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MY NOTES on 'Understanding & Using Educational Theories'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 21 Apr 2021, 16:41

Understanding & Using Educational Theories 

Karl Aubrey & Alison Riley (2nd Edition) London, Sage (2019)

Harvard Reference

Aubrey. K & Riley. A (2019) Understanding & Using Educational Theories:  (2nd Edition) London, Sage

  • Benjamin Bloom: Learning through taxonomies
  • Albert Bandura. Learning through observation.
  • David Kolb: Experiential Learning Theory
  • Guy Claxton: Learning Power
  • Dylan Wiliam: Assessment for Learning
  • Carol Dweck: Mindsets and Motivation

+ Three new chapters which follow the same format as the same edition:

  • Albert Bandura
  • Dylan Wiliam
  • Carol Dweck

Teaching … 'a complex and messy phenomenon, with a multitude of contrasting facets to take into account which need a reflective and professional approach, involving ‘not just knowing what you do and how to do it. It is also about why you do it’. (p xiii Wiliams, 2008) (p.2) 

Behaviourism, constructivism, and humanism. 

There are three main psychological schools of thought which are of relevance to education and learning theory: behaviourism, constructivism, and humanism. 

Learning is simply a matter of stimulus and response (Wallace, 2008:32) (p.2)

Constructivists 

The constructivists believe that meaningful knowledge and understanding are actively constructed by learners … which builds on what they already know, causing them to change and adapt and invent ideas’. (Wallace, 2008:61)

Humanists

The humanism school of thought argues that education should focus on the needs of the individual learner, and that what is important are the aspects of personal and emotional growth. (p.3)

Humanists contend that the purpose of schools is to ‘meet the needs of the individual learner not the other way around’. (Petty, 1998:8)

John Dewey contended that learning should focus on practical life experiences and social interaction c/p8

For genuine learning to take place learners needed to make independent evaluations based on their interests.

Facilitating learning by encouraging and channelling individual curiosity and motivation so that they can develop intellectually. 

Learning as a cycle of experience where lessons are planned and executed based on observation and reflection from their own and their learners’ previous experiences and interests (Woods, 2008)

Wanted schools to accept pupils from different classes, cultures and abilities, schools would lay the foundations for building notions of democracy for children.

Opportunistic for action experience (p.11)

Skills and processes to solve problems.

Hegel - learning, developing through creative and active experience.

Kolb - active experience the groundwork for starting knowledge building process (Elkjaer, 2009)

Subject- Specific Facts and the Basis of Theory are necessary for learning to be created and built; it cannot take place just by active experience.

  • Steiner
  • Montessori

Plowden Report (1967)

2014 National Curriculum in England was a return to a subject-based approach (p.16)

England-results driven environment teachers as facilitator and co-collaborator calls into question the role of the teacher and their responsibility in terms of achievement and attainment of the learner.

Get your students to think like real scientists or historians. (p.16)

Like a sports coach it is the students who do the practice, provide the effort and create the gains. 

Dewey - his standpoint on inclusivity came from him witnessing the damage done by privilege and elitism.

  • Reflection
  • Effort
  • Courage
  • Differentiation
  • Diversity
  • Democracy

The teachers have to know the child very well. (p.18)

The teachers must be knowledgeable of cultural inheritance.

Identify the problem.

Experiential learning

Lifelong learning

Vocational education

C2 Montessori 

  • Tap into thor individual needs.
  • Respect
  • Respond to their needs.

NOTE :> Intrinsic motivation (Roopnanine and Johnson, 2005)

C3 Piaget

  • Constructors of their own knowledge.
  • Making meaning from experiences.

Vygotsky - social interactions are essential for learning to take place. (p.46)

Earlier physical and intellectual maturity (p.47)

Less formality - children learning in groups + some are more knowledgeable.

@ Secondary - activity which involves abstract reasoning, allowing pupils to demonstrate their concrete thinking.

Adaptation - learning through adjusting to new information and experiences, and can proceed through either assimilation or accommodation.

