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It should firstly be recognized that the LPP framework, as well as certain modern psychological insights, would actually tend to undermine any claim that formal psychological insights necessarily lead to better teaching. In principle, a teacher might learn to adapt their teaching strategies on the basis of professional experience, and if Ryle (1949) and modern work on implicit learning are accepted (Tomlinson, 1999), we must even entertain the possibility that they might thereby successfully promote learning without conscious-declarative understanding, let alone of formal psychological insights. Teaching designed with the assistance of formal psychology cannot for this reason be guaranteed superior in principle to teaching not so informed, and the LPP framework would of course also point out that actual success in practice would depend further upon various aspects of implementation quality.

But the LPP approach does permit us at least two arguments for the utility of psychological insights. The first follows directly from the nature of the pedagogical functions described in this paper: teaching activities have to embody learning processes and the teacher’s key function is to combine monitoring of and assistance for students’ learning rather than simply their task completion. Designing activity for learning and any sort of adjustment to the planned teaching interaction arguably both require conscious problem-solving involving explicit thinking about learning. Such thinking ought to be well grounded, which means, other things equal, that it ought at least to take account of formal research on learning and its educational application.

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522 Peter Tomlinson

In other words, in the light of the LPP/open-critical eclecticism approach presented here, teacher thinking should take account of educational psychology to illuminate the key underlying processes we have termed learning and teaching functions. In addition to evidence that educational psychology has indeed provided insights useful for pedagogical practice (cf. Berliner & Calfee, 1996; Bransford et al., 2000), empirical evidence for the effectiveness of this particular way of utilizing psychology as ‘to-beapplied-principles’ was for instance long since provided by Anderson, Evertson, and Brophy (1979).

The second point constitutes a rather high-stake claim. Namely, to the extent that by fulfilling the steps proposed above we can apply valid understanding of psychological processes involved in the learning and teaching functions discussed here, then we should be able to claim at least that teaching thus analysed as having greater LPP in a particular educational situation ought, other things equal, to be more effective than teaching thus analysed as having a lesser LPP. Were even this more qualified claim not to be borne out, it would indeed be a blow to the practical relevance of psychology. Conversely, however, it must also be emphasized again that testing such a claim would require successful implementation of the various operationalization steps proposed above. It may be mentioned that a recent comparative case study designed to do precisely that (Odiemo, 2005) did produce positive results regarding this claim.

From psychology to pedagogy By contrast with those inhabiting the world of teaching, those coming from psychology to pedagogy will virtually by definition take an opposite approach. Explicitly or implicitly, they are starting from the view that psychological understanding can and should be usefully applied in teaching, and, as the ‘already converted’, they are likely to find the previous section’s arguments time-wastingly obvious. As psychologists used to the empirical investigation of specific issues, they may even be unsympathetic to what is essentially conceptual, meta-theoretical analysis at a general level. What does the LPP approach have to say to this group?

At least two kinds of considerations would seem worth offering. First, that when moving from psychological theory to pedagogy, psychologists may have a tendency simply to come up with and test the effectiveness of a single concrete teaching strategy.

This strategy may in turn become identified with the psychological ideas in question, when actually other strategies might also have the potential to embody the relevant processes. A nice example of how not to fall into such narrowness can be taken from the impressive work of Chi (Chi & Ohlsson, 2005; de Leeuw & Chi, 2002) showing that the teaching strategy of having students self-explain a physics problem helps them understand it more deeply, because – in terms of learning functions, I would say – it forces them to articulate and often repair their mental models of the domain. Chi’s work also suggests that the potential to do this is shared by the teaching strategy of peer tutoring, but that the more traditional strategy of tutors offering explanations ‘cold’ has, in our terms, little LPP, rather that such explanations must build on students’ own efforts at construction and repair.

As well as potentially restricting consideration of alternative teaching approaches, it may also be pointed out that the possible association of psychological ideas with particular pedagogical strategies would also tend to perpetuate what, along with Oser and Baeriswyl (2001), I have lamented as the unfortunate general educator tendency to Copyright © The British Psychological Society Reproduction in any form (including the internet) is prohibited without prior permission from the Society

The learning promotion potential framework 523

think in terms just of overt teaching strategies and to ignore the psychological work they must achieve.

A second point to make in this context involves an LPP-based version of longstanding educationist complaints about the ecological validity or real-life feasibility of the theories and strategies educational psychology comes up with. Working from a particular theoretical viewpoint may namely tend to mean dealing explicitly only with the pedagogical issues highlighted by such a viewpoint, in line with the Kellyan point cited earlier. It should be pointed out that such selective applications of psychology are by no means necessarily restricted to those ‘coming from psychology’, but can equally arise when, for instance, a particular subject teaching community develops a relatively exclusive devotion to a particular psychological viewpoint as its ‘silver bullet paradigm’, as arguably happened with science education’s attachment to individual constructivism in the 1980s (e.g. Driver, 1983). The point to be made here is that any aspects of the teaching interaction that the theory does not deal with may not arise as issues or simply be filled in implicitly, thereby having their ignoral reinforced, for instance when the teaching strategy is tested in artificially privileged situations, such as a one-to-one interaction. In a more typically situated teaching interaction, however, a wide range of other issues, including access, management and motivation of a larger number of differing learners, are going to require explicit attention.

To conclude and summarize, then, the main implication of the above points would appear to be that when seeking to inform pedagogy with psychology, awareness is required equally of the key learning embodiment and teacher assistance/monitoring functions of teaching, the range and status of available psychological resources, and the ways in which these two sets may be related. The LPP/critical eclecticism framework is offered as a tool that may help structure such awareness and make these connections.

Acknowledgements I thank Janet Hodgson, Robin Millar, Luke Odiemo, Jean-Luc Patry, and Phil Scott for their very helpful comments and discussion on earlier drafts of this paper.


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