Re: Self-Determination theory versus SCT and AT

From: Jim Rogers (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2005 - 10:34:28 PST


no worries- I just apologized to lara myself for being so slow on the
response (this is just part of the mysteriousness of the WWW- you never
know where people 'disappear' to). it seems like everyone is busy right
now. I would love to read your paper once you have it finished.


George wrote:

> Dear Jim,
> thank you very much for your posting and please accept my apologies
> for this late writing. As you may know, I am working on a paper which
> keeps me quite busy because the deadline is approaching rapidly ....
> Hm, once roughly finished, would you like to have a look at it?
> Well, I hope not to distract away from the discussion paper but
> somehow, what we have been talking about, does not seem to be that far
> off the topic either, hopefully.
> On Feb 8, 2005, at 2:42 AM, Jim Rogers wrote:
>> 1. It might help to clarify what your specific E-learning situation
>> is. You mentioned computers being unable to make decisions which
>> might indicate you are working with AI, one of the articles you cited
>> referred to Learning objects. These would be very different
>> situations (I just wrote 'contexts' but deleted it after my e-mail to
>> Lara) than the one I am working in which is based on asynchronous
>> discussions. It would certainly be easier for me to discern some of
>> the key issues you are wrestling with if you could provide some
>> specifics
> Yes, thank you, please let me give you a brief background information
> about my struggle(s):
> On the basis of learning technology systems, we can classify two
> categories i.e., descriptive educational systems and prescriptive
> educational systems.
> Descriptive educational systems are under the umbrella of natural
> science. Natural science is descriptive and ignores the normative
> aspects: Natural science has found a way to exclude the normative and
> to concern itself solely with how things are … Artificial things can
> be characterized in terms of functions, goals and adaptation [1].
> Descriptive research is a knowledge-producing activity corresponding
> to natural or behavioural science [2]. Descriptive educational
> technology systems e.g., LMS, e-learning object repositories are much
> concerned with the normative nature of learning resources in the sense
> of data stores to delivery of knowledge.
> Prescriptive educational systems are concerned with how things ought
> to be - how they ought to be in order to attain goals, and to function
> … With goals and "oughts" we also introduce into the picture the
> dichotomy between normative and descriptive [1].
> "Design is the central issue when dealing with artifacts, or objects
> created by people, as opposed to those occurring naturally. Design is
> critical, no matter what is done with the artifact. Specifying an
> artifact means you are shaping the design to meet its requirements. If
> you build or implement an artifact, the design is your guide. If you
> modify an artifact, you must deal with its design at many levels…
> Science … refers to a body of knowledge that is intellectually
> rigorous, analytical, formalized where appropriate, based on empirical
> studies where possible, and, above all, teachable to future
> generations of scientists" ([3], p. 20). We may probably say that ITS
> and AHS are examples of prescriptive educational systems.
> Hence, these two types of systems illustrate an interesting
> contradiction. In fact, I would be very interested to know also if any
> research in AT has been done with this regard i.e., the discrepancy
> between knowledge-using and knowledge-producing activity of learning
> technology systems? Research is much needed with this respect, I
> believe because on one hand, everybody would like to deal with those
> e-Learning objects (accessible, reusable, interoperable, and durable).
> With this respect, I believe that we need to identify the didactical,
> semantic, heuristic, conceptual, strategic, algorithmic,
> computational, and logical activity in the e-Learning object paradigm
> (as occurring in LMS and e-Learning objects repositories).
> On the other hand, we would like learning technology systems to ensure
> that learning processes and outcomes are shaped by previously acquired
> scientific concepts and learning means (e.g., actions, strategies, and
> tools) while the teaching activity must provide a learner with the
> opportunity to incorporate the material to be learnt into existing
> knowledge and skill systems [4]. However, what would be the concise
> activities to be researched/identified/defined? I tend to think that
> they should be learning tasks, actions, goals, motives, feedback,
> self-control, algorithm, heuristic, and strategies [5]. However, what
> does each one mean and how can be resolved? Because there is not only
> one teaching theory. Yet, do generic activities exist that we may know
> of? Probably not, but if not, then, we will always remain stuck on the
> ITS and AHS path (well, that's probably another issue which I do not
> want to look into).
> Now, I would like to return the discourse to AT and SSTA, respectively
> the subject-subject-object triangle, subject- and object-oriented
> approach:
> Is a learning technology system an internal tool, external tool, or an
> object?
> Can we consider a prescriptive system an internal tool or an object?
> (-> internalisation)
> Can we consider a descriptive system an external tool?
> References:
> [1] H. A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, MIT Press, Cambridge,
> 1996.
> [2] C. G. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Science, Prentice Hall,
> Englewood Cliffs, 1966.
> [3] P. Freeman and D. Hart, "A Science of Design for
> Software-Intensive Systems", Communications of the ACM, 47 (2004) 8,
> pp. 19-21.
> [4] H. Giest and J. Lompscher, "Formation of Learning Activity and
> Theoretical Thinking in Science Teaching", in Vyogotsky's Educational
> Theory in Cultural Context, Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive, and
> Computational Perspectives, A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. Ageyev, and S.
> M. Miller (Eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp.
> 267-288.
> [5] G. Bedny and D. Meister, The Russian Theory of Activity: Current
> Applications to Design and Learning, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, 1997.
> Best regards and looking forward to hearing from you,
> George
> (Hansjoerg von Brevern)
> -------------------------------------
> Research in e-Learning Objects, e-Learning meta data standards,
> didactical activity, Systemic-Structural Activity Theory, and
> Socio-cultural Theory


Jim Rogers Associate Professor Utah State University Logan, UT. 84322-0715 t: 435.797.3910 f: 435.797.4050

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