Daily Bookmarks 12/15/2007

D-Ed Reckoning: Downes on Kirschner

Lengthy response to Downes’ presentation summarizing criticisms of the Kirschner et al paper on “minimally guided instruction.” There’s some inaccuracies in this response, which Downes addresses in his comment. The author doesn’t see that instructivist and constructivist teaching methods really differ from each other.

D-Ed Reckoning: Downes responds Annotated

Stephen Downes responds to a long review of his presentation criticizing Kirschner et al. This addresses some of the inaccuracies in the review and delves deeper into what a networked theory of learning really means.

Kirshner argues, very clearly, that non-instructivist methods result in no better learning than direct instruction, and sometimes in *less* learning, because of the ‘cognitive overhead’ required in self-directed methodologies.Kirshner’s argument on this point is not based on experimental data, but rather, on his theory of cognition. Specifically, he argues that short-term memory has a limited capacity, and that if some of this capacity is not available for new facts (because it is taken up ‘selecting scientific principles’) then the transfer of information to the student is reduced.

I respond to this argument by showing how Kirshner’s theory is false. We do not ‘retrieve theories’ into short term memory and then ‘select’ from them. That is not how thinking works; that is not ow scientific thinking works. And therefore, Kirshner’s argument, on these grounds, against student-directed learning, fails.

The best mechanism for demonstrating knowledge is not likely the production of a certain set of facts on demand. Expertise in a discipline on the part of a student is something that is typically *recognized*, not measured, by people who are already experts in the field.


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