A conceptual framework for the development of theories-in-action with open-ended learning environments

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Open-ended learning involves learning processes that are mediated by the unique intentions and purposes of individuals. Open-ended learning environments (OELEs) have been touted to support the building and evolving processes associated with self-directed learning. OELEs provide technological tools and resources for manipulating and exploring concepts. Whereas previous research has provided descriptions of OELE designs and case studies, little insight exists as to the processes used by learners to build and evolve their understanding. This paper describes a rationale for, and conceptual framework of, learning via open-ended environments.

This manuscript is based on the doctoral dissertation conducted by the first author at The Florida State University. The authors wish to acknowledge Dr. Marcy P. Driscoll and Dr. Robert A. Reiser of the Instructional Systems Program, Florida State University and Dr. Richard K. Wagner of the Department of Psychology, Florida State University for their cooperation and support as committee members during the conduct of this study. The manuscript was prepared while the first author was working as a post-doctoral fellow at The University of Georgia's Learning and Performance Support Laboratory.