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Re: [xmca] Constructionism/Constructivism

Sounds right to me, Jerry. When properly implemented, Papert's approach has
a lot of attractive features from a cultural-mediational, activity-oriented
approach to development.

That was a big conditional WHEN back there. Too many copy cats with only the
cat's whiskers.

On Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 7:57 AM, Jerry Balzano <gjbalzano@ucsd.edu> wrote:

> Michael,
> I wouldn't call Papert's Constructionism "computer science heavy".  I think
> the most important thing about it, in these days where folks in cognitive
> science are debating "externalist" and "internalist" views of cognition, is
> that Constructionism is explicitly externalist and social, where
> Constructivism is internalist and "schematic".  Constructionism emphasizes
> the value of building interesting artifacts in the world that can be shared
> and discussed with other learners; Constructivism emphasizes the value of
> building schemata one's own head.  As for the computer, it is simply a
> vehicle.  Who among us doesn't use a computer for at least some part of most
> of the things we create?  And Papert's mantra is, why should it be any
> different for kids?  So computers are simply awfully good tools for creating
> interesting, shareable artifacts.  But the focus is on the artifacts, e.g.
> programs to teach fractions to elementary school students (Harel & Papert,
> 1991, to my mind the "landmark" study in this area), and not at all on the
> computer science.  In fact, the hope is that, as kids (and their teachers?)
> become more and more comfortable and "literate" with these tools, the
> "technique", like the technique of penmanship, of reading, etc., fades
> appropriately into the background.
> Jerry
> On Sep 18, 2009, at 6:23 AM, michael a evans wrote:
>  David,
>> I agree wholeheartedly with your point below - again, that's why I've
>> found it necessary to bring Vygotsky to the forefront  in my
>> course...currently, it appears that learning scientists either refer
>> to a "situativity" or "constructionist" position when they talk about
>> research goals - I've mentioned that I'm not quite clear what is meant
>> by "situativity" and the "constructionist" movement took off with
>> Papert and his interpretation of Piaget being too individual-
>> centered...I kind of like the "constructionist" position, but can't
>> find any theoretical ground for their work - it is, indeed, very
>> applied and computer science heavy...
>> I obviously picked the *wrong* time to think about reducing my
>> contributions to the list - I'll continue to lurk but do need to
>> discipline my focus ;^)...
>> Again, thanks for the great discussion!
>> Michael~
>> On Sep 18, 2009, at 9:14 AM, David H Kirshner wrote:
>>  Michael,
>>> Sorry to be losing your voice, but the tenure packet demands cannot be
>>> ignored--good luck.
>>> The methodological stricture you noted in connection with design-based
>>> research is laudable: "theory must be tested in real-world (mainly in-
>>> and out-of-school) environments." But it is the goals of the research
>>> that need attention with respect to those of sociocultural theory.
>>> Theory is instrumental in design science. The interests are centered
>>> on
>>> creating and understanding effective learning environments, not
>>> organizing an extendable coherent theoretical approach. Here's the
>>> opening paragraph of a section titled "A Design Science" from Keith's
>>> introduction to the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences:
>>> "As scientists who are focused on creating effective learning
>>> environments, learning scientists ask questions like: How can we
>>> measure
>>> learning? How can we determine which learning environments work best?
>>> How can we analyze a learning environment, identify the innovations
>>> that
>>> work well, and separate out those features that need additional
>>> improvement? In other words, how can we marshal all of our scientific
>>> knowledge to design the most effective learning environments? These
>>> questions are fundamental to scientific research in education." (p.
>>> 13)
>>> David
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
>>> On Behalf Of michael a evans
>>> Sent: Friday, September 18, 2009 7:13 AM
>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>>> Subject: Re: [xmca] From Keith Sawyer on learning sciences
>>> I think David (and Tony) have raised some wonderful questions about
>>> the learning sciences and have called out inconsistencies that demand
>>> further investigation - as I believe I've hinted, I'm going to
>>> identify a couple of these as I work through my course this
>>> fall...nevertheless, I thought Keith's contribution was accurate as
>>> far as I understand the history and position of this new domain...
>>> A methodological principle, based on a technique that is referred to
>>> as "design-based research," that I resonate with in the learning
>>> science literature is that theory must be tested in real-world (mainly
>>> in- and out-of-school) environments - as I tell my students, no "arm
>>> chair, purely descriptive" theory is allowed...I take that a bit to
>>> the extreme for demonstrative purposes, but want to convey the idea
>>> that the learning sciences are pragmatic (and so some might label it
>>> "applied)...
