The focus of this course is to help you develop a rich appreciation for the relationship between theoretical assumptions and practical convictions, especially as they relate to theories of learning and development. Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary field that draws on multiple theoretical perspectives and research paradigms from the human sciences so as to understand the nature and conditions of learning, cognition, development, and related areas of human performance.
Learning scientists investigate cognition in its material, social, and cultural context but with the broad goal of conducting both laboratory-based and naturalistic investigations. The intent of this research is to develop evidence-based claims about how people learn that have practical, pedagogical, and theoretical implications. Further, from the perspective of the Learning Scientist, any investigation of teaching and learning must consider context, cognition, and architecture, which are treated as inextricably intertwined. As such, learning scientists need to have a strong grounding in theory development, an appreciation of mind, design training, and a rich methodological toolkit for evolving evidence-based claims.
This course will introduce and illustrate the proper use of these tools in providing insights into defining and solving problems. The emphasis will always be on the use of these theories to solve realistic and relevant problems drawn either from your own personal experience or from cases you will study. It is only when you have experienced applying these theories to actual problems that you can readily see their strengths and weaknesses. Given the applied nature of the field, we will pay special attention to the ways in which educators, trainers, counselors, parents, policy makers and many others can use these theories and methods to make their endeavors more productive and useful.
About Sasha A. Barab PhD
Sasha Barab is a Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he co-founded and serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Games and Impact.
Dr. Barab is an internationally recognized Learning Scientist who holds the Pinnacle West Chair of Education, and who has researched, designed, and published extensively on the challenges and opportunities of using games for impact.