Posted by: soniahs | November 10, 2010

Exam reading: “Expanding conceptions”

Tara J. Fenwick. “Expanding Conceptions of Experiential Learning: A Review of the Five Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition.” Adult Education Quarterly 50: 243-272, 2000.

Summary: Fenwick summarizes & contrasts five current theories of experiential/informal learning. She argues that traditional theory is based on an experience + individual reflection model, which neglects embodied activity and communal processes; these theories include both individual and sociocultural processes. 1) Constructivist: individuals construct meaning from experience to produce knowledge; knowledge is a set of mental constructs. 2) Psychoanalytic: interested in how the unconscious shapes the self; knowledge is driven by passionate tensions. 3) Situative: Adaptive learning through participation; knowledge is based on situated effectiveness, rather than theoretical. 4) Critical-cultural: Focus on power effects and identity; knowledge is emancipation from passive acceptance of identity and dominant cultural critiques. 5) Enactivist: cognition and the environment are simultaneously enacted; cognition is embodied action; knowledge is collective, not individual.

Comments: I’ve left off the critiques for this summary, but she basically looks at each theory through the lens of the other four (mostly based on other researchers’ criticism, but enactivist ideas are pretty new, so for these she uses the looking through the lens approach.) Basically, this is an overview and useful for me in comparing and contrasting. The most relevant frameworks for my research are probably constructivist (more traditional, and a lot of the digital media research seems to build off of this) and situative (e.g., Lave & Wenger). The enactivist approach is newest; not sure if I’ve seen much in that vein at this point…

Links to: Lave & Wenger, others (community participation); Zhang & Norman (constructivist/cognitive)

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