Advertisement

Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge

  • Robert McCormick
Article

Abstract

The ideas that underlie the title of this chapter have been part of a familiar debate in education, namely that of the contrast of content and process. In both science and mathematics similar arguments have taken place, and these debates represent a healthy examination of, not only the aims of science and mathematics education, but the teaching and learning issues, and as such they reflect the relative maturity of these subject areas. Even in technology education, which is still in its infancy as a subject, echoes of these debates exist and there are contrasts of approaches to the balance of process and content across the world. The 'debate' in technology is evangelical in nature, with for example, proponents making claims for problem-solving approaches as a basis for teaching with few accounts and almost no empirical research of what actually happens in classrooms. There is insufficient consideration of the learning issues behind this, or other proposals, and it is timely to turn our attention to student learning. This article examines the nature of technological knowledge and what we know about learning related to it. The article argues that learning procedural and conceptual knowledge associated with technological activity poses challenges for both technology educators and those concerned with research on learning.

conceptual knowledge procedural knowledge problem solving design process 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Anderson, J. R.: 1987, 'Skill Acquisition: Compilation of Weak-Method Solutions', Psychological Review 94, 192–210.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, J. R.: 1990, Cognitive Psychology and Its Implications (Third edition), W. H. Freeman and Company, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Assessment of Performance Unit (APU): 1991, The Assessment of Performance in Design and Technology, HMSO, London.Google Scholar
  4. Bissell, C. C. & Dillon, C. R.: 1993, 'Back to the Backs of Envelopes', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 10 September, p. 16.Google Scholar
  5. Buccarelli, L. L.: 1994, Designing Engineers, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  6. Clancey, W. J.: 1994, A Tutorial on Situated Learning, Institute for Research on Learning (mimeograph), Palo Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  7. Cross, N., Naughton, J. & Walker, D.: 1986, 'Design Method and Scientific Method', in A. Cross & R. McCormick (eds.), Technology in Schools, The Open University Press, Milton Keynes, 19–33.Google Scholar
  8. Davis, R. B.: 1986, 'Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge in Mathematics: A Summary Analysis', in Hiebert (1986, pp. 265–300).Google Scholar
  9. Design Council: 1996, Maths by Design, Design Council, London.Google Scholar
  10. Dillon, C.: 1994, 'Qualitative Reasoning about Physical Systems-An Overview', Studies in Science Education 23, 39–57.Google Scholar
  11. Duell, O. K.: 1986, 'Metacognitive Skills', in G. D. Phye & T. Andre (eds.), Cognitive Classroom Learning: Understanding, Thinking, and Problem Solving, Academic Press, Orlando, 205–242.Google Scholar
  12. Glaser, R.: 1984, 'Education and Thinking: The Role of Knowledge', American Psychologist 39(2), 93–104.Google Scholar
  13. Glaser, R.: 1992, 'Expert Knowledge and Processes of Thinking', in D. F. Halpern (ed.), Enhancing Thinking Skills in the Sciences and Mathematics, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 63–75.Google Scholar
  14. Gott, S. H.: 1988, 'Apprenticeship Instruction for Real-World Tasks: The Coordination of Procedures, Mental Models and Strategies', in E. Z. Rothkopf (ed.), Review of Research in Education 15 1988–89, American Educational Research Association, Washington DC, 97–169.Google Scholar
  15. Gott, R & Murphy, P: 1987, Assessing Investigations at Ages 13 and 15, Association for Science Education, Hatfield.Google Scholar
  16. Greeno, J. G. et al.: 1994, The Situativity of Learning: Prospects for Synthesis in Theory, Practice and Research (Draft mimeograph), Middle-School Mathematics Through Applications Project, Institute for Research on Learning and Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  17. Hiebert, J. (ed.): 1986, Procedural and Conceptual Knowledge: The Case of Mathematics, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London.Google Scholar
  18. Hiebert, J. & Lefevre, P.: 1986, 'Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge in Mathematics: An Introductory Analysis', in Hiebert (1986, pp. 1–27).Google Scholar
  19. Jeffery, J. R.: 1990, 'Design Methods in CDT', Journal of Art and Design Education 9(1), 57–70.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, S. D.: 1994a, 'Research on Problem Solving: What Works, What Doesn't', The Technology Teacher 53(8), 27–29, 36.Google Scholar
  21. Johnson, S. D.: 1994b, 'Implications of Cognitive Science for Technological Problem Solving', in Blandow & Dyrenfurth (eds.), Technology Education in School and Industry: Emerging Didactics for Human Resource Development, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 157–177.Google Scholar
  22. Johnson, S. D. & Thomas, R. G.: 1994, 'Implications of Cognitive Science for Instructional Design in Technology Education', Journal of Technology Studies 20(1), 33–45.Google Scholar
  23. Kimbell, R.: 1994, 'Tasks in Technology', International Journal of Technology and Design Education 4(3), 241–256.Google Scholar
  24. Kimbell, R., Stables, K. & Green, R.: 1996, Understanding Practice in Design and Technology, Open University Press, Buckingham.Google Scholar
