Microgenetic methods

Clark A. Chinn, Bruce L. Sherin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


Microgenetic methods involve the detailed analysis of processes of learning, reasoning, and problem solving. The goal is not merely to identify factors that influence learning, but to understand how these factors mediate learning, step by step, as learning occurs. In this chapter, we discuss a cluster of methods designed to provide an in-depth, detailed understanding of learning processes. Such analyses require reliable methods. Fortunately, it has not been necessary for learning scientists to invent entirely new methods. Prior to the emergence of the learning sciences as a separate field, learning and development were a focus of study in multiple disciplines. Learning scientists have thus been able to borrow methods from these existing disciplines. However, the learning sciences emerged as a separate field in part because of a set of beliefs about learning that set it off from existing disciplines. These beliefs have, in turn, shaped the methods that we employ. They have dictated which methods we borrow, and they required that we adapt existing methods so that they are better suited for our particular aims. We thus begin this chapter by stating the shared beliefs that are of particular importance for the selection of research methods. First, in the learning sciences, learning is not typically understood to be a rare and dramatic event, one that happens only in moments of insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781139519526
ISBN (Print)9781107033252
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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