Tag Archives: situated cognition

Talking, not just reading

In a recent study on what undergraduate students think historical thinking is, one surprising finding was that they thought it was about talking. Talking to one another, talking to tutors…discussion, which teachers thoughts was the mechanism for learning about history as the fundamentally individual reading and analysis of primary sources, was actually what historical thinking consisted of, according to students.

Yet another quote from Brown et al 1989 might suggest why they could be right:

It is a mistake to think that important discourse in learning is always direct and declarative. This peripheral participation is particularly important for people entering the culture. They need to observe how practitioners at various levels behave and talk to get a sense of how expertise is manifest in conversation and other activities. p40


This is another quote from the article below, Brown et al 1989:

By beginning with a task embedded in a familiar activity, it shows the students the legitimacy of their implicit knowledge and its availability as scaffolding in apparently unfamiliar tasks.

By allowing students to generate their own solution paths, it helps to make them conscious, creative members of the culture of [the discipline]. p.38

[posted by Hannah]


I have been re-reading Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989) “Situated cognition and the Culture of Learning”, in Educational Researcher 18.

I’d like to post a quote:

Unfortunately, students are too often asked to use the tools of a discipline without being able to adopt its culture. To learn to use tools as practitioners use them, a student, like an apprentice, must enter that community and its culture. Thus, in a significant way, learning is, we believe, a process of enculturation. (p.33)

(posted by Hannah Forsyth)