First International School On Mind, Brain And Education

2005 July 16-20

Summer Institute on
Mind, Brain and Education

Directors: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani

Abstract: Kurt W. Fischer
Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA
Professor. Graduate School of Education. Harvard University

Tools for analyzing cognitive and brain development and learning across domains
To improve understanding of learning, teaching, and development, researchers need a common scale – a ruler – that can be used across classrooms, domains, and tasks. Research on the shapes of curves for development and learning provides such a ruler, based on evidence of successive discontinuities in development of cognition, emotion, and brain growth in anatomy and activity. The ruler provides a common scale for measuring learning and development across classrooms, tasks, domains, and people. One particularly fruitful arena for use of this ruler is analysis of learning and generalization of knowledge in classrooms, including the effects of particular curricula. Analysis of patterns of microdevelopment in learning and generalization indicates that learning general concepts and skills is difficult and slow, even in excellent classrooms. Analysis of dynamic patterns of learning traces how students move in variable growth curves from novices to experts in a subject matter. The use of a common ruler for assessing these processes across domains advances the science of development and learning by creating the capacity to compare findings across domains and contexts and to build dynamic individual growth models for learning in educational settings.