Generation

P. C. Meyers
2012 ELT Journal  
Generative Learning theory draws upon aspects of cognitive psychology to explore the processes involved in human learning and examines how an understanding of those processes should inform pedagogy. Originating within the discipline of educational psychology, the theory was initially developed in the context of L1 reading (Wittrock 1974) and is supported by an extensive body of research in subjects as diverse as mathematics, science, auto-mechanics, and L2 vocabulary learning (Grabowski 2004;
more » ... (Grabowski 2004; Meyers 2010) . According to Generative Learning theory, rather than being passive recipients of information, learners are active participants in the learning process. Thus, the theory proposes that learners generate 'semantic and distinctive idiosyncratic associations between stimuli and stored information' (Wittrock ibid.: 89) as they construct (i.e. generate) meaningful understandings of new information. Two kinds of associations are said to lead to learning: those generated between new information and pre-existing knowledge and experience (i.e. learners understand the new information in terms of what they already know) and those generated between individual new items of information (i.e. learners understand how the new items of information relate to one another). Generative Learning theory therefore provides a framework for teaching that invites classroom practitioners and materials developers to consider how individual learners use their knowledge and experience when they engage with learning tasks. It consequently challenges one-size-fitsall or correct/incorrect answer approaches to teaching and learning. Generative Learning theory deals with the practical implications of learners' construction of meanings and the consequences this has for pedagogy (i.e. what teachers can do to facilitate these generative processes), and as a result, it has been referred to as the 'practical cousin of constructivism' (Bonn and Grabowski 2001: 2), constructivism being the approach(es) that place personal meanings at the centre of the learning process (as exemplified by the work of Piaget 1953 , Kelly 1955 , and Bruner 1960 . Within L2 research, Generation has been identified as one of the deepest levels of processing (Stahl and Fairbanks 1986) . Generation
doi:10.1093/elt/ccs063 fatcat:s5nzbpqadjad5g2p4yztgxwifu