Lev Vygotsky - (p58)

Social background and construction of … knowledge … which is in tune with the culture within which they mature (Keenon, 2002)

Scaffolding - assistance.

C5 Skipper (p.77)

Vs extrinsic motivation to moderate behaviour.

‘Learning students to find their own pleasure and satisfaction in learning activity proper’. (Richelle, 1993:173)

‘Feedback should be given instantaneously given in order that children are aware of where they went wrong and can rectify this immediately’. (p.79)

C6 Benjamin Bloom 

Six hierarchical levels from simple to more complex

The cognitive domain taxonomy

  1. Knowledge
  2. Comprehension
  3. Application
  4. Analysis
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation
  7. Receiving
  8. Responding
  9. Valuing
  10. Organising
  11. Conceptualising
  12. Characterising by value or value concept

The psychomotor domain taxonomy

  • Reflex moments 
  • Perceptual abilities 
  • Physical abilities 

A valuable aid for the planning of lessons, assessments and programmes of study (p.90)

What’s their level of ability at the start of the assignment?

Counter early disappointments.

Modify teaching and learning resources to the individual needs and interests of the student (Husen, 2001)

Develop talent (Bloom, 1976)

Most disadvantaged children … spend less time in direct interaction with their parents than middle-class children do.

Mavlow : Food, Shelter, Safety

Formative Learning 

Teaching and assessment so they can all achieve in an already crowded curriculum. (p.93)

Mastery learning in practice takes a huge amount of time and groundwork to prepare resources, plan sessions, organise the classroom environment and give summative feedback to learners (O'Donnell, 2007)

The terms are used to set learning objectives in short-term planning for lessons and medium/long schemes of work. (p94)

Learning objectives (Petty 1998: 347)

  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluate

Cognitive : reproductive tasks or reasoning tasks.

Reproduction tasks: knowledge, comprehension, application.

Require low cognitive effort (p.95)

Reasoning Tasks:

Analysis, synthesis and evaluation - involve a deeper learning experience for a student.

Bloom’s taxonomies five teachers a framework to check that their planning and teaching help progress children’s learning. (p.95)

As pupils gain knowledge of their subject, their behaviour and awareness develop, which allows them to use and value the skills attained. (Huddleston and Unwin, 2002)

REF: Bloom, B., Hastings, J. and Madans, G. (eds) Formative and Summative Evaluation of Student Learning. New York. McGraw-Hill.

C7 Malcolm S.Knowles 

Contextualising Adult Learning - building on existing experiences.,

Internal gratification from the learning process or the desire to pass exams (p.105)

  • Self-concept
  • Role of experience
  • Readiness to learn
  • Orientation for learning
  • Internal motivation
  • Need to know

Classroom layout withdraws vulnerability predisposes the learner to believe that the delivery style will be one of knowledge transition and possibly reinforce their preconceptions of what constitutes a learning environment. (p.110)

Chairs in circles = collaboration or like the AA to ‘share’.

Away from subject-centeredness to one of problem-centredness.

REF: Knowles, M.S. (1950) Informal Adult Education. New York. Assoc. Press.

C8 Jerome Bruner

‘A Spiral Curriculum’ initial presentation, revisited later on to reinforce understanding and give added vigour.

Three ways children convert experiences: through action, imagery and symbols. (p.118)

Structure of learning and how to make it central to teaching.

Readiness for learning.

Intuitive and analytical thinking.

Motives for learning.

Enactive mode: children do things for themselves.

Iconic mode: comprehend images

Symbolic mode: understand abstract language

REF: Bruner - ‘A scaffold to support the efforts of the learner to construct his or her own understanding’ (Olson, 2007:45)

Olson - margins of a complex task to mastery (2007:46)

Blights of poverty, racism and the inequities of social life. (p.127)

C9 Albert Bandura 

> observation of cues by others.

