Situated Learning: Reconciling Culture and Cognition
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The last five years have seen a wide interest develop in situated learning. This is learning that is situated in social circumstances which are authentic, in terms of the application of that knowledge. The current interest is partially attributable to Collins, Brown and Newman (1989) and Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989), whose work calls for a greater consideration of the contributions from sociology and anthropology to the understanding of how individuals think and act. As a consequence, the contributions of researchers such as Lave, Rogoff and Scribner, from the socio-cultural orientation of learning theory are now widely acknowledged. Despite this interest, and accumulating work by researchers, there remains an incomplete understanding of the consequences of situated learning. For example, what forms of knowledge and cognitive activities are privileged through this mode of learning? And what aren't? Prawat (1993) claims that situated learning privileges the development of procedural knowledge over that of propositional or conceptual knowledge. Recent empirical work (Billett, 1992; 1993a, 1993b 1994), which investigated the situated learning of vocational skills in the workplace, although providing evidence of the efficacy of this mode of learning, failed to provide a comprehensive account of the consequences of this mode of learning. In two of the studies (Billett, 1993a & 1994) concerns about the development of propositional knowledge were reported. In an attempt to develop further understanding about the consequences of this mode of learning it is necessary to return to the literature in order to predict what are likely outcomes in terms of the acquisition of knowledge types and their deployment. In doing so this paper seeks some reconciliation between two bodies of literature which represent distinctive views about thinking and acting. Cognitive psychology, with its focus on expertise being realised through the application of cognitive structures, higher orders of procedures and the organisation of knowledge, presents a view of thinking and acting which emphasises the internal processes of the mind. Conversely, the socio-cultural literature presents a view which accentuates the social and cultural genesis and transmission of knowledge. This paper attempts two key goals by advancing a reconciliation between these literatures. First, it seeks points of commonality and complementarity between the cognitive and socio-cultural literatures in order to contribute to understanding further how thinking and acting is influenced by social circumstances. The second goal is to utilise this review of literature to advance an understanding about the consequences of situated learning. In attempting this goal, a framework influenced by Vygotskian perspectives, is used to reconcile the contributions from both literatures. The paper concludes by advocating a greater reconciliation between these two views of thinking and acting in order to advance the understanding of everyday and/or complex human performance.
Reforming Post Compulsory Education and Training : reconciliation and reconstruction : conference proceedings
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MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES