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Article

Mental Toughness in Education  

Helen St. Clair-Thompson and Sarah McGeown

Mental toughness encompasses a range of positive psychological resources which have been found to be beneficial across a wide range of contexts (e.g., education, sports, work). According to the most popular model used in education contexts, the attributes of challenge, commitment, control (emotion, life), and confidence (in abilities and interpersonal) have been found to be beneficial across a wide range of educational outcomes and experiences, including school attainment, attendance, classroom behavior, peer relationships, academic motivation and engagement, and the ease of educational transitions. However, conceptual debates of mental toughness (e.g., trait vs. state; domain specificity) are ongoing and pose important questions for the operationalization and measurement of mental toughness as it continues to be explored across different educational settings. Of particular importance is the debate about whether mental toughness is a state or a trait. Being a state indicates it could be developed given the right environment and support, suggesting value in working with pupils and teachers to develop interventions. Further research is therefore necessary to fully understand whether, how, and why we can utilize the development of mental toughness to optimize educational outcomes.

Article

Metacognition and Epistemic Cognition  

David Moshman

Cognition refers to knowledge and associated inferential processes, ranging from elementary forms of perception to advanced forms of reasoning. Metacognition, a term used since the late 1970s, includes both knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition. Knowledge of cognition includes both general knowledge of cognition and knowledge about one’s own cognition. Regulation of cognition includes planning, monitoring, and evaluation of one’s cognitive processes and products. Metacognition is crucial to and intertwined with many aspects of cognition even in the preschool years, when children are already developing theories of mind. Much of cognitive development is the development of metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation. Educational efforts abound to teach metacognitive skills, promote metacognitive development, and/or take student metacognition into account in designing instruction. Epistemic cognition is knowledge about the fundamental nature of knowledge, especially the justification and truth of beliefs. Research on epistemic development beyond childhood shows progress from objectivist to subjectivist to rationalist conceptions of knowledge. Objectivists appeal to foundational truths that can be observed, proved, or learned from the authorities. In cases of disagreement, someone must be wrong. Subjectivists recognize that knowledge is constructed, and conclude from this that truth is entirely relative to the constructor’s subjective point of view. “Truth” in any stronger sense is deemed a myth, because we all have our own equally valid perspectives. Rationalists acknowledge the subjective construction of knowledge and the perplexities of truth but maintain that some beliefs are better justified than others and that we can make progress in understanding. Research in child development shows that children proceed through a similar sequence in constructing intuitive theories of mind, suggesting that epistemic development may be a recursive process in which people reconstruct subjectivist and rationalist insights at multiple levels. Epistemic development is generally seen as the result of self-regulated processes of reflection and coordination. Research in educational psychology has highlighted individual differences in epistemic beliefs and has shown the value of active inquiry and peer argumentation in promoting epistemic progress within and across diverse fields of study.

Article

Metalinguistic Transfer  

Guofang Li, Zhuo Sun, and Haoyun Li

Metalinguistic awareness is a cognitive process that allows a person to explicitly think about structural features of language such as phonological, morphological, and orthographic features and use this knowledge base to monitor and control his/her use of language. Metalinguistic awareness is strongly associated with monolingual children’s early literacy skills. The concept of metalinguistic awareness has also been used to explore the possibility of any paralleled mechanism that metalinguistic awareness operates in predicting bilingual children’s early literacy learning, especially between two languages that are orthographically distant such as Chinese and English. Research on Chinese-English bilingual children in both Chinese as a first language context (e.g., Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) and Chinese as a heritage language context (e.g., Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom) confirms some cross-language facilitation of early literacy skills mediated by metalinguistic awareness in general, but overall research findings reveal a variance in terms of the directionality of transfer and aspects of transfer in predicting literacy skills in the two languages within the respective phonological, morphological, and orthographic awareness domain. Several linguistics-external factors such as individual children’s language proficiencies in the two languages and their exposure to formal language instruction mediate patterns of metalinguistic transfer in phonological, morphological, and orthographic awareness across the two different language contexts.

Article

Moral and Character Education  

David Ian Walker and Stephen J. Thoma

At core, moral and character education aims to develop the moral person. How this end state develops has been hindered by interest from different theoretical positions, differences between practitioners and theoreticians, different assumptions about how far character is educable, and associated measurement problems. Traditionally, moral education is concerned with the interpretation and strategies one uses to understand moral phenomenon and defines the moral person as a predominantly thinking entity, whereas character education emphasizes the development of habits and dispositions as a precondition for the moral person. Current interest is in finding commonalities across these traditions towards the achievement of human flourishing. These points of intersection have often been overlooked, but current work is demonstrating the importance of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches for practitioners, researchers and policymakers.

