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Constructivists teaching and how it benefits students learning

Constructivists teaching enhance three underlying things into student are: deep level of understanding to the material, activation of previous knowledge, extended level of learning from understanding to executing the information in real situation or across other subjects and brings students to the level of creation (Yuen & Hau, 2006). Constructivist teaching offered students to direct their own learning as well as take a part in developing other s’ understanding. The socio-constructivist conceptual framework is underpinning to vygotsky principles of ZPD (1978 as cited in Shepard, 2000) that social interaction determines the learning.

Presume aspects/ upsides of constructivist theories:

Activate the prior knowledge

Provide opportunity to students to actively participate in learning and meaning making

Allow students to take an ownership of their own learning and understanding

Transfer is unlimited; learner can apply their knowledge and skills into other situation.

Develop self-monitoring skills

Constructivist teaching is an alternative of conventional instructional practice of teacher-center teaching.

Review and Evaluation of selected Research

Article # 1: Yuen & Hau, 2006

Rational of the study:

This research was case- based study on many scientific researches results which elicited that university teaching are confined with teacher-centered approach thereby knowing the tenet of constructivism in practice is limited which limited learning outcomes. Through this comparative study of teaching was to find the significance of constructivist teaching and differences between teacher-centered and learner-centered teaching in university.

Another purpose of the study was to clarify a miss conception among teachers about constructivists teaching approach, for instance, discussion take more time, evaluation of each learners thinking is being difficult. Whereas teachers reported that more content is covered in teacher-centered teaching. Author claimed that conventional teaching covered content according to the time frame but students have less chance to process the information and build effective knowledge. So this study could mean to provide a clear picture of constructivist teaching and it impacts of learning.

Academic literature defines teacher-centered method tap into the structure based teaching where students learn through authoritative entities (Duffy & Jonassen, 1992). Teacher believed that the properties of structured world is defined and run similar like as they prescribe already and student should learn as same it have been described. Moreover, it is likely unauthentic and constant. Teachers’ role in teacher-centered classroom is to transmit knowledge into learners’ head and students are assume to preserve that knowledge and use as does it require. In contrast, constructivist espouse the dynamic epistemology of learning and teaching in which students take responsibility of what they want to learn and how to learn. In this relation, students are more active participant of their own learning and understanding. According to Brooks and Brooks (1993), constructivist teaching has brought new tenet of learning and teaching. There are following underlying principles of constructivist teaching which define as giving value to students’ opinion, incorporate prior knowledge to new knowledge, arrangement of concepts cohesively, and assessment of authentic task taken into account.

Specific Research questions:

Present study has anticipated investigating two things:

“The learning process that conceptually linked the teaching and the learning outcomes.

The comparison of the learning outcomes between teacher-centered teaching and constructivist teaching at different levels” (p. 281).

Methods of study:

This study was cross-sectional study and author observed different topic throughout the whole semester which comprises on four months which were taught according to constructivist principles and compared with teacher-center approach of teaching. This study was examined via observation, course assignment and interviews.

Participant in the study:

In this study, there were 74 participants drawn from university in Hongkong, China. They all were first-year students of Education and studied a course of Educational Psychology.

Data collection and analysis:

Data were collected by notes taking, documents including email, handout, quiz papers and recording the lessons so forth. Moreover, individual interviewed was conducted on telephone or in person. The interview was around 60 – 90 minutes in length. However, altogether 68 interviewed were conducted and 17 students were interviewed all the way through the study.

Data were analyzed on two levels. They assessed student knowledge after the each lesson completion and retention has assessed at the end of course. Additionally, they also evaluated students’ understanding on the basis of pre-class interviews and then compare with post-class interviewed. In this study, author used to assess students’ knowledge on the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) as a framework of this study. This is cognitive level of learning taxonomy which comprises on different categories from lower-level to the upper-level of task understanding are: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating, namely. But in this study author used specific category are: remember as a recall, evaluate and create as a critiquing and generating knowledge.

Findings:

The purpose of this study is to find differences in teaching model in terms of knowledge building. Data were analyzed to recognized three types of knowledge changes in the participants which were comprised in: 1) no gain with the course 2) having no prior knowledge about the course but gain knowledge after the course completion 3) assimilate prior knowledge and construct new knowledge after the course. Results were analyzed on comparison with pre-class answer to the post-class answer and find the underlined differences between two teaching model which were teacher-centered teaching and constructivist-teaching. Result interprets that the prior knowledge is essential in order to construct effective knowledge in contrast to those who had not any experience of current topic could not create creative knowledge.

In the first part of results considered recalling predicted variable to assess students’ prior knowledge about topic. Author also considered off-class learning (pre-readings, checking course email) in building of prior knowledge as relevant for recalling. Notably, author stated that students were more engaged in off-class course reading only initial weeks and this were diminished after few weeks when they got assignment. On the basis of recalling of material including off-class reading and in-class studying consider as both teaching method were evaluated, which informed that average level of recalled of relevant knowledge in constructivist teaching model for first two questions had 38% than 43% of teacher-centered teaching. However, the new average level for constructivist teaching was higher than teacher-centered teaching, where students’ off-class learning were decreased where they like to prefer to recall their learned concepts through constructive-teaching model. Results also interpret that constructivist teaching gave chance to students to integrate prior knowledge which teacher-centered teaching were neglected.

In the second part of the result, author intended to evaluate students’ learning outcome in respect of two teaching model on the last two levels of learning taxonomy which is evaluation and creation (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). In this regards, video tape were showed to them on a lesson for a class assignment and they were drawn positive and negative aspects of lesson and suggest potential solutions of problem in groups. Author stated that students complete their task in cooperative manner and mostly they were found to look at the course materials to aggregate of their task for final submission. Students’ assignment were evaluate on two scale quality point where their answers were logical and suggest some relevant suggestion on problem, whereas deficient point were pertain to illogical reasoning. Result demonstrated that quality points of constructivist teaching were more than teacher-centered teaching. Overall result showed that constructivist teaching has positive effect on university students’ learning in respect of retention and critiquing and generating knolwedgethan conventional teacher-centered.

Limitation and discussion point:

This study did not discuss about any limitation of the study, although interpretation were adequately describe the result. I would suggest that constructivist teaching advocate of constructing new knowledge with the reference of existing knowledge or knowledge is long lasting. But how this active learning would be transferred in different situation so it should be investigate as longitudinal study for future because lasting of knowledge either constructivist or conventional approach could be find through longitudinal approach.

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