Constructivist vs. Social Constructivist Approaches to Teaching
Constructivism emphasizes how individuals actively construct knowledge and understanding.
Social constructivist approaches emphasize the social contexts of learning, and that knowledge is mutually built and constructed.
…refers to the idea that thinking is “situated” in social and physical contexts, not within an individual’s mind.
Teachers and Peers as Joint Contributors to Students’ Learning
Cognitive Apprenticeship: An expert stretches and supports the novice’s understanding and use of cultural skills.
Scaffolding: Changing the level of support over the course of a teaching session.
Tutoring: Includes peers, classroom aides, volunteers, and mentors.
Cooperative Learning: Students work in small groups to help each other.
Inquiry & Problem-Based Learning
Teacher presents a puzzling event
Students formulate hypotheses
Reflect on original problem
Reflect on the thinking process
• Individual tutoring
– Reading Recovery
• Teacher Aides, Volunteers, Mentors
• Peer Tutors
– Cross-age peer tutoring
– Same-age peer tutoring
Teaching Strategies for Volunteer and Peer Tutoring
• Have a specialist serve as a supervisor
• Provide tutors with training and support
• Provide structured and concentrated tutoring sessions
• Reward and honour volunteers
• Use cross-age tutoring
• Have students participate as tutor and learner
• Communicate with parents about tutoring sessions
• Occurs when students work in small groups to help each other to learn.
• Necessary components:
1. Positive interdependence
2. Positive face-to-face interaction
3. Interpersonal and small group skills
4. Individual accountability
5. Critical reflection
Structuring Cooperative Group Work
• Grouping variables
– Heterogeneous ability
• Lower ability students benefit from working with higher ability students
• Medium-ability students may not get the best results here
– Heterogeneous ethnic, SES, and gender
• Recommended to improve interpersonal relationships
• Equal numbers of males and females, multiple representatives from different ethnic and SES groups
Cooperative Learning Approaches
STAD (Student-Teams-Achievement Divisions)
– Team members work together, but have individual assessment
– Individual’s improvement score contributes to team score
The Jigsaw Classroom
– Teach one thing to each of (6) groups
– Break groups up & reform into 6 new groups, so that each of the new groups has 1 representative from every original group
– Each member of the new group is responsible for teaching the rest of their members the one part in which they have expertise
Teaching Strategies for Developing Students’ Team-Building Skills
• Teach interpersonal and communication skills
• Provide instruction gradually
• Help students become better listeners
• Provide students with opportunity to contribute to a common product
• Explore the potential value of a team leader
n Learning that is situated around an event, case, problem, or scenario.
Five Strategies for Using PBL
1. The Problem as a Guide: the problem is presented in order to gain attention prior to presenting the lesson.
2. The Problem as an Integrator or Test: the problem is presented after readings are completed and/or discussed -- these are used to check for understanding.
3. The Problem as an Example: the problem is integrated into the material in order to illustrate a particular principle, concept or procedure.
4. The Problem as a Vehicle for Process: the problem is used to promote critical thinking whereby the analysis of how to solve it becomes a lesson in itself.
5. The Problem as a Stimulus for Authentic Activity: the problem is used to develop skills necessary to solve it and other problems -- skills can include physical skills, recall of prior knowledge, and metacognitive skills related to the problem solving process. A form of authentic assessment of the skills and activity necessary in the content domain.
Design PBL Instruction:
- Task Analysis: analysis must take place not only within the content domain but should also determine the actual setting where the learning will be authentic.
- Problem Generation: The problems must be constructed so they include the concepts and principles that are relevant and they must be set in a real context.
- Collaborative Analysis session where groups work together to solve the problem.
- Self-directed Learning where the students identify the information and resources that are necessary to solve the problem.
n The instructor in PBL only acts as a facilitator to learning, instead of a transmitter of the necessary information.
n Assessment: assessment of learning must occur within the context of the problems and should be in the form of both self assessment and peer assessment.
Cognitive apprenticeships are situated within the social constructivist paradigm. They suggest students work in teams on projects or problems with close scaffolding of the instructor. Cognitive apprenticeships are representative of Vygotskian "zones of proximal development" in which student tasks are slightly more difficult than students can manage independently, requiring the aid of their peers and instructor to succeed.
• Scaffolding refers to the role played by parents, teachers and others by which children acquire their knowledge and skills (Wood et al, 1976).
• As a task becomes more familiar to the child and more within its competence, so those who provide the scaffold leave more and more for the child to do until it can perform the task successfully.
• In this way, the developing thinker does not have to create cognition ‘from scratch’: there are others available who have already ‘served’ their apprenticeship.
Zone of Proximal Development
The theory of the "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD) is a term coined by Vygotsky to refer to the:
‘level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers…..What children can do with the assistance of others might be in some sense even more indicative of their mental development than what they can do alone’ (Vygotsky, 1978).
• "Proximal" simply means "next". He observed that when children were tested on tasks on their own, they rarely did as well as when they were working in collaboration with an adult. It was by no means always the case that the adult was teaching them how to perform the task, but that the process of engagement with the adult enabled them to refine their thinking or their performance to make it more effective. Hence, for him, the development of language and articulation of ideas was central to learning and development. The common-sense idea which fits most closely with this model is that of "stretching" learners.