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Constructivist Theories in Learning

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Stephanie Cocchia

on 15 February 2014

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Transcript of Constructivist Theories in Learning

Constructivist Theory Strengths
Students become more engaged and motivated.
Students are exposed to the views of others.
Students must clarify/organize their ideas well enough to be able to explain them to someone else.
Students tend to elaborate on what they've learned and ask more questions, generate hypotheses, and draw inferences (Ormrod, 2011).
Students discover flaws or inconsistencies in their own thinking (Ormrod, 2011).
Students learn from their peers, who may have different backgrounds and viewpoints.
Students increase their social, interpersonal and self regulation skills (Ormrod, 2011).
Theory Application
The application of constructivist theories can be seen throughout the video "Investigating Crickets" by Annenberg Media. In this video, Ms. McClellan, a ninth grade science teacher, taught her students about the scientific process. She showed students how to apply the scientific method to answer their questions about crickets by having them come up with a hypothesis, design an experiment, evaluate their data/findings, and present their findings about crickets.

Students actively construct their knowledge based on past and present experiences (Ormrod, 2011).
First, the constructivist approach is seen ("Investigating Crickets", n.d. Retrieved at 2:15) when Ms. McClellan had the students come up with a KW (What we Know/What we want to Know) Chart. She had the students write down everything they already knew about crickets and what they wanted to know about them. She then had the students make a list of 20 questions and pick out one main question. After that she had them decide on the independent and dependent variables for that question.
One way Ms. McClellan's lesson could be redesigned is through the use of National Geographic computer videos and group discussions. Groups of two to three students will become familiar with various animal expeditions and the scientists involved. They will learn how the scientists applied scientific processes while studying those animals, and understand why those animals are of interest to the scientists involved. After viewing the videos, students will be able to :
Analyze scientific investigations to determine the questions investigated, the data collected , the methodologies used, and the conclusions made,
Describe in their own words, the features in a scientific investigation.
Identify key aspects of the scientific process.
This project can be assessed in an ongoing fashion by the teacher who could have the students fill out a chart with the required information. Another way the teacher could assess the students is through use of a computer program with questions at the end of the unit.
Theory Presentation
Constructivist theorists believe that learning is a process where children actively construct meaning and knowledge through their environment and prior experiences (Ormrod, 2011).
by Stephanie Cocchia
University of Southern California
Rossier School of Education
EDUC 518 - February 14, 2014
Learners also build knowledge through collaboration and by working in small groups through social interactions.
Learners organize their knowledge into concepts, theories, schemas, scripts and worldviews (Ormrod, 2011)
Learners actively construct their knowledge based on present and past experiences (Ormrod, 2011).

Anderson, L.W. and Krathwohl, D.R. (2001). A taxonomy
for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives (Abridged Ed.). New York, NY: Longman.

Annenberg Media - Investigating Crickets (n.d.) Retrieved on February 4, 2014, from

Lesson Redesign
A second lesson redesign could be that pairs of students create a research project on a topic of their choice. The project will illustrate their understanding of the principles involved in the scientific process. Along the way, the teacher will review/assess the students' progress and understanding of the scientific process. If they need help or guidance the teacher will redirect them. Students will exhibit their projects at a school science fair. The projects will be graded by their peers and their teacher, using a rubric form at the exhibit. The teacher will provide scaffolding and a model of what a typical research project looks like using steps of the scientific process. The teacher will also provide the students with a comprehensive rubric which will direct students to include all of the steps involved in the scientific process in their presentation.
Omrod, J.E. (2011). Educational psychology: Developing learners (7th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Constructivist Theory Weaknesses

Students come from diverse cultural backgrounds with different schemas and scripts. They may end up interpreting classroom materials or activities differently and may have trouble making sense of a particular lesson (Ormrod, 2011).
Students may over generalize a concept (by putting objects and events that don't belong in a category) (Ormrod, 2011).
Students may under generalize a concept (where students have too narrow of a view about objects and events belonging to a category) (Ormrod, 2011).
Students may end up constructing knowledge with inaccuracies.
Theory does not address learning differences between children (special needs or learning disabilities).
Students in groups may not always participate fully.
Students are limited to the knowledge they construct and share with each other and misconceptions may be passed on (Ormrod, 2011).
Students construct knowledge through collaboration and by working together in small groups (Ormrod, 2011).
Second, the constructivist approach is seen ("Investigating Crickets". n.d. Retrieved at 5:00 -12:00) when Ms. McClellan had the kids working in pairs. The students were collaborating with their lab partners and also with other groups. The students discussed what they wanted to learn, their questions, their hypothesis, and what they should choose as independent and dependent variables. Ms. McClellan provided direction to the students through modeling ("Investigating Crickets". n.d., Retrieved at 6:45) and by helping students address their misconceptions( "Ivestigating Crickets". n.d., Retrieved at 10:30). She facilitated the process through step by step questions which she forced the students to answer on their own. She walked around the room constantly assessing the students' progress, and formatively assessed the students' labs by providing point scores on each step of the scientific process project.
Constructivism Theory Application Product 2
A concept is a way of mentally grouping objects or events that are similar.
A theory is a set of concepts and principles developed to explain a particular phenomenon.
A schema is an organized set of facts related to a particular concept or phenomenon.
Scripts are schemas that involve a predictable sequence of events.
Worldviews are an integral part of everyday thinking and encompass implicit knowledge.
Knowledge Terms
(Ormrod, 2011)
Learning Objective
Ms. McClellan's learning objective:

Using crickets as the research subject, students will be able to apply the scientific process to their research and demonstrate their understanding of the steps involved in the scientific process. The classroom activities she had her students participate in were : Ask questions about crickets, conduct observations on crickets, generate a hypothesis, conduct an experiment using crickets, analyze the data, evaluate the hypothesis against the data, and then present their findings in a presentation format.
This learning objective falls on the taxonomy table at the procedural knowledge dimension and extends across several cognitive process dimensions, which are: understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001).
By using a few constructivist strategies and authentic learning activities, Ms. McClellan's lesson can be enhanced. The children can learn how to apply the scientific process/method even further through authentic learning activities. By choosing their own research topics and through video analysis the students can achieve a deeper understanding of the steps involved with the scientific method. Students' learning can be further augmented through the group collaboration on the science fair project. As a result of the proposed constructivist approaches, Ms. McClellan's students will understand and know how to apply the scientific process to their future research.
Ms. McClellan's lesson can be redesigned through the use of authentic learning activities. Authentic learning activities are classroom activities that are similar to activities that students might encounter in the real world (Ormrod, 2011). The learning objective will be the same :
Using a research subject of the student's choice, students will be able to apply the scientific process to their research and demonstrate their understanding of the steps involved in the scientific process.
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