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Emergent Systems Working Group

October 21, 2003
Jan Trembley
Emergent Pedagogy

Additions, revisions, extensions are encouraged in the Forum and/or at emergent.brynmawr.edu

We discussed the points made in two articles by Dan Willingham/U Virginia with background references to the work of cognitive psychologist Jerome Brunner, a proponent of 'discovery learning.'

Discovery learning encompasses the scientific model and matches cognitive development. Teachers must carefully plan questions to be asked and examples used in the lesson to help students attain the principles being taught. Encouraging students to feel comfortable making mistakes is a tenet of discovery learning, but the method is criticized because it requires extensive preparations that do not always guarnatee success. Students may simply play with the materials instead of learning from them, and discovery methods may make too many demands on lower-ability students lacking background knowledge and prolem-solving skills needed.

"Students Remember...What They Think About"
(Students will remember incorrect discoveries as well as correct ones and many never learn that what they discovered was incorrect.)

"Inflexible Knowledge: The First Step to Expertise"
(Rote learning, shallow knowledge, inflexible and flexible knowledge.)

During a session this summer, the group discussed "how much editing/guidance/goal-direction is consistent w/ an 'emergence' rubric for pedagogy?" Jan wondered if it was useful for the group to continue with this or if the nature of "errors," their causes (garden path problems, hindsight bias, etc. etc.), how they are observed, and consequences (remedy, failure, discovery) would move us forward more helpfully in discussing human emergent behavior.


Oct 21: Jan Trembley, Karen Greif, Jim Marshall, Mark Kuperberg, Alan Baker, Anne Dalke, Ted Wong,
Doug Blank, Tim Burke, Al Albano, Paul Grobstein, Deepak Kumar, Jason Coleman (13)

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