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Learning in Activity: A Pedagogical Innovation in Higher Education

  • University of St.Gallen and University of Zurich

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Active, lifelong learning has advanced to a “buzz word,” requiring highly motivated learners who are able to learn in a self-regulated manner, and to actively engage within a learning community utilizing new media. Facing this challenge, this paper focuses on pedagogy regarding both the learning process as well as the methodical and didactic creation of the social and cultural learning environment in the field of teacher education in the university context. As a consequence, a pedagogical framework will be outlined which serves - together with the initial research question/subquestions - as a starting point and a point of reference. This framework consists of three intertwined perspectives: individual learning process, media and social interaction, and sociocultural context. In order to develop an applicable pedagogical concept empirical exploration will be based on best-practice case study research. The paper briefly outlines some important preliminary findings of the first case study which I conducted in the field of teacher education at the University of Oldenburg, Germany in 2005. Zu bestellen unter
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Learning in Activity
Sabine Hoidn
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Learning in Activity
A Pedagogical Innovation in Higher Education
Sabine Hoidn, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and Stanford University, United
States of America
Abstract: Active, lifelong learning has advanced to a “buzz word,” requiring highly motivated learners who are able to
learn in a self-regulated manner, and to actively engage within a learning community utilizing new media. Facing this
challenge, this paper focuses on the pedagogic dimension regarding both the learning process as well as the methodical
and didactic creation of the social and cultural learning environment in the eld of teacher education in the university
context. As a consequence, a pedagogical framework will be outlined which serves – together with the initial research
question/subquestions - as a starting point and a point of reference. This framework consists of three intertwined perspectives:
individual learning process, media and social interaction, and sociocultural context. In order to develop an applicable
pedagogical concept empirical exploration will be based on good-practice case study research. The paper briey outlines
some important preliminary ndings of the rst case study which I conducted in the eld of teacher education at the University
of Oldenburg, Germany in 2005.
Keywords: Learning in Activity, Pedagogy, Innovation, New Media, Higher Education, Teacher Education
LEARNING IN ACTIVITY, that is highly
motivated learners who are able to learn in
a self-regulated manner, and to actively en-
gage within a learning community utilizing
new media, is becoming increasingly important in
the age of telecommunications and multimedia.
Learning in activity takes place within an activity
system, i.e. in a social organization (e.g., university)
containing students, instructors, curriculum materials,
platforms and the physical environment (Engeström,
1999; Greeno, 2006). Facing the current research
landscape, it is obvious that the development of
pedagogical theories and concepts lags behind the
progression of new technologies. As new media, i.e.
forms of digital communication and interaction
through the use of computer technology, are becom-
ing an increasingly integral part of university teach-
ing, new didactic teaching and learning concepts are
required which offer a valuable learning environment
fostering learning in activity within a learning com-
munity. Hence, my paper aims at developing a ped-
agogical concept for learning in activity, which is
theoretically established, empirically valid, and
practically useful. Consequently, the problem is
primarily considered from a pedagogical point of
view. Euler and Seufert (2004) state in recent re-
search in Europe that pedagogy plays a key role
concerning the implementation of new technologies
within higher education. Thus, the use of new media
has to be driven by pedagogic principles; technology
serves the science of learning and not the other way
around. Therefore, the following research question
is the initial point for the research process: How can
learning in activity via new media within a learning
community be justied, and how can educators sup-
port and foster learning in activity in the eld of
higher education? As a consequence, this project
addresses the following subquestions in the eld of
teacher education via new media in the university
1. To what extent may certain cognitive, motiva-
tional, and social variables constitute or rather
affect learning in activity?
2. Which competencies does learning in activity
in social environments demand from learners?
3. How can learning in activity within a learning
community be theoretically and practically jus-
tied as an objective in higher education?
4. What potential of new media environments can
be utilized to methodically arrange learning in
5. Which implicit and explicit possibilities emerge
for faculty in order to foster learning in activity
within a learning community?
