In constructivism, learning is defined as an evolving and active process (Anthony, 1996). Learners may work separately or as a group so as to construct knowledge. Unlike individual constructed knowledge which is very personal and varies from person to person, social or group constructed knowledge is shared amongst individuals. (Jeanne Ellis Ormrod 2007) Social constructed knowledge may take a long time to manifest itself for example mathematic concepts as well as physics concepts that have taken many years to be developed. It is the general characteristic of not only learners but the human race as a whole to construct general knowledge and meaning about various aspects of nature. (Jeanne Ellis Ormrod 2007)
Each individual may have their own theories or the theories may be shared. These theories may be affected by the neighborhood, surrounding or culture of the individual. So as to promote effective knowledge construction learners must be given an opportunity for first hand observation and experimentation. By experimenting and interacting with concepts learners are able to discover new things. Learners should also be given expert opinions on certain issues so as to form a basis of the learner s knowledge. Learners should also be able to form conceptual understanding of concepts in class and be able to connect various concepts. Classroom dialogue should also be encouraged in a bid to foster knowledge construction. (Jeanne Ellis Ormrod 2007)
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In constructivism learners are viewed as not as passive recipients of knowledge by those constructors of their personal knowledge structures. The main assumptions with constructivism include: the assumption that learning is a process in which learners are actively engaged in the construction of knowledge and not passive absorption or recording of knowledge (Anthony, 1996). The teacher initiates the learning process but both teacher and students equally participate throughout the learning process and causes and effects discussion Another assumption is that learners construct new knowledge from ideas and facts that they have learned in the past (Anthony, 1996). The teacher asks general questions related to the causes and effects topic, to determine the learners current knowledge on the subject. The third is the assumption that learners are already informed of cognitive learning processes and can effectively control them throughout the learning process (Anthony, 1996). This self-awareness influences the learning process.
Application of Theories
Most of the ways to promote effective knowledge construction and the three assumptions stated below are exemplified in the video. Actually, the assumption that learning is a process whereby learners are actively involved in construction of knowledge and not passive absorption or recording of knowledge is evident throughout the video (Anthony, 1996). Immediately after the teacher has introduced the topic, she asks students questions on the subject causes and effects (Into Thin Air, 0:30). This welcomes the student s participation which she maintains throughout the video (Into Thin Air, 1:02). The class listens to the teacher and answers her questions promptly explaining their ideas in detail (Into Thin Air, 5:10). This aligns with constructivism theory because although the teacher initiates the discussion, both the teacher and students equally participate in the causes and effect discussion to construct new knowledge. The video exemplifies learner s use of past ideas and facts to construct new knowledge (Anthony, 1996). In the video, the teacher gives a brief introduction giving a limited background of the topic (Into Thin Air, 0:01-0:08, 3:05), and asks general questions to measure the students current knowledge on the causes and effects reading homework (Into Thin Air, 4:57). However, when she asks questions on the topic, she gets correct and detailed new knowledge and answers from students (Into Thin Air, 5:10, 5:33, and 6:10). Even with the short introduction and limited background of the topic, the students used the facts and ideas they had learned earlier to correctly answer the questions (Into Thin Air, 8:29). Consistent with constructivism theory, the teacher asked general question related to the subject topic to determine learner s current knowledge on the topic (Anthony, 1996). The assumption that learners are already informed of cognitive learning processes and can effectively control them throughout the learning process (Anthony, 1996) is also exemplified in the video. Students are aware of cognitive learning processes therefore are the reason why they are attentively listening to the teacher throughout the lesson (Into Thin Air, 0:01-9:54). Throughout the lesson, the teacher engages the students in the causes and effects discussion by asking questions, giving them time to explain their ideas and commenting on the relevance of the answer (Into Thin Air,0:32-3:04). This helps students to learn from others. Since students are listening and are attentive to the teacher, they are able to make connections and provide prompt answers (Into Thin Air, 5:06-6:52). The students are self-aware that they need to listen and to be attentive in order to understand and learn new ideas.
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This is consistent with constructivism theory in that students are capable of managing and controlling cognitive processes.
The video (Into Thin Air) presents a class discussion in a formal classroom setting. The teacher starts the lesson by introducing the topic cause and effects. . Learners have been given an expert opinion on the issue. The teachers intends to actively engage the students in the discussion therefore she starts by introducing the topic for students to understand and to review their past ideas and knowledge on the topic (Into Thin Air, 1:03). After the introduction students are able to apply the knowledge they already have to explain and explore the topic as class to learn new knowledge (Anthony, 1996). Being a class discussion, the teacher ensures that the students actively participate in construction of knowledge. She raises questions on the topic and gets detailed explanation from the students (Into Thin Air, 1:14). The introduction given by the teacher is brief giving limited background. However, the students are self-aware and use the facts they already know to answer the questions to thoroughly explain their ideas.
Students Response to Instructions
In her interpretation of constructivism learning theory, the teacher engages students in the discussion throughout the video. When she asks questions on the topic to determine the students prior knowledge on the topic, the students promptly answers the questions (Into Thin Air, 0:30-3:04, 5:06-6:52). This demonstrates that students are actively engaged in the discussion to construct new knowledge from the knowledge they already have (Anthony, 1996). The teacher expects the students to remain active throughout the discussion to learn from her experience and from the ideas generated by other students in the classroom. The students portray positive response to instructions. They promptly generated and explain ideas on the topic. In constructivism theory learners are actively involved in the learning process to construct new knowledge (Anthony, 1996). Moreover, students are main actors in the learning process in the video. They contribute ideas, explore and explain specific topics as a class or in small groups (Anthony, 1996). Therefore, the learning processes presented in this video is consistent with constructivism theory. Lastly, she monitors the lesson and learning activities while she works with the students to socially construct new knowledge.