Gordon Pask’s Conversation Theory: A Domain Independent Constructivist Model of Human Knowing. Bernard Scott. Centre for Educational Technology and . The model in question is partof the conversation theory (CT) of Gordon Pask. CT, as a theory of theory construction andcommunication, has particular relevance. Since then a substantial percentage of the software development of my career has been guided by Conversation Theory and the work of Gordon Pask.
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Conversation theory is a cybernetic and dialectic framework that offers a scientific theory to explain how interactions lead to “construction of knowledge”, or “knowing”: Conversation theory regards social systems as symbolic, language-oriented systems where responses depend on one person’s interpretation of another person’s behavior, and where meanings are agreed through conversations. Pask found these points to be the understandings which arise in the conversations between two participating individuals, and which he defined rigorously.
Conversation theory describes interaction between two or more cognitive systems, such as a teacher and a student or distinct perspectives within one individual, and how they engage in a dialog over a given concept and identify differences in how they understand it.
Conversation theory came out of the work of Gordon Pask on instructional design and models gorodn individual learning styles. In regard to learning styles, he identified conditions required for concept sharing and described the learning styles holistserialistand their optimal mixture versatile. He proposed a rigorous model of analogy relations.
Conversation theory as developed by Pask originated from convefsation cybernetics framework and attempts to explain learning in both living organisms and machines.
The fundamental idea of the theory was that learning occurs through conversations about a subject matter which serves to make knowledge explicit. Conversations can be conducted at a number of different levels: Through recursive interactions called “conversation” their differences may be reduced until agreement—that is, agreement up to a point which Pask called “agreement over an understanding”—may be reached.
A residue of the interaction may be captured as an “entailment mesh”, an organized and publicly available collection of resultant knowledge, itself a major product of the theory as devotees argue they afford many advantages over semantic networks and other, less formalized and non-experimentally based “representations of knowledge”.
Lastly, a formal analogy is shown where the derivations of the concept triples are indicated. The diamond shape denotes analogy and can exist between any three topics because of the shared meanings and differences. The relation of one topic to another by an analogy can also be seen as a restriction on a mapping and a distinction to produce the second topic or concept.
From conversation theory, Pask developed what he called a “Cognitive Reflector”. This is a virtual machine for selecting and executing concepts or topics from an entailment mesh shared by at least a pair of participants. It features an external modelling facility on which agreement between, say, a teacher and pupil may be shown by reproducing public descriptions of behaviour. Lp was Pask’s protolanguage which produced operators like Ap which concurrently executes Conthe concept of a Topic, Tto produce a Description, D.
A succinct account of these operators is presented in Pask  Amongst many insights he points out that three indexes are required for concurrent execution, two for parallel and one to designate a serial process. He subsumes this complexity by designating participants A, B, etc. In Commentary toward the end of Pask,  he states:.
In order to facilitate learning, Pask argued that subject matter should be represented in the form of structures which show what is to be learned. These structures exist in a variety of different levels depending upon the extent of the relationships displayed. The critical method of learning according to Conversation Theory is “teachback” in which one person teaches another what they have learned.
Conversation Theory – Gordon Pask
Pask identified two different types of learning strategies: The ideal is the versatile learner who is neither vacuous holist “globe trotter” nor serialist who gkrdon little of the context of his work. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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