Contrasting cases and their impact on learning: a replication of a learning study corfirming the impact of contrasts

Mona Holmqvist, Jane Mattisson

    Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review


    The present article describes how Swedish pupils in class 4 (nine to eleven years old) learn English as a second language. The study replicates a learning study carried out within the framework of a more ex-tensive project known as “The Pedagogy of Learning”. The present study is aiming to find out if the re-sults from one original learning study can be generalised to other teachers and pupils. The pupils partici-pating in the presented study learn how to use “to have”. The original Learning Study Cycle (LSC) con-sisted of three lessons per cycle, each lesson carried out in different groups of pupils. The teachers fo-cused on the critical aspects, i.e. the features which must be distinguished in order to understand a phe-nomenon. This process entailed investigating the contrasts between the specified learning outcome(s), i.e. the ability or knowledge targeted. The lessons were planned from a variation theory perspective. The LSC demonstrated that the use of contrast – applied in only one of the three lessons – between “to be” and “to have” had a positive effect on pupils’ generative learning, i.e. continued learning outside the classroom. In order to establish if the results of the present study are coincidental or repeatable the LSC was repli-cated. The first replicated study was conducted by a group of teachers with a good knowledge of variation theory. These teachers had previously applied the theory in mathematics lessons. A second replication was initiated by a group of teachers with no knowledge of variation theory. The results demonstrated that contrast is important for generative learning provided that teachers are able to focus on critical aspects and thereby elucidate contrast. In the group familiar with variation theory the results were similar to those of the original study, i.e. generative learning was promoted, while contrast had little effect on the pupils generative learning in the group of teachers who had no knowledge of variation theory. The study demonstrates that generative learning is dependent on teachers’ knowledge of how the critical aspects of the target knowledge should be presented to pupils. Such knowledge enables teachers to apply contrast as a means of developing pupils’ ability to distinguish qualitative differences. In this way, pupils continue to develop their knowledge beyond the classroom.

    Sidor (från-till)38-46
    Antal sidor8
    TidskriftProblems of Education in the 21st Century
    StatusPublicerad - 2009

    Nationell ämneskategori

    • Pedagogik (50301)
    • Samhällsvetenskap (5)


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