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Constructivism: How to Use It to Improve YOUR Teaching and Learning


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This presentation is required work in Walden University's EDUC 8101-3, Spring 2011. The project is designed to educate an non-professional audiences about the learning theory called Constructionism so examples are, of necessity, simplified. Jargon is held to a minimum.

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Constructivism: How to Use It to Improve YOUR Teaching and Learning

  1. 1. Constructivism: How to Use It to Improve YOUR Teaching and Learning by Barbara Rademacher For EDUC 8101-3 Spring 2011 Walden University
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Constructivism – in its many forms – is an important education theory. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the 1990’s, constructivism has dominated mathematics education. </li></ul><ul><li>In this workshop, you will: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>use constructivist methods to learn about constructivism, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>learn about traditional educational theories, and maintain your interest by filling in blanks, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>learn about and discuss the types of constructivism, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>learn about constructivist teaching methods you can use to improve YOUR teaching and learning, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>brainstorm teaching activities you can use yourselves. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. When you see this icon… <ul><li>Click on it to learn more about the subject covered on the slide. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Building Meaning <ul><li>Refer to your handout for the first activity. </li></ul><ul><li>You will spend three minutes writing down every mental image and word that occurs to you when you hear and see the word CONSTRUCT . </li></ul>
  5. 5. Your Theory of Constructivism <ul><li>What do you think the Theory of Constructivism is all about? </li></ul><ul><li>Write your thoughts. </li></ul>I think the Theory of Constructivism says that …
  6. 6. Share Your Theory <ul><li>Now, all the participants in this workshop will share with each other their theories about what CONSTRUCTIVISM is. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Reconsider and Rewrite <ul><li>Hearing the theories of others may have caused you to alter your thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>Rewrite your Theory of Constructivism. </li></ul>I Now think the Theory of Constructivism says that …
  8. 8. CONGRATULATIONS! You Have Just Practiced Constructivism <ul><li>First, you considered a new word: Constructivism. </li></ul><ul><li>Second, you associated words you already knew with the root word that is the source of the word Constructivism. </li></ul><ul><li>Next, you guessed what the word constructivism might mean. </li></ul><ul><li>You discussed your ideas with others who were also developing guesses about the meaning of the word Constructivism. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, you rewrote your theory based upon the ideas of others. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Constructivist Theory says: <ul><li>People are constantly building knowledge like they build houses from materials they already have on hand, and then creating new knowledge like they might build a new house. </li></ul><ul><li>Other people influence how individuals create knowledge just like neighbors influence the styles of house that are built. </li></ul>
  10. 10. What Came Before Constructivism?
  11. 11. Transmission Theory <ul><li>From ancient times to the present, many teachers and theorists have insisted that students – both children and adults – are empty vessels waiting to be filled by a teacher. </li></ul>
  12. 12. COGNITIVISM <ul><li>Developed by the famous educational theorist, Jean Piaget. </li></ul><ul><li>All people learn by relating new information and facts to older ones in a process called assimilation. </li></ul><ul><li>When humans learn something so new it cannot be assimilated, they create new mental structures called schemas. This is a process called accommodation. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning takes place in the individual. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Stage Theory <ul><li>There have been many stage theorists, but the most famous have probably been Piaget and Erickson. </li></ul><ul><li>Stage theories say that people develop by going from one stage to another sequentially. </li></ul><ul><li>Higher stages are superior to lower stages. </li></ul><ul><li>Education should be offered according to the stage the student is in. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>COGNITIVISM </li></ul><ul><li>CONSTRUCTIVISM </li></ul>SIMILARITIES <ul><li>Schemas (aka schemata): People learn relatively new facts by relating them to previously learned facts which make up the way they view the world. </li></ul><ul><li>People understand relatively new information by building it onto related facts which are built on a foundation of related information. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>COGNITIVISM </li></ul><ul><li>CONSTRUCTIVISM </li></ul>SIMILARITIES <ul><li>When faced with entirely new information that cannot be fit into previous schemas, people create new schemas. </li></ul><ul><li>When faced with entirely new information that does not fit on a previous foundation, people have to lay entirely new foundations on which the new sets of facts can become building materials. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Varieties of Constructivism There are many ways to be a constructivist. <ul><li>Besides education, constructivists are concerned with questions like: </li></ul><ul><li>Who does the learning: The individual or the group? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there an objective reality? </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Mental Structures </li></ul>Piaget’s Constructivism <ul><li>People learn by building mental structures called schemas that interpret external reality. </li></ul><ul><li>People learn new information by relating it to already known information. </li></ul><ul><li>Schemas are like building blocks. </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Emphasis is on Action </li></ul>Discovery Learning <ul><li>People discover information through performing activities. </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>The Mind is An Active Computer </li></ul>Information Processing Theory <ul><li>The mind is an active processor of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing is active (not passive), based on previous knowledge, and takes place in the individual. </li></ul><ul><li>There is objective truth that cannot be known perfectly. </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Mind is Located in the Brain </li></ul>Weak Constructivism <ul><li>Similar to Information Processing Theory. </li></ul><ul><li>The mind is located in the brain and nervous system. </li></ul><ul><li>Truth is objective and “out there”. </li></ul><ul><li>Truth can be known imperfectly. </li></ul><ul><li>Chief proponent: Paul Ernest </li></ul>Detractors call this “Trivial” Constructivism.