Article

Motivation and Engagement in Learning  

Rebecca J. Collie and Andrew J. Martin

Motivation and engagement are firmly implicated in students’ participation in class, educational aspirations, enjoyment of school, academic learning, and academic achievement. Motivation refers to an individual’s inclination, energy, direction, and drive with respect to learning and achievement. Engagement involves the thoughts, actions, and emotions that reflect this inclination, energy, and drive. There are numerous theories articulating the key elements of students’ motivation and engagement. These theories describe how and why motivation and engagement are important for educational outcomes in their own right, as well as how and why motivation and engagement are important means to other desirable educational outcomes. Given the vast array of different theories in the areas of motivation and engagement, researchers have made calls to integrate the body of knowledge that has amassed. The Motivation and Engagement Wheel is an example of a multidimensional framework that traverses salient motivation and engagement factors from major theory and research. These factors encompass positive motivation constructs (self-efficacy, valuing, and mastery orientation), positive engagement constructs (planning, task management, and persistence), negative motivation constructs (anxiety, uncertain control, and failure avoidance), and negative engagement constructs (self-handicapping and disengagement). A broad body of research provides support for the salience of the factors in the Wheel in relation to a range of other variables (e.g., background characteristics, cultural factors) and through a variety of research designs and approaches. Importantly, there are additional exciting directions in motivation and engagement research, such as real-time investigations, the use of biomarkers, the interface with teachers, and intervention research, that are relevant to optimizing students’ academic development through school—and beyond.

Article

Multiple Document Comprehension  

M. Anne Britt and Jean Rouet

Multiple document comprehension refers to people’s acquisition of information from more than one document for the purpose of achieving their goals. Comprehending single documents involves constructing a long-term memory representation in which text contents get integrated with the reader’s prior knowledge. Both text structure and readers’ goals are important in determining which information is included in the reader’s memory representation. In multiple document comprehension, documents are associated with distinct source features and they do not have to follow the coherence and cohesion principles that define single documents. Thus, multiple document comprehension involves several additional challenges, including selecting documents, making strategic reading decisions, and sourcing. The documents model framework (DMF) proposed two additional representations beyond those of single-document comprehension: an intertext model based on identifying and interpreting the document sources and an integrated situation model based on representing conceptual connections across documents organized around the structure of the interpreted task. The RESOLV model extended the DMF by proposing that readers formulate their reading task within a larger physical and social situation (a context model), creating goals and methods to achieve those goals (a task model). One such task situation that has received research attention presents people with documents that describe discrepant accounts of some event. The discrepancy-induced source comprehension (DISC) hypothesis predicted that readers would use source information via an intertext model to resolve the contradictory information in their situation models. Several issues that are the focus of current research include understanding the factors that influence coherence across documents, creating interventions to help students become aware of multiple document challenges, and improving our understanding of the developmental trajectory for learning these skills and how they build upon more basic literacy skills.

Article

Museum Education and the Epistemological Turn  

Irene Pérez López

Education has been part of museum identity since its inception. However, in the second half of the 20th century, the educational role gradually became the main goal: the museum has become a social institution whose educational nature legitimizes its social relevance and secures its survival in the 21st century. The spread of education to all areas of the museum, commonly called the “educational turn,” is the reason behind the conceptual change that is taking place in the postmodern museum, which has its origin in educational theory. In the last decades of the 20th century, the concept of learning as the transmission of information from an informed source to a passive receiver was replaced by the constructivist notion that learning is an active process dependent on the learner’s previous knowledge and experiences. At about the same time, critical pedagogy—as critical museology—brought a critical attitude within the museum, directed to identify structures of power and authority in order to give voice to traditionally excluded communities, and postmodernism added the idea of knowledge as something unstable and skepticism about the Western metanarratives of modernity. Constructivism, critical pedagogy, and postmodern theory contributed to the epistemological turn that the 21st-century museum faces. The change in learning theories and communication models in the postmodern museum, as a result of the epistemological turn, threatens the role of the institution as the only interpretive authority, by turning its message—previously considered a universal truth—into a point of view. The museum faces the challenge of becoming a meaning-making scenario where visitors can make connections and design their own learning experiences. The museum of the 21st century has forged a more egalitarian relationship with society.

