Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Taxonomy of Learning Activities

The Virginia Tech Model

The article http://www.edtech.vt.edu/edtech/id/models/index.html details an approach to looking at classifying learning activities based on the degree of social interaction between instructor and student.

The classifications are excellent descriptions of the various types of learning a learner may be directed or participate in.  For the purposes of developing the model the degree of cognitive conflict the student undergoes is considered. 

 Cognitive conflict is used here as a term to define relative demands made on learners to change or reinterpret their pre-held  concepts.  It is a type of conflict centred on completion of task.  In order to change their understanding of concepts and principles students/participants have to be involved in the learning journey.

We often use this term in Science education in the UK.  A classic example might be the difference between mass and weight ie which is heavier, a tonne of feathers or a tonne of lead.  The cognitive conflict is centred around the word heavier.  By activity/experimentation, discussion the learner eventually changes understanding of heavier to more defined concepts of weight and mass.

The types of learning activities used to effect the change will be dependent upon the starting skills and understanding of the student.  How the cognitive conflict is managed to effect the change in understanding by learning relies on selection of appropriate learning activities.

Reworking the model proposed by Virginia Tech the graphic below may be a useful next step to adapting this to the classroom.

  This graphic is my personal interpretation of the Virginia Tech Model.  The labels to the right are the taxonomy from the Virginia Tech model that can viewed vis the link in the first paragraph.

Please comment on the graphic if you feel so inclined.

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