Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies

By Mary Lynch Kennedy | Go to book overview

L

LEARNING THEORY

Summary

Cognitive psychologists, such as Vygotsky, claim that learning occurs in mean- ingful, social, collaborative contexts and that language and the construction of meaning are closely associated. Squire notes that because language is the pri- mary agent for thinking, it is used for a myriad of purposes, including classi- fying, labeling, and constructing ideas; composing, reconstructing, or comprehending them; and relating the new to the known. Language is repre- sented symbolically by reading and writing, and so current research views them as parallel processes that are best developed together (Britton, Smith, Marshall, Wells, Graves, Teale and Sulzby, Goodman).

The anthropomorphic structures that exist in each individual's brain play a large role in how new material is learned and retained. Learning theorists, such as Ausubel, believe that cognitive structures within the brain form a hierarchy of well-organized systems of facts, concepts, and generalizations. The cognitive structure refers to the totality of knowledge that an individual possesses in any subject area, and new knowledge is acquired by linking fresh facts to already- existing structures. Ausubel further stresses that the most important influence upon what a student will learn is what he or she already knows (Novak); therefore, content only becomes meaningful if it is integrated and allowed to become part of the learner's overall cognitive organization. This view might explain why the segmented curricula that exist in many schools today could pose great difficulty for students, and why it is so hard for many of them to think critically in various subject areas.

Ausubel asserts that learning is attained by "subsumption"; that is, from

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Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • A 1
  • B 9
  • C 15
  • D 77
  • E 103
  • F 117
  • G 131
  • H 149
  • I 157
  • L 169
  • M 181
  • N 195
  • P 213
  • R 255
  • S 269
  • T 321
  • V 333
  • W 339
  • Selected General Bibliography 377
  • Index 379
  • About the Contributors 393
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