Article

Parental Involvement  

Barbara Otto and Julia Karbach

In the recent years, parental involvement in a child’s academic development has been of great scientific interest. As parental involvement is a broad term it encompasses many parental activities that need to be further specified. In line with this, no widely accepted theoretical framework of parental involvement exists so far. Moreover, in terms of assessment of parental involvement a large variety of instruments have been applied: Parental involvement has been assessed by behavioral observations, self-reports, or reports by others. In spite of a missing definition and widely accepted theoretical framework, a myriad of research has been conducted to identify determinants and correlates of parental involvement. In this context, several empirical studies have revealed that the way parents get involved in their children’s schooling depends on a diverse set of variables, which refer not only to the parents themselves, but also to the family setting and the school context. However, the main body of research has focused on the effects of parental involvement. Although it has been found to be a significant predictor for children’s academic success parental involvement also seems to show changes related to the child’s age and grade level. Moreover, the different dimensions of parental involvement seem to have differential predictive value for students’ academic outcomes. Less empirical studies have been done referring to the associations of parental involvement with academic outcomes other than performance. Moreover, the very few intercultural studies conducted in this field suggest there might be similarities but also differences between Western and Eastern parents in the way how they get involved with their children’s education. Based on the presented aspects, future research should aim at developing a consistent definition and widely accepted theoretical framework of parental involvement as well as further investigate underlying determinants and mechanisms.

Article

The Pattern of Upbringing  

Hansjörg Hohr

“Upbringing” refers to the purposive activity of the older generation toward the young in order to further their growth into adulthood. These activities unfold in the intersection of instinct and culture and of individual and society and are, thus, a specifically human activity. They comprise the growth of the body of the children, their introduction into the world of symbols and the world of experience. One of the basic traits of upbringing is pointing out objects, naming them, and thus creating a shared world of things. Among the symbolic activities in upbringing there is the interplay of asking and explaining, of showing and imitating, dialogue, negotiation, discourse, storytelling, and play. The symbolic activities constitute and simultaneously are the basis of experience. Thus, speaking in general terms, upbringing means the arrangement and shaping of the environment to afford valuable experiences to the children and thus further their growth.

Article

Peer Tutoring and Cooperative Learning  

Keith J. Topping

Both peer tutoring and cooperative learning are types of peer assisted learning; they involve people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching. Peer tutoring usually involves pairs of students, one in the role of tutor and the other as tutee, with the more able or experienced member helping the other to learn material which is new to the tutor but not to the tutee. By contrast, cooperative learning is usually done in small groups of perhaps four students, often of mixed ability. The group works toward a consensus on a problem. Because it is easier to dominate or hide in a group, roles are often assigned to each group member. Earlier perspectives tended to use the theories of Piaget and Vygotsky, perhaps with some consideration of Bandura and Dewey. Chi, King, and Graesser have been prominent in more recent work. However, a theoretical perspective is offered that integrates these elements with more practical issues. In general, both peer tutoring and cooperative learning “work”— in a wide range of curricular subjects and with a wide range of ages. Given the appropriate form of organization, cognitive gains ensue for both helpers and those who are helped. This is not the main research issue, which is exploring how and why these practices work, in order to improve effectiveness. There are several meta-analyses (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) which are relevant, and beyond this, key individual papers of specific importance are highlighted. Over the years, we have become wiser about some of the key issues. In peer tutoring, same-ability tutoring has appeared in recent years, sometimes reciprocal, and we need to know under what conditions it works. Cooperative learning has issues regarding the most effective roles for group members and how these integrate with student ability and personality. There has also been much recent work in online peer tutoring which raises different issues. The existing literature is well-developed since these are not new methods. Future research should include more tightly defined studies focusing on more minor variables of context and organization. Many teachers will say they use both peer tutoring and cooperative learning, but very often they overestimate how often anything like good practice takes place. Simply putting students together and hoping for the best will not do, although it might have mild effects. Teachers using these methods need to be clear about what organizational parameters are vital in their context with their type of peer assisted learning. These features then need to be maximized in practice and an eye must be kept on implementation fidelity throughout. Education administrators need to organize professional development for teachers which is thorough, including initial instruction and practice followed up by support and monitoring in the classroom.

