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Theories Are Tested by Observing the Facts: Or Are They?


by Hugh G. Petrie 1972

"The first rule that we must be prepared to accept as we judge the relative merits of different [learning] theories is this: All the theorists accept all of the facts." This view, enunciated by one of the most respected learning theorists, is, I believe, a view which is held almost without question by most psychologists, educators, and laymen. It is also, I believe, a view which is a most profoundly mistaken one. It is the purpose of this essay to indicate briefly why this view is mistaken and to show with a discussion of several examples what a pernicious influence this view has had on the development of psychological learning theory and most especially on the application of psychological learning theory to educational concerns.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 71, No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 73 Number 5, 1972, p. 47-73
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19494, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 6:17:46 PM

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About the Author
  • Hugh Petrie
    University of Illinois, Urbana
    E-mail Author
    HUGH G. PETRIE is an Associate Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
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