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"What are the Principles Underlying the Effective Use of Technology?" A cognitive science perspective

Dr. Marcia C. Linn, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
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Incorporating cognitive research into undergraduate instruction can greatly enhance learning outcomes and also provide useful guidance for the difficult questions everyone faces as they deal with the rapidly changing technological opportunities available on college and university campuses. This talk will synthesize findings from a recent National Academy of Sciences report entitled, "Being Fluent with Informational technology," and also illustrate how current cognitive research findings can be intelligently integrated into undergraduate mathematics and science courses. Technology tools necessitate important course redesigns across mathematics and science. Mathematica has the potential of gaining very high grades and many calculus courses. Simulation and modeling tools change the kinds of understanding that students need in many physics and chemistry courses. Online resources such as science magazines and signal transduction network afford opportunities for instructors that have never before been possible. Tools such as Computer Aided Design can transform engineering instruction enabling students to engage and design studies far earlier in their careers. All of these rapid changes provide an opportunity for those designing instruction to rethink goals and connections across the curriculum. They also entail considerable challenges not only for university planing but also for resource allocation.

This talk will address ways to incorporate cognitive research into the design, redesign, and implementation of undergraduate mathematics and science courses. I will discuss an instructional framework based on 15 years of research that offers course designers a head start on creating instruction that enables students to become life long science learners. The Scaffolded Knowledge Integration framework synthesizes research findings from a broad range of cognitive traditions and suggests ways to build on these findings in the design of an affective instruction.

One approach to incorporating current cognitive research into new courses involves taking advantage of learning environments that make the use of these findings relatively efficient. I will discuss the Web-base Integrated Science Environment and illustrate how some of its features contribute to the design of cognitively enhanced instruction. Several examples drawn from pre-college and college courses will illustrate this presentation.

Creating an instruction that nimbly responds to innovation demands flexible yet grounded processes for course planning and revision. The final section of this talk will discuss some methodologies that might assist design errors in making effective decisions as new course opportunities become available. In summary, this talk characterizes the views of National Academy of Sciences committee concerning, promoting, and preparing students to use technology as lifelong learners; describes how current cognitive research might assist course designers in achieving this goal; and suggests some methodological approaches to ensure that innovative instruction is grounded in careful analysis of student learning.


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Last Update: 10 November 1999