Article

Post-Piagetian Perspectives of Cognitive Development  

Eduardo Martí

Piaget’s constructivism theory influenced deeply the study of cognitive development in the last century. Despite the progressive loss of influence of this theory, some contemporary perspectives have recently extended some of his ideas, enriching the way cognitive development is understood. These contributions face two important questions that remained problematic in Piaget’s theory: how to integrate dynamic aspects and variability of development and how to understand the role of the body and the signs in cognition. Thanks to information processing theory, functional and executive components of cognition have been progressively integrated into Piaget’s theory. Two main perspectives have contributed to doing so. The first one, defended by Pascual-Leone and Case, among other authors, has been called “neo-Piagetian theory.” It offers a more dynamic way to understand cognitive development and present particular solutions to explain the Piagetian stages. The second one, the theory of dynamic systems, has contributed to explaining variability in cognitive development, a central aspect underestimated by Piaget, who was more interested in universal aspects of cognition. Thanks to the perspective of embodied cognition, the main role of action and body has been taken into account to understand the characteristics of cognition. From this perspective, a nuclear idea of Piaget’s constructivism, the importance of action in cognition, has been investigated in a more accurate way. Finally, considering the poor contribution of signs in Piaget’s theory, some authors inspired in Vygotskyan theory have emphasized the role of semiotic systems and social aspects in cognitive development. The research generated by all these theoretical perspectives has had important consequences in education.

Article

Praise in Education  

Sofia Benson-Goldberg and Karen A. Erickson

Classroom teachers receive myriad advice about how best to manage students’ attention, interest, and behavior. Praise is often highlighted as a specific tool that teachers should use to reinforce both behavior and learning. Since praise statements are positive evaluations of students’ performance or behavior, they are thought to be an encouraging, motivating, and affirming tool for reinforcement. So strong is this belief in praise that many interventions have been created to increase the rate of praise teachers offer in both general and special education classrooms. These interventions, when evaluated narrowly, appear to be successful because increased rates of teacher praise result in increased student compliance. However, when evaluated more broadly, research shows that praise statements have long-lasting, often negative impacts on students that may inadvertently negatively impact academic achievement. Therefore, despite the seemingly positive benefits of praise, its role in learning and development remains unsettled.

Article

Problem-Based Learning  

Sofie M. M. Loyens, Lisette Wijnia, Ivette Van der Sluijs - Duker, and Remy M. J. P. Rikers

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered instructional method, with roots in constructivist theory of learning. Since its origin at McMaster University in Canada, PBL has been implemented in numerous programs across many domains and many educational levels worldwide. In PBL, small groups of 10–12 students learn in the context of meaningful problems that describe observable phenomena or events. The PBL process consists of three phases. The first is the initial discussion phase in which the problem at hand is discussed, based on prior knowledge. This initial phase leads to the formulation of learning issues (i.e., questions) that students will answer during the next phase, the self-study phase. Here, they independently select and study a variety of literature resources. During the third and final phase, the reporting phase, students share their findings with each other and critically evaluate the answers to the learning issues. A tutor guides the first and third phase of the process. PBL is based on principles from cognitive and educational psychology that have demonstrated their capacity to foster learning. More specifically, four principles are incorporated in the PBL process: (a) connection to prior knowledge, (b) collaborative learning among students, but also among teachers, (c) gradual development of autonomy, and (d) a focus on the application and transfer of knowledge. Research on the effects of PBL in terms of knowledge acquisition shows that students in traditional, direct instruction curricula tend to perform better on assessments of basic science knowledge. However, differences between PBL students and students in direct instruction classrooms on knowledge tests tend to diminish over time. There is, however, a lack of controlled experiments in this line of PBL research. Directions for future research should focus on combining the best of both direct and student-centered instruction, explore the possibilities of hybrid forms, and investigate how the alignment of scale and didactics of an instructional method could be optimized.

Article

Problem Solving  

Richard E. Mayer

Problem solving refers to cognitive processing directed at achieving a goal when the problem solver does not initially know a solution method. A problem exists when someone has a goal but does not know how to achieve it. Problems can be classified as routine or non-routine, and as well-defined or ill-defined. The major cognitive processes in problem solving are representing, planning, executing, and monitoring. The major kinds of knowledge required for problem solving are facts, concepts, procedures, strategies, and beliefs. The theoretical approaches that have developed over the history of research on problem are associationism, Gestalt, and information processing. Each of these approaches involves fundamental issues in problem solving such as the nature of transfer, insight, and goal-directed heuristics, respectively. Some current research topics in problem solving include decision making, intelligence and creativity, teaching of thinking skills, expert problem solving, analogical reasoning, mathematical and scientific thinking, everyday thinking, and the cognitive neuroscience of problem solving. Common theme concerns the domain specificity of problem solving and a focus on problem solving in authentic contexts.

