Conceptualizing debates in learning and educational research: Toward a complex systems conceptual framework of learning

Michael J. JACOBSON, Manu KAPUR, Peter REIMANN

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Abstract

This article proposes a conceptual framework of learning based on perspectives and methodologies being employed in the study of complex physical and social systems to inform educational research. We argue that the contexts in which learning occurs are complex systems with elements or agents at different levels—including neuronal, cognitive, intrapersonal, interpersonal, cultural—in which there are feedback interactions within and across levels of the systems so that collective properties arise (i.e., emerge) from the behaviors of the parts, often with properties that are not individually exhibited by those parts. We analyze the long-running cognitive versus situative learning debate and propose that a complex systems conceptual framework of learning (CSCFL) provides a principled way to achieve a theoretical rapprochement. We conclude with a consideration of more general implications of the CSCFL for educational research. Copyright © 2016 Division 15, American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-218
JournalEducational Psychologist
Volume51
Issue number2
Early online dateMay 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Citation

Jacobson, M. J., Kapur, M., & Reimann, P. (2016). Conceptualizing debates in learning and educational research: Toward a complex systems conceptual framework of learning. Educational Psychologist, 51(2), 210-218.