Cognitive Process Instruction: Research on Teaching Thinking Skills

By Jack Lochhead; John Clement | Go to book overview

Preface
They should have a course to teach you how to learn . . . all they have is courses on what to learn.-- David Kocot (college student)Cognitive process instruction is an approach to teaching which emphasizes understanding, learning, and reasoning skills as opposed to emphasizing rote memorization of factual knowledge. This book describes some of the most recent and innovative approaches to cognitive process instruction and describes some recent research studies on thinking skills that have direct implications for instruction of this kind.In June 1978 a group of approximately 50 faculty from various American universities met at the University of Massachusetts to discuss issues related to cognitive process instruction. They were joined by representatives from eight private and federal agencies. All the participants held a common belief that it is possible to conduct serious applied research in education, and that through such research ways can be found to train students to learn productively and think more clearly.The conference brought together, for the first time, representatives of a small but rapidly growing movement. The movement consists of people who are reawakening the 19th century belief that education can improve the functioning of the mind through training and that the role of the University is not just to pass on information, but to teach students how to become knowledgeable learners and problem solvers. Added to this revival of practical interest are some very recent theoretical developments, both in the science of cognition and in the epistemology of science. The application of these theoretical developments to instructional practice is a challenging goal and one with great potential benefits for education.This book represents only a sampling of the viewpoints expressed at the conference. Even so it serves as an introduction to an exciting and expanding new field. It is a diverse collection: Papers range from the theoretical to the applied, the conjectural to the carefully researched, and from brief comments to exhaustive investigations. This diversity of approaches is in one sense entirely appropriate; the field is very young and a subject as complex as human thought is probably best researched from a variety of perspectives.Cognitive process instruction cannot be defined by stating a universal point of view or a single research methodology. But investigators in the field do share an interest in the following sorts of questions:
1. How can general learning and problem-solving skills be taught?
2. How can instruction encourage lasting understanding rather than short-term recall based on rote learning?

-iii-

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