Many theories have been developed in the field of education, always seeking to improve existing methods.
One of the most important today is The theory of elaboration of Charles M. Reigeluth. Through these paragraphs, we can learn more about this model, what is the methodology it uses and what are the qualities that make it one of the most relevant at the moment.
What is Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration?
Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration is a methodology developed by this American educational researcher. Reigeluth is an eminence in the generation of instructional design theories, that is, the creation of teaching models that seek maximum efficiency so that students maximize the learning of the new content offered. It is within this framework that the theory of elaboration fits.
The key to this theory would be organize this teaching from the simplest to the most complex hypotheses, Therefore increasing the level of requirement in a totally progressive way and making it easier for the student to consolidate each phase before facing the next in level of complexity. In addition, another point brought out by the theory of elaboration of Charles M. Reigeluth is that at the end of each stage of the teaching, one must make a summary of all that has been seen so far. .
This progressive consolidation at each phase is one of the characteristics of this methodology. Reviewing all of the above each time a lesson is completed is a very powerful system for defining content in the mind of the learner, because it makes it possible to establish associations of concepts and to achieve this progressive learning that this method seeks.
Another of the qualities that Charles M. Reigeluth’s elaboration theory highlights is that of using the power of real context or examples when teaching strategies, so that they are not just empty concepts. , because having a specific scenario on which to apply these lessons to the student will be much easier to assimilate the new information and to perpetuate this knowledge.
Components of the theory of elaboration
The theory of elaboration of Charles M. Reigeluth is proposed to be achieved through seven fundamental components that must always be present if we are to take full advantage of the potential of this methodology and thus achieve the best possible results by teaching students through it. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail.
1. Elaborative sequence
The concepts and strategies that will be taught must be developed through a sequence. In addition, we have already seen the principle that this sequence should be designed in such a way that it starts with the most basic elements and these become more and more complex, gradually. This is the main feature of Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration.
this sequencing establishes the prerequisites before starting each new learning phase which refer to the consolidation of one step before being able to start the next one. In this sense, if we use the theory of elaboration to teach concepts divided into five stages, we will not be able to go to two until one has been correctly learned, nor to three until it has been properly learned. will not have been done. with both, and so on.
We also saw in the previous point that one of the defining characteristics of the theory of elaboration of Charles M. Reigeluth is the establishment of summaries which are placed at the end of each phase. Each summary should include not only the concepts developed at the completed level, but also those of all of the above, so that they are cumulative.
In other words, that is to say every step we start and finish included a summary of everything that has been seen so far, A fantastic mechanism to ensure that the student does not forget any of the lessons we have taught them before, as the goal is to consolidate all of their knowledge.
Also and as we see that the concepts are cumulative, it is important to synthesize the material seen so far because if we do not run the risk of needing too much time to revisit a content which, once seen, they can be condensed into their most basic components without having to repeat everything from the start. Synthesis will therefore be another component of Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration.
It is just as important as using summaries to draw analogies and examples so that the learner can visualize the theoretical concepts that we put on the table in a more realistic setting. These analogies will help you create a mental picture which, together with the theoretical explanation, will make it easier to learn the whole block of knowledge. that we get to him.
6. Cognitive strategies
In order to facilitate learning, Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration indicates that the instructor or teacher can use different cognitive strategies, adapting to the characteristics of the student, So that the concepts are assimilated in the most efficient way. These cognitive strategies refer to the different ways in which we can use our intellectual capacities to achieve learning.
7. Student control
The last of the points that make up the characteristics of Charles M. Reigeluth’s elaboration theory is that of student control. This control is given by all the points that we have seen in the list, since the set of all allows the learner to be sure that they can generate the appropriate learning at all times, Return to the top if necessary and take advantage of the resources at your disposal.
This way, the person makes sure that they can understand the level they are studying without having to move on to the next one early. The idea is to provide all the facilities so that the current phase is properly consolidated, without any gaps in this learning process which gradually reduce the effectiveness of the methodology in question. This is what guarantees the proper functioning of this strategy.
The author of this methodology
The creation of the development theory of Charles M. Reigeluth, as well as others that this author has developed in the field of instructional design theories, they marked a big step forward in the field of education, especially in the United States. Charles Reigeluth embodied his models primarily through a four-volume series called Theories and Models of Instructional Design.
In them is detailed the own theory of elaboration but also other very important ones such as simulation theory. Reigleluth has devoted two decades of research in this field to fight for the reinvention of methodologies traditionally used in American schools. This goal is also reflected in two of his main books, Reinventing Schools: It’s Time to Break the Mold and Vision & Action: Reinventing Schools Through Personalized Skills-Based Education.
Charles Reigeluth was able to conduct formative research, that is to say directly apply his methodologies in the field and thus discover what was his real potential and know the specific situations that favored or hindered learning, thus obtaining very valuable information. to be able to polish their models.
He also took an in-depth look at the technological requirements that student-centered methodologies (such as the ones he posed) needed. Through his studies at Indiana University check that there were four main issues that required the use of the technology.
The first would be to be able to keep the archives necessary for learning. The second would understand everything with regard to the establishment of previously planned objectives. Then came the instruction of the program itself. And that would end with the evaluation by which the level of effectiveness of the program would be verified, by checking whether the student has correctly acquired the proposed contents or on the contrary it is necessary to come back to them to consolidate them.
It is clear that Charles M. Reigeluth’s theory of elaboration is only one part of a life devoted to improving educational models.
- Reigeluth, CM (1992). Elaboration of the theory of elaboration. Research and development of educational technology. Springer.
- Reigeluth, CM (1979). In search of a better way to organize teaching: the theory of elaboration. Educational development journal. JSTOR.
- Reigeluth, CM (2018). Lesson plans based on pedagogical theory. Informative theories in action. Routledge.
- Reigeluth, CM, Merrill, MD, Wilson, BG, Spiller, RT (1980). The theory of instructional development: a model of instruction sequencing and synthesis. Educational science. Springer.