Pedagogy 3


Richard T. White
Way back in 1992 White discusses two types of learning.

These were:

1.Shallow learning
(transmission model – behavioural objectives)
2.Deep Learning
(constructivism - personal understanding)

Research Foundation (in Science)
White noted:
‘Investigations revealed a depressingly
shallow quality of learning. Although
students could manipulate complex formulae
and could work through involved exercises
they did not understand fundamental

Surely ¼ is bigger than ½.

(Unless they get lots of experiences kids will believe this.)

People do not discard views simply because a teacher or a text tells them what
the experts’ notions.

However they may acquire a veneer of the experts’ views.

Shallow Learning

Acquisition, without commitment or deep consideration, of principles

from teacher or other authority is shallow learning.


How do you make learners dissatisfied with their existing views?

Even when they are provided with evidence,

students still may interpret events according to

their beliefs. (White p156)

Intelligibility and plausibility of new

conceptions are necessary but not sufficient.

What is required is dissatisfaction with current beliefs
and evidence of the fruitfulness of new conceptions.

While these are tough conditions to meet, we should

attend to them in planning our curriculum.

Deep Learning
Given the prerequisites (dissatisfaction with
existing conceptions and fruitfulness of new
conceptions) for cognitive change
what approaches to learning might foster
‘commitment or deep consideration’?


If we were being reflective and reflexive we
would be applying this to ourselves right now….
are we simply assimilating these ideas or are
we reflecting on and comparing them with our
prior beliefs?
We should model these practices in an
authentic sense not just superficially.

Learning Styles
Learning styles do not change easily.
Simply telling students to think about what
they are doing or to ask themselves
questions does not change their
behaviour. They need to be shown how
to do it, and must be convinced of its value.

An essential aspect of metacognition is that learners control their own
thinking. To exercise that control the learner must be independent of the
teacher, to a substantial degree. (White, p158)


When is the learner
independent of the teacher?

(Group discussion).

The Nature of Understanding

It is not just the amount of knowledge but also
its type and its degree of interlinking in one’s
mind. People have images and episodes
associated with concepts, as well as facts and

Commitment is a key to real learning. If there is
no commitment, learning will be shallow as
students feel no value in reflecting on the meaning of
what they hear or read…… (White, p159)

Vision, Principles, Values

Students may lack curiosity, the willingness to learn for
themselves. Attention should therefore be
given to teaching not just specific facts but to
learning to learn and liking to learn with
understanding. (White, p161)

Look in the NZ Curriculum to see if you can make any
connections between this statement and the Vision,
Principles and Values. (Group activity)

Bloom's Taxonomy


Assimilation and Accommodation

Underlying White’s work on deep learning,
is Posner et al’s work on assimilation and
This research dating
from 1982 is foundational for much
current work including ‘Approaches to
Building Conceptual Understandings’ put
out by the MoE in 2009.

An Example

You learn that the population of India is now 1.15 billion.

Assimilation: you mentally file that information along
with other facts about populations of countries (your
mental schema does not change).

Accommodation: In light of this information you
rethink your views about consumerism, industrialisation,
agriculture, global warming, vegetarianism etc (your
mental schema has undergone a reorganisation).


CSI: Comprehension Strategy Instruction:
an attempt to produce a learning resource* based on research.

My assumptions
•comprehension = understanding
•We are aiming for deep learning.

*I call it a learning resource, not a reading resource,
because within the context provided by White
understanding involves comparing old and new
meanings as does reading comprehension.

Understanding what you read,
if there is commitment, involves engagement
with your prior understanding of the world.


What research does CSI connect with?

BES (Best Evidence Synthesis in Social Sciences)

BES (2008) identifies… four mechanisms that
facilitate learning. These are:
•Community (i.e. Learning Community)

CSI structures its programme around:

•Scaffold and Model
•Interact and Reflect
•Apply and Assess

Deep Learning

“In the United States, the most recent
National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP, 2002) shows that many
eighth-grade (year 9), students do not
have the capacity to perform the higher
order cognitive work required for deep
learning of content through reading.” (Kamil,
2003, p12)

Seven Comprehension Strategies chosen for CSI

•Making Connections
•Asking Questions
•Drawing Inferences
•Determining Important Ideas
•Synthesising Information
•Monitoring and Repairing Comprehension

Comparing with other Approaches



Synthesising information is about more than
summarising… At the most complex level,
‘synthesising information involves combining new
information with existing knowledge to form an
original idea.’ (Harvey and Goudvis, 2000, p. 25).

Synthesising enables the reader to integrate their
thinking with the content of the text to get a
‘personal take’ on what they read.

Academic Synthesis


Mature Practice

The previous slide shows a figure I came across as I
browsed through some papers I wrote for my Masters
looking for a reference. I noticed a complimentary
comment in the margin on the synthesis of the various
pieces of research involved in creating this figure.

It involves a synthesis of five different theorists’
concepualisations of motivation.

Beyond Mature Practice

All the sources I used to create this synthesis
were textual, originating in professional
journals, books or other publications.

Our students
will need to be able to synthesis information from a more
diverse range of information sources: hard copy, internet
texts, video, multimedia etc.

We will need to keep our practice up-to-date with the emerging
literacies our students will engage with.

Multiple Literacies

Mark Treadwell talking about what he calls ‘relational
thinking’ notes:

“ Relational thinking requires us to take information from a wide
range of different resource locations, in a wide variety of different
media forms and synthesise the different elements into a
manageable conceptual framework.

In relational thinking the information, data and sensory information
across a range of different disciplines and environments is

Even though it is unlimited it is still required to be distilled into a single
conception which may be reconciled against existing concepts and
thinking frameworks.”

Howard Gardiner notes:
“Given the ubiquity of information which now washes over us and
sometimes overwhelms us, we need to establish a pedagogical
base for teaching our young learners to synthesise and make
meaning in these rich information environments within which we all
now reside.”

Mark Treadwell notes:
“Learning to synthesise complex multimedia resources is going to
require considerable teaching and learning experiences in order
that our present learners are able to develop life long learning skills
in this internet environment. Relational thinking is a precursor to
lifelong learning capability in a web world.”

Approaches to Building Conceptual Understandings
(New Zealand Ministry of Education)
“In an information-based society, there is an endless
amount of accessible information. Pupils are faced
with the enormous task of making meaning out of a
sea of seemingly unrelated facts. They need
mechanisms for categorising and organising
information, connecting ideas and identifying or
constructing patterns.”


•The theme of this presentation was understanding.
•What understanding meant for White nearly 20 years ago.
•A hint at what it might mean in the Information Age.
•A taste of a resource that attempts to address this need.

• Learning to learn, metacognition, comprehension, understanding, synthesis…
this related complex of ideas will need to be processed and accommodated.
• However we need to take the long view and work incrementally at it.
As we work our way through the Key Competencies, particularly
Thinking, and Using Language, Symbols and Text, we will meet these ideas again and again.

Thank you for participating.