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Constructivism EDU 330: Educational Psychology Daniel Moos.

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Presentation on theme: "Constructivism EDU 330: Educational Psychology Daniel Moos."— Presentation transcript:

1 Constructivism EDU 330: Educational Psychology Daniel Moos

2 Constructivism: Introduction (I) Which way is the bus below traveling? To the left or to the right? Please do not share your answer with anyone yet…

3 Constructivism: Introduction (II) ES students all over the United States were shown this picture and asked the same question. When asked, "Why do you think the bus is traveling to the left?" They answered: "Because you can't see the door to get on the bus."

4 Constructivism: Introduction (III) A father was listening to his oldest daughter’s choir performance, during which they were singing “America the Beautiful.” After hearing the line, “O beautiful for spacious skies,” the father’s youngest son asked, “Why are they singing about spaceship skies?” "The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming back down." "How will that help?" -- Kindergarten student, when the class was instructed to hold up two fingers if any of them had to go to the bathroom. One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, '..... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, 'The sky is falling, the sky is falling!' The teacher paused then asked the class, 'And what do you think that farmer said?' One little girl raised her hand and said, 'I think he said; ’[fill in the blank]! A talking chicken!'' The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

5 Meaningful Learning Within a Constructivist Framework Jerome Bruner and Discovery Learning: An Early Constructivist Perspective  Too much school learning emphasizes rote learning that cannot be applied outside the classroom  Children should be helped to discover how ideas relate to each other and to existing knowledge, and how to solve problems

6 Constructivism: Assumptions, four facets (I) How do children construct knowledge? New learning depends on current understanding. Learners construct knowledge that makes sense to them. Social interaction facilitates learning. The most meaningful learning takes place in real-world tasks.

7 Constructivism Today Two Variations on a Constructivist Theme  Cognitive Constructivism (Piaget) – Emphasizes the development of meaningful learning by focusing on the cognitive processes that take place within individuals  Social Constructivism (Vygotsky) – Emphasizes the development of meaningful learning by focusing on culture and social interactions

8 Constructivism: Application to the classroom Provide learners with a varietyof examples and representations of content. Connect content to the real world. Treat verbal explanations skeptically. Promote high levels of interaction. Make assessment an integral part of the teaching-learning process.

9 Constructivism: Limitations As with any theory, there are some limitations you should be aware of... – Time consuming! – Are all forms of understanding equally “good”? What of the reality independent of individual understanding? – Provides theoretical explanation of individual differences; but, does it adequately provide explanation of how to address these differences? – Does not address (or adequately) describe all aspects of learning; behaviorism, information-processing, and social cognitive theory have their place in educational psychology as well!

10 Constructivism: Reflections (1)Tim, a 4th grader, concludes that we are closer to the sun in the summer than we are in the winter. When asked to explain why he thinks so, he says, “When I stand close to the fireplace, I feel warm, and when I stand far away, I feel cooler.” Which characteristics of constructivism are illustrated by Tim’s thinking? Explain. (2)Which of the following least illustrates a learning activity based on constructivist views of learning? Describe what could be done to better apply constructivist principles of instruction. (1)Geography students use longitude and latitude to describe how to tell a friend a remote camping location in the mountains (2)Math students look at manufacturing costs and the prices marked on a series of soap products to determine the percentage of profits (3)Science students explain why a can of pork and beans explode: if a hole is not poked in the can when placed in a campfire (4)Language arts students rewrite a series of sentences, each of which contains grammatical errors

11 Problem Solving: Warm-up Activity Problem: There are three hobbits (H), three orcs (O), and one boat (b) on the side of the river: Starting Point: HHH OOO b Goal: To get all three hobbits and all three orcs across the river. Ending Point: HHH OOO b Rules: (1) The orcs and hobbits must travel by boat to the other side of the river (2) The boat cannot hold more than two (3) The orcs cannot outnumber the hobbits at any point (either in the boat or on land)

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13 The Nature of Problem Solving Two Common Types of Problems  Well-structured problems X+3 = 9 – Clearly formulated, solved by specific procedure, solution evaluated against agreed-upon standard  Ill-structured problems “How can we maximize water resources in St. Peter?” – Complex, few clues to solution procedures, less- definite criteria for measuring solution Which type of problem do you think schools tend to emphasize?

14 The Nature of Problem Solving Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers  Realize That a Problem Exists  Understand the Nature of the Problem  Compile Relevant Information  Formulate and Carry Out a Solution  Evaluate the Solution

15 Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers Step 1: Realize That a Problem Exists  Often called problem finding  Depends on curiosity and dissatisfaction with current knowledge state ( mmm…rings of Piaget )  Particularly useful when working with ill- structured problems Developmental issues: Metacognition Implication: Developmental, motivation, and nature of problem issues should guide scaffolding

16 Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers Step 2: Understand the Nature of the Problem  Often called problem representation or problem framing  Requires high level of knowledge of subject matter and familiarity with that type of problem Developmental issue?: Prior domain knowledge Implications: Increased scaffolding with new content

17 Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers Step 3: Compile Relevant Information  For well-structured problems, recall relevant information from long term memory X + 3 = 9  For ill-structured problems, seek external sources of information “How can we maximize water resources in St. Peter?”

18 Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers Step 4: Formulate and Carry Out a Solution  Study worked-out examples; explain how and why a strategy is used  Work on a simpler version of the problem  Break the problem into parts, particularly when first introducing new/complex problem  Ask students to explain what they are doing ( Vygotsky would proud …)  Solve an analogous problem Heuristics: General solution strategy

19 Helping Students Become Good Problem Solvers Step 5: Evaluate the Solution Remember the lady from “Are you smarter than a 5 th grader…” Problem 1: A man has seven times as many quarters as he has dimes. The value of dimes exceeds the value of quarters by How many quarters does he have and how many dimes? How much are quarters worth? How much are dimes worth? The man has more quarters than dimes Can the value of dimes be greater than quarters if he has more quarters? Problem 2: How many 40-person buses are needed to transport 540 GAC students to the Twins baseball game? Problem 2: The majority of MS students responded with 13 and ½ buses….does that make sense? (translating abstract to concrete)


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