Article

Psychology and its Impact on Education in India  

Farida Abdulla Khan

Educational studies in India has its roots in teacher training, beginning with an apprenticeship model for primary school teachers in the 19th century. It was subsequently formally instituted in “normal” schools, then colleges, and finally as departments of teacher education in universities by the mid-20th century. In moving beyond school-level subject competence and school-based practical skills, the intellectual and academic foundations and the professional character of teacher education were sought to be strengthened by adding a disciplinary component of the “foundational” disciplines of history, philosophy, sociology, and psychology of education. Of these, psychology, as the then-emerging science of human behavior, with a growing corpus of scientific research, was most easily able to integrate into the programs and to contribute applicable academic and research inputs into the professional content. Serious engagement with the more socially and critically oriented foundational disciplines was more difficult, and although they formed part of the teacher education (TE) curriculum, their integration with the programs remained superficial. When a more comprehensive field of study to explore the landscape of education beyond teacher education began to be imagined, the established departments of education and the educational community were reluctant to create a parallel field of study in education. Given their long association with and commitment to teacher education and its eclectic character, the departments were keen on retaining the TE framework and directing all study of education through this lens. The established and familiar empiricist and positivist model of psychology that had been adopted by teacher education was therefore to seriously influence the development of the new discipline, with long-term consequences for its teaching and research.

Article

Qualitative Research Methods and Students With Severe Disabilities  

Karen A. Erickson and David A. Koppenhaver

Qualitative research methods, in many forms, have been used to deepen understandings in the field of severe disabilities for decades. Using methods such as individual case studies, grounded theory, phenomenology, content analysis, life history, and ethnography, qualitative research has served to explain bounded systems, generate theory, study the lived experiences of individuals, investigate historical and contemporary texts and contexts, share first-person narratives, and investigate cultural and social systems that involve students with severe disabilities. Indicators of quality in qualitative methods and means of establishing credibility have been explicated and are widely applied in the field. To varying degrees, qualitative methods have allowed researchers to represent the voices of students with severe disabilities and engage them actively in the research process, which is important given that a mantra among persons with severe disabilities and their advocates is nothing about us without us. Regardless of the methods, accurately representing the voices of students with severe disabilities and including them as active participants in research is not always easy to accomplish given the nature of their cognitive and communication profiles. Many students with severe disabilities do not communicate symbolically through speech, sign language, or graphic symbols. Others have limited means of communication and are dependent on familiar communication partners to co-construct meaning with them. Some approaches to qualitative research, such as post-critical ethnography, provide a potential path toward representing the voice of a broader range of students with severe disabilities because these methods lead researchers to interrogate assumptions in the field while examining their own positions, perceptions, and beliefs relative to the subject of the investigation. While these methods offer opportunity with respect to their ability to fairly represent and involve students with severe disabilities, they challenge previously accepted indicators of quality and means of establishing credibility in qualitative research. As qualitative research methods are applied in understanding students with severe disabilities in the future, these challenges will have to be addressed.

Article

Reading Comprehension  

Reese Butterfuss, Jasmine Kim, and Panayiota Kendeou

Reading comprehension requires the construction of a coherent mental representation of the information in a text. Reading involves three interrelated elements—the reader, the text, and the activity, all situated into a broader sociocultural context. The complexity inherent in reading comprehension has given rise to a multitude of influential models and frameworks that attempt to account for the various processes that give rise to reading comprehension: for example, activation of prior knowledge and integration of incoming information with currently active memory contents. Other models and frameworks attempt to account for the components that constitute reading comprehension, such as decoding, vocabulary, and language comprehension. Many of the most prominent models of reading comprehension describe single readers engaging with single texts. Several recent models attempt to account for the additional complexity of comprehending multiple texts. Along with engaging in comprehension of multiple texts comes the need to contend with multiple information sources (i.e., sourcing). As such, researchers have developed models and frameworks to capture the processes learners engage in when the need to engage in sourcing arises, such as when readers encounter conflicting information. Much theorizing in the reading comprehension literature has implicated typical readers, which suggests that many models and frameworks may not represent all readers across various skill levels. Existing research has identified several sources of individual differences in reading comprehension that in part determine the success of comprehension processes. Such individual differences include working memory, executive functions, vocabulary, inferencing, and prior knowledge. Prior knowledge is particularly important because of its power to both facilitate and interfere with comprehension processes. As such, the need to overcome the disruptive influence of incorrect prior knowledge (i.e., knowledge revision) becomes especially important when readers encounter information that conflicts with that prior knowledge.

