Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Abductive reasoning part 2

I've just re-read my previous post about abductive reasoning, and something has just clicked. Here is a chunk of the original quote:

"Abductive reasoning, as described by Darden professor Jeanne Liedtka, embraces the logic of what might be. Designers may not be able to prove that something ‘is’ or ‘must be,’ but they nevertheless reason that it ’may be.’ This style of thinking is critical to the creative process."

I think this is why we love formative feedback and assessment in the arts, and why we hate summative assessment. We find it very difficult to accept that any outcome is fixed and binding. My colleagues and I struggled and failed recently to give summative verbal feedback to our students. We were supposed to be explaining how we had arrived at our mark with regard to the assessment criteria, but within seconds we just had to talk about what might come next, suggesting the many ways in which the learning might progress. We just can't help it, and should we really be fighting our natural creative tendencies when they feel so right?

We may not be able to prove what a learning outcome 'is' or 'must be', but nevertheless we can reason what it 'may be'.

Maybe 'may be' is a far more powerful factor in effective learning than 'is' or 'must be'.

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