Welcome to Depth: Decisions in Education through Perspective and THeory. The purpose of this interactive website is to foster deeper understandings of the underlying foundations of strategies that are used in educational environments. These foundations include theoretical and philosophical perspectives. Inherent in this purpose is the belief that developing these understandings will allow for better educational practice, whether it is teaching, instructional design, or applied research. Those who better understand the foundations of the tools that they use become more adept at wisely choosing those tools for particular learners, content, and learning environments.
We have chosen to organize the content in this website using three broad categories: worldview, theory, and strategy. For our purposes, a worldview is akin to an underlying set of beliefs about what there is in the world and how we come to know and understand what is in that world (e.g., various strands of philosophy such as epistemology). Theories are sets of principles that describe particular constructs or phenomenon. For example, a theory of learning describes the components and processes of learning. Theories of learning align with, or are grounded in, one or more worldviews. While theories are descriptive, strategies are prescriptive. Strategies prescribe how to do something. For example, an instructional strategy prescribes how to provide instruction. A well-defined strategy will make explicit the method, the intended outcomes, and the appropriate conditions under which the strategy should be used. Implicit within these elements are the underlying values of the strategy. These strategy elements, along with an understanding of an aligned theory and worldview, allow for a more informed selection and use of the strategy. Each strategy may align with, or be embraced by, one or more theories (Fang, 1997; Greeno, 1997, Honebein, Fishman, & Duffy, 1993). Given this, the relationships among strategies, theories, and worldviews may be difficult to discern. In this interactive learning tool, we have attempted to identify links that we believe are well justified and supported in the literature. We address the challenges in developing the content for this website, and we provide a rationale in which we note the site’s importance as a learning tool.
DEPTH is dynamic in a number of ways. First, as you interact with the website, you will be able to select and print a variety of aligned threads that include worldview, theory, and strategy. The many-to-many relationships within the database make this possible. Thus, if the website is considered a text, the threads of alignment may be considered a multitude of chapters that can be created to facilitate personal understanding.
Second, DEPTH is dynamic in that the database is always in the process of development. Further, this is a collective effort among users. Users are encouraged to provide content and suggestions to enhance the information DEPTH contains and help maintain it as a scholarly resource that reflects the rigor and grounding required in educational practice and research. A DEPTH submission form is available for this task and are submitted to Kathy L. Schuh, University of Iowa, editor.
Fang, Z. (1996). A review of research on teacher beliefs and practices. Educational Review, 38(1), 47-65.
Greeno, J. G. and the Middle-School Mathematics Through Applications Project Group (1997). Theories and practices of thinking and learning to think. American Journal of Education, 106, 85-123.
Honebein, P., Duffy, T. M., & Fishman, B. (1993). Constructivism and the design of learning environments. In T. M. Duffy & J. Lowyck & D. Jonassen (Eds.), Designing environments for constructivist learning (pp. 87-108). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
[back to top]