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Algo-Heuristic Theory of Learning

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Algo-Heuristic Theory of Learning

Abstract This paper covers the Algo-Heuristic Theory or Landamatics Theory of Learning. It focuses on a General Background of the theory which helps us to understand the teacher train the students to execute steps that are precise and specific in completing a particular task. The article also details the biography of Lev N Landa who is the founder of the theory. It further details the principles that are associated with the theory and give a brief synopsis of the use of the theory under different research methodologies. 

Definition and Background of Theory The Algo-Heuristic model is a theory of instructional design that was developed by Lev N. Landa in the 1950's. (Landa L.N, 1983). He focuses on two (2) general procedures: Algorithms and Heuristics. His theory is one the focuses on critical thinking skills for any and every situation, in their independent context, thus having a similar general logical structure that derives from meaning. Landa in his deliberation believes that this method of carrying out instruction can help the individual to mentally handle them in the same way by employing the same general mental operations. Terry, P & Starlight, J (year to be added). He also believed that subject-matter can be represented in algorithmically way. Saettler, P. (2004). This theory is also known as Landamatics as outlined by Lev Landa.

The fact is Landamatics is not a theory of instruction that will give you a lesson plan or tells you how to teach a concept, skill, knowledge or idea. Based on research conducted by Lev Landa on Landamatics Instructional Design theory and methodology for teaching General Methods of Thinking, Landamatics or Algo-Heuristic Theory, "a general method (or methodology) of approaching the design of an effective course of instruction or any lesson plan, whether the task is to teach knowledge of certain phenomena or a process of visual analysis of an object or a strategy of thinking or anything else". (Landa, 1998)

This theory allows the students to learn different materials in an algorithmic or heuristic problem-solving way that gives the student a step by step procedure in solving the problem.

Theorist Biography

Lev Landa was a member of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) until 1976. During that period of time, Landa received a doctoral and postdoctoral degree in psychology in Moscow and Leningrad respectively. He was later confirmed by the Ministry of Higher Education of the USSR with the title of Professor. He held positions such as Professor of the Institute of Advance training of the University and Pedagogical Sciences, Director of the Department of at the Institute of General And Educational Psychology. Landa continues his work where he left the USSR but continued to be the visiting professor at the University of Utrecht in Holland. He served as the president of Landmatics International a management and education consulting firm. Landa has over 100 publications, 27 of which were translated into different languages. Today, we are able to benefit from Mr Lev Landa through his Algo-Heuristic Theory of Learning otherwise called Landmatics.

Development of the Theory

Lev N Landa developed and implemented an experiment with a group of German-speaking persons. Group One was given a syntactically complex sentence "Die, die, die, die die Bushstaben zahlen, fur Narren halten, haben recht” (Schopenhauer). Each person was asked to read, try to understand the words and relate to its meaning. They were able to complete the task accordingly. The subjects were then asked to describe what they did with the words of the sentence in order to comprehend and understand it but her were not able to do so. They indicated that they read and understood what was given.

The same words were presented to a group of German-speaking persons who did not have a good command of the language; however, they either knew the meaning of all the words and constituent phrases or were given translations. All the subjects in the second group read the words several times, but could not grasp it. They tried to put all the English words together with a hope of finding out the meanings of the words, but they did not get it as they were only trying to guess instead of comprehending. (Landa, 1984)

Research Theory for Algo-Heuristic Theory of Learning

Lev Landa states that “the primary goal of his theory is to teach general methods of thinking (the highest-order thinking skills). It is intended for all situations which, though different in content, have similar general logical structures (often hidden) that allow one to mentally handle them in the same way by employing the same general mental operations.” (Landa, L 1983). The Landamatics Instructional Design Theory or Algo-Heuristic theory focuses on teaching students to use their cognitive skills to solve problems. These skills can actually be linked to the process of algorithmic, semi – algorithmic, heuristic or semi-heuristic base. Algo-Heuristics is a process of critical thinking and problem solving through the facilitation of an accurate course of action to achieve the objectives. Landa also argues that the there is only one way to gain intelligence and it is through internalizing the operations (Landa, 1999).

Landa further researched and presented the following through a publication in 1999. He further stated there is a different way of forming generalizations, concepts and thought process via a particular approach. This approach allows guarantees the formation of proper, adequate generalization, allows for the effective methods of acquisition and application of knowledge whether through images, concepts and propositions. In addition, the accurate transfer of experience and the mental processes have to solve new situations and problems. (Landa, 1999)

Base on the dynamics of the theory it is able to deal with a large variety of instructional, learning and performance problems within the classroom. He believes that knowledge is made up of the following elements: Image, Concept, and Proposition. Students must be open-minded to adopt new methods of learning in order to transfer the skills learned to other situations and problems. In his theory, the person or facilitator always provides the students with the information and assist them with their thought processes and provides different feedback to shape the learning to be acquired.

