Home » B822:Creativity, Innovation and Change » Our memory of how to do things is tied to the situation in which it was learnt

Our memory of how to do things is tied to the situation in which it was learnt


‘The now well attested implication’, writes Jane Henry in the B822 ‘Creativity, Cognition & Development’ handbook (p74) ‘is that knowledge is situated and does not transfer easily’.

This has significant implication on how we learn, the reasons why we learn (or have to be taught), how we are tested formerly in an assessment or exam, and critically, how what we have learnt is applied.

A Level 3 Coaching course I am taking with the ASA relies on too much theory (rushed workshops in meetings rooms in leisure centres, but note poolside). We submit assignments. These are handwritten into forms. Marking takes months and plagiarism is rife. Whilst how we are taught and how we are tested match, there is little correlation to what we do poolside with athletes. It is neither applied nor situated.

Lawyers live by the written word; I can see that reading, writing and exams suit how they will act in practice.

What about elearning? Or mlearning? Learning online, whether from a desk or a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) has the potential to take the lesson into the situation where this knowledge is required. Swimming coaching and teaching ought to be be taught ‘just in time’ with bitesize learning before and after (even during) swimming sessions.

There are many training situations where the lesson is best taught, as if by a supervisor shadowing an apprentice in the workplace.  In this way the lesson taught is associated with the problem that is being dealt with as it arises.

If I study everything online, at a screen, typing at a QWERTY keyboard I should be assessed in the same way, which in the MAODE is exactly what happens: I type out assignments and upload them for marking. I get the ‘paper’ back a file with annotations.

Coming to the end of B822 I find myself having to pick up a pen. The prospect is that I will be tested, old school, writing three essays in three hours into a blank workbook.

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