Archive for the ‘Learning Principles’ Category

A Constructivist Model (Constructivist Instructional Framework)

January 21, 2007

A Constructivist Model ( Constructivist Instructional Framework)*

Other Constructivist Models and Frameworks

Situation, Groupings, Bridge, Questions, Exhibit, and Reflections: (Gagnon, Jr. G. W. ve M. Collay, 2001)
Initiating – Constructing – Utilizing (Stephens & Brown, 2000)
Learning Cycle Model: Discovery, Concept Introduction, and Concept Application
5E Model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (Bybee, 1997)
7E Model: Elicit, Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate, Extend (Eisenkraft. A , 2003) Analysis – Design – Evaluation (in Brooks and Brooks, 1999)

The Constructivist Model (Constructivist Instructional Framework) that I use in my classes.

Context & Metaphor
Posing Problems& Questions
Concept Introduction & Contradiction
Evaluation & Extention

by Tuncer CAN, 2007
*Subject to change and evolve as new data comes from both the field and classes.

Tuncer Can


Constructivist Learner

January 21, 2007

What kind of a learner does Constructivist Theory promote?

I have come up with these definitions and keywords from readings about constructivist teachers and classroom designs. Of the readings from, in particular, Brooks and Brooks(1999) on Constructivist teacher and constructivist classroom design I inferred the characteristics of the learner or the person Constructivist Theory aims at serving and actually creating (by the end of the education process). While preparing this entry I went googling however I could not find anything worth reading on “constructivist learner”.

Characteristics of the Constructivist Learners

General Characteristics
Feel Responsible for their learning
Have developed Awareness.
Have developed Autonomy,
Have developed Goals for learning
Have developed Initiative
Use Strategies
Accept the complexity of life
Respectful to multiple perspectives and world-views
Open minded
Task oriented
Process Oriented
Value Generator
Indulging into the Eperience
Self Motivated
Self Reflective

Personal Traits in the Classroom
Active, Dynamic
Ask questions
Create relationships
Cognitively alert
Self Reflective
Problem solver

tuncer can

Bruner’s Views on Learning and Constructivism

January 21, 2007

Bruner’s Views on Learning

A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current and past knowledge. The learner chooses and permutes the knowledge, constructs hypotheses, makes decisions, and while performing these he relies on his cognitive structuring. His cognitive structure caters for grasping the meaning and organization of the experiences, and enables him to “go beyond the given information”
When the instruction is considered, the instructor should try and encourage the student to discover the principles themselves. This should be achieved through engagement of learners and teacher in an active conversation. Teachers should be able to transform the materials to be learned in such a way that it suits the learners’ cognitive level. The way of presenting the materials should be spiral not linear so that it allows both learners to contemplate and construct gradually upon what they have learned.
Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information. In his more recent work, Bruner (1986, 1990, 1996) has expanded his theoretical framework to encompass the social and cultural aspects of learning as well as the practice of law.
Bruner notes that “language is the most important tool for cognitive growth”. He investigated how adults use language to mediate the world for children and help them to solve problems. Talk that supports a child in carrying out an activity, as a kind of verbal version of fine tuned help has been labeled as “scaffolding”. Children need space for language growth. Routines and scaffolding are to types of language-using strategies that seem to be especially helpful in making space for children. Mothers who used scaffolded talk made the children interested in the task, simplified the task by breaking it into smaller steps, kept the child on track onwards completing the task by reminding the child what the goal was, pointed out what was important to do or showed the child other ways of doing the parts of the tasks, controlled the child’s frustration during the tasks, demonstrated an idealized version of the task. Moreover, good scaffolding was tuned to the needs of the child and adjusted as the child became more competent. (Cameron, 2002:8-10)
For the classroom settings ,Wood (1998) suggested that teachers can scaffold children’s learning in various ways: to attend what is relevant, adopt useful strategies, remember the whole task and goals teachers can suggest, praise the significant, provide focusing activities, encourage rehearsal, be explicit about organization, remind, model, provide part-whole activities. Also classroom language and routines occurring everyday can provide opportunities for language development. They would allow the child to actively make sense of new language from experience and provide space for language growth. Routines will open up many possibilities for developing language skills.(Cameron, 2002:8-11)

tuncer can

Key Words and Phrases in Constructivism

January 21, 2007

Constructivism …
emphasises learning and not teaching
encourages and accepts learner autonomy and initiative
sees learners as creatures of will and purpose
thinks of learning as a process
encourages learner inquiry
acknowledges the critical role of experience in learning
nurtures learners natural curiosity
takes the learner’s mental model into account
emphasises performance and understanding when assessing learning
bases itself on the principles of the cognitive theory
makes extensive use of cognitive terminology such as predict, create and analyze
considers how the student learns
encourages learners to engage in dialogue with other students and the teacher
supports co-operative learning
involves learners in real world situations
emphasises the context in which learning takes place
considers the beliefs and attitudes of the learner
provides learnersthe opportunity to construct new knowledge and understanding from authentic experience

Key words and phrases:
meta learning
meaningful learning
discovery learning
situated learning,
cognitive learning and thinking,
thinking about thinking,
learner initiated inquiry and exploration,
holistic approach,
learner control,
teacher facilitation.

