The rationale underlying the ProSeminar in Learning Science is that a central component of any graduate career is becoming a part of a community.
While there are many different descriptions on what counts as community, one definition is that it is a persistent, sustained social network of individuals who share and develop an overlapping knowledge base, set of beliefs, values, history and experiences focused on a common practice and/or mutual enterprise. This pro-seminar experience will strive to build a collaborative working group of professionals who are committed to supporting each other’s growth.
In contrast, most learning is treated as an acquisitional process in which the focus is on determining the most efficient methods for meaningfully transmitting information into one’s brain. Meaning making is downplayed, learners are treated as objects to be changed, knowing is considered a coldly cognitive act, and decontextualized information is emphasized. Over the last 30 years, we have witnessed a move from claustrophobic theories that emphasize individual thinkers and their isolated minds to situativity theories that emphasize the reciprocal character of the individual and her social and material context. There has been a reformulation of what it means to known and learn, from a dualist representational theory separating knowing from that which is known to one that situates practice and meaning within context; suggesting reciprocal, as opposed to dualistic, relations among learner, practice, meaning, community, and context.
It is this latter set of ecological assumptions that will guide this work.
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.