Constructivist Learning Environments

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Norbert M. Seel (Ed.)

Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning With 312 Figures and 68 Tables

Editor Prof. Dr. Norbert M. Seel Faculty of Economics and Behavioral Sciences Department of Education University of Freiburg 79085 Freiburg Germany

ISBN 978-1-4419-1427-9 e-ISBN 978-1-4419-1428-6 DOI 10.1007/ 978-1-4419-1428-6 ISBN Bundle 978-1-4419-5503-6 Springer New York Dordrecht Heidelberg London Library of Congress Control Number: 2011934763 © Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, LLC 2012 All rights reserved. This work may not be translated or copied in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher (Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, LLC, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013, USA), except for brief excerpts in connection with reviews or scholarly analysis. Use in connection with any form of information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed is forbidden. The use in this publication of trade names, trademarks, service marks, and similar terms, even if they are not identified as such, is not to be taken as an expression of opinion as to whether or not they are subject to proprietary rights. Printed on acid-free paper Springer is part of Springer ScienceþBusiness Media (

Preface Learning is existential, and so its study must be complex and interdisciplinary. Over the past centuries, researchers from different fields have posited many theories to explain how humans and animals learn and behave, i.e., how they acquire, organize, and deploy knowledge and skills. Basically, learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior and/or in mental associations due to experience. Learning is a response to environmental requirements and different from biological maturation, which, however, is a fundamental basis for learning. From a historical point of view, learning had been an issue of epistemology and philosophy since ancient times. Nevertheless, the twentieth century may be considered as the century of psychology of learning and related fields of interest, such as motivation, cognition, and metacognition. It is really fascinating to see the various currents of the twentieth century research in learning, remembering, and forgetting. And it is interesting to see that many basic assumptions of early theories have survived the paradigm shifts of psychology and epistemology that occurred during the twentieth century. Beyond folk psychology and naı¨ve theories of learning, psychological learning theories can be grouped into several basic categories, such as behaviorist and connectionist learning theories, cognitive learning theories, and social learning theories. However, learning theories are not limited to psychology and related fields but can be traced back to ancient philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is certainly true that the topic of learning also played a significant role in the philosophy of the Middle Ages (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas), and in the modern era