Mary Gerard Beckmann, EdD
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EDTC 5335 Constructivism Week 1
 

WEEK 1  

INTRODUCTION

This week we'll get acquainted with each other, with the course in general, and with constructivism, theorists/philosophers, and terminology. = 13 points – deadline June 17

If you experience any problems, please don't hesitate to ask for help – one of the advantages of online learning is that someone is usually 'nearby' at all times.

There are 10 points for overall participation in this course – this is more than a one sentence answer or a reply of ‘I agree’ to a classmate’s post.  

TERMS

·       Constructivism: multiple ideas but basically constructivism is the process of learning whereby a student constructs new knowledge by building on present and past knowledge

·       Theory: premise made to explain a fact or occurrence that has been tested, proven, accepted, and then used to make predictions

·       Makerspaces: think of hands on manipulatives to reinforce a concept – flash cards i.e. - maker spaces are basically areas where items are built or constructed to reinforce a new concept or skill - in the case of maker spaces it is technology and STEM and STEAM (see definitions/explanations below)

·       Problem-based Learning: active, real-world learning - associated with constructivism theory

·       STEM STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering (STEM), and Math and Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) –a philosophy of education that involves teaching skills and topics with regard to real life situations and real-life uses 

 

READINGS (additional readings are in the commentary/lecture section below):

  1. What is the history of constructivism, and how has it changed over time? http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index_sub4.html  
  2. Building an Understanding of Constructivism: http://www.sedl.org/scimath/compass/v01n03/2.html  
  3. Constructivism and Technology (scroll past the advertisements): http://www.teach-nology.com/currenttrends/constructivism/and_technology/  
  4. How the theory differs from traditional ideas about teaching and learning?: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index_sub1.html
  5. Robotics and constructivism https://www.learning-theories.com/educational-robotics-and-constructionism.html 
  6. Comparison between traditional and constructivism classroom  http://www.makerspaceforeducation.com/constructionism--constructivism.html
  7. Makerspaces, constructivism, and learning theories https://curiositycommons.wordpress.com/participatory-learning/
  8. About STEM and STEAM https://www.steampoweredfamily.com/education/what-is-stem/

 

COMMENTARY/LECTURE

What constructivism is and how it has evolved

Constructivism is a learning theory that involves active, hands-on learning that is relative to real-life situational learning – it involves student-centered discovery.  Educators/trainers/instructors are expanding the reach of the field to include robotics, electronics, and basic constructing and building of objects to engage students.

Constructivism involves learners to construct (or create) their own individualized meaning of what they are learning.

Basically, there are no differing opinions on what constructivism is, but different wording, examples, and/or ideas might be used to describe it.

The constructivism theory has often times been met with opposition because 'hands-on' was misconstrued or misunderstood to mean idle play. Proponents eventually provided scientific evidence to support constructivism as successful and favorable and furthermore state that 'play' is considered a necessary and vital part of an individual’s cognitive development.

Constructivism is not mere transmission of knowledge - proponents believe that students learn by doing (constructing!), not by listening, watching, or being told what to do. To learn by doing, students will draw their own conclusions and become self-directed learners and creative thinkers.

To accommodate the actual building and constructing, physical spaces called ‘makerspaces’ are becoming common in the educational field.

Makerspaces is a movement in the constructivism philosophy/theory, as explained here: http://www.makerspaceforeducation.com/makerspace.html - and builds upon, and expands the constructivism theory and philosophy that was introduced by, “…Jean Piaget and developed by Seymour Papert,” as explained here http://www.makerspaceforeducation.com/

 

Makerspaces accommodate STEM, STEAM projects that work with the hands-on building and constructing relative to the constructivism theory as explained in this article http://fablearn.stanford.edu/fellows/blog/constructionism-learning-theory-and-model-maker-education

 

Constructivism requires the educator to ‘let go’ of the role of supporter, and for the student to take the role of director. The goal of the educator is to 'create' self-directed learners. However, educators are there to facilitate, support, and engage learners.

Additional theorists associated with constructivism
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Jerome Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current/past knowledge http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist/

Von Glasersfeld describes constructivism as, "a theory of knowledge with roots in philosophy, psychology, and cybernetics" (p 162). [1] (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Simply stated, it is a learning process which allows a student to experience an environment first-hand, thereby, giving the student reliable, trust-worthy knowledge.

What does it mean to have a constructivism-based classroom?

Does adopting constructivism mean letting students take control and continually noisy classrooms? Does it mean the teacher is out of control? Does adopting constructivism mean that teachers are going to have to rewrite every lesson plan, rearrange their rooms, their way of thinking, their way of teaching, their method of course delivery? NO!

Noisy classrooms do not necessarily mean the class is out of control – it could very well mean that students are excited about learning something new. Teachers are in control as long as they can bring their students ‘back’. During this course we’ll share classroom strategies for how to bring noise levels back down when students are excitable and / or engaged in noisy activities.

ASSIGNMENTS AND PARTICIPATION

This week, participate in the following assignments and participation activities, all of which are submitted through discussion posts labeled ‘week 1…. ‘ 

  1. Introductions – please introduce yourself to the group - submit using week 1, intro discussion post = 2 points
  2. Week 1 Assignment – research for an item to create in a makerspace area - an item that would be built, constructed, made – write a one-page paper, double spaced and include the following information:

intended audience, age group, the item to be constructed, web site if you located the item online, a physical description of the makerspace area, explain what would students would do, what the instructor would do, name a curriculum tie-in if for younger students - this is an informal plan, no need to include method to assess, standards, reflections, etc. – this is an idea – nothing to build – yet!  submit using week 1, assignment discussion post = 11

  1. Week 1 Participation – after reading and visiting the sites in this document, share one or two concepts or terms that were new to you and how it might be helpful as a student or as an educator (submit using week 1, participation discussion post) = 2 points

 

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