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Article
Publication date: 22 November 2017

Paul Pangaro

In an ideal situation, the author would like to answer each of the following questions: What is Conversation? What is Theory? What is Conversation Theory, anyhow? How did…

Abstract

Purpose

In an ideal situation, the author would like to answer each of the following questions: What is Conversation? What is Theory? What is Conversation Theory, anyhow? How did it arise? Who participated? How is it a theory? Where did it end up? Is it interesting? How might it be useful? Where has it been applied? Why should you care? What does it offer the practice of education? Of design? Of ethics? Where is it headed? (Sorry, steering joke, since Conversation Theory is situated in cybernetics, the art of steering). The purpose of this paper is to answer as many of these questions as practical.

Design/methodology/approach

The seeds of Conversation Theory lie in Gordon Pask’s instincts and in his “making”. This paper begins by describing some of the machinery he constructed to explore human interaction. Next, a skeletal model of conversation is offered, and connections to Pask’s own diagrams are drawn. Complementary to these models of the structure of conversations are their consequences, which are described in broad terms rather than given in detail. Lastly, Pask’s approach to proposing a scientific theory, and his means of achieving it, are explained.

Originality/value

Conversation Theory is a thoroughly original body of work, unmatched by its range and specificity. It is little known and yet potentially profound, with a scope that has already influenced educational psychology, second-order cybernetics, knowledge modeling and software design. By describing its origins, models and implications, the author hopes its value can be extended to new generations and to new domains.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 46 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2001

Graham Barnes

Addresses the problem of psychotherapy coming to understand itself formally as a conversation in which healing of distortions and breakdowns in communication occurs. The…

Abstract

Addresses the problem of psychotherapy coming to understand itself formally as a conversation in which healing of distortions and breakdowns in communication occurs. The paper proposes making concepts the basis for the psychotherapy conversation by linking psychotherapy to second‐order cybernetics and utilizing Pask’s conversation theory. The first part describes cybernetics as the context for the study of the distortions and breakdowns in communication. The second part discusses conversation theory as a formal description of the procedures of psychotherapy, as a way to converse in psychotherapy, as a way to talk about psychotherapy and as a way to change the conversation of psychotherapy. The final part discusses four distinctive characteristics of the evolving conversation of psychotherapy where psychotherapy composes itself as a conversation. These characteristics are what psychotherapy is (its definition), what it is about (its object), how it proceeds (its methods), and what it is for (its value).

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 30 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 2001

Jan Gerrit Schuurman and Koen Veermans

Gordon Pask’s conversation theory was created in the 1970s. The theory encompasses a high‐level framework for studying interactions between actors in artificial situations…

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391

Abstract

Gordon Pask’s conversation theory was created in the 1970s. The theory encompasses a high‐level framework for studying interactions between actors in artificial situations where people co‐operate, have conflicts, follow rules, negotiate outcomes, invent new rules together, etc. Sadly, the theory is not well known. The authors claim that this is due to idiosyncratic use of terminology and radical departure from widespread research practices and accepted experimental procedures. It is argued that conversation theory furnishes a methodology for the creation and maintenance of social rule‐systems. The argument is illustrated with examples from the public (car) traffic system in The Netherlands.

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Kybernetes, vol. 30 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2005

Nigel Ford

The purpose of this paper is to review recent developments in educational informatics relating to the provision by information systems of pedagogical support to web‐based…

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1156

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review recent developments in educational informatics relating to the provision by information systems of pedagogical support to web‐based learners, and to propose further investigation of the feasibility and potential value of web‐based “conversational” information systems to complement adaptive hypermedia and information retrieval systems.

Design/methodology/approach

The potential of Pask's conversation theory is considered as a potentially useful framework for the development of information systems capable of providing pedagogical support for web‐based learners, complementary to that provided by existing computer‐assisted learning and adaptive hypermedia systems. The potential role and application of entailment meshes are reviewed in relation to other forms of knowledge representation including classifications, semantic networks, ontologies and representations based on knowledge space theory.

