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cognitive flexibility

Page history last edited by Norman Jackson 14 years, 6 months ago
Teaching that involves memorization and a superficial familiarity with general concepts is easy enough. But what about the learning that can’t prepare you for every contingency, that doesn’t lend itself to principles that can be applied in every instance?


It is in this domain of ill-structured complexity and advanced knowledge that Rand Spiro has pioneered Cognitive Flexibility Theory, and along with his colleagues has sought to refashion teaching and learning for an ever-changing and complex world.


'Cognitive Flexibility Theory is about preparing people to select, adapt, and combine knowledge and experience in new ways to deal with situations that are different than the ones they have encountered before,” says Spiro, a professor of learning, technology and culture in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education. “It is the flexible application of knowledge in new contexts that concerns me. There are always new contexts and you just can’t rely on old templates. Cognitive security is what people want. It doesn’t work in the modern world of work and life.'


'The way content is often thought involves oversimplifying complex concepts. Groups tend to bring different perspectives to a problem-solving situation. Thus, if an individual can begin to think like a group - with multiple perspectives, honoring complexity, this "cognitive flexibility" can help learners develop advantageous skills for thinking about complex subject matter - whether a group is present or not. This is the essence of cognitive flexibility theory. It is to "enable an individual to contemplate a given situation from the general world perspective of some other individuals" - to see the world through another person's eyes.'



Comments (1)

Anonymous said

at 5:13 pm on Oct 28, 2007

Does this link or conflict with integrative learning - another cognitive model that attempts to deal with complex learning? Check out the SCEPTrE blog http://jotait.typepad.com/sceptre/2007/01/index.html in January 2007 for more details of integrative learning

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