  1. Pay attention

  2. Retention

  3. Reproduce

  4. Motivation to perform an action

‘Most of the behaviours that people display are learned either deliberately through the influence of example’. (Bandura, 1971:5) (p.139) 

Pupils achieving success bring others with them.

Behaviour is learned through observing others as rewards for that behaviour. (p.145)

REF: Bandura. A (1977) Social Learning Theory

C10 Urie Bronfenbrenner

Human development was influenced by the social structure that the individual was part of.

People learn from one another:

  • Observation
  • Replication
  • Modelling

C11 Paulo Freire Oppression

Dialogue based on mutual respect curiosity (p.166)

Students keep journals and read out what they write to each other. (p.175)

Interests, cultures, history of 17 year olds.

C12 Donald Schön (1987:31)

  • Recalling events
  • Feelings
  • Evaluating the experience
  • Integrating new knowledge

TASK

Make a list of the theories and values that you believe underpin your work in your own setting, then ask a colleague to observe you in practice.

Each student has a fascinating story to tell. (p.91)

Reflective Practice

REF: Boud,. D Keogh, R and Walker, D (eds) 1985

Reflection. 

Turning experience into learning.

C13 David Kolb (p.196)

Experiential Learning Theory

What, how and why you do a thing

People learn best when they are engaged in first-hand experiences which can later be reflected as through thinking about the details of the experience alongside the feelings and perceptions which emerged during the experience (Hankin et al, 2001) (p.198)

  • Concrete experience 
  • Reflective observation
  • Abstract conceptualisation
  • Active experimentation 

Fig.13.1 Kolb’s Learning Cycle

REF: Moon, J (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. London. Kogan Page.

REF: Scön. D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in practice.

C14 Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger

Learners not passive receivers of knowledge

Wenger’s communities of practice

Wenger (1998) 

  • Communities of practice
  • Mutual engagement
  • Joint enterprise
  • Shared repertoire

Components:

  • Meaning
  • Practice
  • Community
  • Identity

NB. Excessive power interactions hinder admissions and participation.

Blogging

Blogs offer an informal method of writing and give a write the option to air an individual commentary (Rai, 2008:96)

Change layout of the classroom

C15 Guy Claxton

Building student confidence and character.

Process not content 

Competence not comprehension 

Engagement not ability 

Habits of thinking

Reciprocating the behaviour of those they know and trust such as family members and carers.

If children have positive and reasoned experiences which are modelled by these significant others they are more likely to have the emotional intelligence to enable them to work under pressure. (p.231)

Experience in childhood at home and at school is particularly important because these early belief systems whether functional or dysfunctional can be carried through into people’s lives as adults (Claxton, 2002 :122) (p.231) 

  • Resilient
  • Resourceful
  • Reflective 
  • Reciprocal

Teachers need to ‘split-screen’ to retain a dual focus on the content of the lesson and the learning dispositions that are currently being expanded’. (p.237)

Soft creativity

Keep your notes / workings

Keep a blog

Teachers as fallible, inquisitive not know it alls (p.238)

REF: Claxton G & Lucas, B (2004) Being Creative: Essential steps to revitalize your work and life. London. BBC Books.

REF: Gabbert. I. (2002) Essential Motivation in the Classroom. London.

C16 Dylan Wiliam (p.244)

The need for students to assess themselves and understand how to improve.

Students should be involved in the choice of tasks. 

Assess each others work

Provide helpful

Comments which would help pupils improve.

By requiring all pupils to respond to questions also increases inclusivity in the classroom (p.253)

Peer assessment was found to be ‘motivating force for pupils, with pupils applying more care to their work knowing that their peers would be assessing it.’ (p.255)

Pupils should be ‘beneficiaries’ rather than victims of testing’. (p.256)

C17 Carol Dweck

Fixed mindset or growth mindset

Dweck promotes the idea that knowing about how the brain works can foster a love of learning and enhance resilience (Pound, 2009)

Praise that celebrates perseverance, effort, study, hard work and the use of learning strategies (Dweck, 2012) (p.267) Brainology

Real learning comes from a lot of hard work (Matthews and Folsom, 2009:22)

“You really tried hard, that was a good way to do it.”

