Fifty and counting….

Over FIFTY psychological explanations of learning – all in one place…..

I wonder if some kind of advanced form of theoretical systematic review could iron out all of the inevitable overlaps and maybe shake it all down to a manageable three or four key factors? – I wonder what they’d be? Would the ‘key’ theorists everybody has heard of play the biggest role? Or would some obscure approach that seldom emerges in lectures outside of a PhD course prove to have the most robust supporting evidence? – I often feel a lot of the classics we teach, in every field of psychology, can carry a weight or ‘historical resonance’ far beyond the quality of the actual research results….

My money would be on Vygotsky – not for any reason other than it feels right to me (You might get a mark for this very feeling in an exam if you call it ‘intuitive appeal’). For example, I like his idea of ‘scaffolding’ :

Instructional scaffolding is the provision of sufficient supports to promote learning when concepts and skills are being first introduced to students. These supports may include:

These supports are gradually removed as students develop autonomous learning strategies, thus promoting their own cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning skills and knowledge. Teachers help the students master a task or a concept by providing support. The support can take many forms such as outlines, recommended documents, storyboards, or key questions.

(wikipedia link)

  • building a tower of knowledge together with a nudge and a prod – shoring up this bit, talking up that bit onto a firmer footing. It’s a pleasingly rugged, masculine model of teaching- Like the guys who scaffolded our place: Roll up in a van whistling a cheery tune, throw up a rough structure for students to build their knowledge skywards, knock off mid-afternoon, never come back to take it down again….