Constructivism…an Educational Theory Fadra Hepner Education 310
Constructivism• What is it?• What does it have to tell us?• How can we apply it to our work?
During the 1930’s and 40’s, Constructivism was theleading view of Public school educators in the U.S.• Nothing terribly new about it!• Many basic beliefs stated by Dewey among others• Comprised primarily of the research by: Jean Piaget Lev Vigotsky But first…... Jerome Bruner
Constructivism..What is it?• An educational theory • Based on the idea that that places emphasis All knowledge is on the learner CONSTRUCTED• Teacher’s role: Act as based on previous a facilitator experiences
But what does this mean?• In order to understand something, we MUST be able to relate it to something else• If at all possible, APPLY this knowledge during the lesson to foster concrete connections• Differs from traditional view; the mind is a blank tablet
Instead, Constructivism views knowledge as “assimilated” into existing schema• Idea largely based on Swiss Biologist Jean Piaget’s research on child development & learning• Piaget’s theory states that children learn by creating “mental maps” or schemes• These maps or schemes are added to and adapted as needed to help them understand their environment• Structure becomes more complex as child develops
4 Developmental stages according to Piaget• 1. Sensory motor stage (birth-2 yrs)-through physical interaction with environment, child develops set of concepts about reality & how it works-stage where child is unaware that if an object is not seen it still exists (object permanence)
2. Preoperational stage (2-7)• Child needs concrete physical situations and is unable to conceptualize in the abstract-needs to see, hear, feel in order to understand something
3. Concrete operations (7-11)• Child begins to conceptualize based on physical experiences-creates logical structures to explain his/her environment-abstract problem solving possibleExample: math with #’s, not objects
4. Formal operations (12+)• Cognitive structures are like an adult and include conceptual reasoning-Piaget classified as a “cognitive constructivist” focusing on processes of the mind and its effects on learning
Lev Vigotsky• Russian psychologist & philosopher in 1930’s usually associated with Social Constructivism• Social Constructivism emphasized the effects of one’s environment (family, friends, culture & background) have on learning• Today, Co-Constructivism Seems to prevail, incorporating Cognitive and Social aspects
Modern Constructivism!!!• Jerome Bruner most recent contributor• 1966-1990 Has incorporated social and cognitive aspects• These ideas originated from a conference for math and science learning Jerome Bruner
3 Principles of Constructivism:• Instruction must be concerned with experiences and contexts that make students willing & able to learn (readiness)• Must be structured so it is easily grasped (spiral organization)• Should be designed to facilitate extrapolation or “fill in the gaps” (going beyond information given)
During the math and science conference, a modifiedlesson plan was developed with Bruner’s assistance The five E’s:• Engage- do this! Engage the students and get them interested in learningEx: ask a question, define a problem, surprise them, use problematic situations TWO VOLUNTEERS PLEASE!
Explore• Get the students directly involved in the material• Have them work in teams• Act as a facilitator• Use their inquiry to drive the process
Explain• Explanations come from:-Students working together-Teacher introducing concepts and vocabulary for experiences Example: magnets-attracting force• This is also the time for the teacher to determine levels of understanding and clarify misconceptions• Drawing, writing and video are great tools to help the teacher assess development and growth
Elaborate• Students expand on concepts learned• Make connections• Apply understandings to own environment & world around them• These connections lead to further inquiry & new understandings
Evaluate• On-going diagnostic process• Can occur at all points of the instructional process-Examples: rubrics, teacher observation, student interviews, portfolios, project & problem based learning products, etc.• Used to guide teacher in further planning of lessons• May also be utilized by the students; Ex: Feedback Fridays
To summarize:• Learning is active• Engage the students on their own cognitive level• Make it interesting!• Work in groups• Act as a facilitator, not a record player• Make learning cyclical. They should have more questions when the lesson is over!