Foundations for a Psychology of Education

By Alan Lesgold; Robert Glaser | Go to book overview

Learning Theory

W. K. Estes Harvard University

The principal output of the first century of research and theory on human learning and memory has been a massive accumulation of experimental and observational facts about learning in various simple, standardized tasks (most often remote from situations of practical relevance) and a number of limited generalizations, some perhaps deserving to be termed empirical laws, that organize and describe segments of this factual output. One can readily understand impatience with the slow pace of development of the intellectual tools we need to analyze important kinds of school learning and instruction. Nonetheless, making use of the tools now at hand can already be of value in the interpretation of research and the establishment of connections between research and practice. Further, vigorous attempts to make use of current theories outside the laboratory can contribute to their continuing refinement and elaboration ( Baddeley, 1982). These thoughts have led to the orientation of this chapter toward a focus on the more general concepts and principles of learning now at hand.1

The aspects of learning theory to be reviewed here are dictated by potential applicability to problems of education. Thus it is sensible to start by classifying

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1
The overview of learning theory in this chapter is a composite of ideas drawn from earlier learning theories and from relevant aspects of more recent cognitive psychology, as organized and interpreted by the writer. To the extent feasible, it is indicated where theoretical views discussed represent a relatively broad consensus and where issues are controversial. The interpretations not attributed to any specific source are the author's responsibility and it should be understood that other investigators may disagree. For a comprehensive review of learning theories, no longer a task that can be usefully accomplished within the limits of a single chapter, the reader is referred to Bower and Hilgard ( 1981).

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Foundations for a Psychology of Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Learning Theory 1
  • References 43
  • 2- Intellectual Development 51
  • References 78
  • 3- Motivation 87
  • References 126
  • 4- lntellectual Abilities and Aptitudes 137
  • 5- Learning Skills and the Acquisition of Knowledge 199
  • References 239
  • 6- Problem Solving and the Educational Process 251
  • References 286
  • Author Index 295
  • Subject Index 307
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