Article

Reading Comprehension, Language, and Theory of Mind Skills in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children  

Kaye Scott and Louise Paatsch

Learning to read is a complex process that is a fundamental skill essential for life in the 21st century. Historically, the reading comprehension skills of many deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children have lagged significantly behind typically hearing children of the same age. In recent years, advances in hearing assistive devices, the introduction of newborn hearing screening, and earlier fitting of appropriate devices leading to earlier intervention have impacted positively on the language and reading comprehension skills of DHH children. Many DHH children, however, still do not develop reading comprehension skills commensurate with their peers. While much is known about how children learn to read, research continues to advance the understanding of these complex and nuanced skills. Recent research supports the inference that Theory of Mind (ToM) skills contribute to reading comprehension development in DHH children. This research emphasizes the interplay between ToM skills and the ability to understand emotional state terms and mental state words, as well as answer “why” questions. Interventions designed to develop ToM skills have been useful in supporting the development of DHH children’s ToM and reading comprehension skills, and this has implications for teachers. Some simple to implement strategies that may contribute to the development of ToM skills in DHH children include the use of “why” questions and the integration of emotional state terms and mental state words into the student’s program. The paucity of research regarding the interplay between ToM and reading comprehension, however, highlights the warrant for further research in this area.

Article

Reasoning Abilities  

Patrick C. Kyllonen

Reasoning ability refers to the power and effectiveness of the processes and strategies used in drawing inferences, reaching conclusions, arriving at solutions, and making decisions based on available evidence. The topic of reasoning abilities is multidisciplinary—it is studied in psychology (differential and cognitive), education, neuroscience, genetics, philosophy, and artificial intelligence. There are several distinct forms of reasoning, implicating different reasoning abilities. Deductive reasoning involves drawing conclusions from a set of given premises in the form of categorical syllogisms (e.g., all x are y) or symbolic logic (e.g., if p then q). Inductive reasoning involves the use of examples to suggest a rule that can be applied to new instances, invoked, for example, when drawing inferences about a rule that explains a series (of numbers, letters, events, etc.). Abductive reasoning involves arriving at the most likely explanation for a set of facts, such as a medical diagnosis to explain a set of symptoms, or a scientific theory to explain a set of empirical findings. Bayesian reasoning involves computing probabilities on conclusions based on prior information. Analogical reasoning involves coming to an understanding of a new entity through how it relates to an already familiar one. The related idea of case-based reasoning involves solving a problem (a new case) by recalling similar problems encountered in the past (past cases or stored cases) and using what worked for those similar problems to help solve the current one. Some of the key findings on reasoning abilities are that (a) they are important in school, the workplace, and life, (b) there is not a single reasoning ability but multiple reasoning abilities, (c) the ability to reason is affected by the content and context of reasoning, (d) it is difficult to accelerate the development of reasoning ability, and (e) reasoning ability is limited by working memory capacity, and sometimes by heuristics and strategies that are often useful but that can occasionally lead to distorted reasoning. Several topics related to reasoning abilities appear under different headings, such as problem solving, judgment and decision-making, and critical thinking. Increased attention is being paid to reasoning about emotions and reasoning speed. Reasoning ability is and will remain an important topic in education.

Article

Researching Conditions of Learning—Phenomenography and Variation Theory  

Angelika Kullberg and Åke Ingerman

The research tradition of phenomenography and variation theory has contributed to insights on teaching and learning at all levels, from preschool to higher education. Phenomenographic studies contribute knowledge about how learners experience the same phenomenon in qualitatively different ways and thereby shed light on what learners need to discern to experience a phenomenon in more powerful ways. Variation theory, which was developed in relation to the collective empirical outcome and interpretation of decades of phenomenographic studies, is a learning theory that points to variation and invariance as primary mechanisms for learning. The theory may be used to plan teaching and to analyze teaching and learning and can therefore be used to address the relationship between teaching and learning. Learning study combines lesson study as a form for development of teaching in relation to learning with the theoretical input from variation theory, and an action research approach, using teacher experience and insights to systematically enhance teaching practice for learning (of the identified learning object). Recent developments in the field to a larger degree combine elements from phenomenographic and variation theory modes of inquiry and address the whole of teaching–learning as it unfolds in classrooms, as well as teaching and learning across larger knowledge areas and/or the stability of findings across larger sets of classrooms with teachers and students.