Module 7: Generic Skills 


Basic Methods of Instruction

1.Kinds of Learning
2.Invariant Tasks
3.Concept Classification
4.Procedure Using
5.Principle Using
7.Generic Skills

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Principles of Learning for Generic Skills So how is a generic skill learned? Since a generic skill is made up of simpler components (primarily procedures and principles), we need to look at how those components are learned. We have already done this in the previous modules. You may want to review the appropriate section of the invariant-task, procedure-using, and principle-using modules. But there is more. 

A generic skill differs from a domain-dependent skill in that it is applied across different content domains and it takes longer to learn. Both of these differences have important influences on how a generic skill is learned. 

The fact that it is applied in different content domains means that it can only be learned through application to domain-dependent knowledge. Therefore, it must be integrated with domain-dependent knowledge. In learning a generic skill like problem solving, the problems must be from at least one particular domain. Therefore, you must decide what domain-dependent content to use for teaching the generic skill at each point in your instructional sequence. Secondly, if we want the learners to be able to apply it in different content domains, they need to learn to generalize it to different content domains. This is a whole new kind of variable characteristic, or equivalence class. This has very important implications for the way you would want to design instruction on a generic skill. 

The fact that it takes longer to learn means that the order of learning becomes an important issue. Think about how you learned problem solving. You didn't learn how to deal with the most complex cases all at once, did you? You probably started by learning problem-solving techniques that enabled you to solve very simple kinds of problems. You probably didn't start by learning all the discriminations and concepts relevant to the most complex problem-solving techniques, and then gradually work your way up a Gagnéan learning hierarchy to being able to integrate all those simpler component parts into a whole. Rather, you likely started by learning the few discriminations, concepts, and rules you needed to solve the very simplest kinds of problems, and you mastered that level of problem solving before you proceeded to slightly more complex techniques to deal with a slightly more complex kind of problem. This also has very important implications for the way you would want to organize instruction on a generic skill.

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This file was last updated on March 10, 1999 by Byungro Lim
Copyright 1999, Charles M. ReigeluthCredit