6. What are the implications for educational man-
agement regarding the competence development
of faculty in order to foster learning in the eld
of teacher education?
In this paper I rst lay out my theoretical frame-
work consisting of three intertwined perspectives:
individual learning process, media and social inter-
action, and sociocultural context. Following this
© Common Ground, Sabine Hoidn, All Rights Reserved, Permissions:
framework which functions as a starting point and
point of reference, I outline the design of my empir-
ical research based upon three good-practice case
studies. After that I will share my preliminary nd-
ings of the rst case study which I conducted in a
German university in 2005. I conclude reecting
upon some preliminary analysis gained through my
rst case study. This leads me to project a second
case study in the U.S. to gain new insights into edu-
cational practice, and external generalizability of my
Theoretical Framework
Starting from the respective literature review this
study aims at closing a research gap in the eld of
educational management at universities. As this study
refers to a ‘situative’ approach (Brown, Collins &
Duguid, 1989; Greeno, 2006; Lave & Wenger, 1991),
the focus of analysis is the whole activity system
where learning takes place. This situative perspective
is based upon two approaches and attempts to inter-
twine their strengths (Cole & Wertsch, 1996; Sa-
lomon, 1993; Salomon & Perkins, 1998): cognitive
science research (Kintsch, 1998; Piaget, 1936, 1970)
and interactional approaches (Dewey, 1938; En-
geström, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978). While the cognitive
science focuses on information structures and pro-
cesses of individuals, the interactional approach fo-
cuses on participation structures and processes of an
activity system. Moreover, the latter particularly
emphasizes the role of cultural artefacts discussed
in terms of distributed intelligence (Hutchins, 1993,
1995; Pea, 1993). Thus, I have developed an initial
theoretical framework (see Figure 1) emphasizing
the interactive learning process and providing a point
of reference for further research. Based on the
learning sciences this pedagogical framework aims
to explore learning in activity via new media within
a learning community in higher education. It is
therefore based on three perspectives: individual
learning process, media and social interaction, and
sociocultural context, while interaction is the glue
that keeps the individual, social, and cultural togeth-
Individual learning process: Since a motivated
active learner is vital, the pedagogical framework
focuses on motivation and self-regulation within
the learning process. From an individual point
of view the main elds which have to be regarded
are preconditions, goals & content, regulation
process, results & success, and methods &
Media and social interaction: The framework
emphasizes both the important role of new media
(potential added value) and the learning com-
munity (e.g., instructor, experts, other learners).
Sociocultural context: Learning and interaction
take place within a dened situation (here:
teacher education in the university context) me-
diated by cultural artefacts (e.g., computers,
Since this framework is based on literature studies,
it serves as an heuristic model, which helps to struc-
ture questions and ndings of further empirical re-
search. However, it can be specied as well as
modied by empirical data focussing on the univer-
sity context.
Figure 1: Theoretical Framework of the Learning Process
Figure 1 illustrates three intertwined perspectives
which have to be regarded while investigating how
students learn: The individual learning process and
its main elds, with a special emphasis on motivation
and self-regulation as basic values for lifelong
learning; Interaction as a key component since
learning is mediated through media and social inter-
action, whereas the different forms of communication
are crucial (e.g., collaboration); and the sociocultural
context where learning processes take place. These
three interweaved perspectives on learning are de-
scribed below.
First Perspective: Individual Learning
Students learn more effectively when they are asked
to be an active originator rather than a passive recip-
ient concerning the learning process (Reinmann-
Rothmeier & Mandl, 2001). Therefore, students need
to know learning strategies and methods which en-
able them to plan, conduct, regulate, and evaluate
learning with understanding. The learning process
poses several questions which need to be answered
in order to create ‘conditionalized’ knowledge which
supports understanding and transfer (Bransford,
2000; Euler & Hahn, 2004):
Learning preconditions: What prior knowledge
does the learner have (preconceptions)? Is the
learner ready to learn?
