meaningfully and purposefully. It is activity that shapes or hones their tools. p36

10. Most school experiences encourage students to learn about a subject rather than learn a subject with understanding (surface learning vs. deep understanding, low meaning vs. high meaning)
Example of teaching multiplication using authentic activity approach: Lampert (1986) p38
+ First phase of teaching starts with simple coin problems, such as "using only nickels and pennies, make 82 cents." With such problems, Lampert helps her students explore their implicit knowledge.
+ Second phase of instruction:  the students create stories for multiplication problems.  They perform a series of decompositions and discover that there is no one, magically "right" decomposition decreed by authority, just more and less useful decompositions whose use is judged in the context of the problem to be solved and the interests of the problem solvers.
+ Third phase of instruction: gradually introduces students to the standard algorithm, now that such an algorithm has a meaning and a purpose in their community. The students' procedure parallels the story problems they had created. Eventually they find ways to shorten the process, and they usually arrive at the standard algorithm, justifying their findings with the stories they created earlier.

11. characteristic of cognitive apprenticeship approach to teaching: p38
+ beginning with a task embedded in a familiar activity
+ stress that multiple solutions are possible
+ allowing students to generate their own solution paths
+ by enculturating through activity, learners acquire some of the culture's tools-a shared vocabulary and the means to discuss, reflect upon, evaluate, and validate community procedures in a collaborative process.

12.  Craft apprenticeship enables apprentices to acquire and develop the tools and skills of their craft through authentic work at and membership in their trade. Through this process, apprentices enter the culture of practice. [this might be a better way to train teachers than traditional teacher prep programs] p.39

13. In this model, the relationship of the teacher to the student is one of master to apprentice [does this requires the avg. K-12 teacher to "know" a lot more and/or be better trained than most K-12 teachers to teach this way] p.40

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting material you've been exploring! it seems to apply to learning at any age.