Situated learning using descriptive models

Tariq M. Khan, J. E M Mitchell, K. E. Brown, R. Roy Leitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A perspective on situated learning is presented which proposes that navigating within a space of many descriptive models overcomes limitations inherent in mono-model approaches to learning contextualized knowledge. The situationist view may be interpreted as drawing attention to neglected aspects of knowledge such as non-verbal, tacit, sub-conscious, metacognitive and affective. Although these elements have evaded adequate modelling for the purpose of simulating human behaviour, they can be "attended to" from descriptions to support human behaviour - however, the utility of a representation depends on the kind of knowledge so described. Different viewpoints of a situation, such as the learner's and a professional's, can be described with different models, which differ in fundamental dimensions. These facilitate communication of viewpoints between learners and professional members of the community, so that though negotiation a synthesis emerges which retains critical aspects of both view points - this is learning. Other interactions between viewpoints develop other affective and metacognitive skills. The many elements of situated action and knowledge are discussed and then a methodology for supporting situated learning with multiple descriptive models is presented. A situated learning environment is present, founded on multiple models, which demonstrates that switching between models is a metalevel process for changing viewpoints and this is the basis of integrating learners into new communities of practice. Learning problem solving, developing identities and refining roles are all introduced and consolidated by an example using multiple models to develop affective conciliation skills. The examples given illustrate how part of a professional's knowledge can be used by a learner for one particular approach to learning. However, the representation of the professional, using this multiple models approach, would include informal knowledge from the community of practice as well as formal knowledge. This combination of different knowledge types allows a variety of learning situations to be accommodated. © 1998 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-796
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


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