Learning goals & objects: What learning goals
should a learner achieve? Which learning con-
tents should be treated?
Learning regulation: How can the learning pro-
cess be controlled and adjusted (metacognition)?
Learning results & success: How can the result
be examined, measured and treated?
Learning methods & strategies: Which methods,
media and strategies should be used?
Motivation and self-regulation seem to be crucial
in order to facilitate both effective lifelong learning
and active participation within a learning community,
whereas issues of cognitive competence are inter-
twined with issues of motivation to perform (National
Research Council, 1999; Stipek, 2002). Martens,
Gulikers and Bastiaens (2004) claim that intrinsically
motivated students are relatively more explorative
and do qualitatively different things compared to
other students. Deci and Ryan (1985, 1993, 2004)
and Ryan and Deci (2000) provide a self-determina-
tion theory as an instrument that considers not only
intrinsic motivation but also distinguishes among
different characteristics of extrinsic motivation. Ad-
ditionally, Ryan and Deci emphasize the importance
of three psychological needs: perceived competence,
perceived autonomy, and perceived relatedness for
intrinsic motivation and self-determined forms of
extrinsic motivation in learning environments. Mo-
tivation is necessary but not sufcient. To investigate
learning in activity more deeply, it is important to
nd out which competencies are required. Therefore,
the individual learning process has to be considered
more precisely, especially with regard to education-
ally relevant metacognitive theories (Brown, 1987;
Flavell, 1979, 1987). Starting from the individual
learning process above, the following graphic (see
Figure 2) focuses on the learning activity itself em-
phasizing metacognitive activities which are sup-
posed to be vital.
Figure 2: Self-Regulated Learning Process
This gure outlines the individual learning process
described before with a special emphasis on self-
regulation activities like planning, conducting, reect-
ing, monitoring and controlling which are important
in order to foster self-sustaining learners’ (Bransford,
2000). Following a metacognitive approach (Flavell,
1979) it also stresses the meaning of the learner’s
preconditions, preconceptions and prior knowledge
regarding personal traits, strategies and the demands
of the task (problem). In addition, it considers the
learner’s knowledge regarding the creation and usage
of situative conditions like time constraints, study
aids and media and personal communication possib-
Second Perspective: Media and Social
In order to overcome the constraints of an individual
cognitive approach the media and social interaction
is a second level which is equally important. Learn-
ing depends on the one hand on self-motivation and
self-regulation, but occurs on the other hand in social
settings where people communicate in joint action
while participating in an activity system. Learning
environments have to be regarded as “activity sys-
tems in which learners interact with each other and
with material, informational, and conceptual re-
sources in their environment” (Greeno, 2006, p. 197).
Learning is strongly inuenced by interaction medi-
ated by artefacts (e.g., new media) as well as by
other people. Consequently, media and social inter-
action seems to play a crucial role for the learning
process. Social interaction with other people is essen-
tial because learning initiates various internal devel-
opment processes which operate only while interact-
ing with others. Vygotsky’s zone of proximal devel-
opment is clamping the potential of an individual for
learning, that is the problems an individual can solve
under guidance or in collaboration with others. In
contrast, the independent problem solving shows the
actual development level, i.e. what an individual can
do without guidance (Vygotsky, 1978). Language,
i.e. communication is a primary form of interaction.
Therefore, facilitating class/group discussions where
students learn not only content but also how to act-
ively participate in a community through argument-
ation and discourse, and how to collaborate with
others is crucial. Moreover, communication conduc-
ted in terms of a set of mediating artefacts inuences
cognitive processes which are distributed among
people (Hutchins, 1993). In conclusion, there are
two basic processes which operate during every
learning activity within a socialcultural context: In-
ternalization and externalization. While internaliza-
tion represents the learner’s adaption of social pro-
cesses, i.e. cultural knowledge and skills mediated
through artefacts or in interaction with other people,
externalization aims at the ability to creatively
transform given constraints and create new cultural
artefacts (Engeström, 1999).
