Constructivist Learning Environments
The constructivist learning environment attempts to focus on reflecting on one’s own experiences and understanding of the world. For the learning environment, the instructor is continually adjusting individual modes to accommodate new learning experiences. Teaching strategies utilizing a constructivist approach must match a student’s developmental level at both the primary and secondary level. By utilizing this approach, expectations of students are raised for deeper understanding on the part of the students. Constructivist teachers must teach for understanding using constructivist learning theories. Indeed, teaching and learning in a constructivist environment is guided by several key principles:
Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.
Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. Parts, however, must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts.
In order to teach well, educators must understand the mental models that students use to perceive the world and the assumptions they make to support those models.
The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his/her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning.
Principles of the Constructivist Learning Environment
These principles have an unequivocal effect on the impact of learning in the classroom. Constructivist approaches directly influence several aspects of traditional education including: the curriculum, which necessitates the need for hands-on problem solving and the abandonment of standardization; instruction, which now requires educators to focus on making connections between facts and fostering new understanding; and assessment, which calls for the elimination of grades and standardized testing.
In order for educators to have success with this type of teaching atmosphere, certain characteristics must be present within the learner(s). One of the principle goals of a constructivist approach to education is to help students become responsible decision makers. Helping students construct moral understandings of right and wrong is a necessary and important part of education. It is, therefore, important that students develop a sense of moral understanding. Utilizing this idea, discipline is no longer viewed as the act of controlling students, but rather guidance is viewed as the opportunity to assist students in the development of social and cognitive skills. In addition, students must make an effort to cooperate with each other in a spirit of mutual respect and have a sincere desire and motivation to learn. It is important to note that while many of these characteristics are intrinsic in many students, students lacking these characteristics can be fostered and nurtured by proper instruction, curriculum and assessment. Piaget believed in the unity of cognitive development and physical maturation. In order to effectively teach students, instructors must not only remain aware of their student’s stage of development, but of the organic whole of their development—mind and body—in the same manner that teaching and learning become an integrated whole in a constructivist setting.
Ideas to help with Constructivist Learning Environments Research Paper:
To help you think critically about the readings as applied to your own thinking about teaching, word process a paper that compares and contrasts the learning environment you have created as a teacher to a constructivist learning environment.
If you are not currently teaching, think of a teaching and learning experience that took place within the last three years in your life either as a teacher or student and try to put yourself back in that learning environment either as teacher or student.
- Make brief notes about the following aspects of that learning environment:
Relationships in the classroom or learning environment role of the teacher role of the student/learner type of work done by students/learner active vs. passive reflective vs. non-reflective memorization vs. problem solving approach authenticity of task(s) patterns of group versus individual learning use of technological tools strategy for assessing student/learner work other aspects of learning environment Feel free to describe other aspects that were important when characterizing this environment.
- Next, compare and contrast each of these aspects to a constructivist learning environment.
This paper describes your starting point in the course. The problem you will be solving in this class is how to move from your existing learning environment (analyzed in this paper) to design a technology-infused, constructivist learning environment (your culminating project in Unit 8) for your future teaching.
- Technical aspects of this assignment.
To prescribe a length to this assignment might inhibit a full reflection on your part. Some students prefer to address the first part of the assignment in brief sentences with a few examples while others prefer to explore their recollections at length (four pages might be the limit for this reader).
Regardless of how long your reflection is, the most important part is the second part that is almost equal in length to the first part in which you compare and contrast the experiences you had with that of a constructivist class.