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H809: Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, Connectivism, Humanism and design based learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 11:23

Fig.1. The Contents of my brain

If I include 'Humanism' are congnitivism and constructivism subsets?

If I add 'Design Based Learning' as a learning theory is it a subset of 'constructivism'?


Fig. 2. Grabbed from Edudemic - A Simple Guide to Four Complex Learning Theories

Fig.1. draws on Fig.2 from the Edudemic website. It is school situated, so primary and secondary rather than tertiary and beyond into the workplace. Isn't 'connectivism' a process rather than a theory that links everything between the behaviourist, cognitivist and constructivist sets? On balance can we not help be get a 'blend' wherever we learn given that we are social beasts with brains.

 

Can something be simplified too far?

 

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H809: Activity 7.1 Timelines, theories and technologies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 24 Feb 2014, 15:21

This is a learning dilemma that will become increasingly prevalent. You have a stinker of a complex mass of resources and cobbled together ideas to compile into some kind of order only to find that it has been done for you. This is an activity of how understandings of the process of learning has changed over time.

On of our tutors offers a helping hand:

 

Take your time reading this through and then consider how these historical changes might affect

  • the development of educational technologies
  • ethical considerations in e-learning research
  • research in your own discipline.

There's quite a lot in there. If you want to start just responding to one of the bullet points above, that's fine.

When these modules are designed is proper consideration really given to the students? Who they are? There levels of commitment and understanding? For all the personas I'm familiar with I do wonder.

And that's not even the start of it. We are then asked to look back at week 3 (a month ago), and look for relationships and connections between the narrative we create (above). Then, as if this isn't enough we need to rope in last weeks ethical considerations, and while we're at at put in the 'wider politicalo and social changes'.

Already we have, in my estimation (and this is my sixth postgraduate module and the fifth in the MAODE series) a good 16 hours work to do.

But there's more:

'Consider how the subject you studied for your undergraduate degree has changed over time'.

Post your answers in your tutor group forum and compare them with others.

Across the five groups I think, so far two, sometimes three people, have given this a go. Each could write a chapter in a book (one nearly has)

2 Hours have been allocated to the task.

I repeatedly find that whatever time is given as a suggested requirement for a week's activities that you need to add 50%. So 14 hours becomes 21.

Like a junior solicitor I've been keeping tabs on how long everything takes - and this is someone who is by now, evidentially, digitally literate and familliar with the OU VLE. If you can find 21 hours great. If not then what? If you can handle getting behind or strategically leaving gaps that's fine, but if you feel obliged to get you money's worth and want to do it all then what? And of course life goes on around you: kids off school, elderly relations fall ill, the workload ebbs and flows, the car breaks down ... your Internet connection becomes about as vibrant as a mangle and it snows a bit.

A simple guide to four complex learning theories

http://edudemic.com/2012/12/a-simple-guide-to-4-complex-learning-theories/

I came across this from edudemic and can't think of anything clearer.

 

The discussion offers some further thoughts, deleting the word 'traditional' and replacing with classical.

The ifs and buts of the people associated with each of these and how absolute any of them can be, especially connectivism. However, I see connectivism not as the end of a chronological chain, but rather a loop that has people connected and learning in their family, extended family and community. And the one component that has not changed a jot? The way the human brain is constructed during foetal development and the unique person who then emerges into any of some hundreds of thousands of different circumstances and from way they may or may not develop 'their full potential'. Though I hazard a guess that this will always remain impossible to achieve. 98 billion neurons take a lot of connecting. It starts at around 4 months after conception and only ends with death - death being after the vital physiological supports have collapsed and like the self-destructing tape in Mission Impossible 'all is lost'.


The infographic runs to and 12 rows. This is the last row. The rest you ought to see for yourselves.

This is the charming copyright notice.

Copyright 2013 © Edudemic All rights reserved.

Powered by coffee, and a love all things education technology.

