Knowledge, Acquisition of
Knowledge, Acquisition of
the process of cognitive activity and its result—the mastery of knowledge, abilities, and skills. In the educational context, the acquisition of knowledge is determined by the content and method of instruction as well as by the particular character and age of the student group.
In its modern stage of development, educational psychology is marked by two closely related tendencies—namely, the search for the most effective means of imparting knowledge and the parallel attempt to utilize to the fullest extent the learning capacities of the students themselves and to develop their ability to acquire knowledge independently.
As an ongoing process, the acquisition of knowledge has different levels. These levels differ in their specific formal programming and in the degree of active participation on the subjects’ part. One type of learning program is premised on the strict regimentation of the students’ activities to ensure the acquisition of knowledge. A specific ready-made operational system is given, to serve as a model for the acquisition of knowledge. P. Ya. Gal’perin and N. F. Talyzina are among the Soviet psychologists who have studied and described the acquisition of knowledge at this level. In this type of program, the system of prescribed rules determines both the nature and the sequence of the learner’s activities; it also makes it possible to correctly categorize the material learned. The learner’s independent activity is reduced to a minimum, since it consists of imitating the model and carrying out predetermined modes of action.
A more complex form of learning activity is the formation of mental skills—a process effected by the instructor. In this process, methods that have been worked out in the social context are combined with the subject’s individual’ modes of action, inasmuch as mastery of one or the other skill is essential for the self-regulated acquisition of knowledge, rather than for mere regulation from without. The development of generalized mental skills is particularly important for the acquisition of knowledge, as shown in the work of such researchers as D. N. Bogoiavlenskii, E. N. Kabanova-Meller, and N. A. Menchinskaia. It is not simply that a general application is made of the method used in learning a particular type of material; the learner also works out his own individual “style” of mental work (as shown, for example, by Iu. A. Samarin). The mastery of knowledge and of operational methods constitutes the basis and the necessary condition for human mental development.
N. A. MENCHINSKAIA