Findings

Concludes that conversation theory could be a useful framework to support the development of web‐based “conversational” information that would complement aspects of computer‐assisted learning, adaptive hypermedia and information retrieval systems. The entailment mesh knowledge representation associated with conversation theory provides the potential for providing particularly rich pedagogical support by virtue of its properties of cyclicity, consistency and connectivity, designed to support deep and enduring levels of understanding.

Research limitations/implications

Although based on a considerable body of theoretical and empirical work relating to conversation theory, the paper remains speculative in that the gap is still great between, on the one hand, what has so far been achieved and, on the other, the practical realisation of its potential to enhance web‐based learning. Much work remains to be done in terms of exploring the extent to which procedures developed and benefits found in relatively small‐scale experimental contexts can effectively be scaled to yield enhanced support for “real world” learning‐related information behaviour.

Originality/value

The ideas of Pask, discussed in this paper, are capable of guiding the structuring of information according to parameters designed to facilitate deep and enduring understanding via interactive “conversational” engagement between the conceptual structures of information source authors and learners. If one can scale Pask's work to “real world” learning‐related information behaviour, one can increase the range of web‐based information systems and services capable of providing pedagogical support to web‐based learners.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 61 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

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Article
Publication date: 17 October 2016

Luitzen De Boer and Poul Houman Andersen

The purpose of the paper is to contribute to further advancing of IMP as a research field by setting up and starting a theoretical conversation between system theory and the IMP.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to contribute to further advancing of IMP as a research field by setting up and starting a theoretical conversation between system theory and the IMP.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach is based on a narrative literature study and conceptual research.

Findings

The authors find that system theory and cybernetics can be regarded as important sources of inspiration for early IMP research. The authors identify three specific theoretical “puzzles” in system theory that may serve as useful topics for discussion between system theorists and IMP researchers.

Originality/value

Only a handful of papers have touched upon the relationship between system theory and IMP before. This paper combines a narrative, historical analysis of this relationship with developing specific suggestions for using system theory as a vehicle for further advancement of IMP research.

Details

IMP Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-1403

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Article
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Bernard Scott and Abhinav Bansal

The purpose of this paper is to explain some phenomena observed in the acquisition of motor skills: the loss of conscious access to knowledge of the structure of a skill…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain some phenomena observed in the acquisition of motor skills: the loss of conscious access to knowledge of the structure of a skill and the awareness that an error has been made prior to the receipt of knowledge of results. Although there are rich descriptive accounts of skill acquisition in the literature, there are no satisfactory explanatory models of the cognitive processes involved. The paper provides such a model.

Design/methodology/approach

In the 1970s, the first author implemented a computer program model of the cognitive processes involved in learning and skill acquisition, based on a series of empirical investigations. Recently, with assistance from the second author, the model has been reviewed, updated and re-implemented. The paper sets this work in the broader context of a theory of learning and teaching, conversation theory.

Findings

The model provides a constructivist account of skill acquisition and associated phenomena. The model provides theoretical foundations for conversation theory.

Practical implications

The model adds to the understanding of motor skill acquisition and to the understanding of processes of learning and teaching in general.

Originality/value

The model and its interpretation are an original contribution to the skills acquisition literature.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 43 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2001

Gary Boyd

The most satisfying and interesting human learning game‐of‐life is probably a conversation where there is a common will among the participants to promote understanding of…

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881

Abstract

The most satisfying and interesting human learning game‐of‐life is probably a conversation where there is a common will among the participants to promote understanding of our world despite possibly large differences in knowledge and experience. Gordon Pask took conversational learning as more than a general metaphor for humanly significant learning. He identified the essential minimal characteristics of the entities and relationships involved and formalised all that into a recursive learning theory of very broad scope. Over the years, Pask and his various System Research associates validated conversation theory by embodying it in a number of (n‐) person‐machine systems (SAKI, CASTE, THOUGHTSTICKER, TDS, etc.), and by doing case studies with various kinds of learners and tutor‐learners learning and teaching through these interfaces. Reviews some interesting aspects of conversation theory, including both its remarkable insights and some limitations. Concludes that there are good reasons for expecting that the implications of Pask’s approach to educational cybernetics will continue to be explored for many years to come.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 30 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2001

