Complexity and Enquiry
T. V. Joe Layng, Ph.D. (Generategy)
T. V. (Joe) Layng received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he was a student of Israel Goldiamond. Dr. Layng is the co-founder of Headsprout and was its senior scientist. At Headsprout, Dr. Layng and his colleagues designed, tested, and implemented highly successful Early Reading and Reading Comprehension programs, which are based on behavior analytic instructional technology. They also produced a comprehensive interactive whiteboard science curriculum for grades 3–8. He currently is a partner in Generategy, an interactive technologies company that provides educational software based on principles of generative instruction. Through Generategy, Dr. Layng and his colleagues have recently launched Music Learning Lab for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch that teaches children music fundamentals. These programs have greatly expanded behavioral technology and have directly benefited countless children. Dr. Layng has published more than 30 articles describing, documenting, and analyzing these instructional programs, and has given more than 50 invited presentations of his work in this area both in the U.S. and abroad. He has four patents that reflect his work related to educational applications of behavior analysis. Dr. Layng has held a number of positions in schools, universities, and other public institutions related to instructional design, educational technology, large-scale performance improvement, and clinical behavior analysis. His work also has been well received outside behavior analysis, as exemplified the receipt in 2010 of the CODiE Award for best “online instructional solution” from the Software Industry and Information Association for the Reading Comprehension program, and two different public service awards from the city of Chicago. He also serves on the boards of a number of organizations dedicated to advancing both education and behavior analysis, including the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and Pacific Oaks College. Dr. Layng is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and his far-reaching work applying behavior analysis in education and other areas brings positive visibility to our discipline as a whole.
Abstract: Frequently one hears that behaviorist approaches to teaching and learning focus on the more mundane "basic" skills and often neglect the important aspects of advanced learning. That is, there is an emphasis on the simple, rather than the complex, and on direct teaching rather than on enquiry and problem solving. This presentation looks at complexity and argues that the meaning of complexity, especially as it applies to education, is not well understood and requires an examination of a range of teaching and learning issues. Further, complexity of task is different than complexity of teaching the task, and often repertoires of increasing complexity may become increasingly more simple to teach. Enquiry may itself be one of those instances. As one builds the component repertoires for enquiry, one may find increasingly more complex patterns may emerge with little direct instruction. A model for teaching and applying enquiry repertoires to increasingly more demanding criteria will be suggested that topographically looks unstructured, but in fact builds upon careful contingency shaping.
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