Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Learning by computer modelling in undergraduate geography : a cognitive-cultural perspective
Author: Riley, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2736 3733
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis investigates the roles of computer modelling and writing in Geography undergraduates' learning about the system dynamics of social and environmental systems. It treats modelling as a cognitively and culturally novel practice that challenges conventional notions of the 'Three Rs'. A working conception of 'learning by modelling' is developed from a human evolutionary perspective on symbolic representation; an analysis of 'how maps work'; a conversational model of learning; recent science studies accounts of computational modelling, and a cultural literacy perspective on academic writing. The synthesised conception informs a critique of the pedagogic literatures on modelling in undergraduate Geography and introductory system dynamics, which are found to privilege formal reasoning and technical skills whilst relatively neglecting the roles of written assessment in student learning The empirical research is based on a one-semester, introductory module launched to improve the quality of undergraduates' written accounts of positive and negative feedback within systems. The study adopts a naturalistic and inductive strategy to investigate the outcomes of learning by modelling. Adapting methods of discourse and content analysis, it interprets the summatively assessed modelling project coursework reports of eleven participants with respect to the module's intended learning outcomes. Participants' adopted approaches ranged from the exploratory to the expressive, with different types and amounts of tutor involvement. Their modelling and writing activities are interpreted as serving to mediate personal and prior interests, the consulted literatures of their selected topics, the methods of introductory systems dynamics, and the institutional context. That is to say, modelling by students is interpreted as being educationally situated and to differ from scientific modelling construed as mediating theory and experiment. The latter interpretation itself may be treated as being professionally situated and, not so much a 'correct understanding' of modelling, as a further manifestation of a new cognitive-cultural mode of symbolic representation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available