Adaptive Control of Thought Model | TESL Issues

Adaptive Control of Thought Model

Adaptive Control of Thought Model or the ACT model puts emphasis on the role of practice in the transitional change of knowledge. Anderson assumes that conversion of declarative knowledge into procedural knowledge is crucial for learning complex skills including speech production (DeKeyser, 1997, 1998, 2001; Johnson, 1996; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990; Schmidt, 1992; Towell & Hawkins, 1994).

Anderson’s ACT Model helps us to explain why it is highly difficult for the majority of L2 learners to use the target language in spontaneous outline communication; the transition from declarative to automatised knowledge takes a very long time and requires a lot of good practice. One of the requirements for good practice is that the practice match the three stages of skill acquisition (DeKeyser, 2007)((DeKeyser, R. M. (2007). Practice in a second language: Perspectives from applied linguistics and cognitive psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)).

Anderson’s (1976) Adaptive Control of Thought Model rests on the distinction between declarative and procedural knowledge. He characterised the essential differences in the form of three assumptions:

  • Declarative knowledge seems to be possessed in an all-or-none manner, whereas procedural knowledge seems to be something that can be partially possessed.
  • One acquires declarative knowledge suddenly by being told, whereas one acquires procedural knowledge gradually by performing the skill.
  • One can communicate one’s declarative knowledge verbally, but not one’s procedural knowledge (Anderson, 1976, p. 117).

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