Constructivist Teaching

Discussion in 'General Education' started by orangetea, Jun 14, 2014.

  1. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Jun 14, 2014

    How do you feel about constructivist teaching? I understand this to be teaching where students construct their own knowledge. Do you include constructivist teaching in your classroom and how?
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jun 14, 2014

    I try to include this, particularly in the STEM subjects. I won't claim to be an expert on it though, and I'd be interested to see what specific techniques some people use.
     
  4. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Following.
     
  5. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    I think it is an effective way to encourage students to really think about and understand a topic. However, I also find that time constraints and other outside pressures would not allow me to completely adhere to this philosophy.
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    When teaching a literature lesson, I will ask my students what they notice about how our author connects his paragraphs together. [We use the 6 Analytical Writing Traits, so let's say we are studying Organization.]

    After noting all their suggestions, I'll ask questions that might lead them to a deeper understanding. If they are able to notice more, I add it to our list of observations. If they can't seem to get any more, I stay with what they are able to notice.

    Then when we write essays in the same style as our author, I know what they are developmentally able to notice and use in their writing. Two months later, we'll look at another author's organization, and I can find out if they are able to see more.

    They construct their own knowledge based on what they are able to observe. I push them to go farther, but recognize that they are kids and may not be able to notice everything I'd like them to.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think it depends on the subject. Beginning reading - no. Middle school science - maybe. I like project-based learning, for example, and I also like the idea of combining a constructivist approach in the synthesis & application phases of learning, but still teaching basic skills, facts, or theory in the initial phases of learning.
     
  8. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2014

    POGILs in biology. I also try to do many inquiry labs. One of the books I bought for summer reading was "Argument-Driven Inquiry in Biology" by Victor Sampson from NSTA press. Liked many of the activities and the approach as described. Definitely will incorporate into my classes next year.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jun 16, 2014

    Is this the same thing as inquiry-based learning?
     
  10. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    Jun 17, 2014

    That's a great pillar of constructivism, at least.

    When I think of constructivism, the first thing that comes to my mind is simply "students asking questions and making reflections."
     
  11. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I think of constructivist teaching as finding out what kids are developmentally able to learn and making sure they learn it.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I wrote a paper in graduate school on inquiry-based learning. Very little scientifically based research has been done on it. Lots of articles/papers written, but only one that I read had good methodology. Most of them had two different approaches, with two different teachers or groups of 25 students, etc.

    Learning was measured by teacher-made tests (written by multiple teachers, together - beforehand). The only students that showed greater learning with inquiry were 8th grade students. Students younger than that and older than that actually learned less than the students that received traditional instruction followed by hands-on activities. They were frustrated overall. More importantly, students that thought they had figured out solutions to problems had to unlearn the bad science and relearn what was correct.
     
  13. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

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    Hmm, consider me skeptical of this study or your summary of it.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jun 24, 2014

    http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf

    I associate constructivism with whole language. As such, my opinion of it isn't very high overall.

    There probably ARE places where it's helpful -- however, I think it's almost certainly never the most efficient approach.

    I kind of feel a little bit the same way about group projects. Group projects are likely terrible for assessing learning or for actually teaching content, and are messy and unfair and frustrating for all involved -- but still are a valuable part of the educational process in the US.
     
  15. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I can't disagree with you more about group projects. Group work needs to be taught, but it is definitely not messy, unfair, or frustrating if done right. I also consider it to be much more authentic of an assessment than MC tests, and much closer to 21st century reality. Working with a group is an important skill in the workforce. Knowing how to take a MC test... not so much.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jun 25, 2014

    I'm still not too sure about what constructivist teaching is, but if it's like inquiry based teaching then we do "guided" inquiry? Or "guided" constructivist teaching? For instance, I will start students with an Investigative question, and then give them a lab procedure in which have to come to the answer using data they collect and completing their own analyses. This answer needs to be supported with evidence and explained using what we're learning in class.

