This week’s reading was an interesting examination of meaningful reception learning, a parallel approach to cognitivism. I appreciated Ausubel’s work, but I did not quite understand why he never combined his theories with that of cognitive researchers. I see such overlap between the two schools of thought. For example, I had a hard time drawing clear distinctions between the mental models Ausubel described, and the schema theory that exists within cognitivism. I see both as being akin to the computer metaphor for the mind—mental models and schema both act as a structure that can assist in memory storage and retrieval, which should result in meaningful learning. Did anyone come up with an understanding of mental models and schema that differed, apart from the theories they emerged from? Is there a way to clearly tell the two theories apart?
This chapter and theory stood out to me because I see its application and practical use in my day-to-day work as a librarian. My professional field has struggled with creating meaningful learning opportunities that allow for transfer of information literacy skills beyond the most common teaching activity we do. Typically, we go into a classroom to teach skills that are relevant to searching in general, but apply specifically to an assignment that students are currently working on. This seems to result in rote memorization—students might be able to apply the material to one assignment, but I will see them in the library asking questions about a similar skill that is just in another context. That meaningful learning does not occur in this scenario.
Another way I see its application is when I find myself trying to think of metaphors to relate library searching to things students already do--these days that mostly means I describe library searching in the same terms as Google searching. It is interesting to think that I do this naturally because the concept of subsumption feels very logical to me. It is easier to incorporate new ideas when you can incorporate them into an existing mental structure either derivatively or correlatively. Perhaps this is why this week’s readings were so interesting to me—they quickly related to a concept for which I had already created a mental model. When I read about this, I immediately jotted a note in the margins about flipped classrooms. I see this instructional method as being a practical extension of meaningful learning that allows for students to absorb and subsume the material into mental models prior to class and then work on applying the material in multiple contexts with the guidance of an instructor. Similar to the cognitive apprenticeship idea proposed in the Collins, Seely-Brown, and Holum article.
As far as progress in class, now that we have our literature review topics picked and an introductory list of articles found, I feel things are really taking off and starting to get busy! Just starting to get into research mode and I feel like I could probably read 100 articles on this topic and still have more to learn! I think it will help as I learn more about metacognitive assessments to narrow my focus so that I do not feel so overwhelmed with everything that is out there!
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Reflections and updates in learning and cognition for IDT860.