Reflections on Weimer’s Chapter 1 – Lessons on Learning

In page 7 Weimer talks about “the vastness of the literature on learning and the fact that this body of knowledge remains largely unassembled”. This statement is probably true not only for the subject of learning but for any topic. For instance part of writing a thesis or a dissertation at least in engineering is performing a literature review on the subject to see what other people have done so that the researcher can plan accordingly. However a student in the United States will read the articles related to his research that are published either in English or in one of the languages that the student speaks, while there may be valuable information out there in other languages. To address this issue there are technical world congresses that one can attend but the material that can be covered in these conventions is limited. Weimer beautifully describes this as follows: “We push the horizons of knowledge faster than we map the newly discovered lands”.

In page 12 Weimer talks about the idea of  collective construction of knowledge. I liked the fact the she distinguishes how this may “fit humanities fields where content supports  more tentative and less definitive conclusions”. She continues to say that ” It is more difficult to see how knowledge can be socially constructed in science math and engineering fields where there are more right answers and less disagreement about the status of knowledge”. One of the things that I have learned in this class is that people may have diametrically opposed views on a subject that according to me as an engineer there is a clear cut answer. It is fascinating to see how people that study social sciences, arts etc. are wired to think completely differently from someone who studies math, engineering or physics.

Another interesting argument that Weimer makes is the idea of constructivism where students are encouraged to interact with content in a particular topic regardless of their level of expertise. She also does not fail to note that the less experienced and knowledgeable learners will interact with content in less intellectually robust ways but she defends the idea of involving students in the process of acquiring and retaining information. I always thought that it would be fruitless for someone to wrestle with a concept prior to acquiring the necessary tools first, however now I am convinced that figuring out what tools you need first will be more productive in the process of learning how to use the tools because you already know what you are going to use them for.


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