Key Concepts in Constructivist Education

January 19, 2007

An important concept for social constructivists is that of scaffolding which is a process of guiding the learner from what is presently known to what is to be known. According to Vygotsky (1978), students’ problem solving skills fall into three categories:
1. skills which the student cannot perform
2. skills which the student may be able to perform
3. skills that the student can perform with help
Scaffolding allows students to perform tasks that would normally be slightly beyond their ability without that assistance and guidance from the teacher. Appropriate teacher support can allow students to function at the cutting edge of their individual development. Scaffolding is therefore an important characteristic of constructivist learning and teaching.
Multiple perspectives, authentic activities, real-world environments these are just some of the themes that are frequently associated with constructivist learning and teaching. There were many similarities between the perspectives of different researchers in this brief review of the literature.

The following section presents a synthesis and summary of the characteristics of constructivist learning and teaching as presented by the above review and as suggested by the previous section on constructivist theory. These are not presented in a hierarchical order.

1. Multiple perspectives and representations of concepts and content are presented and encouraged.
2. Goals and objectives are derived by the student or in negotiation with the teacher or system.
3. Teachers serve in the role of guides, monitors, coaches, tutors and facilitators.
4. Activities, opportunities, tools and environments are provided to encourage metacognition, self-analysis -regulation, -reflection & -awareness.
5. The student plays a central role in mediating and controlling learning.
6. Learning situations, environments, skills, content and tasks are relevant, realistic, authentic and represent the natural complexities of the ‘real world’.
7. Primary sources of data are used in order to ensure authenticity and real-world complexity.
8. Knowledge construction and not reproduction is emphasized.
9. This construction takes place in individual contexts and through social negotiation, collaboration and experience.
10. The learner’s previous knowledge constructions, beliefs and attitudes are considered in the knowledge construction process.
11. Problem-solving, higher-order thinking skills and deep understanding are emphasized.
12. Errors provide the opportunity for insight into students’ previous knowledge constructions. 13. Exploration is a favoured approach in order to encourage students to seek knowledge independently and to manage the pursuit of their goals.
14. Learners are provided with the opportunity for apprenticeship learning in which there is an increasing complexity of tasks, skills and knowledge acquisition.
15. Knowledge complexity is reflected in an emphasis on conceptual interrelatedness and interdisciplinary learning.
16. Collaborative and cooperative learning are favoured in order to expose the learner to alternative viewpoints.
17. Scaffolding is facilitated to help students perform just beyond the limits of their ability.
18. Assessment is authentic and interwoven with teaching.

Learning Principles in Constructivism

January 19, 2007

Learning Principles in Constructivism

What are some guiding principles of constructivist thinking that we must keep in mind when we consider our role as educators? I will outline a few ideas, all predicated on the belief that learning consists of individuals’ constructed meanings.

  1. Learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it. The more traditional formulation of this idea involves the terminology of the active learner (Dewey’s term) stressing that the learner needs to do something; that learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge which exists “out there” but that learning involves the learner s engaging with the world.
  2. People learn to learn as they learn: learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning. For example, if we learn the chronology of dates of a series of historical events, we are simultaneously learning the meaning of a chronology. Each meaning we construct makes us better able to give meaning to other sensations which can fit a similar pattern.
  3. The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental: it happens in the mind. Physical actions, hands-on experience may be necessary for learning, especially for children, but it is not sufficient; we need to provide activities which engage the mind as well as the hands (Dewey called this reflective activity.)
  4. Learning involves language: the language we use influences learning. On the empirical level. Researchers have noted that people talk to themselves as they learn. On a more general level. There is a collection of arguments, presented most forcefully by Vigotsky, that language and learning are inextricably intertwined. This point was clearly emphasized in Elaine Gurain’s reference to the need to honor native language in developing North American exhibits. The desire to have material and programs in their own language was an important request by many members of various Native American communities.
  5. Learning is a social activity: our learning is intimately associated with our connection with other human beings, our teachers, our peers, our family as well as casual acquaintances, including the people before us or next to us at the exhibit. We are more likely to be successful in our efforts to educate if we recognize this principle rather than try to avoid it. Much of traditional education, as Dewey pointed out, is directed towards isolating the learner from all social interaction, and towards seeing education as a one-on-one relationship between the learner and the objective material to be learned. In contrast, progressive education (to continue to use Dewey’s formulation) recognizes the social aspect of learning and uses conversation, interaction with others, and the application of knowledge as an integral aspect of learning.
  6. Learning is contextual: we do not learn isolated facts and theories in some abstract ethereal land of the mind separate from the rest of our lives: we learn in relationship to what else we know, what we believe, our prejudices and our fears. On reflection, it becomes clear that this point is actually a corollary of the idea that learning is active and social. We cannot divorce our learning from our lives.
  7. One needs knowledge to learn: it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. The more we know, the more we can learn. Therefore any effort to teach must be connected to the state of the learner must provide a path into the subject for the learner based on that learner’s previous knowledge.
    It takes time to learn: learning is not instantaneous. For significant learning we need to revisit ideas, ponder them try them out, play with them and use them. If you reflect on anything you have learned, you soon realize that it is the product of repeated exposure and thought. Even, or especially, moments of profound insight, can be traced back to longer periods of preparation.
  8. Motivation is a key component in learning. Not only is it the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning. This idea of motivation as described here is broadly conceived to include an understanding of ways in which the knowledge can be used. Unless we know “the reasons why”, we may not be very involved in using the knowledge that may be instilled in us. Even by the most severe and direct teaching.