Constructivism in the classroom

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Constructivism represents a paradigm shift form education based on cognitive theories. This concept assumes that learners construct their own knowledge on the basis of interaction with their environment. (Gagnon & Collay, 200?) The role of the teacher as a constructor of the learning experience to ensure authentic curriculum and assessment which is responsive to the skills, needs and experiences of the learner, within established curriculum framework and with the reference to the achievement of literacy, numeracy, retention and attainment of outcomes. Krause, Bochner and Duchesne (p.157) comment that “as learners interact with their environment, they link information learned through experience to previous knowledge, and so construct new understandings and knowledge.” Constructivism then inturn encourages Teachers and Learning Managers to recognise the value of prior knowledge and experiences that each child brings with them into the classroom, and help them (the students) build on their understandings of the world by providing appropriate learning experience plans.
This practise of effective teaching and learning has relatively new in classrooms but has already made a great difference in the students’ abilities and interests both in and out of their studies. Constructivist teaching recognises and validates the student’s point of view rather then the necessity of a correct answer. The child is then able to reassess their knowledge and understandings, which in turn boosts self-esteem and confidence. It also encourages children to be involved in classroom activities by self-questioning, seeking answers, comparing situations and establishing links between different ideas. This is possible as constructive learning is transferable between different ideas. (Tutorial Notes, 28th July, 2004)
Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980), a Swiss psychologist, portrayed the child as a ‘lone scientist’, creating their own sense of the world. Their knowledge of relationships among ideas, objects and events is constructed by the active processes of internal assimilation, accommodation and equilibration. (Hughes, 2001). He also believed that we must understand the child’s understandings of the world, and this should guide the teaching practises and evaluation. The fundamental basis of learning was discovery. To understand is reconstruct by discovery, and such conditions must be compiled...

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...n essentials that teachers should undertake to help maintain a healthy constructivist classroom. It is important to hold a belief that learning is restructuring of thought rather than an increase in content, and reconstruction or recall will reflect that particular ‘schema’ of the child. They also believe that the use of cognitive conflict promotes the consolidation of concepts. The use of ‘wrong’ answers also helps students analyse their thinking in order to retain the correct elements and revise their misconceptions. Promoting social interaction, peer friendships and co-operation, also increases their interest and comprehension in learning, as well as improve the child’s conflict resolution skills.
Teachers continually learn about ways people learn – the processes of learning and how individuals learn best. They learn about their students and individuals, and learn with as well as from their students when they seek knowledge together. (Principles of effective learning and teaching, 1994). Through continually discovering new and exciting ways to help mould a constructivist classroom, the students will be able to achieve their outcomes with great ease and learn to enjoy education.

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