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Implications of Complexity for Research on Learning Progressions


"The notion of LPs may itself be a "stepping stone," a "productive [way] of thinking that may support important re-conceptualizations" (Sevian & Talanquer, 2014, p. 15) in the research community's ongoing efforts to explain how student thinking and understanding evolves over time. Stepping stone ideas are thoughtful, plausible, and consensus-building intermediaries that push learners, and in our case researchers, toward new ways of thinking (Wiser et al., 2013).

As a stepping stone idea, LPs can support our own community's reconceptualization of progress. Duncan and Hmelo-Silver (2009) explain that student progress "is likely more akin to ecological succession than to constrained lock-step developmental stages" (p. 607). LP work that involves validation in close analyses of particular dynamics, and that prioritizes learners' coherence seeking, may help us reach our next level."