After completing this unit you should be able to:
- explain the difference between an archetype, a paradigm and a model;
- discuss the key characteristics of Davies’ three educational technologies;
- discuss the key principles of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism;
- explain the key differences between behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism;
- discuss the difference between the objectivist and the subjectivist epistemologies;
- discuss the implications of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism on instructional design and development;
- explain the five perspectives on teaching; and
- appreciate the value of different approaches to teaching and learning.
1. Archetypes and Paradigms
Davies, I.K. (1978). Eucational Technology: Archetypes, Paradigms and Models. In J.H. Hartley & I.K. Davies (Eds.), Contributions to an Educational Technology, Volume 2. (pp. 9-24). New York: Kogan Page.
Questions for Reflection:
What is the difference between an archetype a paradigm and a model?
- “the viewpoint or perpective used by someone engaged in an act of inquiry” (16)
- appears to be consistent with what some would call a “worldview”
- in education, an archetype serves as a common set of beliefs and assumptions the community operates under.
- a theory with legs.
- includes definitions, statements and interrelationships between them
- often qualitative
- mind-map type models may be used to help explain the relationships
- limited in scope
- new and appealing enough to attract adherents from other paradigms
- open-ended enough to be applied to a variety of problems, which thereby allow for refinement of the paradigm
- is created to be disproven with the purpose of finding a more accurate paradigm
- technically paradigms
- more quantitative in dimension
- used to determine effect on larger population in simulation with real individuals is considered largely unethical.
- seek to represent reality accurately
- is created to be used to solve a problem
- usually specific to a particular phenomenon
- different models will approach the same phenomenon from different paradigms.
What are key characteristics of Davies’ three educational technologies?
- Takes an engineering/hard sciences approach to application, focusing on better hardware
- the latest machines make the best tools, ergo best education
- focus on efficiency of education: bigger, broader audience outside of traditional boundaries
- focus on transmission and reception problems
- behavioral science approach, focused on better software
- technology = learning aids, facilitating new models of education
- technology enhances teaching, providing guidance to new teachers and propelling experienced teachers to breakthroughs
- focus on purposeful shaping of behaviour
- combination of hardware and software approaches
- organic rather than mechanistic development
- deep focus on processes and products of teaching and learning
- more group than individual
- concerned with quality and relevance of the experience
- warmly human, total and integrated approach
- emphasis on a range of contrasting skills
- fundamentally a problem-solving approach*
- problem boundaries may be hard to determine; incremental rather than substantial change for piecemeal progress
- effectiveness > efficiency
*It strikes me that all of the technologies seek to answer problems, but they each see the problem differently.
What are the key characteristics of the audiovisual, the engineering and the problem-solving archetypes of educational technology?
- oldest of the three
- hardware is used to help present information
- gives students (some) access to otherwise inaccessible content
- can expand the learning environment to a larger geographical sphere
- new instrument for assessment by speeding up and automating assessments
- influenced by Behaviourism
- linear approach to learning, with defined edges and process
- teacher vs. machine
- Davies disapproves, argues that modifying the paradigm misses the need to assess the foundations of the theory
- started around 1973-74
- as of 1978 not widely adopted although gaining ground
- changes arise from dissatisfaction, moving to satisfaction as quickly as possible
- solutions are situational, based on specific needs
What archetype, paradigm and model of educational technology do you think most of your teaching would fall into?
Model: ? I didn’t see any models in the article. As far as other pedagogical models are concerned, I subscribe to a constructivist model, and am presently reworking lessons to make use of problem-based learning and standards-based grading. This is in an almost completely (I say almost because although I haven’t seen otherwise I am cautious to say it doesn’t exist) direct-instruction environment where for my discipline there is essentially no curriculum. It is overwhelming to try to eek out a curriculum where there is so much disjointedness but I take it as a challenge and an opportunity to really teach what I think my students; a situation I know many of my North American colleagues would give teeth for.
Davies wrote his article in 1978, over 30+ years ago. Is it still relevant to the thinking of using technology in teaching and learning, today? Why or why not?