Based on research the Algo Heuristic Theory has a system of techniques that will assist in penetrating unobservable, non-conscious, and intuitive mental processes underlying expert performance, breaking those processes down into elementary components operations, describing those operations explicitly and composing algorithmic or heuristic prescriptions for non-experts. (C.M. Reigeluth, ed. (1983)) Some of the values that this theory is built upon are:

  • General methods of thinking
  • Identification of general logical structures of various subject matters which will determine methods of handling those structures

Algo Heuristic Theory Major Methods/Strategy These methods as outlined by Landa (Landa, L. N.d 1994,1999; Tate, 2007) includes:

  1. Guided Learning
  2. Expository Teaching
  3. Combination Approach

'''Guided Learning''' This process allows the student to understand his or her own thinking by properly guiding the students to make independent discoveries (Landa, 1999). Under this approach, the student is given a problem and the instructor or teacher guide the students in a particular way of thinking. The teacher assists the student to build mental awareness that guides their formulation a method that will assist in solving the problem. The teacher assists the student to build a scaffolding that will allow them to apply a technique to that method and then the students gradually internalize the method that is used to solve the problem. The instructor guides the process and allows the children to make the process automatic.

'''Expository Teaching''' The different steps that are used in the principle of guided learning are used here; however, the students are taught knowledge without using the discovery techniques. The student is taught through ready-made knowledge and methods such as illustrations or examples that help the student to understand the material (Landa, n.d. 2007)

Combination Approach The process of using various methodologies and actions to lead the students to solve different problem-solving techniques, while discussing and directing the students to receive the desired outcome. All concepts within the topic are taught by providing knowledge that is readily available.

According to Landa (1999) some of the general values of this theory are:

  • Equips the students with the tools needed to acquire manipulate and apply knowledge
  • Saves time and increase productivity
  • Increases the quality of skills, knowledge, and abilities acquired
  • Reduces difficulties in both teaching and learning
  • Prevents or reduces the rate of errors
  • Creates expert level learner and performances

In teaching the Algo-Heuristic Method the snowball method can be used. This is a step by step procedure that can be used (Landa, 1976) :

  • It is more important to teach algo-heuristic processes to students than prescriptions (knowledge of processes); on the other hand, teachers need to know both.
  • Processes can be taught through prescriptions and demonstrations of operations.
  • Teaching students how to discover processes is more valuable than providing them already formulated.
  • Break processes down into elementary operations of size and length suitable for each student (individualization of instruction).

Research and Use of Theory

There are many books, journals, articles and experiments that are linked to Lev Landa and the Algo-Heuristic Theory of Learning. Dr Laurence is one of the prominent persons who has used the Landamatics theory to teach computer programming and it was deemed successful. (Laurence, L.L 2004). He further stated that “Landamatics is a viable technique in the computer science classroom. It is not a substitute for conventional knowledge and principles instructions to help the students understand the material”. The reality is it is easy to use this method as it involves algorithms.

He also made reference to the use of this approach in teaching languages, algorithms. To attest to the continued use and success of the Algo-Heuristic or Landamatics theory Port, O. (1992) Business Week has an article of Landamatics. They indicated that many businesses have been using this theory to complete industrial training which has allowed them to save millions of dollars. Base of the article due to the savings the company had moved to train in-house Landamatics Consultants.

As recent as January 2015, Rufi R. researched The Development of Algo-Heuristic Model: To Improve Student Learning Acquisition in Statistics at Elementary School Teach….. Base on this research it must be noted that “the Algo-heuristic model of programme delivery including but not limited teaching materials developed in the form of books, have met the criteria of effectiveness. Statistics show a difference and there is a significant increase" Therefore, base on this research “the Algo-heuristic learning strategies can be implemented to obtain better learning achievements”. (Rufi R, 2015)

Another researcher who researched on The Impact of Blended Learning Environments Based on Algo-Heuristics Theory on Some Variables reported that the Algo-Heuristic Theory based on blended learning environments can be used for teaching skills for preparing presentations on computers, improving attitudes towards computers and increase the motivation level towards computers. Aygun, M (2012). Nevertheless, the same study showed that there is a need for additional research in other areas to use this theory.

Conclusion Based on these observations and the research presented, the Algo-Heuristic theory is one that can be used in the classroom to effectively assist students in their logical reasoning and to learn different things in different sequences. All learning is guided by the teacher, but learning is heavily dependent on the student. The conditions that are desired base on the theory must be developed by the student over time so that the entire theory can be fully effective.

My understanding base on the research and evidence presented is that this technique is a viable option that can be used in different classrooms such as Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology (to some extent), Foreign Language and any other subject matter that algorithm and heuristics can be used.  


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