Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ How the science of learning became a battleground

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

The most important paragraph in this article on the (generalized and widely construed) science of learning (SoL) is the last, and though it takes a lot of work to get to this point (some of which I would disagree with) the bottom line is sound: "Although there is a wealth of research exploring "what works best" in education (eg, John Hattie's Visible Learning), it's important not to confuse this work with SoL. Whenever experiments deal in strategy rather than mechanism, they are considered 'educational' research rather than 'learning' research. Without a doubt, educational research is highly important but, like all practical issues, it will forever be contextualised, naturalistic and value-laden. This means 'what works best' will necessarily change depending upon context and goal." That's why, for example, "teachers well versed in the science of learning are more likely to employ student-centered, constructivist approaches within the classroom." But let's also be clear: progressive educators don't dismiss the science of learning (lower case), but they do dismiss politically-motivated education research movements with the title 'Science of Learning' (upper case). And that's fine.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jun 14, 2024 03:06 a.m.

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