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- "As if by accident." Nurturing cognitive skills in the U.S. and Finland : an intercultural exploration of two televised learning environments
- Jackson, Jacqueline L., II
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
This study is an intercultural exploration of programming for early learners in the televised learning environments in America and Finland. It aims to demonstrate that what is observable in schools and classrooms – pedagogical philosophy, instructional strategy, cognitive target and underlying cultural allowances and provisions which forward learning – is also evident in the brief space of the televised learning program. My thesis adheres to the broader theory of opportunity to learn (OTL),...
Show moreThis study is an intercultural exploration of programming for early learners in the televised learning environments in America and Finland. It aims to demonstrate that what is observable in schools and classrooms – pedagogical philosophy, instructional strategy, cognitive target and underlying cultural allowances and provisions which forward learning – is also evident in the brief space of the televised learning program. My thesis adheres to the broader theory of opportunity to learn (OTL), which suggests that formal learning is contingent upon student engagement, which is constrained by limited classroom and content coverage time (Schmidt et al., 2001, 2011; Schmidt & Maier, 2009). My interpretive approach demonstrates how OTL operates through cultural and social systems by example of the televised programs selected for study; and shows how these programs provide multiple encounters with cognitive content that reinforce and reproduce culturally preferred cognitive capabilities. I derive the proposed cognitive targets through qualitative analysis of problem-solving scenarios in one episode of each of the selected programs. The two programs present the occasion to 1) identify the cognitive skills targeted in the episodes studied; 2) to characterize the instructional strategies applied to reinforce the dominant cognitive task; 3) and to consider the underlying sociocultural assumptions in these two national settings that inform the pedagogical approach to shaping naturally developing, cognitive proclivities distinctively targeted in the two episodes. Findings suggest that Finnish play-based instructional strategies support the dynamics of children’s play space and heighten self-awareness, a central component of metacognition, by example of the problem-solving scenarios of the early learning program, Sana-Arkku. I suggest that the play-based deductive teaching strategies in these scenarios employ a challenge course intended to strengthen learners’ self-control. In contrast, the lesson from the problem-solving scenarios of the U.S. early learning program, Between the Lions, is cooperative work and cooperative inquiry. The teamwork approach in the problem-solving strategies of the characters Click, Cliff Hanger and Opposite Bunny emphasizes group projects in a K12 public education which expects prosocial skills, in particular, benevolence. While this pedagogical approach may have a strategic advantage in promoting democratic goals, it may present a strategic weakness for achieving academic excellence. The American focus in this comparative analysis raises the following vital question; what – in terms of cognitive development – the costs and benefits of this prosocial emphasis on group work may be to the individual learner. The implications for both the classroom and the televised learning spaces are clear: first is the need to design and test the effectiveness of metacognitively enriched exercises for classroom instruction aimed at enhancing individual cognitive development and, based on positive outcomes, to design, produce and test the effectiveness of metacognitively enriched children’s educational television programs across early learning student demographics. Positive outcomes would warrant policy revision in the recommended pedagogical approach in K12 classrooms, and a re-visitation of key legislation governing the level and type of cognitive content required in children’s educational television programming. This research has sought to find the missing element in the U.S. televised children’s learning experience, which could be helpful, specifically, to the academic achievement of low-income early learners; I believe that missing element is the effective promotion of metacognitive development.