Conceptual Recapitulation In Skill Development Theory

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Learners come to education with bits of specific former knowledge and skill related to the field at hand. In Norman's (1982) terms, three overlapping stages of learning are then distinguishable: the accretion of new information, and its chunking, elaboration, and connection to existing knowledge; its restructuring, through which new knowledge organizations are formed, usually to replace or reformulate old concepts and relations; and, finally, the tuning or adaptation and practice of knowledge structures in particular uses. In Anderson's (1985) skill development theory, the parallel phases are declarative knowledge acquisition, compilation or proceduralization, and automatization. Achieving the desired end states equips learners to think and…show more content…
The view of learning as restructuring and replacing old beliefs implies that transition involves unlearning as much as it does learning. A further hypothesis suggests that instruction may need to recapitulate transitions in the history of science to help learners transit from their own naive theories. Conceptual recapitulation refers to a means of remediating learning problems by retracing instructionally what should have been naturally occurring developmental stages for an individual (Case, Sandieson, & Dennis, 1986). But it might fit the historical recapitulation hypothesis as well. There also seem to be qualitative shifts in the mental models needed by learners to understand more complex systems, for example, in such domains as electricity (Frederiksen & White, in press). Learning is thus seen as a progression across a range of simpler to more complex mental models of a domain, as well as a progression in conceptual understanding. Learners obviously also come with previously developed abilities and skills that may be capitalized upon as tools for learning in new domains. On the other hand, there may be deficiencies in the tool skills assumed by instruction at a given level. Prerequisite skills of reading and mathematics are obvious examples. The component processes of verbal, symbolic, and spatial…show more content…
Some theories depict how component skills and processes become coordinated and transferred across tasks within domains (Anderson, 1985), but there is much less understanding of the coordination and transfer of skills across domains (Perkins & Salomon, 1989). Equally important are the skills and strategies of selective attention and decontextualization during learning. Sternberg (1985) calls these the knowledge acquisition components of selective encoding, combination, and comparison. But there are many other useful learning strategies (Weinstein, Goetz, & Alexander, 1988). Some involve global planning for learning or studying, some are mnemonic devices, some resemble problem-solving heuristics, some are mapping and structuring tactics that use key words or other cues detected in reading or listening, and some involve the metacognitive processes of comprehension monitoring or hypothesis generating and testing while learning. A particularly important general distinction concerns whether these individual strategies lead to deep (versus surface) approaches to instruction

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