Learning about Learning

Article excerpt

On the surface, the two major articles in this month's issue seem very different: one describes recent advancements engineering schools have made in the artificial intelligence field; the other tells how engineering professors can enhance student learning by employing cooperative learning approaches in their classrooms. At the core of each of these endeavors, however, is the need to understand the act of learning.

"Artificial Intelligence: Where Science Fiction Meets Reality," page 18, reports on how AI researchers are striving to understand the biology behind learning and other cognitive processes (not necessarily human ones) in order to develop computer systems that require minimal programming to solve specific types of problems.

In "Maximizing Instruction Through Cooperative Learning," page 24, education researchers David Johnson, Roger Johnson, and Karl Smith outline ways professors can successfully introduce cooperative activities into their courses. These individuals' considerable research on learning finds that students achieve more when they work in groups that possess five basic elements (positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, individual accountability, social skills, and group processing) than they do in competitive or individualistic learning experiences. …