Innovative learning arrangements

ICO research on Innovative Learning Arrangements studies learning and instruction in environments arranged to promote authentic and/or collaborative learning supported by an adequate combination of media. The work of this thematic group develops theories that describe and explain processes of learning and instruction. Three leading research themes are: 1) authentic learning, 2) multimedia learning, and 3) collaborative learning.

Authentic learning
Research on authentic learning, builds on a highly influential research tradition in the field of problem-based learning (PBL). This research contributes to the development of theories that explain how learning takes place on the basis of activities evoked by learning tasks such as real-life problems, projects, and cases. Those learning tasks are typically rooted in daily or professional life; ask for the application of knowledge, skills and attitudes, and require the integration of different subject matter domains. The work of ICO researchers yielded important contributions to theories of (guided) inquiry learning (e.g., extensions of the Scientific Discovery as Dual Search (SDDS) theory); problem-based learning (e.g., inductive learning on the basis of medical cases) and learning-by-design (e.g., constructive learning by building models in mathematics and science).

Multimedia learning
Research on multimedia learning, has achieved high international recognition. Work of ICO researchers yielded important contributions to cognitive load theory (CLT) and the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML). Both theories use a cognitive model of working memory to foster learning by controlling the high cognitive load imposed by the complexity and the transient nature of information in multimodal representations. Current research also relates principles of multimedia learning to the level of expertise of learners, their age, and other individual characteristics such as cognitive styles. Principles identified in cognitive load and multimedia research have found their way to the practical field of multimedia design.

Collaborative learning
ICO research on collaborative learning, contributes to theories that explain how external representations and cognitive tools facilitate computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Theoretical accounts focused on distributed cognition, that is, the interactions between learners, their environment, and all types of artefacts. The work of ICO researchers has yielded important contributions to theories of collaborative writing of argumentative texts, representation-based negotiation in multidisciplinary teams, and collaborative scientific discovery learning. A common element in these theories is that they aim to understand how external representations and tools affect collaborative learning processes, and how these processes are coordinated by social principles, external scripts, or both.

In the coming years these fruitful research lines will be continued. Progress is not only foreseen in the distinct themes but also in their combination. First, new research in this thematic group will aim at further theoretical integration. If students work collaboratively on authentic tasks in a multimedia-learning environment this involves all three themes. Second, more attention will be devoted to individual differences (e.g., level of expertise and prior knowledge, age, cognitive style) and how they affect processes of learning and instruction in authentic learning, multimedia learning, and collaborative learning. And third, special attention will be devoted to the role of (formative) assessment in learning.
ICO Education,
5 Jul 2012, 06:36