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RESEARCH ON LEARNING AND INSTRUCTION:
Erik DE CORTE
Center for Instructional Psychology and Technology (CIP&T)
Research on learning and instruction has produced a vast body of studies, resulting in an enriched conception of learning as involving the construction of knowledge and problem-solving skills mediated by instruction. As a result of this work there is now a solid, empirically underpinned theoretical framework that can guide the analysis of the effectiveness and the quality of teaching practices, but also the design of new and more powerful learning environments for the acquisistion of worthwhile educational objectives. In this presentation important recent advances and major challenges in this field of research will be discussed and illustrated with examples of empirical research. It will be shown that the investigations have already yielded substantial building blocks for the elaboration of a practically relevant theory of learning to solve problems. But it will also be argued that nevertheless important issues need to be unravelled by continued inquiry. This will be documented using as a frame of reference four interconnected components of a theory of learning from instruction: a theory of expertise, a theory of acquisition, a theory of intervention, and a theory of assessment.A theory of expertise aims at analyzing competence in a domain, and, thus, addresses the question: what has to be learned?
A theory of acquisition attempts to understand the processes of learning conducive to attaining competence; it intends to answer the question: which kind of learning/developmental processes are necessary to attain the educational objectives put forward?
A theory of intervention focusses on designing powerful learning environments for eliciting those acquisition processes; it addresses the question: what are appropriate instructional methods and educational settings to evoke and keep going the required learning and developmental processes?
A theory of assessment aims at developing assessment instruments for monitoring and guiding learning processes: it contributes to answer the question: which forms of assessment instruments are needed to gather diagnostic information that is relevant for instructional decision-making and further learning?