Situated Cognition - Critiques of Situativity

Critiques of Situativity

In "Situated Action: A Symbolic Interpretation" Vera and Simon wrote: " . . . the systems usually regarded as exemplifying Situated Action are thoroughly symbolic (and representational), and, to the extent that they are limited in these respects, have doubtful prospects for extension to complex tasks" Vera and Simon (1993) also claimed that the information processing view is supported by many years of research in which symbol systems simulated "broad areas of human cognition" and that that there is no evidence of cognition without representation.

Anderson, Reder and Simon (1996) summarized what they considered to be the four claims of situated learning and argued against each claim from a cognitivist perspective. The claims and their arguments were:

  1. Claim: Activity and learning are bound to the specific situations in which they occur. Argument: Whether learning is bound to context or not depends on both the kind of learning and the way that it is learned.
  2. Claim: Knowledge does not transfer between tasks. Argument: There is ample evidence of successful transfer between tasks in the literature. Transfer depends on initial practice and the degree to which a successive task has similar cognitive elements to a prior task.
  3. Claim: Teaching abstractions is ineffective. Argument: Abstract instruction can be made effective by combining of abstract concepts and concrete examples.
  4. Claim: Instruction must happen in complex social contexts. Argument: Research shows value in individual learning and on focusing individually on specific skills in a skill set.

Anderson, Reder and Simons summarize their concerns when they say: "What is needed to improve learning and teaching is to continue to deepen our research into the circumstances that determine when narrower or broader contexts are required and when attention to narrower or broader skills are optimal for effective and efficient learning" (p. 10).

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