    In other examples, I might have students complete that first part, and then think of questions they thought of after making their initial observations, and then writing their own procedures to try to find the answer to their own investigative question. Only one or two of my labs are structured this way because it requires too much time.

    I've been looking into project-based learning (whoo, too many different educational concepts and terms here) which sounds similar as well. Students find or are given a problem, and have to create an open-ended project to solve it, or communicate their solution.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 25, 2014

    My masters program at Old Dominion University was grounded in constructivist learning. The philosophy is that learners are 'meaning makers' who construct their own understandings thru being actively engaged in learning, not passive receptors of knowledge. Math games and math talk, explaining ones thinking, hands on activities, analyzing mistakes, building on schema are some teaching strategies used in constructist classrooms.
     
  18. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jun 25, 2014

    Nothing to add, but :thumb: fellow Monarch! :p
     
  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Loved, loved my time at ODU! I was in the early childhood program with Dr Kersey and Dr Wakefield. Dr Alice Wakefield has published much on constructivism.

    Go Monarchs! :(
     
  20. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Jun 25, 2014

    This is a much better explanation of Constructivist Teaching. Stories circulated about a bunch of poorly trained teachers who threw a pile of blocks into the middle of the classroom and told their students to learn math. This gave CT a bad rap as too touchy feeling and not at all rigorous. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2014

    Like anything, Tyler, there are always those who think they know about a particular strategy or philosophy, and then act upon their ignorance. Such behavior gives a bad rap to the good work of those who are successfully meeting kids needs through understanding and implementation of those things that work. (I'd argue this is why whole language/'new' math/fill in the blank here is met with scorn and disdain... some educators wrongfully implement strategies based on partial information and parents/the public don't understand it..the same happens with new curriculum initiatives all the time..)
     
  22. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Great description. To add, my understanding is that the teacher is prepared to address misconceptions as the students are making meaning.

    My only hands-on experience with constructivism is using the BSCS textbook Insights in Biology: Journey of Discovery textbook during student teaching. The book approaches biology with a constructivist point of view. What that meant practically was that students did lab investigations before learning the details of a concept, wrote answers to deep thinking questions before doing in-class activities, and had frequent small-group discussions about the concepts they were learning. I enjoyed the approach much more than I thought I would at the beginning. But it does require that students be "good sports" and be comfortable with exploring without always knowing the content ahead of time.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 26, 2014

    Of course! The educator is duty bound to ensure that students are on the right path, clear up misconceptions, push thinking and yes! TEACH!

    As far as 'good sports'...it's about mindset and lesson design. Students need to buy into taking ownership of their learning...that thinking is an easier transition if upper grade students haven't been spoon fed information their entire school career and have been in classrooms where active engagement kinds of learning experiences have been provided. Even so, if constructivist, inquiry and discovery based lessons are well designed and presented, even those students who are new to this approach will tend to 'get onboard'.:thumb:
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I'm about as Direct Instruction (pretty much opposite as constructivism) as you get in some ways, but I see a huge value with constructivism. Just depends on the application. It's like trying to argue that highways are better than local roads without giving a context. Just depends on where you're trying to get.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Bottom line,Eded, is that balance is usually the best route. Local roads to the highway, knowing how to navigate through traffic and weather conditions, sometimes using GPS and other times ones own sense of direction and sometimes just seeing where the twists and turns in the road take you...and hopefully enjoying the journey along the way.:love:
     
  26. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Thanks for completing the analogy czacza - well done!
     
  27. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I would agree that there are some things that should just be laid out for students to learn (classroom procedures for example). It seems profoundly inefficient to have kids learn this by exploring.
     
  28. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The constructivists I know never leave everything up to exploration. And even when exploring, there is a dedicated mission to TEACH, while honoring student discoveries. I see it as more of a guide on the side ather than sage on the stage mentality...although there should be room for both in all classrooms.
     
  29. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I would love to do more constructivist teaching, but time doesn't allow for much of it.
     

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