This course presents the main theoretical approaches to cognition, learning and instruction in mathematics and science. Emphasis is placed on the cognitive and socio-cultural approaches with some reference to behaviorism. Within the cognitive approach we discuss Piaget's theory of development and learning - the basis of constructivism; development from an information processing perspective (Neo-Piagetian approaches), issues of memory and learning; the "time" dimension of learning (Ausubel); Metacognition. Within the socio-cultural approach we include Vygotsky's theory of learning and the neo-vygotskian addenda, the cognitive apprenticeship model and references to situated learning.
The themes of concept learning, misconceptions, conceptual change, knowledge integration and problem-solving are discussed from both perspectives. Implications to the design and the practice of instruction are considered throughout the course.
As a routine, in parallel to the lectures teachers will read such articles and will hand in short assignments. The lectures will relate to these assignments. As a midterm the students will carry out a short empirical investigation exploring an important issue that was discussed in class. This investigation will usually replicate a study from the educational literature. In a mini-conference the students will report on their investigation and discuss their findings with the class with special reference to instructional implications. In the final exam each student will get (different) short articles and will critic and discuss them in relation to the different topics that were studied in the course.