Wednesday, October 25, 2006

APA Learner-Centered Psychological Principles

From the American Psychological Association, a collection/distillation of ed psych type findings on principles for learning. The document began when GHW Bush was pushing for more accountability in education and members of the APA began wondering:
How can we bring to the attention of the public, educators and policy makers what we know about learning [and] what we know about motivation that can influence some of these decisions that may be well intended but certainly weren’t going in a direction that many of us felt as people who understood learning and motivation would be for the good of children? (from McCombs at ICLS).

These principles are deliberately not discipline-specific. But they're interesting-- and the wording ("successful learners do X", rather than "successful learning environments have Y") is worth thinking about. As is the first point, "The learning of complex subject matter...".-- I think that understanding complex subject matter is an outcome of "active, goal-directed, and self-regulated" engagement with ideas. When we focus exclusively on learning as "learning complex subject matter" -- instead of learning as adopting certain habits of mind/appropriating tools of disciplines (in particular discursive practices)-- we can't help but fall back into assessments that assess whether or not students "know" complex subject matter.

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