Saturday, February 14, 2009



Bruner describes the general learning process in the following manner. First the child finds in his manipulation of the materials regularities that correspond with intuitive regularities it has already come to understand. According to Bruner the child finds some sort of match between what it is doing in the outside world and some models or templates that it has already grasped intellectually. For Bruner it is seldom something outside the learner that is discovered. Instead, the discovery involves an internal reorganisation of previously known ideas in order to establish a better fit between those ideas and regularities of an encounter to which the learner has had to accommodate.

His approach was characterised by three stages which he calls enactive, iconic and symbolic and are solidly based on the developmental psychology of Jean Piaget. The first, the enactive level, is where the child manipulate materials directly. Then he proceed to the iconic level, where he deals with mental images of objects but does not manipulate them directly. At last he moves to the symbolic level, where he is strictly manipulating symbols and no longer mental images or objects. The optimum learning process should according to Bruner go through these stages.

1. Enactive mode(0-3).
When dealing with the enactive mode, one is using some known aspects of reality without using words or imagination. Therefore, it involves representing the past events through making motor responses. It involves manly in knowing how to do something; it involves series of actions that are right for achieving some result e.g. Driving a car, skiing, tying a knot.
This appears first. It involves encoding action based information and storing it in our memory. For example, in the form of movement as a muscle memory, a baby might remember the action of shaking a rattle.
The child represents past events through motor responses, i.e. an infant will “shake a rattle” which has just been removed or dropped, as if the movements themselves are expected to produce the accustomed sound. And this is not just limited to children.
Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks (typing, sewing a shirt, operating a lawn mower) that they would find difficult to describe in iconic (picture) or symbolic (word) form.

2. Iconic Mode(3-7 OR 8).
This mode deals with the internal imagery, were the knowledge is characterised by a set of images that stand for the concept. The iconic representation depends on visual or other sensory association and is principally defined by perceptual organisation and techniques for economically transforming perceptions into meaning for the individual.
This is where information is stored visually in the form of images (a mental picture in the mind’s eye). For some, this is conscious; others say they don’t experience it. This may explain why, when we are learning a new subject, it is often helpful to have diagrams or illustrations to accompany verbal information.

3. Symbolic mode(7 OR 8-MORE).
Through life one is always adding to the resources to the symbolic mode of representation of thought. This representation is based upon an abstract, discretionary and flexible thought. It allows one to deal with what might be and what might not, and is a major tool in reflective thinking. This mode is illustrative of a person’s competence to consider propositions rather than objects, to give ideas a hierarchical structure and to consider alternative possibilities in a combinatorial fashion.
This develops last. This is where information is stored in the form of a code or symbol, such as language. This is the most adaptable form of representation, for actions & images have a fixed relation to that which they represent. “Dog” is a symbolic representation of a single class.
Symbols are flexible in that they can be manipulated, ordered, classified etc, so the user isn’t constrained by actions or images. In the symbolic stage, knowledge is stored primarily as words, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems.

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