diSessa - C&I 2008

A “Theory Bite” on the Meaning of Scientific Inquiry: A Companion to Kuhn and Pease
Cognition and Instruction, Volume 26, Issue 4 October 2008 , pages 427 - 429

Andrea diSessa

No abstract given, but here's a description of a "theory bite" that suggests why you should read this:

With respect to dialectical approaches and also to theory, I have taken the privilege of exemplifying a small innovation focused on both of these in this issue. I call the genre a “theory bite,” and it was suggested to me by Bruce Sherin. The idea is to comment briefly on the theoretical perspective of a work in such a way as to (a) succinctly identify and clarify a theoretical position in an article, and (b) situate it with respect to alternatives. “Essences and possibilities” might be a helpful slogan. This is largely an analytical enterprise, and it can usually be carried out without the author staking a position. I hope for simple, clear, and short expositions that can illuminate background assumptions for senior researchers, and attune junior researchers to perspectives that they may miss because researchers in particular lines seldom go back to first principles, and, similarly, they seldom review very different framings. This dialectical genre is tricky to nurture. Editors in charge may be the best people to think about possible contributions, but rarely will they be the best people to make the contribution. It is easier to identify people who are allies of positions and lines, and those who will dispute them. Where neutral but illuminating analytical perspectives can come from is more problematic. So, initiative on the part of readers and contributors is urgently requested. You may use my note on the Kuhn and Pease article in this issue as a model, but I hope this modest example also spurs different and better innovations. Obviously, feedback on genres we do or could try out is strongly invited.