Third Perspective: Sociocultural Context
Furthermore, learning takes place in the context of
culture. A situative perspective emphasizes the im-
portance of the institutional contexts of activity sys-
tems in understanding learning (Greeno, 2006). This
study focuses on the eld of teacher education in the
university context utilizing new media. Since not
only the learner but also the environment is an active
element, the methodical-didactic creation of the
learning environment is a key success factor on the
operational level. The goal is to explore demands
and nally dene personal, social, and learning
competencies which are necessary to become an
active learner within a learning community and to
be able to acquire knowledge which is transferable
into other contexts. As a consequence, implications
for teaching and competence development of faculty
arise in order to become a supportive instructor.
Since the quality of teaching and the creation of a
valuable sociocultural environment depends on the
competencies of faculty, and in order to assure a high
didactic quality, measures for the competence devel-
opment of faculty are crucial. Recent research at
Stanford points out the critical role of both classroom
management skills and support and training of faculty
(Gilbert & Nash, 2003, 2004). The context is also
important for promoting transfer, which is involved
twice: at the beginning and at the end of every
learning process. Students have to transfer their prior
knowledge into the actual context, and they should
be able to apply acquired knowledge in new situ-
ations (Bransford, 2000). Therefore, implications for
the competence development of faculty on a structur-
al and cultural level have to be outlined. According
to Euler and Seufert (2004) and Kerres et al. (2005)
developing the competencies of faculty and encour-
aging faculty to experiment with new didactic con-
cepts are key factors for a successful integration of
new media in the university context. To foster the
teaching process integrating eLearning-based self-
study forms into current curricula and test systems
at the university are also important. Moreover, the
modularization of the content is a fundamental factor
concerning the quality and sustainability of teaching
innovations in the university context. A philosophy
of change has to be developed as well as a support
system which promotes the desired learning and
teaching values and culture. Finally, a sense of ac-
ceptance and openness towards innovations has to
be fostered and supported by the educational manage-
ment at universities. Factors on the operational as
well as on the structural and cultural level have to
be adjusted within a didactic mission statement
concerning learning in activity via new media within
a learning community in the university context.
Research Methodology
Based on an interdisciplinary literature review, I de-
veloped a didactic framework as a starting point and
point of reference. This framework helps to structure
the research eld and to determine important categor-
ies which have to be investigated. Three perspectives
were dened: learning, interaction and context. In
order to develop an applicable pedagogical concept
the exploration of educational practice seems to be
appropriate for further research. Referring to the re-
commendation of the National Research Council
(1999) I developed a design for case study research
in order to gain insights into principles of learning
and teaching practiced in successful educational
settings. The empirical study is based upon three
good-practice case studies in Germany (University
of Oldenburg, 2005), United States (Stanford Univer-
sity, 2006), and Switzerland (University of St. Gal-
len, 2007). These case studies are conducted in order
to explore innovative practices, compare results, in-
vestigate specic settings, and as a consequence,
enrich the introduced pedagogical concept. Thus,
this research project focuses on problems of educa-
tional practice while investigating innovators and
early adopters (Rogers, 2003) to bridge theory and
practice. Data will be gathered through document
analysis, participant observation, questionnaires and
semi-structured and narrative interviews. The follow-
ing chart (see Figure 3) illustrates the exploratory
empirical research process.
