Compiled skills and education theory

By Gordon Rugg

In a previous article, we described a framework for mapping different types of knowledge (in the broadest sense) onto different methods of teaching, training and learning (also in the broadest sense).

http://hydeandrugg.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/an-education-framework-based-on-knowledge-modelling/

That article was a broad overview. This article shows a worked example of how the framework operates for one category from the framework, namely compiled skills.

verifier educationv2Image copyleft Hyde & Rugg, 2014

Compiled skills are a type of strictly tacit knowledge that have traditionally been viewed in the education world as something of a black box. They are particularly problematic for some views of education because their performance is usually adversely affected, or completely disrupted, by any attempt to verbalise them. For any sport enthusiast, they are a familiar phenomenon, usually under the name of “the flow” or of “muscle memory”.

This article unpacks the nature of compiled skills, and examines the implications for education theory and practice.

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An education framework based on knowledge modelling

By Gordon Rugg

Education is about getting new content into student’s heads, via some combination of teaching and learning.

In order to do this in an evidence-based way, one key element is a solid categorisation framework for each of the variables involved. Three key variables are:

  • Types of content
  • Types of delivery
  • Types of learning

There are other important variables, such as physiological constraints, but we’ll focus for the moment on the three listed above.

Existing educational categorisations, such as the Visual/Auditory/Kinaesthetic model, tend to be unsystematic and/or very coarse-grained. In order to handle this area properly, a category system should as a minimum be able to handle systematically the types of content and of delivery and learning shown in the diagram below, and preferably be able to handle more.

verifier educationv2

This article is a brief overview of how we have been tackling this issue. We will go into more detail in later articles.

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Teaching the facts

By Gordon Rugg & Sue Gerrard

There’s a lot of debate in education about “teaching the facts”.

There’s also a lot of debate about the definition of “facts” and about the nature of teaching.

However, a couple of things tend to be conspicuous by their absence in these debates.

  • There’s a significant absence of numbers relating to facts, such as how many facts a student should know about a particular topic.
  • There’s also a significant absence of categorisation systems that use more than three categories.

These absences are usually indications that a debate is focused on questions that aren’t going to produce useful answers.

So what happens when you plug in some numbers, and some richer categorisation?

In brief, you get this:

  • students need to learn between one thousand and ten thousand facts
  • there’s an upper limit of learning of about ten facts per hour, and
  • you need to distinguish between about ten to twenty different types of “fact”.

These results have far reaching implications for education. They’re the topic of this article.

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Just the facts

By Gordon Rugg

There’s a popular belief that it’s possible just to “teach the facts” without getting into needless complicated theory.

It’s a nice, comforting idea. Unfortunately, not all nice and comforting ideas are true, and this particular idea is one that just doesn’t stand up very well to the facts.

This article is about the problems that you encounter when you apply this idea to reality. It starts with an apparently clear, simple example of a “fact”; the date when the American Civil War ended.

Shenandoah_destroying_whale_ships_

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Shenandoah_destroying_whale_ships_.jpg

 

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False dichotomies in education theory

By Gordon Rugg & Sue Gerrard

False dichotomies involve presenting something as if only two choices were possible, when in fact there are other possible choices.

Some false dichotomies are easy to spot; those don’t usually get very far. Others, though, are much subtler, and have become part of our everyday world; for instance, the dichotomy between work and play, or the dichotomy between feminine and masculine, or the dichotomy between healthy and unhealthy.

When you unpack what’s going on in a false dichotomy, you usually end up with a much clearer and more useful understanding of what’s really happening. That’s the topic of this article.

binary beads

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Academic writing and fairy tales

By Gordon Rugg

It’s spring. To some people, it’s a time of flowers and buds and growth and new hope. To other people, it’s the time when they’re trying to write their undergraduate dissertation, and are feeling lost and confused.

This article is intended for people who are grappling with academic writing, and who are having trouble working out what the core concepts are. It has elements of humour in it, but the underlying point is completely serious. It’s about the deep structure and the internal logic of academic writing. Most people are unfamiliar with those two topics in the academic context, but they’re very familiar with them in a different context, which is the core of this article. That context is the fairy tale.

This article goes through the key stages of an academic article, mapping them onto the corresponding stages of a fairy tale, and explaining the underlying logic behind them.

Slide2

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Visions of course structure

By Gordon Rugg

There’s a long-running debate in education about course structure. The debate tends to be polarised by visions of a stark choice between total control on the one hand, and total chaos on the other hand.

The Brueghel painting below sums those visions up pretty well, with its depiction of embattled educators striving against the forces of darkness and chaos.

However, the reality is more complex, and also more useful.

brueghel

Image from wikimedia

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