Situating Cognition: Knowledge and Power in Context.Report as inadecuate

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Although adult education as a field has shown interest in theories of situated cognition, it has misappropriated some of its central concepts. Proponents of situated cognition posit that learning is not something that happens in independent isolation, or just inside the head, but instead is shaped by the context, culture, and tools of the learning situation. Adult educators have misunderstood situated cognition in the following ways: (1) they have continued to privilege a model of individual mental cognition; (2) because of that privileging, the context of learning remains in the background it is a stage on which learning is enacted but not influenced or affected in any substantive way; (3) a political analysis of how learning communities replicate hegemonic culture rather than foster ownership of knowledge by participants is missing; and (4) the issues of who has the power in learning situations and how power relationships affect learning are not usually addressed. To take advantage of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of those who historically and traditionally have not been counted as "experts," adult educators and adult education theorists must go beyond simply integrating a "situated component" to learning activities or adding situated ideas to studies of adult learning. (Includes 23 references.) (MO)

Descriptors: Adult Education, Adult Educators, Adult Learning, Cognitive Processes, Cognitive Style, Context Effect, Educational Environment, Learning Theories, Political Power, Power Structure, Social Control, Theory Practice Relationship

Adult and Community College Education, Box 7801, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7801 ($30). For full text:

Author: Hansman, Catherine A.; Wilson, Arthur L.


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