Research in this thematic group studies learning and instruction from a domain specific perspective. Research focuses on learning and instruction activities that foster the development of (a) domain specific knowledge and skills in primary, secondary and vocational education (e.g., languages, mathematics, science and social studies) and (b) professional competencies in higher and academic education (such as medicines and law). Important research questions concern development and instruction of domain specific concepts and domain specific ways of reasoning.
This research theme has produced a rich set of findings regarding the components that constitute domain specific skills (e.g., contributions to models of writing processes and historical reasoning), and the development of those skills (e.g., contributions to theories on expertise development). It also contributes to theories about how the learning of domain specific concepts and skills is related to learners characteristics (e.g. interest, learning style, cultural background). It contributes to domain specific and more generic instruction theories that explain how instructional tasks, tools, sequences and methods (e.g., realistic mathematics education, observational learning), teaching strategies and classroom culture affect the development of domain specific concepts and ways of reasoning.
Research on professional competencies contributed to theories on expertise development in professional domains and produced findings regarding the competencies that define proficiency in a profession and the relations between the development of theoretical knowledge and learning on the job.
The research methods that are used are controlled experimental studies and a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods (e.g. discourse analysis, case studies). Within this (and the next) thematic group there is specific attention for design research that aims at developing more holistic domain specific instruction theories and corresponding heuristics for instructional design.
In forthcoming research there will be increasing attention for the interrelatedness of domain knowledge, components of domain specific skills, and more general skills (e.g., metacognitive skills, social competencies). Future research will also focus on the question how types of instruction interact with learners and class characteristics.
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