Learning is a practical engagement with other persons and artefacts in fields of practical activity rather than changes in the ‘inner’ mind. The focus in understanding how learning takes place needs to be on how persons participate in the everyday practices of the field. Learners learn by moving around in, literally and figuratively, the learning domain, both spatially and temporally. We need to develop a science of learning that focuses on how concrete persons know and learn while participating in activities and practices required by society. To do this, we need a distinct cognitive ethnography that follows students through the activities, places and situations in which learning takes place. The kinds of changes that underpin learning depend on what learners are oriented to, what they do, and what values they are seeking to realise rather than on purported ‘inner’ mental mechanisms. Using video recording, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and Multimodal Event Analysis (Thibault & King, 2015), we seek to follow students along their learning trajectories and their participation in learning activities in order to observe and document qualitative changes, the markers of learning in specific episodes, how relevant experiences in and out of University reconfigure student learning, how cumulative-quantitative changes lead to transformative-qualitive changes, and which resources and environments help to bring about these changes. The talk will discuss some concrete examples in relation to the issues referred to above.
Mark E. King is Associate Professor and Director of Educational Delivery Services in the Pro Vice-Chancellor Education Portfolio at UNSW Sydney. He is the author of the $77M Inspired Learning Initiative (ILI). The ILI is an initial five-year investment in a complex programme of work incorporating nine interconnected project streams to enhance student learning experiences and educational outcomes. Mark’s portfolio of 70+ staff support all educational functions including educational intelligence & analytics, design and development, and technology; and works in Partnership with the university community to implement the Scientia Education Experience and the UNSW 2025 strategy for a sustained competitive advantage. Mark, trained as a psychologist and cognitive ethnographer, works and publishes in the areas of human cognition and learning within distributed cognitive systems. With Professor Paul Thibault, he is developing an eye-tracking methodology for investigating the co-synchronisation of language behaviour and visual perception in learning events. During previous appointments at The University of Hong Kong and The University of Melbourne, respectively, Mark pioneered the RASE learning design model that is now core to the Integrated Curriculum Framework at UNSW Sydney.