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Communality and contrast with other work There is not space here to do justice to other sources of ideas comparable to those developed in this paper. Passing acknowledgement should nevertheless be made at least of William James’s (1899) view of the indirectness of psychology’s contribution and his version of substitutability, that many diverse methods of teaching are likely to be consistent with a given law of learning. Also, more recently, Shuell suggested much the same concept of learning functions as proposed here, namely ‘ : : : psychological processes that current psychological theory and research indicate need to be elicited in students if the teachinglearning process is to be successful’ (Shuell, 1996, p. 751), adding that these might be initiated either by the teacher or the students. Rosenshine (cf. Rosenshine & Stevens,
1986) has proposed major teaching functions, based on ﬁndings from process-product studies and addressing teachers separately from learners. As Shuell (1996) points out, the two kinds of functions are in fact complementary, and as he and later Oser and Baeriswyl (2001) insist, an adequate pedagogy requires an understanding of their relationships.
However, it is arguably the work of the last two authors that merits speciﬁc comment, given its strong commonality yet also a clear contrast with the present proposals. By way of communality, central to Oser and Baeriswyl’s (2001) ‘Choreographies of Teaching’ approach is their distinction between the visible or ‘sight-structure’ of teaching activities and the inner learning processes or mental operations of the learner which they contend must be brought about for the teaching to succeed. They refer to these inner processes as basis-models and illustrate in concrete detail how the same underlying learning process might be achieved through different, in our terms ‘substitutable’, forms of visible teaching strategy.
Whilst the parallels with the present ideas seem very clear, Oser and Baeriswyl’s terminology of basis models also begins to signal an aspect that contrasts with the opencritical eclecticism proposed here. Namely, they additionally claim the existence of a deﬁnitive set, 12 in number, of such underlying patterns of learning operations. These they describe as ‘concatenations of operations or operation groups that are somehow necessary for every learner and that cannot be replaced by anything else’ (Oser & Baeriswyl, 2001, p. 1043). In their view, each basis model is a learning script involving not only particular kinds of learning process events, but also the chaining of these in a particular order of ‘absolutely necessary steps’ (p. 1045).
Although the critically eclectic stance enjoined here would not in principle rule out the possibility of a limited number of core psycho-pedagogical deep structures, Oser and Baeriswyl’s considerable claim appears to be that their 12 basis models cover all the forms of learning with which teaching might be concerned. In the present writer’s view, accepting this is a step too far at this juncture. Given limitations on space, two illustrative objections may sufﬁce.
Firstly, these authors do not appear to have a model covering an arguably key kind of learning, the acquisition of intelligent procedural capability, traditionally referred to as skill (cf. Gellatly, 1986; Welford, 1968) and currently as expertise (Ericsson, Charness, Feltovich, & Hoffman, 2006; Tomlinson, 2005). They do use the term ‘skill’, but appear to conceive of it rather narrowly, merely as a matter of habit, as also signalled by the label for their relevant basis model ‘development of routines and skills’. This conception of skill contrasts rather with the purposeful, problem solving-like kind of procedural capability (including automatization) assumed by the standard literature (e.g. Anderson, 2000; Fischer & Bidell, 2006; Gellatly, 1986; Hargie, 1986; Tomlinson, 1998). It may be mentioned that Tomlinson (1995, Chapter 5) did attempt to specify the basic learning functions requisite for the acquisition of skill thus conceived.
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The learning promotion potential framework 519
A second and still more speciﬁc illustration is that Oser and Baeriswyl propose hypertext learning as one of their core underlying forms of learning, whose associated learning goal is described as ‘re-ordering and revaluing of information bits’. The present writer would object ﬁrstly that hypertext should be seen as a topic, context, or tool for learning, rather than a basic form of learning process in itself – all the more so when hypertext is such a recently invented medium, whereas basic human learning processes must presumably have been generated over the course of an evolutionary period that considerably predated the existence of this medium. It could be added that even in the terms in which Oser and Baeriswyl construe hypertext learning, it is hard to see why it does not count either as a form of problem-solving or skill acquisition – until one sees that as well as their conception of skill, their idea of problem-solving also appears somewhat inadequate, being formulated by them as having the goal (sic) of ‘trial and error learning’ (of Oser & Baeriswyl, 2001, p. 1046).
Thus, whilst it seems important to acknowledge core features of the LPP and choreographies of teaching frameworks as strongly overlapping and mutually supportive, the claimed completeness of Oser and Baeriswyl’s set of basic learning models is to be rejected in favour of the more modest open-critical eclecticism I have argued for regarding currently available psychological resources.
Operationalizing the LPP/critical eclecticism approach to pedagogical design and analysis Having developed the constituent principles of a meta-theoretical framework for utilizing psychology in the service of pedagogical effectiveness, it behoves me to specify what is concretely involved in the practical use of such a framework. Five major kinds of issue appear to require treating by way of applying the LPP/critical eclecticism approach to practical pedagogy. Whilst the order in which these are now presented may be most appropriate for explicit use of psychological theory in pedagogical design, it bears emphasizing that this is but one of many possible orders of consideration.