Simplistically the technologies I can add across this chronology are:

Books - Learning by rote > Literacy (writing, paper) - but then the Oxbridge Tutorial goes back over 750 years and that was and still is 'Constructivism' before someone came along 700 years later and gave it a name.

I'm reminded of the aphorism from Philip Larkin, 'Sex started in the Sixities' - about the same time as constructive learning. As for 'connectivism' what happens in a market, what has happened at religious gathering for millennia? Why do clever people have to come along and say these things have never happened before? Connectivism = discussions. Perhaps we'd be better off NOT writing it down, by going and finding people. I spoke to a Consultant the other week who for all the technology and e-learning swears by the conference. And for how many milliennia have 'experts' likeminds and the interested (and powerful/influential) had such opportunties to gather.

In 1999 my very first blog post was titled 'what's new about new media, not much'.

Whenever I read it I feel the sentiment is the same - as people we have not changed one jot. Just because everyone has a 'university in their pocket' - if they are some of the few hundred million out of the 7 billion on the planet who have a Smart Phone or iPad does not change the fundamentals of what we are and the connectedness of our brains.

 

 

 

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Constructivism and social constructivism for learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 5 Jun 2014, 05:29

Constructivism is an epistemological belief about what "knowing" is and how one "come to know." Contructivists believe in individual interpretations of the reality, i.e. the knower and the known are interactive and inseparable.

Constructivism rejects the notions that

  1. Knowledge is an identifiable entity with absolute truth value
  2. Meaning can be passed on to learners via symbols or transmission
  3. Learners can incorporate exact copies of teacher's understanding for their own use
  4. The whole concepts can be broken into discrete sub-skills, and that concepts can be taught out of context.

Constructivism, with focus on social nature of cognition, suggests an approach that

  1. Gives learners the opportunity for concrete, contextually meaningful experience through which they can search for patterns, raise their own questions, and construct their own models.
  2. Facilitates a community of learners to engage in activity, discourse, and reflection
  3. Encourages students to take on more ownership of the ideas, and to pursue autonomy, mutual reciprocity of social relations, and empowerment to be the goals.

Who are primary contributors?
Perkins (1992) pointed out the origins of the constructivism:

"Constructivism has multiple roots in psychology and philosophy of this century: the developmental perspective of Jean Piaget, the emergence of cognitive psychology under the guidance of such figures as Jerome Bruner and Ulric Neisser, the constructivist perspective of philosophers such as Nelson Goodman."

This knowledge base will discuss particular the major influence from the field of cognitive science, i.e. the work of Piaget and Bruner, as well as from the work of socio-historical psychologists, such as Vygotsky.

Piaget (Also see Cognitivism)

Piaget's theory is fundamental to cognitivism and to constructivism. His central idea is that "knowledge proceeds neither solely from the experience of objects nor from an innate programming performed in the subject but from successive constructions." (Fosnot, 1996). Piaget (1985) proposed that the mechanism of learning is the process of equilibration, in which cognitive structure assimilates and accommodates to generate new possibilities when it is disturbed based on human's self-organizing tendency.

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky's sociohistorical development psychology focuses on the dialectic between the individual and society, and the effect of social interaction, language, and culture on learning. To Vygosky (1978), learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized. Also, the role of the adult and the learners' peers as they conversed, questioned, explained, and negotiated meaning is emphasized.

Vygostky's Sociohistorical Learning Theory or Sociocultural theory

Vygotsky was disappointed with the overwhelming control of environment over human behavior that is represented in behaviorism. Vygotsky (1978) objected to any tendency to equate human beings with animals on the basis of innate reflexes and conditional reflexes. He recognized the higher psychological functions of humans, especially the distinguishing mental process of signification by which humans assign meanings to arbitrary stimuli and with which human learning is determined by the social and historical context. He believed that human development and learning occur through their interactions with the environment and the other people in it.

