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Situated Cognition Genres: A Situated Learning Approach for Examining Informal Learning in an Online Community of Makers

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Makers, Making, and the Maker Movement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Aditya Johri George Mason University Orcid 16x16

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Aditya Johri is Associate Professor in the department of Information Sciences & Technology. Dr. Johri studies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning and knowledge sharing, with a focus on cognition in informal environments. He also examine the role of ICT in supporting distributed work among globally dispersed workers and in furthering social development in emerging economies. He received the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Early Career Award in 2009. He is co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (CHEER) published by Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. Dr. Johri earned his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design at Stanford University and a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Delhi College of Engineering.

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This theory paper revisits the situated cognition paradigm through the lens of Makers and Making and argues that to better understand engineering learning in emerging digital sociomaterial contexts such as Maker communities it is critical to incorporate a genre perspective within situated cognition. The genre perspective provides a better analytical device to understand cognition, in particular, its discursive aspects. Unlike traditional situated learning settings where learners were embedded in the same site for extensive periods of time, current learning environments supports a lighter vein of cognitive apprenticeship as learners switch participation frequently and rely extensively on external sources. A situated cognition genre perspective also provides a mechanism to trace learners’ trajectory across sites – both online and offline – and participate in different cognitive episodes. As an empirical case study, I examine an online forum related to 3D printing/Making called Soliforum. Consistent with research on situated learning, findings illustrate that digital materiality provides ample support for informal learning through affordances for displaying social characteristics, allowing use of different forms of informational resources, and providing support for problem solving activities among participants. The genre perspective facilitates additional examination of cognitive affordances of the online community by examining what constitutes the different cognitive episodes – asynchronous interaction; use of text, visuals, and videos; feedback from multiple experts; and the ability to learn from worked out examples. I argue that “situated cognition genres” is an important perspective for analysis of different engineering learning environments as well as for their design.

Johri, A. (2017, June), Situated Cognition Genres: A Situated Learning Approach for Examining Informal Learning in an Online Community of Makers Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28826

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