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Edit -RSurles.ResearchProposal here.

I am looking for one or two class mates that are interested in Learning Environments to collaborate with me on researching the following:


What are the cognitive attributes of design in learning environments? Or, perhaps, more aptly, how does design influence learning environments?


The purpose of this effort, independent research and group or team work, is to identify the various cognitive attributes of learning environments and to explicate the relationship between the environment and learning. Environment in this context is defined broadly as the surrounding of any external conditions influencing the development or growth of individuals in their living and working activities. Learning environment is defined as "constructive in nature, engaging learners in 'sense-making' or reasoning about extensive resource sets." (Hannafin, Land and Oliver, 1999) or more broadly , the domain where learning takes place and how it (the domain) impacts upon learning. Planning connotes intervention and design is used strictly in all capacities as a verb meaning an activity or process to modify the environment for human use.
Acknowledgement of the relationship between environment and learning or education is as old as recorded history. Pre-socratics are known to have discussed the relationship between knowing and being. The relation of the individual and their universe was a commsumate focal point of educating or knowing. What is it to know and what is the best way to apprehend knowing? "The term education or learning is generally understood in two senses, one very broad and one somewhat narrow. In the wider or more generic sense, education is used as the equivalent to 'experience.' (John Dewey) It is the experience of a living organism interacting with its normal environment. In almost all contacts with our environment, we do more than merely react to stimulation. We modify our reactions until a satisfactory result is reached. (Plato's Theory of Education)
In the narrow sense, "experiece or nature is still the teacher, but in the specific social institution known as 'schooling' it is guided experience, nurture rather than nature. In both encounters the environment has influence over the educatve process. To what extent does design influence this relationship and the on-going learning process? To answer this question it is important to understand the goal of learning, Different learning goals require different approaches to instruction, study and reflection. Is it structure or informal? Is it guided or self initiated? And most importantly, what do I mean when I speak of learning? I accept and advocate a constructionist view of learning and their definition of learning, which is based on the following perspective; articulating an intention regarding an interest, collecting and interpreting information that has relation to that interest, building a new understanding that one can relate to others, being able to reflect on what was comprehended, how it was comprehended, what it means and how may one apply it. (Hannafin,
The learning environments that I propose to examine fall under six broad domains: 1) Individual or learner centered, 2) Knowledge centered, 3) Assessment centered, 4) Community centered, 5) Project based learning and 6) Electronic interactive learning environments. It is my intent to address the questions posited herein, as well as, certain other ancillary issues influencing each of these domains and their relationship with design attributes.

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