Figure 3: Circular Case Study Research Process (Flick, 1999, p. 61)
The above chart depicts that the questions under
study are going to be explored through three case
studies. The rst case study has been already conduc-
ted at a good-practice institution at the University of
Oldenburg in Germany. This institution has success-
fully developed a learning and teaching concept in
teacher education via new media which is applied
throughout Germany. The within-case analysis fol-
lows common case study research practice (e.g., Dyer
& Wilkens, 1991; Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003), and
is based on grounded theory methodologies (Glaser
& Strauss, 1967, 1998; Strauss, 1991; Strauss &
Corbin, 1996; Strübing, 2004) fostered by the use of
the knowledge workbench ATLAS.ti 5.0, a work-
bench which can handle text, graphical, audio, and
video data. I will briey reveal primarily results of
this case study in the next chapter. As this research
process aims at theory generation meeting in a ped-
agogical concept, two more case studies will be
conducted to facilitate cross comparison in order to
arise powerful analytic conclusions. Currently I am
in the process of conducting and analyzing the
second study at the Stanford University School of
Education including the Stanford Center for Innova-
tions in Learning (SCIL). This center of excellence
facilitates good-practice projects implementing new
technologies in higher education throughout the
university. These different research contexts seem
to offer valuable new insights into educational prac-
tice which help to improve the theoretical concept,
and to gain external generalizability of my ndings.
In 2007 a third case study will be conducted at the
University of St. Gallen, a good-practice organization
which has implemented eLearning along with an
extensive study reform.
German Case Study: Conception and
Preliminary Findings
The University of Oldenburg, Germany (ht-
tp:// has neither implemented
an eLearning strategy nor integrated eLearning on
an organizational level. As a consequence, only few
institutions and faculty members experiment with
the use of new media in the university context. In
2005 a case study was conducted in the eld of
teacher education at the Institute of Economic Edu-
cation at the University of Oldenburg, Germany on
an institutional level. This institute has several years
of experience in the design and management of
blended learning-programs in teacher education and
training in economics. Thus, it can function as a best
practice example, since 40 % of its university courses
are conducted via blended learning. Blended learning
“is learning which uses a combination of face-to-face
[…] and online media. This form of learning is in-
creasingly used at universities, and the presence of
both types of learning distinguish blended from
wholly online and wholly classroom methods of
learning.” (Mitchell & Savil-Smith, 2004, p. 71)
There is evidence that blended learning approaches
have the potential to foster both active learning
strategies and community learning strategies (Collis,
2003; Morgan, 2002). Findings of expert interviews
indicate that eLearning self-study forms like blended
learning strategies “seem to be more suitable to
achieve sustainability” of eLearning innovations,
“involve a higher innovative level and more
changes”, and “current pedagogic expertise […] will
be enriched in its didactic” (Euler & Seufert, 2004,
p. 13). Moreover, it has developed a practicable
educational concept which provides an adaptable,
internet-based platform, a modularized content, pre-
pared by experts of business management, econom-
ics, law and didactics, and special training for tutors
as well as technical support. The pedagogic concept
is mixing online with face-to-face learning as well
as individual, collaborative, and collective work.
This model has been successfully applied in econom-
ic teacher training throughout Germany as well as
in teacher education at the university.
Data sources encompass interviews and question-
naires as well as observations and my experiences
as an assistant lecturer in the elds of teacher educa-
tion in Oldenburg. These qualitative data were
gathered from students, instructors and experts who
have experienced blended learning environments at
the Institute of Economic Education in 2005. The
following guidelines reect the core interests of the
1. Analysis of the demands which learning in
activity via new media within a learning com-
munity makes on learners in order to derive
competencies/strategies students need in the
context of higher education.
2. Discover ineffective strategies and lack of
competencies appearing in hybrid learning en-
vironments in order to explore new effective
strategies and get to know ineffective strategies
as well as missing skills, which perturb learning
in activity within a learning community.
3. Exploration of factors that support or prevent
learning in activity via new media within a
learning community in order to foster interac-
tion and create a supporting sociocultural
learning environment.
