Authentic Learning Activities

‘Authentic Learning Activities’ is the first major topic (of 5 or 6) that I intend to cover in my Literature Review. Over the past couple of weeks I have been tracing this theory, and even though the concepts are very familiar to me it’s been useful and intersting. Collins, Brown and Duiguid (1989) is the article that everyone seems to reference — an article on Situated Cognition. I found a really interesting article by Carl Bereiter called ‘Situated Cogniton and How to Overcome It’ — a title I couldn’t easily go past. It talks about the history of the concept of situated cognition, referring to Vygotsky of course but also to a lot of rat-experiment type psychology that I hadn’t really thought about. The main point: that the situation being referred to is really environmental (with rats) rather than social. Rats learn well in their little mazes but if you take them out of them they are lost. So it’s abstract knowledge that is not easily obtained through situated cognition. It got me thinking that this would be a good criticism of the arguments for situated cognition in tertiary education — after all, if you consider it to be a panacea you are likely to be very disappointed. Adult learning is all about constructing abstract knowledge, and being reflective. So these things have to go further than maze-training.

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