Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge

Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge

Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge

Structural Knowledge: Techniques for Representing, Conveying, and Acquiring Structural Knowledge

Synopsis

This book introduces the concept of a hypothetical type of knowledge construction -- referred to as structural knowledge -- that goes beyond traditional forms of information recall to provide the bases for knowledge application. Assuming that the validity of the concept is accepted, the volume functions as a handbook for supporting the assessment and use of structural knowledge in learning and instructional settings. It's descriptions are direct and short, and its structure is consistent. Almost all of the chapters describe a technique for representing and assessing structural knowledge acquisition, conveying knowledge structures through direct instruction, or providing learners with strategies that they may use to acquire structural knowledge. These chapters include the following sections in the same sequence:

• description of the technique and its theoretical or conceptual rationale

• examples and applications

• procedures for development and use

• effectiveness -- learner interactions and differences, and advantages and disadvantages

• references to the literature.

The chapters are structured to facilitate access to information as well as to illuminate comparisons and contrasts among the techniques.

Excerpt

The card sort exercise is similar to a learning exercise used in many preschools and kindergartens, in which the child is shown a group of pictures and asked "which of these belong together?" Such questions are followed by explanations of how some of the pictures represent similar ideas or functions, while the other picture or pictures do not fall in the same category. In this basic sorting task the basis for categorization of concepts is usually obvious for adults. However, when dealing with categories of more complex and abstract concepts, the basis for groupings are often less clear. The card sort technique is an advanced level sorting task that can be used to identify how concepts in a content area are organized in a learner's knowledge structures.

A typical card sort exercise involves presenting subjects with a series of cards on which concept words are written and sometimes briefly defined. The subject is then instructed to sort concepts according to similarity of meaning (Miller, 1969). In a modification of this card sort exercise subjects can be instructed to sort the cards into groups in some meaningful manner, and to label the groups and any subgroups (Hirschman &Wallendorf, 1982; Stein,Baxter &Leinhardt, 1990). Analysis of the resulting organization of concepts provides insight into the manner in which the subject views the content area.

Rationale

The Russian psycholinguist, Lev Vygotsky, and his associates investigated the meaning of words assigned by individuals using sorting tasks somewhat similar to the card sort technique described here. These researchers took drawings of common items and asked their subjects to indicate which ones were alike. In one incident described by this group, a peasant was shown drawings of a hammer, a saw, a log, and a hatchet. This peasant indicated that all of the objects belonged together. The researchers explained that others had grouped three of the items together, the hammer, the saw, and the hatchet because they were all tools. The peasant replied . . .

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