Throughout the 20th century, several revolutions took place in the way of the scientific perception of the learning process. The course will follow the development of the various learning theories, emphasizing their application in science and mathematics educational research and teaching practice.
These theories can be grouped under three main theoretical approaches to cognition, learning and instruction in mathematics and science. These include: Behaviorism, cognitive and socio-cultural approaches.
Within the Behaviorist approach we discuss Skinner's stimulus- response theory, and Gange's perspective on the pre-conditions needed for learning .
Within the Cognitive approach we discuss Piaget's theory of intellectual development and principles of cognitive structure organization - the basis of constructivism, and Karplu's ideas on how to apply Piaget's theory in instructional design; Bruner's theory about the three ways student represent learning tasks and his ideas on how to design an environment that supports learning. Ausubel's theory of meaningful verbal learning and its application within knowledge integration instructional design framework; Driver's theory on children's alternative frameworks in science and Posner's ideas on how to design instruction based on this perspective. Some examples from mathematics and science education research demonstrating children's alternative framework will be demonstrated. Finally, diSessa's theory of knowledge in transition will be presented .
Within the Socio-Cultural approach we include Vygotsky's theory of learning, the neo-vygotskian addenda, the cognitive apprenticeship model and references to situated learning. Within this approach differences between novices and experts in mathematical problem solving and complex systems understanding and their implications to teaching and learning will be discussed.
As a routine, in parallel to the lectures students will read original articles written by the theory developers and and will work with a peer to design a lesson plan or a learning activity in line with the a learning theory. The student will choose 3 theories out of those learned in the course.
In the final assignment each student will choose a key concept / skill from science or mathematics curriculum and design three lessons plans for teaching it in class, based on principles of a theory from each one of the approaches learned in the course. The students will also analyze the three lesson designs with regard to their possibilities and limits in teaching this key concept / skill.