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Artefacts and distributed cognition: towards a new perspective on science learning
conference contributionposted on 2007-04-15, 00:00 authored by Lihua XuLihua Xu, D Clarke
Our purpose in this paper is to propose distributed cognition (Hollan, Hutchins, & Kirsh, 1999; Hutchins, 1991, 1995) as a useful perspective on science learning. Deviating from the individualistic cognitive model, a significant shift in this perspective is its conceptualization of learning as constituted in both internal and external resources. Therefore, the research focus is on cognitive systems that include both participants and their environment, and on the public space of interaction. In this paper, we first elaborate the epistemological groundings of distributed cognition and introduce an analytical approach that was developed to study two videotaped science lessons. Using the detailed analysis of the empirical data, we explicate some key assumptions underlying traditional educational thinking and further reframe these assumptions from the perspective of distributed cognition. This paper opens up the possibility of employing distributed cognition as an explanatory framework to study learning in science classrooms and also serves as an invitation for studies that could further enrich the theory of distributed cognition.