Constructivist Learning Models: Case studies in authentic, student-centered design
About the Presenter Marc is an instructional design consultant and certified distance learning mentor. He has a broad professional background spanning the corporate, government and academic sectors. The list of organizations Mr. Zolar has worked with on learning and development programs includes: America Online, American Research Institute, AT&T, Central Carolina Community College, Florida State University, IBM, U.S. Department of Defense, United State Marine Corps, University of North Carolina at Wilmington,Verizon, Walden University. He holds a Master’s degree in instructional design and development and is active in professional organizations in the field as a writer and speaker. Marc can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are you here today? • What piqued your interest about this session? • Have you tried incorporating constructivist learning strategies into your courses. If so, how did it go?
What is Constructivism? “Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own "rules" and "mental models," which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences. “ (Source: http://www.funderstanding.com/constructivism.cfm)
Principles of Constructivism • Learning is a search for meaning • Learning occurs in a context • Instruction is tailored to learners’ mental models • Constructing knowledge is purpose of learning (not “right” vs. “wrong”) (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Impact on Curriculum • Less standardized curriculum • Customized to connect to learner’s prior knowledge • Emphasizes hands-on problem- solving (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Impact on Instruction • Teacher as facilitator/guide rather than authority • Focus on making connections between facts • Experimentation, open-ended questions, extensive reflection, dialogue among students (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Impact on Assessment • Ongoing assessment during instruction • De-emphasizes traditional grading methods • Self-assessment, learner articulates growth through projects and reflection (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Constructivist Strategies • Inquiry learning • Discovery learning • Situational learning • Problem-based learning • Cognitive Apprenticeship (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Constructivist Words and Phrases • Context • Authentic • Multiple perspectives • Learner-centered • Prior knowledge • Higher-order thinking • Meaningful connections • Social negotiation (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Discussion Question #1 • What constructivist strategies have you used in your classroom?
Discussion Question #2 • Why is it difficult to be a constructivist in the community college environment?
Discussion Question #3 • When might constructivism be the wrong approach?
Discussion Question #4 • What makes constructivism a good approach for the community college environment?
What Does a Constructivist Course Look Like? • Multiple delivery methods • High degree of student ownership and responsibility in the learning process • Consistent use of reflective practice • Portfolio-based assessment (Source: Zolar, M. Constructivism 101. NC Quest Program, University of North Carolina at Wilmington.)
Model #1: Discovery Learning • In its simplest form, discovery learning is described as the tools and information needed to solve a problem or learn a concept are provided and the learner "makes sense" of them. (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
The Galileo Project • http://galileo.rice.edu/index.html • “The Galileo Project is a source of information on the life and work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Our aim is to provide hypertextual information about Galileo and the science of his time to viewers of all ages and levels of expertise.” • Site includes suggested Lesson Plans.
Model #2: Situated Learning • Situated learning theory suggests that learning as it normally occurs is a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs (i.e., it is situated). This contrasts with most classroom learning activities which involve knowledge which is abstract and out of context. Social interaction is a critical component of situated learning -- learners become involved in a "community of practice" which embodies certain beliefs and behaviors to be acquired. (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
Zero Tolerance at Layne County • http://curry.edschool.virginia.edu/go/ZT/home.html (Mable Kinzie, Margaret Grogan, Susannah McGowan) • Analyzes the following State Zero Tolerance Law: “A new law requires school boards to expel students who have "brought a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or marijuana onto school property or to a school-sponsored activity, as prohibited by §18.2-255.2." The school board may, in a particular case, determine that another disciplinary action is appropriate. (HB 1343, Code § 22.1-277.01:1)” • Learner is presented with Case Analysis steps and a variety of Web-based materials to form an opinion on whether the Layne County School Board has used discretion in this case.
Model #3: Problem-based Learning • PBL engages the learner in a problem-solving activity. In this process, instruction begins with a problem to be solved rather than content to be mastered (Hsiao, 1996). Students are introduced to a real-world problem and are encouraged to dive into it, construct their own understanding of the situation, and eventually find a solution (Grabowski, Koszalka, & Mccarth, 1998). Major goals of PBL are to help students develop collaborative learning skills, reasoning skills, and self-directed learning strategies (Hsiao, 1996). (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
5 Strategies for Using Problem-based Learning • The Problem as a Guide - The problem is presented in order to gain attention prior to presenting the lesson. • 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. • The Problem as an Example - The problem is integrated into the material in order to illustrate a particular principle, concept or procedure. • 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. • 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 (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p.190). (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
Superland! • http://www2.imsa.edu/programs/pbln/problems/superland/ (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) • Examines the potential risks associated with a proposal for a new theme park. • Learner is placed in the role of a panel member appointed by the Governor of Illinois. • Learners must produce a risk assessment report for the Governor.
Model #4: Inquiry-based Learning • Inquiry-based learning is an approach to instruction that engages students in investigations to satisfy curiosities. Curiosities are satisfied when individuals construct mental frameworks that adequately explain their experiences (Haury, 1993). The learner's involvement in the learning content fosters skills and attitudes that permit the learner to seek resolutions to questions and issues while constructing new and meaningful knowledge (Inquiry-based Learning: Explanation, 2001, April). (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
American Civil War WebQuest • Kimberlye Joyce and Particia Stohr-Hunt, University of Richmond at: http://oncampus.richmond.edu/academics/education/projects/webquests/civilwar/ • Learners work in groups where each member must choose a role and the follow the prescribed process • Desired outcomes and evaluation criteria are clearly defined.
Model #5: Cognitive Apprenticeship • The focus of this learning-through-guided-experience is on cognitive and metacognitive skills, rather than on the physical skills and processes of traditional apprenticeships. Applying apprenticeship methods to largely cognitive skills requires the externalization of processes that are usually carried out internally. Observing the processes by which an expert listener or reader thinks and practices these skills can teach students to learn on their own more skillfully (Collins, Brown, Newman, 1989, p. 457-548). (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)
Components of Cognitive Apprenticeship • Modeling - involves an expert's carrying out a task so that student can observe and build a conceptual model of the processes that are required to accomplish the task. For example, a teacher might model the reading process by reading aloud in one voice, while verbalizing her thought processes (summarize what she just read, what she thinks might happen next) in another voice. • Coaching - consists of observing students while they carry out a task and offering hints, feedback, modeling, reminders, etc. • Articulation - includes any method of getting students to articulate their knowledge, reasoning, or problem-solving processes. • Reflection - enables students to compare their own problem-solving processes with those of an expert or another student. • Exploration - involves pushing students into a mode of problem solving on their own. Forcing them to do exploration is critical, if they are to learn how to frame questions or problems that are interesting and that they can solve (Collins, Brown, Newman, 1989, 481-482). (Source: Dabbagh, N. Instructional Design Knowledge Base. George Mason University.)