Engineering Discovery Learning: The Contingency Adduction of Some Precursors of Textual Responding in a Beginning Reading Program
A learning situation in which the principal content of what is to be learned is not given but is independently discovered by the learner is often considered “discovery learning.” Recently, learning scientists have been able to make explicit some of the conditions under which such independent discovery is likely to occur (Andronis, 1983; Epstein, 1996; Johnson & Layng, 1992). One form of “discovery” can often be observed when skills learned under one set of conditions are recruited under new conditions to serve a new or different function—a process of “contingency adduction” (Andronis, Layng, & Goldiamond, 1997). The research reported here investigated the application of contingency adduction in a discovery learning context to establish sound-to-letter correspondence as part of an online reading/decoding program, Headsprout Early Reading. Beginning readers acquired novel letters/sounds correspondence with minimal presentations and few errors—often requiring only one presentation. This research suggests that instructional sequences may be designed to provide effective discovery learning activities to teach some phonics skills.
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