Document (#34634)

Author
Dole, J.A.
Sinatra, G.M.
Title
Reconceptualizing change in the cognitive construction of knowledge
Source
Educational psychologist. 33(1989) no.2/3, S.109-128.
Year
1989
Abstract
How is knowledge acquired and represented in memory? By what process do individuals come to change their ideas, conceptions, or knowledge? Although the first question has been central to cognitive psychologists' research agendas for many years, relatively less is known about the change process. We examine 3 research literatures to broaden our understanding of the process of knowledge change. In particular, we draw on models of conceptual change from cognitive psychology, social psychology, and science education. Each model adds a new perspective on the change process. Based on the literature from these models of change, we developed a new model that represents our reconceptualization of the change process. We describe the model and use it to point out new areas of research to be addressed. Psychology has, at its foundation, an abiding interest in understanding the construction of knowledge. How do individuals come to perceive, know, remember, and learn? How do individuals acquire new knowledge? How is knowledge represented and organized in memory? How do individuals come to change their knowledge? These questions have served as conceptual frameworks for psychological, as well as philosophical, thought for centuries (Hunt, 1993).
A major contribution of cognitive psychology has been the conceptualization of knowledge as memory representations in the form of scripts, frames, or schemata (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Rumelhart & Ortony, 1977; Shank & Abelson, 1977; Spiro, 1980). Schemata are defined as "packets of integrated information on various topics" (Hunt, 1993 , p.530). Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, cognitive psychologists were interested in describing the nature of these packets of information. Spiro (1980 ) demonstrated the constructive and complex nature of schemata and highlighted contextual factors--including tasks, texts, and situational contexts--that influenced how knowledge is organized in memory. Recently, cognitive researchers have come to view knowledge and schemata as multidimensional (Jetton, Rupley, & Willson, 1995). For example, researchers have differentiated novice and experts' knowledge structures in subject-matter domains (Chase & Simon, 1973; Chi, Glaser, & Rees, 1982; Larkin, McDermott, Simon, & Simon, 1981; Voss, Greene, Post, & Penner, 1983). Researchers have examined discourse knowledge--knowledge about language and how it works (McCutchen, 1986). Another aspect of knowledge that has been extensively studied is strategic knowledge--knowledge about procedures for accomplishing a goal or task (Alexander & Judy, 1988; J. R. Anderson, 1983a; Prawat, 1989).
Until recently, questions about the nature of knowledge and its representation have received far more theoretical and research attention than have questions about how individuals acquire knowledge. Piaget distinguished himself as a notable exception to his contemporaries in that he spent his life studying knowledge acquisition. He described two processes involved in acquisition. He used the term assimilation for the addition of information to existing knowledge structures and accommodation for the modification or change of existing knowledge structures (Piaget, 1985). More recently, these views of knowledge acquisition are well captured by the perspective of cognitive constructivism (Cobb, 1994). Constructivism places prime importance on the individual's active role in the knowledge acquisition process. Researchers after Piaget fine-tuned the constructs of assimilation and accommodation. Schema theorists used the term accretion for the assimilation of new factual information that fits into existing knowledge structures (Rumelhart & Norman, 1981). Cognitive psychologists described various mechanisms of knowledge acquisition, such as addition, deletion, discrimination, and generalization (Chi, 1992).
Theme
Information
Field
Kognitionswissenschaft

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