  21. 21. <ul><li>Truth Cannot Be Known </li></ul>Radical Constructivism <ul><li>Humans build knowledge on a foundation of previous knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Truth may exist but humans cannot ever know it. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is using the senses to make successful guesses about objects we encounter. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning occurs in the individual. </li></ul><ul><li>Chief proponent: Ernst von Glasersfeld </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Knowledge is Built in Groups </li></ul>Social Constructivism <ul><li>Individual mind, alone, doesn’t exist. Mind is part of society and culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning cannot occur in isolation. </li></ul><ul><li>Humans construct reality and change it constantly so that it fits the true reality better. </li></ul><ul><li>Conventional knowledge is socially accepted. </li></ul><ul><li>Chief proponent: Lev Vygotsky </li></ul>
  23. 23. Paul Cobb’s Eclectic Constructivism Click on Dr. Cobb’s photo to go to his faculty web page.
  24. 24. Paul Cobb <ul><li>Cobb holds Peabody Chair in Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University. </li></ul><ul><li>A dominant influence on mathematics education. </li></ul><ul><li>Author of many, many journal articles and books about constructivist teaching methods. </li></ul><ul><li>Currently working on equity and diversity issues in mathematics education. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>Most people conduct intricate mathematical calculations in real-life situations. </li></ul><ul><li>Where they have problems is in the classroom. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>People learn by linking new knowledge to old. </li></ul><ul><li>Students learn math by being part of groups of people doing math, a process called “enculturation”. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>Students and teachers together make up the classroom culture. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>When students share their constructions, their understanding improves. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>When students reflect together about how they developed their constructions, their concepts often become permanent ideas, and they are able to use those ideas outside the classroom (transference). </li></ul>
  30. 30. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>Students construct their own concepts regardless of the teacher… </li></ul><ul><li>but those concepts may not resemble the teacher’s concepts. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Cobb’s Constructivism <ul><li>Learning to use mathematical symbols is not a separate skill from learning math-ematical concepts; students develop both skills at the same time. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Suggested Teaching Methods Cobb video: Improving schools, teaching and teachers.
  33. 33. Attention <ul><li>Teachers should listen carefully to students and watch their body language in order to try to comprehend how each individual is constructing concepts. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Stand on Giants’ Shoulders <ul><li>Teachers need to introduce each new topic by relating it to what students have already learned. Students learn by relating new knowledge to old. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Enculturation <ul><li>Teachers need to use group work so that students can share their understandings with each other. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Discussions <ul><li>Teachers need to encourage whole-class discussions of mathematical topics so that students can “negotiate” meanings with their peers and with the teacher. Discussing concepts has been shown in research to increase student engagement. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Video Record <ul><li>If possible, teachers should video record whole-class discussions, and study the videos after class in order to better understand students’ thinking processes. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Creativity <ul><li>To promote student engagement, teachers should assign a few harder word problems and encourage students to solve them using any method, even “street math”. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Tolerance <ul><li>Teachers must be willing to tolerate wrong answers in order to concentrate on the methods students are using to solve problems. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Conclusion <ul><li>Now that you are experts in constructivist methodology, we will go around the room and discuss a method you might use with your students. </li></ul><ul><li>Please, briefly jot down your thoughts and the thoughts of others so that you can engage in group constructions. </li></ul><ul><li>On your handout, you have room to take notes and a list of sources. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Videos about Constructivism <ul><li>von Glasersfeld </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivism: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Abbott talks about Constructivism: </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivism for the Beginning Educator: </li></ul><ul><li>Constructivist teaching using blogs and wikis: Dr. Helen Cohen (University of Maryland) </li></ul>
  42. 42. Books and journal articles used to prepare this presentation <ul><li>Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development. Educational Researcher , 23 (7), 13. </li></ul><ul><li>Cobb, P., Boufi, A., McClain, K., & Whitenack, J. (1997). Reflective discourse and collective reflection. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education , 28 (3), 258–277. </li></ul><ul><li>Cobb, P. (1988). The Tension Between Theories of Learning and Instruction in Mathematics Education. Educational Psychologist , 23 (2), 87. </li></ul><ul><li>Cobb, P. (2002). Reasoning With Tools and Inscriptions. Journal of the Learning Sciences , 11 (2/3), 187-215. </li></ul><ul><li>Ernest, P. (1996). Varieties of constructivism: A framework for comparison. In L. Steffe, P. Nesher, P. Cobb, G. A. Goldin, & B. Greer (Eds.), Theories of mathematical learning (pp. 335–350). Mahwah N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. </li></ul><ul><li>von Glasersfeld, E. (1996). Aspects of radical constructivism and its educational recommendations. In L. Steffe, P. Nesher, P. Cobb, G. A. Goldin, & B. Greer (Eds.), Theories of Mathematical Learning (pp. 307-314). Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from </li></ul><ul><li>Steffe, L., Nesher, P., Cobb, P., Goldin, G. A., & Greer, B. (Eds.). (1996). Theories of Mathematical Learning . Mahwah, N. J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Retrieved from </li></ul>