I have been dipping in and out of ‘The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice’ from OECD-CERI over the last couple of months. I would recommend it is as the best summary of what research tells us about learning.
Chapter 2 ‘Historical Developments in the Understanding of Learning’ by Erik de Corte, University of Leuven, is outstanding and should be essential reading for every teacher and for all those concerned with improving learning. Erik de Corte takes us on a short journey through behaviourist models of learning (still the dominant one for most educational technologies), thorough information processing to constructivism arriving at our current understanding – what he calls CSSC learning.
In summary, as understand it, de Corte is arguing that there is now sufficient research evidence to suggest that learning has these characteristics:
- Constructed – we each need to make the learning our own in order to achieve understanding.
- Situated – learning is all the better if it is located in a meaningful context.
- Self-regulated – learning is an active process, it is not something that just happens to us. We each need to engage and deploy strategies that to make sense of our learning and to help us to apply it.
- Collaborative – we are social beings and we learn better with others. All the better in the context where we can draw on the best resources and technologies and are supported in environments designed to facilitate learning
Added to CSSC we also know that learning is:
- Compound – what we have learned before is an important predictor of what we are ready to learn next
- Variable – we all learn in different ways and the more differentiated/personalised/customised the learning the more effective it will be.
The combination of Erik de Corte’s CSSC Learning and Blooms Revised Taxonomy give us a very strong foundation for learning at all levels. CSSC gives us an insight into how learning works. Blooms Revised Taxonomy promotes the importance of moving learners up the cognitive skills hierarchy from remembering, understanding and applying toward the higher order adaptive competences of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and of course at the very top creativity.