A_critical_review_of_elaboration_theory (1).pdf - A Critical Review of Elaboration Theory BrentWilson Peggy Cole In this article the authors examine

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A Critical Review of Elaboration Theory [] Brent Wilson Peggy Cole In this article the authors examine elabora- tion theory (ET), a model for sequencing and organizing courses which was developed by Charles Reigeluth and associates in the late 1970s. The purpose of the article is to offer a critique of ET based on recent cognitive research and to offer suggestions for updating the model to reflect new knowledge. Commentary by Charles Reigeluth follows this article. [] Elaboration theory (ET) is a model for sequencing and organizing courses of instruc- tion. Developed by Charles Reigeluth and asso- ciates in the late 1970s (Reigeluth, Merrill, & Wilson, 1979; Reigeluth, Merrill, Wilson, & Spiller, 1978), ET drew heavily on the cogni- tive research on instruction available at the time, in particular the work of Bruner, Ausu- bel, and Norman (Merrill, Wilson, & Kelety, 1981). Since then, Reigeluth has refined the theory by offering detailed procedures for the planning and design of conceptual (Reigeluth & Darwazeh, 1982), procedural (Reigeluth & Rodgers, 1980), and theoretical instruction (see Reigeluth and Stein, 1983, for an overview and Reigeluth, 1987, for a detailed example). ET has been one of the most well-received the- oretical innovations in instructional design (ID) in the last 15 years and is extensively referred to and used by practitioners and researchers. At the same time, research in cognitive psy- chology has continued to shed light on rele- vant processes of learning and instruction. Just as models of learning change over time, mod- els of instructional design also undergo regular changes (Merrill, Kowallis, & Wilson, 1981; Rickards, 1978). The purpose of this article is to offer a critique of ET based on recent cognitive research and to offer suggestions for updating the model to reflect new knowledge. We believe ID models should undergo such revisions every few years to stay current with the growing knowledge base in learning, instruction, and other areas of research. ETR&D, '4ol. 40, No. 3, pp. 63-79 ISSN 1042-1629 63
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E~&D, Vol. 40, No, 3 ELABORATION THEORY BASICS ET's basic strategies are briefly summarized below. 1. Organizing structure. Determine a single organizing course structure which reflects the course's primary focus. This organizing struc- ture may be one of three types: conceptual, procedural, or theoretical. Reigeluth (1987) ex- plains that "in all the work that has been done on sequendng, elaborations based on concepts, principles, and procedures are the only three we have found, although additional ones may be identified in the future" (p. 249). Reigeluth justifies the use of a single organizing struc- ture by suggesting that "careful analysis has shown that virtually every course holds one of these three to be more important than the other two" (Reigeluth, 1987, p. 248). The other two types of content, plus rote facts, "are only introduced when they are highly relevant to the particular organizing content ideas that are being presented at each point in the course" (Reigeluth & Stein, 1983, p. 344).
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