Thursday, August 28, 2014

Making Education Relevant: What is Task-Centered Learning?

Task-centered learning is a method of learning that uses real-world tasks that make learning more relevant. In task-centered learning, students gain skills that relate to outside of school activities and competencies. It's been a good year for publications with my book that also recently came out as I mentioned in a previous post. 

Dr. Joel Gardner and I recently published an article in TechTrends entitled What is Task-Centered Learning. A pre-publication draft can be found on my account at or at this link. This article provides an overview of the task-centered learning/instruction models so far, reviewing and combining task-centered models including Merrill's First Principles of Instruction, the 4C/ID model, Elaboration Theory, and Cognitive Apprenticeship. Then the article synthesizes these models to show the types of things a teacher or instructional designer should do to ensure that they follow prescriptions for task-centered learning. It follows up on a previous article - Task-centered learning differs from problem-based learning.

For this article, we decided to call it task-centered learning. Task-centered instruction, as it has been referred to in the past, was (in our minds) not a sufficiently accurate term. When they think of the word instruction, many people conjure up images of stimulus-response learning made famous by B. F. Skinner. Task-centered learning is very different from behaviorist-based learning, the learning tasks, activation of prior knowledge, demonstration/modeling, application, and integration/exploration mentioned in the article are elements that we associate with learning, not instruction. What is Task-Centered Learning? is a great primer for anyone interested in understanding task-centered learning/instruction. Check it out and share your thoughts in the comments! 

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