Situated Learning

Emerging from sociology and cognitive science, situated learning theory represents a major shift in learning. From traditional psychological views of learning as something that is for the individual it moves toward perspectives of learning as a social concept. Greeno (1998) is often credited with the development of the situated cognition or situated learning theory. Collins (1988) defines situated learning as the notion of learning knowledge and skills in contexts that reflect the way they will be used in real life. Therefore, situated learning theory “encourages educators to immerse learners in an environment that approximates as closely as possible context in which their new ideas and behaviours will be applied.” (Schell & Black, 1997).

Collins (1988) described four benefits of situated cognition that he believed were a good theoretical basis for learning. Firstly, it is important that students learn about the conditions for applying knowledge. Secondly, students are more likely to engage in invention and problem-solving when they learn in diverse situations and settings. Thirdly, students can see the implications of knowledge and how their thoughts can be in a real life context. Finally, students are supported in structuring knowledge in ways appropriate for later use by gaining and working with that knowledge in context that is meaningful to them. Classroom practices such as project and problem based learning would qualify as consistent with the situated learning theory. Thinking about the concept of situated learning, Wilson and Myers (2000) commented that situated learning “is positioned to bring the individual and the social together in a coherent theoretical perspective.”
Affordance is an ecological concept about perception. Gibson’s “affordance” (1979) is a term to characterise the “impact of the environment on an organism’s behaviour, or how it lives in its environment.” Any theory of learning must start with the culture in which the learner resides. This is a critical pedagogical approach by Wenyi Ho (No date). “If knowledge is co-produced by the learner and the situation, the position of the learner within the culture can become an important variable.” There are such a wide range of places that learning can commence, accessible areas which will deepen childrens thinking.  I think it very important for teachers to respect where children come from and their own communities. Therefore need to ensure that their learning has a context in their own environment but also to help them to become comfortable in multiple environments.

References 

Collins, A. (1988). Cognitive Apprenticeship and Instructional technology. (Technical Report No. 6899). BBN Labs Inc., Cambridge, MA. 

Gibson, J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Greeno, J. G. (1998). The Situativity of Knowing, Learning, and Research. American Psychologist, 53(1), 5-26. 

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Schell, J. W., & Black, R. S. (1997). Situated learning: An inductive case study of a collaborative learning experience. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34, 5-28. 

http://www.personal.psu.edu/wxh139/Situated.htm

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4 thoughts on “Situated Learning

  1. Tidy piece of research, and so good to see proper Harvard referencing!

  2. Once again, a very interesting and comprehensive article. You allude to the different epistemologies of psychology, sociology and cognitive science, but I wonder if you could expand this a little as it seems to me a very important point. Is it a case of moving from one to another, or more of understanding what lens you are using at any given point and potentially being able to analyse learning from a variety of angles? I’d be interested if you think one is an ‘improvement’ on the other or not, and where you would position your own understanding in relation to this.

    I know you have tweeted before asking for ideas for new blog posts, one on the different methodological positions of these three disciplines when considering learning would be a very interesting one.

    This series of blog posts could come together into a very valuable ebook when you are done which I’m sure a lot of people would get a lot from reading.

  3. […] of others along with other things. Another theory that I took a particular interest in was “Situated learning.” After posting my first blog on this topic I was encouraged by feedback that I received to post […]

  4. […] of others along with other things. Another theory that I took a particular interest in was “Situated learning.” After posting my first blog on this topic I was encouraged by feedback that I received to post […]

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