>>> I'm going to caution again that neither How People Learn nor a Google
>>> search result can fully capture the principles of the learning
>>> sciences - I highly recommend a close read of Sawyer's chapter
>>> forwarded by me via Tony...
>>> One last thing: I'm going to have to reduce my contribution to the
>>> list as I prepare my dossier for promotion and tenure - it's been a
>>> difficult choice, but absolutely necessary...
>>> If anyone would like to take up my offer for a symposium on this topic
>>> at ICLS 2010, please drop a line off list...
>>> Cheers,
>>> Michael~
>>> On Sep 18, 2009, at 7:02 AM, David H Kirshner wrote:
>>>  Mike,
>>>> Thanks for bringing in Keith's authoritative voice.
>>>> I think there is a natural way in which socioculturalists are in
>>>> sympathy with learning sciences goals. Both are interested in dealing
>>>> with learning in a full-bodied way that honors the complexity of the
>>>> full human being. And I suppose it is a kind of good news that
>>>> Vygotskyan scholarship is considered fundamental to the LS effort.
>>>> But
>>>> the differences of purpose may be more significant than the
>>>> commonalities. Learning scientists are interested in managing
>>>> theoretical heterogeneity. As you pointed out earlier, the
>>>> methodological co-development of "design experimentation" is an
>>>> important window into the learning sciences. Missing from LS is the
>>>> central effort toward theoretical synthesis that characterizes
>>>> sociocultural psychology.
>>>> This raises broader questions about the status of these enterprises
>>>> as
>>>> socio-historical movements. The sociocultural movement, broadly
>>>> considered, is a scientific search for explanation--well, perhaps we
>>>> aren't quite deeply enough determined by data to be a science--
>>>> maybe a
>>>> blend of science and philosophy. The status of LS is more ambiguous.
>>>> Perhaps "applied science" would be the correct rubric. Perhaps a
>>>> postmodern variant of science. Or perhaps an (unwitting?) hegemonic
>>>> extension of cognitive psychology.
>>>> It really is unclear the extent to which the computational metaphor
>>>> remains central to LS, particularly when the status of the
>>>> enterprise is
>>>> unclear--perhaps ambiguous. In Keith's construal, computation is just
>>>> one of the orienting theoretical tools. But as Martin noted a couple
>>>> of
>>>> days ago:
>>>> "further Googling discloses 'three principles [of the New Science of
>>>> Learning] to guide the study of human learning across a range of
>>>> areas
>>>> and ages: learning is computational- ...; learning is social-...; and
>>>> learning is supported by brain circuits linking perception and
>>>> action.'
>>>> I suppose two out of three aint bad, but the fact that the first is
>>>> first speaks volumes."
>>>> David Kirshner
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-
>>>> bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
>>>> On Behalf Of mike cole
>>>> Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 4:03 PM
>>>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
>>>> Subject: [xmca] From Keith Sawyer on learning sciences
>>>> Keith is not currently subscribed to xmca. Here is his response to
>>>> some
>>>> of
>>>> the recent posts. I will collate relevant replies and send along to
>>>> him
>>>> as
>>>> seems useful.
>>>> mike
>>>> I read through the thread.  But rather than subscribe (I have been
>>>> subscribed before and I can't afford to have that many messages in my
>>>> inbox)
>>>> I will send you this note which you have my permission to post on my
>>>> behalf.
>>>> If in a week or two you think I need to return to the thread again,
>>>> please
>>>> email and let me know.
>>>> <Beginning of quotation for you to post>
>>>> The most comprehensive view of the interdisciplinary field of the
>>>> learning
>>>> sciences is the 2006 handbook that I edited, THE CAMBRIDGE HANDBOOK
>>>> OF
>>>> THE
>>>> LEARNING SCIENCES.  This follows on and is compatible with the 2001
>>>> HOW
>>>> PEOPLE LEARN book, but that earlier book is more directed towards
>>>> education
>>>> practitioners and policy makers.  My introduction chapter to the
>>>> handbook,
>>>> based on interviews with several founding figures of the learning
>>>> sciences,
>>>> answers a lot of the questions that have appeared in this thread.