It is absolutely relevant. Although the technology has changed, the basic approaches (I, II and III) to educational technology have endured. Of note were some comments from page 12 that struck me as particularly insightful:
“Instead of viewing educational technology as an opportunity for renewing educational practice, it has, too often, been conceived as a means of doing what has always been done- only more efficiently” (pg. 12)
“technology is probably considered less self-limiting than our own perception or view of it” (pg. 12)
In my experience in speaking with other teachers and administrators, I can see how this has often been the case. Buus (2012) found that even today teachers need scaffolding to use new technologies for new pedagogy rather than pasting the new technology over the old pedagogy. This recent study supports Davies’ (1978) argument that it may only be a matter of increasing efficiency rather than determining how to readdress education entirely, which is the crux of his argument on the morality of education. If we fail to address why we teach something when new technologies present new possibilities, we are ignoring the very value of what we teach. It is a very common-sense and yet profound argument on the nature of education and its purpose to society.
This lack of insight, consideration of value, and attention to possible transformative nature of education technology is fortunately not global. There are teachers who are actively working on the what, why and how of doing education as new technologies offer new possibilities. In some ways, teachers are latching on to technology to move their pedagogy forward, with constructivist, standards-based, project-based and other de rigeur methodologies and curricula taking the front seat, but in other ways their use of these technologies paves the way for other teachers to jump over to more student-centered teaching styles away from direct instruction and other teacher-centered styles. As this jump is made, and technology is being used in new ways, they are employing what Davies (1978) refers to as “[t]he skills of effectiveness” (15).
2. Epistemological Traditions
- Pratt, D.D. (1997). Indicators of Commitment (pp. 22-25). Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing.
Questions for Reflection
As you read this excerpt, consider the following questions:
- What are the defining characteristics of the two epistemological traditions?
Objectivitism: holds that knowledge exists empirically, and it can be known in the same way by everyone. This knowledge exists whether or not the learner is interested in it, or is aware of its existence. Discovery. Modernist/Rationalist/Enlightenment ideas- through rational thought one can come to know the world. Amoral, neutral, detached. “Truth is a matter of the accuracy of reproduction (in language or action) of reality as judged by some authority.
Subjectivism: holds that knowledge is constructed by the knower. Interpretation. Post-modernist- reality is pluralistic (reality can be expressed in a variety of cultural paradigms) and plastic (people make or mold their own realities). There is no absolute Truth, only what people experience in the moment.
Objectivism seems to break down on the “some authority’ level, where some person through their own interpretation determines truthfulness. It seems, despite ones best efforts, that there is subjectivity in this- or that there very easily can be. While I agree with the idea in theory, especially for science and anything amoral, there are likewise personal aspects of truth that are subjective. The Truth of these subjective interpretations are also bound to some rationality. I quite like the conclusion of the objectivity section: “There is within objectivism another, slightly softer, belief about the separation of facts and values. It acknowledges that they are not actually separate, but interdependent, yet claims objectivity may still be achievable as long as values are allowed to dictate problems (what we examine) but not prejudge solutions (what we find). Therefore, we may allow that values will influence what we decide to teach, but we must guard against values distorting the content or influencing our decisions as to whether the content has been correctly learned.”
In the stump metaphor to describe subjectivism, I would say that while all the observers thought they were seeing something, it did not morph the stump into a policeman, a friend, or a foe. It was yet a stump. While the brain interprets the world for us, and we interpret it through our values, it doesn’t make something empirically true. It might true for us, it might be what the individual believes is true, but that doesn’t make it Truth, but rather, it is an interpretation. Interpretations have value, but they cannot supersede empirical truth. Where empirical truth is not knowable (for example, in determining someone’s motivations), interpretations (including the person whose motivations are being determined) may provide insight and valuable information leading to Truth.
- What do you think some of the implications of each tradition would be for the design of instruction?
Objectivists would have a list of facts or knowable things for someone to learn. Answers would be correct or incorrect. How students come to that knowledge may be through direct instruction, but may also be through project-based learning or other constructivist pedagogies, with the teacher serving as a guide, leading students to a particular outcome.
