A Short History of the Learning Sciences

Authored by: Christopher Hoadley

International Handbook of the Learning Sciences

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138670594
eBook ISBN: 9781315617572
Adobe ISBN:


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The learning sciences is a field that studies how people learn and how to support learning. It is a relatively young scholarly community whose history reflects the influence of the many other disciplines that are concerned with learning and how to support it (e.g., anthropology, education, psychology, philosophy). Disciplinary communities reflect not just epistemological, intellectual, and methodological commitments in the abstract. Rather, as is well documented in the sociology of science, research fields reflect the people in them and both their interconnections and disconnections from other communities. Understanding these as well as their origins is enlightening with respect to what aspects of a field are core commitments, what aspects are hidden assumptions, and what aspects might merely be accidents of history. For these reasons, this introduction to the history of the learning sciences will be primarily about a community of people who dub themselves “learning scientists.” And, like most historical accounts, this history reflects the perspective of the author. As a U.S.-based academician in the field for approximately 30 years, my familiarity is greatest with the North American parts of this story, and is almost entirely limited to the portions that were accessible through English-language research literature. As such, this chapter is best understood as “a” history, not “the” history.

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