Thinking and Learning Skills: Relating Instruction to Research - Vol. 1

Thinking and Learning Skills: Relating Instruction to Research - Vol. 1

Thinking and Learning Skills: Relating Instruction to Research - Vol. 1

Thinking and Learning Skills: Relating Instruction to Research - Vol. 1

Excerpt

This volume represents an attempt to bring the theory and practice of instruction in thinking and learning skills into a closer relationship. In recent years, many new programs for teaching these critical skills have been proposed. The basic goal of the developers of such programs is an ambitious one--to enable students to adopt new ways of thinking and learning that will permit them to function more effectively in everyday learning and problem-solving situations, both within and outside the classroom.

We do not yet know whether these programs have been successful in accomplishing this ambitious goal. Many have not yet been evaluated systematically. In those instances where carefully controlled evaluations have been undertaken, one can often point to improvements in performance on tests of both intelligence and academic achievement. However, attempts to look more closely at the extent to which students have come to adopt more effective ways of thinking and learning have been hampered because we do not sufficiently understand many of the skills the developers are seeking to instill. As a result, we are unable to determine in unambiguous fashion whether students are actually using the skills taught in coping with novel learning and problem-solving tasks.

In building these instructional programs, developers have had to make assumptions about the kinds of skills and understandings involved in successful thinking and learning and about ways in which these can most effectively be acquired. In some instances developers have been quite explicit about the theories underlying their programs; in others, although they have been less explicit, we can infer their assumptions from the practices included in their programs. The developers have drawn from a wide spectrum of the research literature in psychology and related disciplines in selecting theoretical underpinnings for their programs. In addition, some of them have proposed new theoretical positions to guide their work.

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