This module introduces the commognitive definition of learning. To clarify it fully and to explain why it was chosen from among many existing alternatives, the presentation of the definition is preceded by a brief historical account of research on human development.
Ever since its beginnings, the study of human learning has been fueled by the relentless tension between two desires: the researchers’ wish to capture human learning in all its uniqueness and their wish to do it scientifically, whatever this word meant for them at that time. Because of the conflicting nature of these two desires, it was difficult to attend to both of them at the same time. Whenever a story of learning was told that seemed to satisfy one of them, the resulting research would eventually be criticized for the neglect of the other one. The history of these zigzagging attempts is organized in this talk around the widely differing answers given by various schools of thought to the question “If learning means change, what is it that changes when people learn?” The response adopted by the commognitive researcher seems to constitute an effective tool for capturing the uniqueness of human learning, the goal that can now be pursued without compromising the scientific quality of the endeavor.
Sfard, A. (1998). Two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4-13.
Sfard, A. (2015). Learning, commognition and mathematics. In D. Scott & E. Hargreaves (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Learning (pp. 129-138). London: Sage.