Theory Assumptions

Central to the ontological assumptions that underlie all work is the theory that knowing and doing and being are reciprocal—that is, that cognition is situated and progressively developed through activity.

Consistent with this view is the belief that concepts are not self-contained entities and that, instead, conceptual understanding is a tool that is fully understood through use. An assumption underlying this argument is that learning involves more than acquiring information; instead, it involves actively participating, through which learners build an increasingly rich, implicit understanding of the tools of practice, of the world where the tools are used, and of themselves as individuals who use these tools successfully.

Conceived in this manner, cognition and knowing are not properties of individuals, but distributed acts that exist in the flow of activity as people interact with others and with social, physical, and intellectual resources. Curriculum developed with these assumptions has the potential to establish experiences that wrap themselves up in personal lifewords, not simply standardized test scores. More recently this work has been focused on conceptions of design that distinguish between outputs and outcomes, and what types of innovations are more effective at producing sustainable and scalable outcomes rather than maximizing immediate outputs.

The goal underlying my theoretical work is to provide practical theory that is general enough to have widespread application and specific enough to inform specific design decisions. Therefore, across the various articles is a commitment to advance rigorous claims about how people learn that have significant practical, pedagogical, and theoretical implications. Here, is the belief that there is nothing quite as practical as usable theory.

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.

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