4. Analysis and observation of measures for the
competence development of faculty to foster
learning in activity via new media within a
learning community in order to derive implica-
tions for educational management in higher
Some preliminary ndings of the qualitative sur-
veys conducted in Germany:
1. During the year of investigation the students
participating in the teacher education program
of the institute systematically answered an open
ended online questionnaire at the end of each
term. This survey proves that students and fac-
ulty do not make full use of the potential of new
media: courses with low threshold solutions
dominate (for example the use of platforms as
deposit stations, for email and sometimes for
discussion via fora), limited use of self-tests
and chat. Moreover, tools like application
sharing and video conferencing are not provided
by the platform. However, students as well as
faculty appreciate the exibility and autonomy
given through the use of new media – the
overall attitude towards blended learning is
2. Overall results of a learning and study
strategies inventory (Metzger, Weinstein &
Palmer, 1999) which was conducted to assess
the learning and study strategies among 95
randomly selected students (out of circa 300)
in summer term 2005 show that there is a lack
of learning strategies, especially of skills in time
management, self-assessment, concentration,
and students are sometimes anxious as they are
feeling tense about their achievements. While
anxiety concerns the will component, the other
groups address the self-regulation component.
Since self-regulation is a key component for
learning in activity these ndings are quite
3. In ten Narrative Interviews, students pointed
out several demands which a blended learning
environment makes on learners:
a. Personal competencies: self-management
e.g., taking responsibility for one’s and for
the group’s learning process, staying
power, self-discipline, aspiration level,
time management
b. Social competencies – in particular team
competencies, ability to communicate (e.
g., ask for help, participate actively in
seminars, engage in discussions) in order
to collaborate with other students, arrange
group meetings, structure group commu-
c. Learning competencies: Selecting main
ideas, self-organization
Furthermore, the interviews show among
other things that many students lack person-
al, social, and learning competencies – in
particular team competencies to collaborate
with other students.
Semi-structured interviews with instructors, tu-
tors and experts reveal that they lack necessary
skills and resources to construct and conduct
courses fostering high quality learning via new
media, and that they need didactical and techno-
logical support to create innovative learning en-
vironments. Moreover, there is only minor
awareness of learning in activity as an important
learning objective.
Preliminary Conclusions and Further
This concept focuses on learning in activity within
a learning community utilizing new media. Recent
statistics indicate that there are less than ve percent
of the universities in German-speaking Europe have
implemented new media in a pedagogic-technical
innovative manner. Furthermore, there is less known
about enduring motivation and the overall competen-
cies necessary for the effective use of new media
within an interactive learning process. The ndings
of this study provide new insights into active learning
processes utilizing new media within the university
context. Findings show that students frequently use
ineffective learning strategies; there is an alerting
lack of learning strategies with regard to self-regulat-
ing processes, especially metacognitive strategies
which are demanded in order to learn self-regulated
via new media within a learning community. Further-
more, learning in activity demands several skills
from learners’ like self- and time management com-
petencies, self-discipline, (virtual) team competen-
cies, and communication skills. However, the study
points out that learner’s often lack personal, social,
and learning competencies which hinders the learning
process (within groups). In addition, the results show
that instructors have problems in constructing and
conducting courses fostering learning in activity via
new media because of lack of competencies and di-
dactical and technological support.
This rst case study and the developed pedagogic-
al framework were very much inuenced by an indi-
vidual cognitive approach, as I worked from the
cognitive perspective and extended to include inter-
action and the context where learning takes part. In
order to develop a more holistic comprehension of
the learning and teaching process utilizing new media
it seems to be valuable to put equal attention to the
sociocultural context of cognition. As Hutchins
(1993, p. 62) points out: “The properties of groups
of minds in interaction with each other, or the prop-
erties of the interaction between individual minds
and artefacts in the world, are frequently at the heart
of intelligent human performance.” Consequently,
a change in the research context of the study could
bring valuable insights, which will enable me to bring
cognitive science and interactional approaches togeth-
To change the perspective and the context, and to
get a better understanding of the demands, strategies,
supportive and preventive factors as well as of
measures for competence development, I also invest-
igate the state-of-the-art use of new media in the U.