Three themes that form the core of Vygotsky's theoretical framework: (Wertsch, 1992)

  1. A reliance on a genetic or developmental method:

    Vygotsky (1978) recognized two basic processes operating continuously at every level of human activity: internalization and externalization. Vygotsky proposed that even though every complex mental function is first an interaction between people, it subsequently becomes a process within individuals. It is the transition from the external operation to internal development which undergoes qualitative changes. This transformation involves the mastery of external means of thinking and learning to use symbols to control and regulate one's thinking.

  2. The claim that higher mental processes in the individual have their origin in social processes.
  3. The concept of Zone of Proximal Development: to Vygosky, learning is a continual movement from the current intellectual level to a higher level which more closely approximates the learner's potential. This movement occurs in the so-called "zone of proximal development" as a result of social interaction. The zone of proximal development is the distance between the actual independent development level and the potential development level under the guidance of or in collaboration with peers (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky believes that human mental activity is a particular case of social experience. Thus, an understanding of human thinking depends in turn on an understanding of the mechanism of social experience; the force of the cognitive process deriving from the social interaction is emphasized.

  4. Mediation: the claim is that mental processes can be understood only if we understand the tools and signs that mediate them. Changing a stimulus situation in the process of responding to it establish mediation, e.g. the gesture of pointing could not have been established as a sign without the reaction of the other person. This also implies that any higher mental function necessarily goes through an external stage in its development because it is initially a social function.

Implications to learning and instruction:

  1. Learning in authentic context: The conception of mediation gives the emphasis to the interaction between individuals and the historical and cultural development. Situate learners in an authentic context, in which learners construct via dialectical relations among people acting, the contexts of their activity, and the activity itself.
  2. Providing Scaffolding: Learning takes place in the social interaction with older, more learned members of the society: learning occurs when individual is prompted to move past current levels of performance and develop new abilities. Thus, provide external support from the instructor, peers, experts, artifacts or tools as the learners construct knowledge.

Bruner

A major theme of Bruner's construction theory is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. The learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure, e.g. schema and mental models, to do so. The interconnection of the new experience with the prior knowledge results in the reorganization of the cognitive structure, which creates meaning and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given".

According to TIP's (Theory Into Practice database) abstract of Bruner's theory, the principles of instruction based on Bruner include:

  1. Readiness: Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn
  2. Spiral organization: Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student
  3. Going beyond the information given: Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps

Bruner's Constructive Learning

Bruner (1986) claims that constructivism began with Kant's concepts of a priori knowledge, which focuses on the importance of prior knowledge (what we know) to what we perceive from out interactions with the environment. Jonassen (1991) described Kant's ideas of individual construction of reality: " Kant believed in the external, physical world (noumena), but we know it only through our sensation (phenomena) - how the world appears to us."

TIP (Theory Into Practice database) described that Bruner's major theoretical framework is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge. In other words, Learning is an active, social process in which students construct new ideas or concepts based on current knowledge. The student selects information, originates hypotheses, and makes decisions in the process of integrating experiences into their existing mental constructs.

What are Bruner's key concepts? (Driscoll, 2000)

Three Modes of presenting understanding
  1. Enactive representation, a mode of representing past events through appropriate motor responses
  2. Iconic representation, which enables the perceiver to "summarize events by organization of percepts and of images
  3. Symbolic representation, "a symbol system which represents things by design features that can be arbitrary and remote, e.g. language
    1. Different from a fixed sequence of developmental stages, Bruner emphasizes the influences from the environment on amplification of the internal capabilities that learners possess.
Bruner's readiness
Piaget's readiness
Ausubel's readiness
Readiness of the subject matter for the learner: how to match instruction to the child's dominant mode of thinking Cognitive readiness of the learner to understand the logical operations in a subject matter Appropriateness in terms of the child's prior knowledge, i.e. what she knows and how she structure that knowledge in memory

 

Different from Piaget's cognitive development, which proposed that the qualitative difference in thinking is a stage-like development, Bruner's concept is that whereas symbolic representation is likely to be used for learning something new in a familiar topic; learners of all ages may resort to enactive or iconic representation when they encounter unfamiliar materials. Thus, to determine what mode of representation will be optimal for instruction requires knowing something about the learner's prior knowledge and dominant modes of thinking.

