Login or register for free to remove ads.
You are here:

Little Learning, Big Learning: In Defense of Authentic Tasks TALK

, University of Georgia, United States


Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller, and Richard E. Clark, widely recognized educational researchers, published a paper provocatively titled “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching” in the Spring 2006 issue of the journal Educational Psychologist. In this paper, they wrote “The aim of all instruction is to alter long-term memory. If nothing has changed in long-term memory, nothing has been learned” (p. 77). Further, they recommended direct instruction, “defined as providing information that fully explains the concepts and procedures that students are required to learn as well as learning strategy support that is compatible with human cognitive architecture” (p. 75) as the only means to guarantee the transfer of knowledge and skills from experts to novices. The authors expressed disdain for instructional models that “challenge students to solve 'authentic' problems or acquire complex knowledge in information-rich settings based on the assumption that having learners construct their own solutions leads to the most effective learning experience” (p. 76). Several other researchers have responded to the critique of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching by Kirschner et al., but the debate continues. In this keynote, Professor Reeves will present an argument that although direct instruction may be effective for “little learning,” it simply does not add up to the “big learning” that higher education graduates must achieve in the 21st Century. He will also present evidence for the efficacy of an instructional model based upon authentic tasks that he has been refined over years of collaborative research with Jan Herrington and Ron Oliver.


Reeves, T.C. (2009). Little Learning, Big Learning: In Defense of Authentic Tasks. Presented at EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2017 from .


Audio Files