>>>> Here
>>>> are
>>>> my answers to some of the thread questions:
>>>> 1. In the early 1990s, the learning sciences emerged from several
>>>> historical
>>>> trends:
>>>> (a) the Artificial Intelligence and Education conferences that were
>>>> taking
>>>> place through the 1980s.  These were very much production systems in
>>>> the
>>>> Anderson mold.  Those who became learning scientists rejected the AI
>>>> and
>>>> Education approach for the most part, so the concern with production
>>>> systems
>>>> in some XMCA thread postings is misplaced.  The AI and Education
>>>> conferences
>>>> continue to take place today but there is basically no interchange
>>>> with
>>>> the
>>>> learning sciences.
>>>> (b) cognitive developmental research (conceptual change,
>>>> continuations
>>>> of
>>>> Piagetian studies of developmental stages of various cognitive
>>>> abilities;
>>>> think Lauren Resnick, Andy DiSessa)
>>>> (c) the broad 1980s shift in the cognitive sciences from a narrow
>>>> mentalist
>>>> focus on cognition, to a more situated/distributed notion of
>>>> cognition.
>>>> Vygotsky was only one of many influences in this movement, which was
>>>> part
>>>> of the 1980s zeitgeist in AI and in cognitive science; that may be
>>>> why
>>>> you
>>>> don't see more explicit citation to Vygotsky in the Handbook.  (I
>>>> chose
>>>> not
>>>> to have a series of "theoretical foundations" chapters in the
>>>> handbook;
>>>> if I
>>>> had, Vygotsky would have been one of them.)  So situativity has been
>>>> built
>>>> into the learning sciences from its very beginning almost 20 years
>>>> ago.
>>>> 2. It's a complicated question to ask, what distinguishes the
>>>> learning
>>>> sciences from educational psychology more generally (or, from
>>>> cognitive
>>>> development, or from instructional design, or from constructivism in
>>>> IT,
>>>> or
>>>> from situated cognition, or from human-computer interaction, or from
>>>> serious
>>>> games research, or from science education research, or from math
>>>> education
>>>> research).  Learning sciences has links to all of these.  So what
>>>> unifies it
>>>> as a distinct perspective warranting its own name? That's not a
>>>> simple
>>>> answer, but my handbook introduction attempts to answer this
>>>> question by
>>>> summarizing the epistemology that is generally shared by those who
>>>> call
>>>> themselves learning scientists.  If I try to elaborate that here my
>>>> posting
>>>> will get too long.
>>>> 3. LS is absolutely not the same thing as neuroeducation.  Most
>>>> learning
>>>> scientists do not neuroimaging, and most of us are quite skeptical of
>>>> the
>>>> present capabilities of cognitive neuroscience to impact educational
>>>> practice.  (See John Bruer's "A bridge too far" ER article.)
>>>> However,
>>>> we
>>>> are receptive to benefiting from neuroscience, once the methodologies
>>>> become
>>>> more advanced...perhaps unlike some LCHC-ers whom I suspect in
>>>> principle
>>>> are
>>>> opposed to neuroscience and education.  The NSF news story about
>>>> Meltzoff
>>>> that started off this thread may have given some of you an
>>>> unfortunate
>>>> misimpression of the field.  Meltzoff is one of the co-PIs of the NSF
>>>> science of learning center along with John Bransford and Roy Pea
>>>> (Stanford)
>>>> and several others, and none of the other PIs are doing neuroscience.
>>>> The
>>>> reason why the story refers to the "science of learning" rather than
>>>> the
>>>> "learning sciences" is because the NSF grant program had that name.
>>>> And yes, I am the same Keith Sawyer that does research on creativity
>>>> and
>>>> collaboration.  My own chapter in the handbook (other than the
>>>> introduction
>>>> and conclusion) is titled "Analyzing collaborative discourse."
>>>> mike coole wrote:
>>>>  Keith-- A discussion of learning sciences, its history and its
>>>> functions,
>>>>> has erupted
>>>>> on xmca. You are right there in the middle. It would be great if you
>>>> could
>>>>> find time to
>>>>> help in the discussion and educational process.
>>>>> mike
>>>> --
>>>> R. Keith Sawyer
>>>> Associate Professor
>>>> Washington University
>>>> Department of Education
>>>> Campus Box 1183
>>>> St. Louis, MO  63130
>>>> www.keithsawyer.com
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