From cognition to practice: Theoretical perspectives on the relationship between disciplinary learning and information seeking

Research output: Working paperResearch


The paper contrasts two paradigms of learning, information seeking and use: the prevalent (mainstream) cognitivist paradigm on the one hand, and lesser-known action-oriented approaches on the other. Cognitivist applications on disciplinary learning and information seeking imply a two-stage model of learning, where the student in the first step finds the needed information and in the second step learns from it. At a practical level, this sequential conception has some substantial consequences for information seeking/searching and behavior, some of which are outlined in the paper. The main part of this contribution is a deconstruction of the cognitive assumptions about learning and seeking/searching in the light of action-oriented approaches. We develop two types of action-oriented approach. The first approach, which comes from Critical Psychology, understands learning as a primarily social phenomenon. In contrast to the cognitivist conception, learning is here substantialized through social interactions and conceptualized epistemologically as dialectic. The second approach stems from Agential Realism and brings forward a somewhat radical critique of the cognitivist approach and of the Critical Psychology approach as well. Both have a significant impact on conceptions of information seeking/searching and information literacy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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