(1) Formulation of intended learning/teaching outcomes: I take it as axiomatic that teaching, certainly in formal education systems, involves adopting some kind of explicit goal involving learning gains. It is recognized that human qualities and powers are such that they can pose considerable difﬁculties of articulation and assessment and that teachers share the tendency of all experienced practitioners to become increasingly intuitive in their regulation of skilful action. Nevertheless, to consider teaching explicitly but without reference to its goals would indeed be a case of ‘Hamlet without the Dane’. A central and typically early element in practical usage of the LPP/critical eclecticism framework, whether it is a question of designing the teaching or of evaluating an existing teaching plan, therefore consists in explicit framing of the intended learning outcomes of the teaching in question.
(2) Selection of useful psychological theories: At some point one needs to select appropriate psychological theories, in the ﬁrst place on the basis of relevance to the chosen teaching/learning goals, but also to the particular learners, the available resources and particular teachers involved, and having appropriate evidential grounding. That is, one needs to apply critical and realistic eclecticism to available psychological sources.
(3) Establishment of learning functions/process requirements: Having selected such theoretical resources, one needs to discern the key psychological learning/teaching Copyright © The British Psychological Society Reproduction in any form (including the internet) is prohibited without prior permission from the Society
520 Peter Tomlinson
functions or processes, including indirect psychological prerequisites, indicated by them in the light of their evidence base.
(4) Design/analysis of teaching activities for LPP against learning functions: At its core, proactive use of the approach in designing teaching requires (a) generation/selection of teaching/learning strategies and substrategies, that (b) do embody in the learner the relevant learning functions and psychological process prerequisites discerned from utilized theory, and (c) enable corresponding psychological functionality with respect to the teacher’s two major teaching functions, on-line monitoring and assistance. In the case of psychology-based evaluation of existing teaching designs, the teaching strategies are already given, leaving ‘just’ the issue of carrying out an LPP analysis against a similarly opencritically selection of theories and their psychological process requisites.
(5) Attention to implementation quality of actual teaching: Using an LPP approach, the evaluation of teaching strategies, including any attempt to go beyond theorybased design and test one’s ideas, needs to consider not only actual achievement of intended learning gains, but also the quality with which the planned teaching is implemented in practice, including aspects of process, learner access and resource availability. The potential of a strategy, and still less the theorizing supporting it, is not being assessed when a strategy is inadequately implemented. In fact, insofar as we wish to test the educational utility of psychological theories, all ﬁve steps require fulﬁlment, sooner or later including a reﬂexive check on the adequacy with which the above aspect-phases (1)–(4) of psycho-pedagogical planning have been achieved. To the extent that the implementation of any these planning steps fall short, any failings in effectiveness of the teaching cannot safely be attributed to any of the previous aspect-phases. In due course, moreover, we should be interested in tracing the speciﬁc linkage of particular process aspects with the learning progress and outcomes for which they were deemed to have LPP. Such work would doubtless require the integration of a variety of speciﬁc research methodologies, consistent with recent proposals regarding intervention and design study approaches (Gorard & Taylor, 2004; Pressley, Graham, & Harris, 2006).
Whilst the above ﬁve working steps are proposed as the essentials of a full application of the LPP/critical eclecticism approach, a range of useful possibilities may exist with respect to their combination, ordering and even selection. Thus as a ﬁrst instance, although it was suggested that the above order might be appropriate in pedagogical design, such a process is in reality likely to be considerably more messy and iterative. This could well include repeated cycles connecting (1) intended outcome speciﬁcations, (2) selection of particular psychological theories, (3) establishment of learning functions/process requirements, and (4) generation of teaching strategies, with the relative starting-points differing according to ‘where the designer is coming from’. Someone familiar with a range of teaching approaches in the subject, but relatively unfamiliar with psychological work, for instance, would be facing somewhat different subissues compared with someone who has a wide psychological familiarity, particularly if they have already translated this into awareness of a range of core psychological requisites requiring embodiment within learning and teaching functions.
A contrasting possibility is that where it is more a matter of pedagogical evaluation and analysis, one is by deﬁnition starting from (1) intended learning outcomes, and (4a) proposed or actual teaching strategies, which one then needs to subject to (4b), an LPP analysis with reference to (3), the learning functions one Copyright © The British Psychological Society Reproduction in any form (including the internet) is prohibited without prior permission from the Society
drew from (2), available psychological resources. Here too different suborders and emphases are possible.
Postscript The idea of LPP has been proposed here as the basis for a conceptual framework and corresponding terminology for specifying the locus of psychology’s contribution to the optimizing of pedagogy, in a way that takes us beyond some of the oversimpliﬁcations and fragmentations of the past. I would claim that this framework, along with the opencritical eclecticism towards psychological resources I have argued for, provides a more qualiﬁed, but thereby ultimately more robust vindication of the utility of formal psychology in the service of effective pedagogy. The price of such claimed progress is admittedly the requirement to handle a new and in some ways more complex perspective pointing up challenges, some of which it has not been possible to discuss here. These might include for example the possibility of negative LPP, that is particular teaching strategies ‘doing more harm than good’, or that of multiple aims in teaching that may turn out to be psychologically antagonistic. However, the case for the utility of this LPP approach may need some differentiation with respect to the two main groups likely to be involved: on the one hand, non-psychologist teachers and subject-specialist designers of teaching who might consider calling on psychology, and, on the other, psychologists concerned to apply their ideas pedagogically.
From pedagogy to psychology What if anything does the LPP approach enable us to say in favour of psychology to non-psychologist educators, including the many teachers who appear (Brown & McIntyre, 1993; Calderhead, 1996; Oser & Baeriswyl, 2001) to consider teaching without reference to learning (or its equivalent), let alone to psychology?