OODA Alpha, Part X: Instruction

In the context of conflict, Boyd (1986) instructs the reader to “get inside the adversary observation-orientation-decision-action loops (at all levels by being more subtle, more indistinct, more irregular, and quicker – yet appear to be otherwise.” The requirement for deception is because operations on the other’s orientation take place in confusing, disordered, and menacing environment (Boyd, 1986, 5). Yet whatever the attrition educators face (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004), students are not a force to be taken-down but one to be built-up. Therefore, the proper application of OODA theory would be to get inside the learners’ OODA loops, to manipulate their orientation bypass their decision making in order to change their implicit knowledge (Osinga, 2007). An instructor knowledgeable informed by OODA theory seeks to reorient learners.

In learning new words, to use as an example that teaches useful information, instructors wish to present an example of a new word in use, display what the word symbolizes, and explicitly define the word (Stahl, 1986) though too much information impedes performance (Igo, Kiewra, & Bruning, 2004; Igo, et al., 2007). That is, instruction is harmed by disorientation, even when the information that’s impeded cognition would by itself be useful (Kalyuga, Chandler, & Sweller, 2000, McCrudden, et al, 2004). Likewise, techniques that avoid disorientation by emphasizing materials for learners improve instruction (Kiewra, 1985; Titsworth, 2004; Titsworth & Kiewra, 2004 Neef, McCord, & Ferreri, 2006), beecause cues requires learners to make less decisions.

Laboratory instruction that does not attempt to teach useful information also finds the value of reorientation. One such arbitrary task is the Dunker radiation problem, which requires learners to discover that two separate lines of radiation are needed to kill a tumor (Dunker, 1926; Leech, Mareschal, & Cooper, 2007). Instruction in this program has focused on giving a one implicit or explicit clue, which still does not produce majority-correct performance (Gick & Holyoak, 1980), to repeated implicit practice, which does produce majority-correct answers (Thomas & Lleras, 2007). This result has been confirmed using other arbitrary tests (Schmidt, et al., 2007).

The central finding of both the practical and arbitrary instructional experiments is that learners, in the context of instruction, are best seen as passive. Or, more precisely, the conscious decision-making minds of learners should be recognized as passive. Orientation, and not decision, is the proper focus of instruction and therefore reorientation is the instructor’s trusty tool.

OODA Alpha, a tdaxp series
1. Abstract
2. Dual Processing Systems
3. The OODA Loop
4. Decision
5. Orientation
6. A Theory of Mind
7. Reorientation
8. Disorientation
9. Education
10. Instruction
11. Student Interaction
12. Creativity
13. Conclusion
14. Bibliography

One thought on “OODA Alpha, Part X: Instruction”

  1. Dan,

    I agree with the conclusion that instruction is reorientation. That’s the mechanism of long-term memory, so unless we don’t care if students remember what we taught, that’s where we need to focus.


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