Keynote Erno Lehtinen (University of Turku, Finland)


How to deal with complexity in learning research: integrating theoretical and methodological approaches


Learning is a complex phenomenon. The concept of learning refers to many kinds of processes which differ from each other in terms of time, situation, content and agency. It is possible to analyse these processes by using different methods and units of analysis: e.g. brain processes, modification of behaviour, information processing, construction of concepts, and participation in socio-cultural activities. Different theories of learning are based on different epistemological and ontological approaches. However, in the history of learning theories there are no strong paradigmatic changes. New more correct theories have not replaced old wrong theories but new questions have been asked and new theories and new units of analysis have proved to be more relevant in answering these questions. A consequence of this is that there is no best comprehensive theory of learning. If we try to understand learning in real contexts, such as schools or work places, we need to be aware of these multiple perspectives and to be able to understand the relationships between different levels and units of analysis. In the presentation I will elaborate this topic further and present some research examples about the coordinated use of different perspectives.