accident that interest in high order cognitive processes is greatest in those disciplines for which they are most important.
The origin of research on cognitive process instruction is another factor that distinguishes it from other approaches. As an applied science it is strongly anchored to observation. Most educational innovations have been derived from psychological or social theories which have been developed outside the educational context. Such innovations are limited by the domain of the theory. Much of the research into cognitive process instruction has placed observation ahead of theory. Since this work is based on research traditions from the biological sciences, we propose to call it Human Cognitive Ethology. Ethology, the study of the behavior of animals in their natural environment, stresses naturalistic observation; it is more concerned with the contextual validity of the situation than with the extent to which all factors can be controlled. At this stage in its development it is a "messy" science in which one can draw tentative hypotheses rather than firm conclusions. It strives to make simplified theories for complex phenomena rather than complex theories of simplified phenomena. Human Cognitive Ethology as applied to instruction is the study of thought processes of students in realistic educational contexts. Although simple in concept, it is unfortunately difficult in practice and strongly depends on skilled observers. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine how any serious student of education can expect to make significant progress without first making careful observations of the manner in which people think and learn.
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