  1. Schooling as an instrument of culture. Knowing is a process, not a product. Children should be accepted as members and participants in the culture and provide opportunities to make and remake the culture in each generation.

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
  4. The nature and pacing of rewards and punishments..

Bruner's influence on instruction

  • Spiral Curriculum: Translating material into children's modes of thought: presenting topics consistent with children's forms of thought at an early age and then reintroducing those topics again later in a different form
  • Interpersonal interaction is a means that enable learners to develop cognitive growth: questioning, prompting
  • Discovery learning: discovery as" all forms of obtaining knowledge for oneself by the use of one's own mind"

    Students need to determine what variables are relevant, what information should be sought about those variables, and when the information is obtained, what should be done with it.

    Discovery of a concept proceeds from a systematic comparison of instances for what distinguishes examples from non-examples. To promote concept discovery, the teacher presents the set of instances that will best help learners to develop an appropriate model of the concept.

    Contrast that lead to cognitive conflicts can set the stage for discovery

  • Variables in instruction: nature of knowledge, nature of the knower, and nature of the knowledge-getting process

  • Promote discovery in the exercise of problem solving

  • Feedback must be provided in a mode that is both meaningful and within the information-processing capacity of the learner.

  • Intrinsic pleasure of discovery promote a sense of self-reward

Von Glasersfeld

Von Glasersfeld development of the epistemological basis of the psychological variant incorporates both the Piagetian notion of assimilation and accommodation and the cybernetic concept of viability (Cobb, 1994). The value of knowledge no longer lies in its conveyance of truth, but its viability in individual experience.

Von Glasersfeld (1992) stated that "Truths are replaced by viable models, and viability is always relative to a chosen goal."

Similar to Piaget, von Glasersfeld sees learning as an active process of self-organization in which the individual eliminate 'perturbation' (disequlibrium in Piaget's term) from the interaction with others as well as an active construction of viable knowledge adapted from the interaction with others.

Individuals' construction of their ways of knowing is the focus of von Glaserfeld. But, he also recognizes the importance of social interaction as a process of meaning negotiation in this subjective construction of knowing.

What does it mean to learning?

Constructivism, applied as an explanatory framework of learning, describes how the learner constructs knowledge from experience, which makes it unique to each individual.

Points of view of constructivism bring forth two major trends of explaining how leaning occurs:

  1. cognitive constructivists, focusing on the individual cognitive construction of mental structures
  2. sociocultural constructivists, emphasizing the social interaction and cultural practice on the construction of knowledge.

Both trends believe that:

  1. Knowledge cannot exist independently from the knower; knowledge cannot be reproduced and transmitted to another person.
  2. Learning is viewed as self-regulatory process:
    • Cognitive constructivists focus on the active mental construction struggling with the conflict between existing personal models of the world, and incoming information in the environment.
    • Sociocultural constructivists emphasis the process of enculturation into a community of practice, in which learners construct their models of reality as a meaning-making undertaking with culturally developed tools and symbols (Vygotsky, 1978), and negotiate such meaning thorough cooperative social activity, discourse and debate (Von Glaserfeld, 1992)
  3. Learners are active in making sense of things instead of responding to stimuli. Unlike information processor taking in and storing up information, learners " make tentative interpretations of experience and go on to elaborate and test those interpretations"(Perkins, 1992)

Impacts on Instructional Design

Constructivism provides different views of learning. Learners are no longer passive recipients and reproducers of information.

Learners are active constructors of their own conceptual understanding, and active meaning makers interacting with the physical and social world.

The design of learning environment based on constructivist view of learning emphasizes the integration of three types of human experiences (Vygotsky, 1978):

  1. historical experience, e.g. the traditions and practices of a culture
  2. social experience
  3. adaptation experience, in which people engage in active adaptation, changing the environment.

