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Unformatted text preview: Distributed cognition. Distributed cognition is the idea that “people
appear to think in conjunction or partnership with others and with the help of
culturally provided tools and implements” (Salomon, 1993, p. xiii). Knowledge
and the tools for processing that knowledge are located both within the mind of
the learner and within the social-historical environment of the learner (Cole &
Engeström, 1993). For example, as a cultural tool, the computer allows the learner
to engage in problem-solving activities that would be nearly impossible without
the support of the computer. The computer in this case becomes a tool for
distributing cognition (Perkins, 1993).
The distributed cognition perspective is that the collective knowledge of a
society cannot be completely understood by one individual, but is distributed
among the individuals in a society. The same may be said of classrooms where
students and teachers may possess different parts of the distributed knowledge in
that environment. From a distributed cognition perspective, therefore, the goal is
to create communities of practice where students and teachers can interact 50 actively with each and with the available cultural tools. Note the following
example from Joanne Lawson’s sixth grade classroom.
⇒ “Students in my classroom have developed expertise with different
available computer programs. They then serve as teachers and resources for other students. They will eventually learn something
about every program, but they will be class experts on at least one.”
According to Simons (1993) constructive learning is self-regulated
learning. Constructivist learning environments engage students in experiences that
teach them how to set goals, reflect on their own learning and that help them
become independent problem solvers. Teachers might implement this suggestion
by allowing students to have a voice in selecting their learning goals, how they
will meet those goals, and how their progress will be evaluated. Mr. Peterson tries
to encourage self-regulated learning in the following manner.
⇒ Students often come to me unprepared to be researchers. I try
to spent time at the beginning of the year helping them learn
basic research strategies like differentiating fact from opinion,
etc. I want them to be able to apply these skills to guide their
own research later.”
Cognitive Developmental/Constructivist Learning Principles 51 The major ideas that have been discussed in this chapter can be
summarized in terms of three general learning principles. These principles are
discussed below, and they will serve as organizers in later chapters for our
discussions of constructivist approaches to teaching, instructional design, and
Principle 5.1: Learning is More Powerful if Learners Actively Construct
Their Own Understandings.
Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and the constructivists believe that learners
develop a more meaningful understanding if they are active participants i...
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- Spring '08