S. in a second case study in 2006 (calendar year).
The Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning
(SCIL,, a center of excel-
lence within the Stanford University School of Edu-
cation, conducts scholarly research to advance the
science, technology and practice of learning and
teaching. SCIL is located in Wallenberg Hall, which
has been designed to provide learning spaces for
university classes and state-of-the-art facilities for
research in learning and education. The SCIL team
supports faculty and instructors to create scenarios
utilizing spaces and technological advances in Wal-
lenberg Hall in order to enhance teaching and learn-
ing. Thus, the aim of my second case study is to not
only replicate my earlier study focused on an indi-
vidual cognitive approach including interaction but
also broaden or rather switch the perspective to a
more holistic one. Therefore, I want to add a new
focus which emphasizes also the sociocultural con-
text of cognition, i.e. the mediating artefacts and the
social interaction with others taking place within an
activity system.
Bransford, J. D. (Eds.) (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School. Washington, DC: National
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About the Author
Sabine Hoidn
University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and Stanford University,United States (visiting researcher for 2006). Over
the last few years I gained various experiences as a responsible human resources assistant as well as a teacher
in vocational schools and a lecturer in adult education. Beyond that I have gathered both research- and practically-
oriented experiences at various European universities. Since 2003 I am a doctoral candidate at the Institute of
Business Education and Educational Management, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Until December 2005
I worked as a research associate and lecturer at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, while at the same time
engaging in my commitment as a scientic assistant at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. Currently I
am a visiting researcher at the Stanford University School of Education, because I was awarded with a fellowship
by the Swiss National Science Foundation. My main research interests and experiences are in the elds of
technology enhanced pedagogy in higher education and (qualitative) research methods. The last two years I
have developed content for an online database which provides useful teaching materials for teachers of economics
at school (e.g., lessons, information about action-orientated teaching methods). I was also in charge of improving
the quality of the teacher education programme at the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Moreover, I have
gained various experience as a lecturer in the elds of teacher education and training.
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I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
- This paper describes the process of inducting theory using case studies from specifying the research questions to reaching closure. Some features of the process, such as problem definition and construct validation, are similar to hypothesis-testing research. Others, such as within-case analysis and replication logic, are unique to the inductive, case-oriented process. Overall, the process described here is highly iterative and tightly linked to data. This research approach is especially appropriate in new topic areas. The resultant theory is often novel, testable, and empirically valid. Finally, framebreaking insights, the tests of good theory (e.g., parsimony, logical coherence), and convincing grounding in the evidence are the key criteria for evaluating this type of research.
In traditional psychology, learning is studied at the level of the individual. This is true of behaviorism, which studies behaviors of individual organisms, and also of cognitivism, which studies mental processes and structures within individuals’ minds. This chapter presents an approach to the study of learning in which the unit of analysis is larger than an individual person - either two or more people, such as a dyad, a group, a classroom, a community, or an individual person working with objects and technological systems. Many learning scientists conduct research at these levels of analysis, and this is part of what distinguishes the field from experimental cognitive psychology, where the usual level of analysis is the individual. We refer to these higher-level learning systems as activity systems because the focus of learning sciences research is often on how people learn by engaging in activities in these systems, such as solving a problem or making or designing something. An activity system can be as large as a classroom of students with a teacher, or as small as a single individual interacting with some text or a computer program. Research on activity systems focuses on the ways the individual components act and interact with each other, and also focuses on larger contextualizing systems that provide resources and constraints for those actions and interactions. This definition of activity system is designed to be broad enough to incorporate a range of perspectives that theorize activity systems; these include cultural-historical activity theory (e.g., Engeström, 1987), situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991), situated action (Suchman, 1987), distributed cognition (Hutchins & Klauson, 1998), and cultural psychology (Cole, 1996; Rogoff, 2003). We use the term situative in this chapter, intending it to refer to the general approach of all these research programs. In an activity system, regular and recurring patterns of activity are called its practices. People who know how to participate in the same shared practices are called a community of practice. When individuals want to join a community of practice, they do not know how to participate in these shared practices. Consequently, at first they are peripheral members of the community, and their learning trajectory gradually leads them toward participating more fully in the community’s practices (Lave & Wenger, 1991).