Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions - Vol. 2

Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions - Vol. 2

Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions - Vol. 2

Thinking and Learning Skills: Research and Open Questions - Vol. 2

Excerpt

Robert Glaser University of Pittsburgh

Currently, two streams of endeavor offer promise for improving school effectiveness in developing students' higher cognitive capacities. One of these is represented by the increased interest of school districts, colleges, and universities in identifying ways to help their students build the cognitive skills that enable them to learn and think effectively. What can be done, they ask, beyond teaching the fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic, and subject-matter knowledge, to enable students to use their skills and knowledge for effective problem solving, reasoning, and comprehension? The second stream is apparent in recent scientific advances in the study of intelligence, human development, problem solving, the structure of acquired knowledge, and the skills of learning.

This confluence of renewed educational interest and modern scientific investigation offers a challenging opportunity to attack the problem of "passive knowledge"--knowledge that students receive and express, but cannot use effectively for thinking and learning. Schools have not been well enough equipped for this task. Older theories of learning focused on simpler forms of learning and did not provide understanding of higher cognitive processes. Educational practices based on those theories resulted in improved instruction for fundamental skills; less emphasis was given to exercising thinking and problem-solving abilities in the course of schooling. Today, however, educators, educational researchers, developmental psychologists, and cognitive scientists are designing school programs and conducting investigations on understanding and problem solving in mathematics and science, comprehending and reasoning with text material, study skills and abilities to learn, and the role of memory organization in the acquisition of knowledge. These processes of human cognition and learning are being studied . . .

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