Below are some general principles of learning derived form constructivism (Smith and Ragan, 2000; Driscoll, 2001; Duffy & Jonassen, 1992):

  1. Learning requires invention and self-organization on the part of learners
  2. Disequilibrium facilitates learning: Errors need to be perceived as a result of learners' conceptions and therefore not minimized or avoided. Thus, challenge students with open-ended investigations in realistic, meaningful contexts need to be offered; allow learners to explore and generate many possibilities, both affirming and contradictory.
  3. Reflective abstraction is the driving force of learning: As meaning-makers, humans seek to organize and generalize across experiences in a representational form
  4. Dialogue within a community engenders further thinking: the learners are responsible for defending, proving, justifying, and communicating their ideas to the classroom community.

Principles of designing learning environment

Jonassen (1996) proposed that learning environments should provide active, intentional, complex, contextualized, reflective, conversational, collaborative, and constructive learning.

Image from David Jonassen's site

Driscoll (2000) listed constructivist principles for designing learning:

  • Embed learning in complex, realistic and relevant environments
  • Provide a social negotiation as an integral part of learning
  • Support multiple perspectives and the use of multiple modes of representation
  • Encourage ownership in learning
  • Nurture self-awareness of the knowledge construction process

About design of instruction

Based on Jonassen (1992) and Driscoll (2000), constructivism has the following impacts on instructional design:

  1. Instructional goals and objectives would be negotiated not imposed
  2. Task analysis would concentrate more on considering appropriate interpretations and providing the intellectual tools that are necessary for helping learners to construct knowledge
  3. Designers would provide generative, mental construction tool kits embedded in relevant learning environments that facilitate knowledge construction by learners
  4. About evaluation:
    Since constructivism does not hold the that the function of instruction is to transmit knowledge that mirrors the reality and its structures to the learner's mind, criterion-referenced evaluation, which is based on predetermined objective standards, is not an appropriate evaluation tool to constructivistic environments (Jonassen, 1992). The focus of evaluation should be placed on the process of knowledge construction rather than the end products of learning. And even if the end results are evaluated, it should emphasize the higher order thinking of human being.
  • The evaluation of learning focus on the higher order thinking, the knowledge construction process, and the building of the awareness of such process.
  • The context of evaluation should be embedded in the authentic tasks and meaningful real-world context.
  • The criteria of evaluation should represent multiple perspectives in learning environment. From the perspective of socio-cultural constructivist, since "no objective reality is uniformly interpretable by all learners, then assessing the acquisition of such reality is not possible" (Jonassen, 1992). Thus, the evaluation should focus on the learning process rather than the product.
  • Portfolio evaluation: different student interpretation at different stages in their learning process. Learning is multifaceted and multiperspectival, so as the results of learning.
  • The function of evaluation is not in the reinforcement or behavior control tool but more of "a self-analysis and metacognitive tool".


References:

Bruner, J. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Driscoll, M. P. (2000). Psychology of learning for instruction. 2nd ed. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Cobb, P. (1994). Where is the Mind? Constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematic development. Educational Researcher, 23 (7), pp. 13-20

Fosnot, C. T. (1996). (Ed.) Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Jonassen, D. H. (1992). Evaluating constructivist learning. In T. M. Duffy, & D. H. Jonassen (eds), Constructivism and the technology of instruction: A conversation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Association.

Piaget, J. (1985). The equilibration of cognitive structures. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (1999). Instructional Design. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Von Glaserfeld (1992). Constructivism reconstruction: A reply to Suchting. Science and Education, 1, 379-384.

Vyogtsky, L. S. (1979). Consciousness as a problem in the psychology of behavior.Soviet Psychology, 17 (4), 3-35. (Original work published in 19-24).

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychology process. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Original published in 1930).

Wertsch, J. V. (1992). L. S. Vygotsky and contemporary developmental psychology. Developmental Psychology, 28 *4), 548-557. Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Original work published 1962).

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