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ERIC Number: EJ825389
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 137
ISSN: ISSN-0046-1520
Resubsumption: A Possible Mechanism for Conceptual Change and Belief Revision
Ohlsson, Stellan
Educational Psychologist, v44 n1 p20-40 Jan 2009
Successful learning sometimes requires that the learner abandons or rejects one or more prior concepts, beliefs, or intuitive theories. Such "nonmonotonic changes" are widely believed to have a low probability of occurring spontaneously and to be difficult to promote with instruction. A theory of nonmonotonic cognitive change should explain both why such changes are difficult and why they are possible. The purpose of this article is to develop the idea that nonmonotonic change happens when the learner "resubsumes" a domain of experience under a conceptual system originally developed for some other domain. The resubsumption theory is built on three main cognitive processes: In the course of "routine knowledge formation," people grow informal theories for different domains of experience in parallel, maintaining local but not global coherence. The trigger for conceptual change is "bisociation," the realization that an informal theory developed to make sense of one domain also applies to some other domain, giving the learner two alternative ways of thinking about the latter. The conflict between the two alternative ways of thinking is settled through "competitive evaluation" of their cognitive utility. The pedagogical implications of the resubsumption theory differ from those of prior theories but are as yet untested. (Contains 2 figures and 5 footnotes.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A