Cognitive, social, and radical constructivism all assert that the acquisition of knowledge and understanding is an ongoing process that is heavily influenced by a student's prior knowledge. Unfortunately, knowledge and understanding are not directly visible, but rather must be inferred from action. Thus, to take into account an individual's current level of understanding in this ongoing teaching and learning process, a teacher must continually assess the individual's knowledge. This formative assessment is necessary to accurately create the next series of experiences and activities for students.
Students should be encouraged to become self-regulatory, self-mediated, and self-aware. The underlying tenet of constructivism, and the main thread that holds together this array of theoretical positions, is the claim that learners are active in their construction of knowledge and meaning.
This activity involves mental manipulation and self-organization of experience, and requires that students regulate their own cognitive functions, mediate new meanings from existing knowledge, and form an awareness of current knowledge structures. Within a cognitive constructivist perspective, self-regulation, self-mediation, and self-awareness would be subsumed under the construct of metacognition.
Metacognition is considered an essential aspect of learning and consists of 1 knowledge of cognition i. While cognitive constructivism would emphasize self-regulation and self-awareness, social and radical constructivism would emphasize self-mediation. Self-mediation is represented within social and radical constructivism by Vygotsky's concept of the psychological tool, and Piaget's concept of reflective abstraction, respectively.
Vygotsky believed that students construct mental signs, or psychological tools, to represent concepts and relationships, and that these tools are used to mediate "intermental" cognition. Similarly, Piaget theorized that students mentally reflect on the use and nature of objects and then construct new knowledge by generalizing, or abstracting, new relationships.
The importance of the thought and self-regulation relationship was expressed by Vygotsky , "The system of signs restructures the whole psychological process and enables the child to master her movement" p. Teachers serve primarily as guides and facilitators of learning, not instructors. Teachers, in the cognitive constructivist perspective, are usually portrayed as instructors who "transmit knowledge.
In actuality, in the cognitive constructivist perspective, the role of the teacher is to create experiences in which the students will participate that will lead to appropriate processing and knowledge acquisition. Consequently, cognitive constructivism supports the teacher as a guide or facilitator to the extent that the teacher is guiding or facilitating relevant processing.
Contrarily, since social and radical constructivism eschew any direct knowledge of reality, there is no factual knowledge to transmit and the only role for the teacher is to guide students to an awareness of their experiences and socially agreed-upon meanings. This teacher as guide metaphor indicates that the teacher is to motivate, provide examples, discuss, facilitate, support, and challenge, but not to attempt to act as a knowledge conduit.
Teachers should provide for and encourage multiple perspectives and representations of content.
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The relationship of multiple perspectives and multiple representations is one of cause and effect within cognitive constructivism. Experiencing multiple perspectives of a particular event provides the student with the raw materials necessary to develop multiple representations. These multiple representations provide students with various routes from which to retrieve knowledge and the ability to develop more complex schemas relevant to the experience. In addition, in social and radical constructivism there is no privileged "truth," only perceptual understandings that may prove to be more or less viable.
This being the case, a student's understanding and adaptability is increased when he or she is able to examine an experience from multiple perspectives. These perspectives provide the student with a greater opportunity to develop a more viable model of their experiences and social interactions. It needs to be re-emphasized that constructivism is a theory of knowledge acquisition, not a theory of pedagogy; thus, the nexus of constructivism and online education is tentative, at best.
Constructivism posits that knowledge acquisition occurs amid four assumptions:. Learning involves active cognitive processing. Learning is adaptive. Learning is subjective, not objective. These four assumptions have led, indirectly, to eight primary pedagogical recommendations:. The question then arises, can an online medium support this pedagogy that is based on the constructivist assumptions. From this perspective, online education is potentially quite effective in providing virtual environments in which one can simulate real-world events.
- Constructivism is a theory of learning that has roots in both philosophy and psychology?
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Online education provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in social negotiation and mediation; unfortunately, until recently, social negotiation and mediation were constrained in the online medium. The use of both asynchronous e. Online education is capable of making vast amounts of very diverse information, knowledge, and skills available to the learner.
In this sense, online education is quite capable of providing relevance as long as the learner is able to self-select a relevant topic, process, or skill. Where online education may have difficulty is in spontaneously adapting instruction to a change in student perspective. This type of immediate tailoring is more available through synchronous than asynchronous environments. Grade: B. This pedagogical statement is perhaps the most difficult for online education to handle.
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To address this statement requires a transaction to occur between the user and the online educational environment. Grade: C. While online environments are capable of frequently assessing students during instruction, difficulty arises in using this formative assessment to guide further instruction. Rarely is this knowledge used to alter subsequent instruction. In most online education environments, self-regulation, self-mediation, and self-awareness are requirements for successfully engaging in that environment. Online education typically requires students to be more involved and more persistent relative to the educational environment.
One aspect of online education that is currently lacking is educating the student in the processes necessary to successfully engage in online education.
Students often begin an online educational experience with no instruction concerning how online education differs from tradition classroom education. This pedagogical statement is attainable, but is currently not being addressed adequately. While it is still possible for instructors to lecture and to use direct instruction during an online educational experience, it is not nearly as easy as it is when one is teaching in a classroom. In addition, online education can be effectively constructed to emphasize a facilitating role for instructors while students engage in simulations, web-based data collection, and ill-structured problem solving.
The self-regulatory and self-mediated nature of online education promotes the instructor taking the role of guide or coach. Online education, especially with a diverse group of students, is ripe for the presentation and experience of multiple perspectives. Online education has easy access to international and culturally diverse resources, including diverse populations.
With the passing of time, a greater amount of diverse articles published and pre-published and presentations are accessible online, providing students with the resources for multiple perspectives. Anderson, J. Rules of the mind. Cognitive psychology and its implications. New York: Freeman. Ravitch Ed. Brookings Papers on Education Policy: pp. Washington, D.
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Ausubel, D. Educational psychology: A cognitive view. Bakhtin, M. Problem of Dostoevsky's poetics. Brooks, J. Brown, A. Day Eds. Bruning, R. Cognitive psychology and instruction. Cobb, P. Constructivist, emergent, and sociocultural perspectives in the context of developmental research. Where is the mind? A coordination of sociocultural and cognitive constructivist perspectives.
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Fosnot Ed. Derry, S. Cognitive schema theory in the constructivist debate. Dewey, J. The need for social psychology. Boydston Ed. Dewey, J Experience and education.
New York: Macmillan. Dole, J.
Reconceptualizing change in the cognitive construction of knowledge. Driscoll, M. Psychology of learning for instruction.
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