M. L. J. Abercrombie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

M. L. J. "Jane" Abercrombie was a British psychologist who contributed to the theory and practice of education through her teaching, research, lecturing and writing. In particular, she carried out pioneer research into the use of groups in learning with medical, architectural and education students, and she shared with diverse audiences in many countries her extensive knowledge and expertise as a teacher who used the methods and principles of group analytic psychotherapy.[1]

Research[edit]

Abercrombie[2][3] investigated why medical students who were able to solve problems, when presented in a familiar format, were unable to do so when the same problems were presented in a slightly different way. Abercrombie (1969) reminds us that we rarely reflect upon our initial judgements, which are embedded in our own personality. Abercrombie found that group discussion helped these students solve such problems and, in particular, improved the ability of the students to discriminate between facts and opinions, to resist false conclusions and to bring fresh strategies to their attempts to solve new problems without being adversely influenced by past failure. The ideas put forward by Jane Abercrombie about the development of small group interactive learning pedagogies in the 1960s in the UK had an almost immediate impact on the primary and tertiary education sectors there. Her Anatomy of Judgement: an investigation into the process of perception and reasoning[2] culminated ten years of research on the selection and training of medical students at University College London.[4] This research suggested that the art of medical judgement, diagnosis and other key elements of medical practice, were better learned in small groups of students arriving at a diagnosis collaboratively than by students working individually. Her finding is that group discussion, properly directed, can do much to eliminate faults in the teacher and to make the student think instead of learning.

Research and education[edit]

There was a clear line of development in her work that was always underpinned by her interest in educational work. She progressively developed her research and thinking from her early years as a zoology teacher through her growing involvement in Group Analysis and its application in education. Throughout her work, three themes – the selective and projective nature of perception and reasoning; the difficulty that human beings experience in changing; the subtlety and complexity of communication – continually interact with and enrich one another. She increasingly concentrated on group analysis and its relevance to and use in higher education involving "free" or "associative" group discussion as she used it in her own work with students.

Group learning[edit]

She carried out pioneer research into the use of groups in learning with medical, architectural and education students, and she shared with diverse audiences in many countries her extensive knowledge and expertise as a teacher who used the methods and principles of group analytic psychotherapy. Jane Abercrombie came to these views through her contact with the psychoanalyst and group analyst S. H. Foulkes and in 1952 she became a founder member of the Group Analytic Society, and president of the society in 1981. This society still awards a prize in her name, the Abercrombie Prize, in recognition of the importance of her ideas.

The Anatomy of Judgement[edit]

Her best known publication, "The Anatomy of Judgement" was reissued in 1989 (Free Association Books). This book brings together an edited selection from her educational writings. It is essentially an analysis of the process of learning as a summation of judgements when information is presented. The author shows how emotion and preconceptions influence this judgement. The extracts are arranged in four parts. The first gives an overview of her educational convictions, of the development of her research and thinking from her early years as a zoology teacher and of her growing involvement in group analysis and its application in education. The second illustrates the way in which, throughout her work, three themes – the selective and projective nature of perception and reasoning; the difficulty that human beings experience in changing; the subtlety and complexity of communication – continually interact with and enrich one another. The third part focuses in greater detail upon group analysis, its relevance to and use in higher education. The fourth gives detailed examples of "free" or "associative" group discussion as she used it in her own work with students.

Publications[edit]

  • Abercrombie, M. L. (1960) The Anatomy of Judgement: An Investigation into the Processes of Perception and Reasoning, London: Hutchinson.
  • Abercrombie, M. L. (1970) Aims and Techniques of Group Teaching, Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE working party on teaching methods, Publication 2), University of Surrey, Guildford.
  • Abercrombie, M. L. (1979). "Uses and Abuses of Boundaries – Perception: The Structure of Space and the Group Process". Group Analysis, 12(1), 30.
  • Abercrombie, M. L. J. (1981) "Beyond the Unconscious: Group Analysis Applied" (5th Foulkes Lecture). Group Analysis, 14(2), suppt.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "M. L. J. Abercrombie". http://www.psychreg.com/. Psychreg. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Abercrombie, M.L. (1960) The Anatomy of Judgement: An Investigation into the Processes of Perception and Reasoning, London: Hutchinson.
  3. ^ Abercrombie, M. L. (1970) Aims and Techniques of Group Teaching, Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE working party on teaching methods, Publication 2), University of Surrey, Guildford.
  4. ^ "M. L. J. Abercrombie". http://www.psychreg.com/. Psychreg. Retrieved 11 December 2014.