Archive for the ‘theory of learning and constructivism’ 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)

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Vygotsky’s Theory of Learning and Constructivism

January 21, 2007

Vygotsky’s Theory of Learning

Vygotsky’s main concern is that social interaction and social context, a world full of other people, who interact with the child from birth onwards, are essential in the cognitive development. He states that “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals.” (Vygotsky, 1978:57).
Next, he points out at the idea that the potential for cognitive development is limited to a certain time span, which he names the “zone of proximal development”. (ZPD) In addition, full development during ZDP depends upon full social interaction. The range of skill that can be developed with adult guidance or peer collaboration exceeds what can be attained alone. It is of very fact that other people play important roles in helping children to learn, providing objects and ideas to their attention, talking while playing and sharing while playing, reading stories, asking questions. In a wide range of ways, adults mediate the world for children and make it possible for them to get access to it. The ability to learn through instruction and mediation is characteristic of human intelligence. By the help of adults children can do and understand more than they can on their own. (Cameron, 2002:5-8) Actually, Vygotsky proposed the notion of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) to give a new meaning to ‘intelligence’. Instead of measuring intelligence by what a child can do alone, Vygotsky suggested that intelligence could better be measured by what a child can do with skilled help.
Vygotsky attempted to shed light on consciousness which develops as a result of socialization. While learning a language the first utterances have a communicational purpose, but once internalized they become “inner speech”. Young children can often be observed talking to themselves and act as if they carry out tasks or play, in what is called private speech. As children get older they gradually speak less and less loud, and differentiate between social speech for others and ‘inner speech’, which continues to play an important role in regulating and controlling behavior. Wertsch (1985) emphasizes that internalization for Vygotsky was not just transfer but also a transformation; being able to think about something is qualitatively different from being able to do it. In the internalizing process, the interpersonal, joint talk and joint activity, later becomes intrapersonal, mental action by one individual. Development can be seen as internalizing from social interaction. Language can grow as the child takes over control of language used initially with other children and adults.
Although Vygotsky’s theory is currently most noted for his central focus on the social, and modern developments are labeled ‘sociocultural theory’, he did not neglect the individual or individual cognitive development.(Cameron, 2002) In Vygotskian terms, language provides the child with a new tool, opens up new opportunities for doing things and for organizing information through the use of words as symbols. The infant begins with using single words, but these words convey whole messages. As the child’s language develops, the whole undivided thought message can be broken down into smaller units and expressed by putting together words that are now units of talk. The word is a recognizable linguistic unit for children in their first language and so they will notice words in the new language. The new language is first used meaningfully by teacher and pupils, and later it is transformed and internalized to become part of the individual child’s language skills or knowledge. Children’s foreign language learning depends on what they experience. Within the ZPD, the broader and richer the language experience that is provided for children, the more they are likely to learn. The activities that happen in classroom create a kind of environment for teaching, and as such, offer different kinds of opportunities for language learning. Part of teaching skill is to identify the particular opportunities of task or activity, and then to develop them into learning experiences for the children. (Cameron, 2002:5-20)
The Social Development Theory of Vygotsky has got many implications in many theories like Social Cognitive Theory, Situated Learning Theory and Constructivism. The key components explained in Vygotsky’s theory have been broadened later by many researchers.

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Piaget’s Theory of Learning and Constructivism

January 21, 2007

Piaget’s Theory of Learning

Jean Piaget was primarily interested in how knowledge developed in human organisms. Cognitive structuring of the knowledge was fundamental in his theory. According to his theory, cognitive structures are patterns of physical or mental action that underlie specific acts of intelligence and correspond to stages of child development. He has integrated both behavior and cognitive aspects in one developmental theory. In his theory he put forward four primary developmental stages. They are sensorimotor, preoperations, concrete operations, and formal operations. In the sensorimotor stage (0-2 years), intelligence takes the form of motor actions. Intelligence in the preoperation period (3-7 years) is intuitive in nature. The cognitive structure during the concrete operational stage (8-11 years) is logical but depends upon concrete referents. In the final stage of formal operations (12-15 years), thinking involves abstractions. (Cameron, 2002)
When it comes to the educational reflections of his theory, Paiget sees the child as “continually interacting with the world around him/her solving problems that are presented by the environment” and learning occurs through taking action to solve the problems. Moreover, the knowledge that results from these actions is not imitated or from birth, but “actively constructed” by the child. In this way thought is seen as deriving from action; action is internalized, or carried out mentally in the imagination, and in this way thinking develops. For Piaget, action should be praised as fundamental to cognitive development, and development is the result of two ways, which are assimilation and accommodation. When the action occurs without causing any change in the child assimilation happens; on the contrary, when the child adjusts himself to the environment in some ways, accommodation is involved. Both of these adaptive processes occur together, despite they are very different; they are initially adaptive processes of behavior, but become processes of thinking. Cognitive development consists of a constant effort to adapt to the environment in terms of assimilation and accommodation. Mclaughlin (1992) reports that “Accommodation is an important idea that has been taken into second language learning under the label ”restructuring” used to refer to the re-organization of mental representations of a language. In this sense, Piaget’s theory is similar in nature to other constructivist perspectives of learning.
From a Piagetian viewpoint, a child’s thinking develops as gradual growth of knowledge and intellectual skills towards a final stage of formal, logical thinking.( Cameron, 2002) Thoroughly, according to his notion of discrete stages and the idea that children cannot do certain things if they have not yet “reached” that stage should be considered as well. For, children cannot achieve to perform some cognitive or physical actions until maturation. Consequently, learning materials and activities should involve the appropriate level of motor or mental operations for a child of given age; asking students to perform tasks that are beyond their current cognitive capabilities should be avoided.
Child is seen as an active learner and thinker, as a sense maker who is constructing his own knowledge by thriving with objects and ideas. Moreover, “(the child) actively tries to make sense of the world… asks questions… wants to know… Also from very early stage, the child has purposes and intentions”. Donaldson 1978:86) However, child’s sense making is limited by their experience, so, teachers should employ teaching methods that actively involve students and present challenges
From Piaget’s theory we can interpret the classroom and classroom activities as creating and offering opportunities to learners for learning. This view coincides with ‘ecological’ thinking that sees events and activities as offering affordances or opportunities for use and interaction that depend on who is involved. (Cameron2002:5)
Piaget has related cognitive development of an individual and his environment. Thus, he has made it possible for later theoreticians to prepare frameworks for other theories, like Constructivism, standing on his views.

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