Subjectivists would likely allow for more free-form, self-directed learning and interpretation of results. I have no idea how this would be “fairly” assessed by the instructor, or what the assessment would look like.
With this very brief introduction to two major epistemological traditions let’s move on to examine three different theoretical perspectives on learning, beginning with behaviorism.
Choose one of the following readings and consider the questions below.
- Elias, J.L. & Merriam, S.(1980). Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education. (pp. 82-90; 102-107). This article provides details on the background of behaviorism and some of its educational applications.
- Skinner, B.F. (1958). Teaching Machines. Science, 128, pp. 969-977. This article by B.F. Skinner provides a concrete example of how behaviorism has been applied to teaching.
Questions for Reflection
To focus your reading consider the following questions:
- What are some of the ways in which the behaviorist principle of reinforcement has been applied to education?
Competency-based and criterion-referenced education, programmed instruction, computer-assisted instruction, mastery learning, teaching machines, contract learning, Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), Individually Guided Education (IGE), Individually Prescribed Instruction (IPI); the responsibility to learn is on the learner.
- What are the roles of the teacher and the learner in the behaviorist framework?
The teacher should design environments that will evoke the behaviour that will ensure the survival of the species, societies, and the individual. The student is to respond to the environment in the desired way, acting for reinforcement and correction. They will demonstrate learning through specific behaviors.
- What are some of the criticisms of behavioral objectives?
Learning is more complex than simple stimulus, response and reinforcement, that the behaviours pre-determined to indicate learning may be inadequate, learning doesn’t need to be structured, and may stem from the whole rather than through segmentation. Furthermore, behaviorism may not be the most appropriate form of learning for all subjects and has no guarantee of transferability.
- What epistemological tradition (objectivism or subjectivism) do you think underlies the behaviorist view of learning?
Objectivist- if learning happens through breaking into chunks and memorization through repetition, then knowledge must exist outside of the learner and their interests.
- Can you think of anything you do as an instructor that is influenced by the behaviorist view of learning?
Observation of change to determine outcomes. If my student doesn’t show improvement over the course of the semester, it is very difficult for me as an instructor to gauge how much they have or haven’t “learned.”
While this is more an issue for K-12 classes, discipline is also largely influenced by behaviorist approaches, on a consistent reinforcement schedule for infractions, and intermittent for rewards.
In designing lesson plans, the language is in behaviorist terms – students will be able to/will demonstrate/etc, and also the criteria for assessment, whether rubrics or otherwise.
- In what contexts do you think it would be appropriate to use a behaviorist approach to teaching?
For EFL, it can be useful for learning new vocabulary and expressions. The common wisdom and research in the field show that repeated exposure is necessary for acquisition, at higher rates for active vocabulary than passive vocabulary (CITATIONS REQUIRED HERE). To achieve this in a situation where learners have little exposure to the target language outside of the classroom environment, repetition has been used to assist learners in their quest for greater vocabulary (and other language “chunks”) to aid in self-expression and fluency.
- In what contexts do you think it would be inappropriate to use a behaviorist approach to teaching?
I believe that there are many instances where behaviorist approaches are inappropriate. It may be easier to approach answer the previous question than this one. In particular, where students need to engage in critical thought and need to be able to process information, to learn by “rote memorization” does not allow for internalization in such a way as is conducive to allowing space for failure and growth. That space for failure- and indeed, the expectation of failure- is foundational to scientific inquiry. In any area where students need to explore possibilities and reject incorrect ideas or outcomes, Behaviorism does not assist in this style of learning.
As a final note, I found the necessity of student activity (for reinforcement) to be interesting. If the student does not act, what is the teacher to do, from a behaviorist perspective? Is this a failure of the teacher to create a successful environment (one that elicits the desired behavior) or failure of the student (for not acting)?
Buus, L. (2012). Scaffolding Teachers Integrate Social Media Into a Problem-Based Learning Approach? The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(1), 13–22.