Bodong Chen

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Notes: Why the Learning Sciences and Instructional Systems Need Each Other



Hoadley, C. M. (2004). Learning and Design: Why the Learning Sciences and Instructional Systems Need Each Other. Educational Technology, 3, 6–12.

Citekey: @Hoadley2004



“While both analyses varied in their coverage and techniques, they came to similar conclusions, that the literatures identified with these two communities had surprisingly little overlap, and that a small number of individuals represented a large portion of what overlap did exist.” (p. 3)

“In particular, there are two very active communities that both study more or less the same area, but these oornmunities hardly talk to one another (Kirby, Hoadley, & Carr-Chellman, 2003).” (p. 4)

“This difference most often manifests itself in questions of method. Some differences run deep, such as the schism between naturalistic inquiry in human behavior (such as ethnomethodology) and experimental inquiry into human behavior (such as experimental psychology). like oil and water, different deep assumptions rarely mix; in this example, leading to the boisterous and sometimes rancorous debates of “qualitative vs. quantitative methods.” The root issue in these debates has not been whether one describes the world in countable or noncountable terms, but rather what the proper epistemology of inference is.” (p. 5)

“How Research Communities Differ” (p. 5)

“What sets one research community apart from another? Characteristics that distinguish communities may include their scope and goals, theoretical commit- ments, epistemology and methods, and their history.” (p. 5)

“learning in real-world situations. If we find out how people learn in natural situations, we can create educational environments more conducive to learning.”” (p. 6)

“Both communities have a variety of theoretical, stances, but these Seem to be converging. The tremendous sense of optimism and promise for technology to aid in learning has taken many forms over the years, and we seem to have added more and more models of why we care about technologies in education. Some variance in these models of what ed tech buys us stems from differences in learning theories: the behaviorist model of learning implies that learning technologies are conditioning devices, while instructionist theories of learning imply that learning technologies are new types of instructional media. Constructivism implies that learning technologies are essentially environmental support for learners constructing their own knowledge, and sociocultural theories of learning may look at technology as a cultural Instrument for those who are entering communities of practice.” (p. 6)

“Both communities share educational technologies in their scope.” (p. 6)

“Instructional systems design was originally rooted in an instructionist tradition, although this is changing (Snelbecker, 1999).” (p. 6)

“In the learning sciences, constructivism is often taken for granted, but the debate is between cognitive (in the sense of information processing) and sociocultural versions of constructivism” (p. 6)

“Both are educationist (they want to foster learning in and out of schools) but have differing models of how this can be accomplished. This is the clearest intellectual distinction between the two fields: The instructional systems design field has a fundamentally design-oriented, and hence directly interventionist, stance, while the learning sciences has a goal of science in service of education-better theories and science leading to better interventions. As . summed up so nicely by Reigeluth (1999a): “ How to help people learn better. That is what instructional theory is all about. It describes a variety of methods of instruction … and when to use-and not use-each of those methods.” Meanwhile, in the learning sciences (Kolodner, 1991), modeling learning (not instruction) is the core focus (much as educational psychology before it): “ We simply do not have sufficiently concise theories of learning to be able to tailor curricula to the natural way kids learn,” and “ Addressing problems in both education and training requires us to develop models of” (p. 6)

“Thus, the link from instructional systems design to educational technology was as an instrument for structuring instructional (or educational) experiences.” (p. 7)

“The learning sciences, on the other hand, began from a cognitive science perspective. Although technology was never part of the name of the field, it has always been associated with it. First of all, the name was founded by people such as Roger Schank at Northwestern University, who came to cognitive science from an artificial intelligence (AI) perspective.” (p. 7)

“Educational technology is arguably either a very new or a very old phenomenon, depending on one’s view of what exactly ” technology” comprises.” (p. 7)

“Another injection of technology into the learning sciences was driven by the home fields of researchers in the area.” (p. 7)

“but the 1990s mark the beginning of the modern-day experience of computers as (relatively) affordable and available devices, almost infinitely programmable, capable of processing many kinds of media, and connected to a global network.” (p. 7)

“I suspect a detailed survey of authors would reveal that many had been trained in or worked with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines in which computer use was prevalent, and this may be the reason that technology was seen as a component of the learning environment from the beginning of the learning sciences field.” (p. 7)

“Each of the two research communities has a different history of how they entered the educational technology arena.” (p. 7)

”.sum up, when one considers scope, goals, theories, epistemology and methodology, and disciplin- ary history, there are many points of overlap, but many differences as well, between the instructional systems design field and the learning sciences. The two fields have overlapping scope, converging theories, and very different histories. But the areas of goals and episte- mologies and methodologies are changing rapidly.” (p. 8)

“Ellen Lagemann, a historian and former.chair of the National Academy of Education, has documented how the founding of educational research in general struggled with some of these issues (Lagemann, 2000). At odds were the behaviorists, who wanted to perform an educational science that looked like physics, leading to some sort of Newton’s laws for learning; and those who wanted to study learning in real contexts, embedded in practice, such as Dewey.” (p. 8)

“In general, epistemological and methodological assumptions underlie generations of research and are remarkably stable over time. As pointed out by Thomas Kuhn (1965); scientific revolutions-i.e., anything that calls into question the prior paradigm and forces reinterpretation of prior understandings-are painful, infrequent, and deeply resisted. Educational researchers are currently experiencing the beginning of such a revolution.” (p. 8)

“The core questions of how to reconcile. contextualized . practice and generalizable research were never completely resolved.” (p. 8)

“Researchers in both instructional systems design and learning sciences are, in Dewey’s terms, educationists. In general both groups seek to improve the lot of students or learners. However, their approach to doing so has kept research and design separate. Learning scientists set out to uncover basic scientific principles which would then be applied to instruction. Instructional designers sought to apply theory to the problems of instruction, and systematize the processes that took theories and turned them into educational environments.” (p. 8)

“Design-Based Research: Bringing Worlds Together” (p. 9)

“The basic idea seemed sensible: use iterative design of learning environments to explore what works, what’s important, and how it relates to learning theory. How- ever, this approach generated some methodological backlash (e.g., Levin & O’Donnell, 1999). Indeed, the No Child Left Behind Act in the United States specifically defined scientific research to include experimental and quasi-experimental work only. Yet, design-based research continues to be an important method by which people investigate phenomena in the learning sciences” (p. 9)

“The nature of design knowledge-a-the idea that it can be about many contexts while implying some sort of customization or application for each individual setting-suggests that we need to be training a new generation of educational technologists who can blend research and design. It is only when our models of learning are just general enough, and design and research can inform each other, that we will be able to, as Lagemann suggests, create ” usable knowledge” (Lagemann, 2002), that is, knowledge that helps us not only as scientists, but as educationists.” (p. 9)

“In particular, Reigeluth and others have questioned the role of design and formative research as means to understanding (rather than merely implementing) learning (Barab, Squire, & Dueber, 2000; Merrill, 2002; Reigeluth, 1999b; Reigefuth & Frick, 1999). This question of “ What can we learn from design]” has been asked in other areas of design as well, such as engineering and computer science (Argyris & Schon, 1991 ; Carroll, 1991).” (p. 9)

“As design-based research (and research-based design) becomes more prevalent in education in general (and educational technology in particular) the two fields of instructional systems design and the learning sciences will have more and more overlap in goals, methods, and epistemology.” (p. 9)