Situated Learning Theory and The Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Towards an Integrative View of Teacher Behavior and Teacher Learning

Jan. 01, 2010

This article was published Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol 26 number 1, Author: Fred A.J. Korthagen, " Situated Learning Theory and The Pedagogy of Teacher Education: Towards an Integrative View of Teacher Behavior and Teacher Learning", Pages 98-106, Copyright Elsevier (January 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Lave and Wenger have greatly influenced existing views of learning and teaching. The aim of the present article is to examine the question of what the Lave and Wenger perspective could mean to teacher educators' and researchers' understanding of teacher behavior and teacher learning, and to the pedagogy used in teacher education.

Based on their work, a three-level model of learning is used to analyze the friction between teacher behavior in practice and the wish to ground teachers' practices in theory.

The Three-Level Model

The gestalt level - This level focuses on the relationship between experiences and internal processes in the teacher. This means that the author discusses the intrapersonal and psychological counterpart of the social process of situated learning.

The schema level - The schema level is grounded in concrete situations, although after many confrontations with similar situations, a more distanced kind of network of concepts and relationships can be formed. This means that the transition from the gestalt to the schema level is one of desituating the knowledge derived from specific situations.

The theory level - The theory level is aimed at deep and generalized understanding of a variety of similar situations. The knowledge at this level is helpful in understanding a certain class of situations on the basis of a logical framework.

Supported by empirical data on teacher learning and brain research, this model reconciles the situated learning perspective with traditional cognitive theory, and leads to concrete implications for the pedagogy of teacher education.

Implications for teacher education practices

The analysis points towards the need to take immediate teacher behavior more seriously and to emphasize the development of adequate gestalts.

The three-level model explains why much of the theory presented to teachers in teacher education programs is seldom used in practice, even after all kinds of sophisticated pedagogical measures have been taken.

The explanation is that teaching is to a large degree a gestalt-driven activity. As a consequence, the presentation of theory is not sufficient in trying to influence the more perception-driven gestalts. Hence, we need a pedagogy of teacher education that combines fruitful practical experiences – i.e. experiences that help form the type of gestalts the teacher educator wishes to develop – with the subsequent promotion of reflection in student teachers aiming at the development of adequate schemata.

Lave and Wenger, 1991 J. Lave and E. Wenger, Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1991).

Updated: Jan. 12, 2010