Ranulph Glanville

Pask’s great contribution to cybernetics is to take seriously the notion of interaction in the circular processes that lie at the heart of the subject. From his earliest…

Abstract

Pask’s great contribution to cybernetics is to take seriously the notion of interaction in the circular processes that lie at the heart of the subject. From his earliest days he worked with interactive systems. His master work, conversation theory, epitomises the interactive system, which he then extended and generalised into the interaction of actors theory. In this paper, the requirements that conversation places on our understanding of participants is presented in the form of a specification. In particular, the ways of behaving and the assumptions under which we have to behave if we are to be able to converse with success are expounded. These are in great contrast to neo‐Darwinian assumptions. The difference between communication by code and communication by conversation is explored, and the primacy of conversational communication is argued. Finally, it is claimed that the ways of behaving and the assumptions that are the requirements for a conversation to take place are presented as personal qualities that were particularly apparent in Pask himself.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 30 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 2 September 2013

Jocelyn Chapman

The aim of this paper is to contribute to making higher education, particularly online education, more relevant and inspiring by orienting it toward the pragmatics and…

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1542

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to contribute to making higher education, particularly online education, more relevant and inspiring by orienting it toward the pragmatics and aesthetics of knowing. This paper also demonstrates the relevance of cybernetics and cybernetic thinking in education today.

Design/methodology/approach

The author's general strategy is to connect processes of knowing to the purpose of education, thus providing an organizing principle for the design and practice of online education. Nontrivial conversation and aesthetic experience are combined in a cybernetic complementarity, conceptualized as the processes that foster understanding. This serves the purpose of education, defined here as developing an understanding of how knowledge is constructed and fostering ways of knowing that are creative and complex.

Findings

Because the world has become increasingly complex, ambiguous, and pluralistic, the type of thinking needed to act and interact in the world must also be complex, e.g. creative, adaptive, relational, and empathetic. Research shows that this type of thinking is brought forth by aesthetic experience and nontrivial conversation. Combining these as processes of knowing provides a non-dogmatic way of orienting education toward student-centered constructivist learning.

Originality/value

Connecting nontrivial conversation and aesthetic experience as processes of knowing is an original contribution to education literature. This is also an exemplar of generating a cybernetic complementarity for conceptual modelling in education design. Anyone interested in how online education can extend efforts to transform higher education so it may better facilitate thinking in ways that are creative and complex will find this paper valuable.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 42 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 25 June 2021

Curt Adams and Olajumoke Beulah Adigun

This study was designed to test the relationship between principal support of student psychological needs and faculty trust in students. Without direct empirical evidence…

Abstract

Purpose

This study was designed to test the relationship between principal support of student psychological needs and faculty trust in students. Without direct empirical evidence to draw from, the line of reasoning integrated evidence on social-cognitive processes involved in trust formation and conversation theory to advance two hypotheses: (1) After accounting for school and leadership conditions, principal support of student psychological needs will be related to school differences in faculty trust in students; (2) The relationship between principal support of student psychological needs and faculty trust in students is mediated by a positive view of the teaching task.

Design/methodology/approach

Hypotheses were tested with a nonexperimental, correlational research design using ex post facto data. Due to the hierarchical structure of the data, hypotheses were tested with a 2-2-1 multilevel mediation model in HLM 7.03 with restricted maximum likelihood estimation.

Findings

Findings were consistent with the hypothesized relationships – principal support of student psychological needs was related to faculty trust in students and this relationship was mediated by teacher perceptions of the teaching task.

Originality/value

School research has primarily examined interpersonal antecedents of trust, focusing on behaviors and characteristics that position a person or group as trustworthy. This study extends trust research to the cognitive side of the formation process, calling attention to the function of mental representation in shaping trust discernments. Results suggest that cognitive processes hold promise as both a source of faculty trust in students and as a malleable mental structure that school leaders can shape through conversation.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 59 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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