  25. Lave, J.: 1988, Cognition in Practice: Mind, Mathematics and Culture in Everyday Life, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  26. Lave, J.: 1992, 'Word Problems: A Microcosm of Theories of Learning', in P. Light and G. Butterworth (eds.), Context and Cognition: Ways Of Learning And Knowing, Harvester Wheatsheaf, London, 74–92.Google Scholar
  27. Layton, D.: 1991, 'Science Education and Praxis: The Relationship of School Science to Practical Action', Studies in Science Education 19, 43–56.Google Scholar
  28. Martinand, J.-L.: 1992, Enseignement et apprentissage de la modélisation en sciences, Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique, Paris.Google Scholar
  29. McCormick, R.: 1993, 'The Evolution of Current Practice in Technology Education-Part 2: Issues', Journal of Technology Studies 19(1), 26–32.Google Scholar
  30. McCormick, R.: 1994, 'Learning through Apprenticeship', in D. Blandow & M. J. Dyrenfurth (eds.), Technology Education in School and Industry: Emerging Didactics for Human Resource Development, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 16–36.Google Scholar
  31. McCormick, R. & Davidson, M.: 1995, 'Problem Solving and the Tyranny of Product Outcomes', Journal of Design and Technology Education 1(3), 230–241.Google Scholar
  32. McCormick, R. Davidson, M. & Levinson, R.: 1995, 'Making Connections: Students Using Science Understanding of Electric Circuits In Design And Technology', in J. S. Smith (ed.), IDATER 95-International Conference on Design and Technology Educational Research and Curriculum Development, University of Loughborough, Loughborough, 63–67.Google Scholar
  33. McCormick, R. & Murphy, P.: 1994, Learning the Processes in Technology. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Oxford University, England, September.Google Scholar
  34. McCormick, R., Murphy, P. & Davidson, M.: 1994, 'Design and Technology as Revelation and Ritual', in J. S. Smith (ed.), IDATER 94-International Conference on Design and Technology Educational Research and Curriculum Development, University of Loughborough, Loughborough, 38–42.Google Scholar
  35. McCormick, R., Murphy, P. & Hennessy, S.: 1994, 'Problem-solving Processes in Technology Education: A Pilot Study', International Journal of Technology and Design Education 4(1), 5–34.Google Scholar
  36. Millar, R.: 1988, 'The Pursuit of the Impossible', Physics Education 23(3), 156–159.Google Scholar
  37. Millar, R. & Driver, R.: 1987, 'Beyond Processes', Studies in Science Education 14, 33–62.Google Scholar
  38. Millar, R., Lubben, F., Gott, R. & Duggan, S.: 1994, 'Investigating in the School Science Laboratory: Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge and their Influence on Performance', Research Papers in Education 9(2), 207–248.Google Scholar
  39. Murphy, P.: 1994, 'Teaching the Processes in Science: Lessons for Technology Education.' Paper presented to British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, 8–11 September, Oxford.Google Scholar
  40. Murphy, P., Hennessy, S., McCormick, R. & Davidson, M.: 1995, The Nature of Problem Solving in Technology Education. Paper presented to the European Conference on Educational Research, University of Bath, England, 14–17 September.Google Scholar
  41. Newell, A. & Simon, H. A.: 1972, Human Problem Solving, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs., NJ.Google Scholar
  42. Plant, M.: 1994, 'How is Science Useful to Technology?' in R. McCormick & F. Banks (eds.), Design and Technology in the Secondary Curriculum: A Book of Readings, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 96–108.Google Scholar
  43. Pòlya, G.: 1957, How To Solve It (Second edition), Anchor Books, New York.Google Scholar
  44. Ryle, G.: 1949, The Concept of Mind, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England.Google Scholar
  45. Savage, E. & Sterry, L. (eds.): 1990, A Conceptual Framework for Technology Education, International Technology Education Association, Reston, V.A.Google Scholar
  46. Schoenfeld, A. H.: 1985, Mathematical Problem Solving, Academic Press, Orlando.Google Scholar
  47. Screen, P.: 1988, 'A Case for a Process Approach: The Warwick Experience', Physics Education 23(3), 146–149.Google Scholar
  48. Scribner, S.: 1985, 'Knowledge at Work', Anthropology & Education Quarterly 16(3), 199–206.Google Scholar
  49. Stables, K.: 1995, 'Discontinuity in Transition: Pupils' Experience of Technology in Year 6 and Year 7', International Journal of Technology and Design Education 5(2), 157–169.Google Scholar
  50. Staudenmaier, J. M.: 1985, Technologies Storytellers: Reweaving the Human Fabric, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  51. Stevenson, J.: 1994, 'Vocational Expertise', in J. Stevenson (ed.), Cognition at Work, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Leabrook, South Australia, 7–35.Google Scholar
  52. von Glasersfeld, E.: 1995, Radical Constructivism: A Way of Knowing and Learning, Falmer Press, London.Google Scholar
  53. Waetjen, W. B.: 1993, 'Entropy and Technological Learning: A Cognitive Approach', The Journal of Technological Studies 19(2), 29–40.Google Scholar
  54. Watts, M.: 1991, The Science of Problem Solving, Cassell/Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH.Google Scholar
  55. Wellington, J.: 1988, 'Process and Content in Physics Education', Physics Education 23(3), 150–155.Google Scholar
  56. Wellington, J. (ed.): 1989, Skills and Processes in Science Education: A Critical Analysis, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  57. Woolnough, B.: 1988, 'Whither Process in Science Teaching?', Physics Education 23(3), 139–140.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert McCormick
    • 1
  1. 1.Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations