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C&I 652 Autumn 2009 Term Paper Franzen

C&I 652 Autumn 2009 Term Paper Franzen

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Published by: Jesse Franzen on Nov 20, 2009
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11/19/2009

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When is Constructivism Most Appropriate in Relation to Childhood Development?Jesse W. FranzenPresented toProfessor Trent AtkinsIn Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for C & I 652 Issues in Curriculum and InstructionSchool of EducationThe University of Montana at Missoula November 19, 2009
 
When is Constructivism Most Appropriate
 Introduction
Constructivism is regarded by many schools of higher education as the philosophy for teaching and learning. Granted the philosophy sounds wonderful and answers so many questionsin the education world about learning, teaching, curriculum, student motivation, socialinteraction, and real-world application of knowledge, but how does it jive with developmentalmodels? Is constructivism the best philosophy for all ages, from birth to death? Can we teach inthe same structural manner at the collegiate level as we do first grade? The answer is complex tosay the least. Reviewing current cognitive brain research, developmental modeling, and bestteaching practices is no small task, and to combine it into one tight answer is a near impossibility. Yet, Neuroconstructivism, a relatively new and emerging conceptual theory of learning and development, states that learning occurs in a feed-back loop, where there must bedirect-instruction and time for students to create knowledge (so both the traditional/behavioraland constructivist philosophies). With this, it will always be in context of their own life, and thistoo is to be applied at all levels of learning.
 Background 
Constructivism is a theory of teaching and learning founded on anecdotal and scientificdata. In its basic form, the theory is that people create their own knowledge and view of theworld based on experience and reflection of those experiences. “When we encounter somethingnew, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are activecreators of our own knowledge” (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004.). To stir this process, we have to ask questions and try to find the answers, and then evaluate what we now believe. Constructivism changes the traditional view of how students learn and how teachers2
 
When is Constructivism Most Appropriateteach them. It modifies the roles from students being repositories of knowledge and the teacher  being the pitcher, to the teacher being the facilitator of knowledge in order to help student“construct knowledge rather than to reproduce a series of facts,” (Educational BroadcastingCorporation, 2004), which is another way of helping students discover the world for themselves – instead of it being spoon-fed to them.With this discovery of knowledge, Constructivism contends students will have a broader,deeper, and more meaningful understanding of the world around them, and to boot, they'll become life-long learners. Milbrant, Felts, Richards, & Abghari observe similar in their article,“. . . [S]elf-determination or choice is a powerful motivational force in learning thatsimultaneously enhances both achievement and attitudes about learning” (2004, p 19.). Yet,teachers have a hard time releasing control, especially when the results are never guaranteed and pressure of standardized tests pushes towards direct instruction of specific shared contentknowledge. Because “. . . [E]ducators typically have a great deal of control over the content theychoose to teach in order to meet district or state curriculum mandates, [but] they have much lesscontrol over what students actually learn (Brooks & Grennon Brooks, 1999)” (Milbrant, Felts,Richards, & Abghari, 2004, p 20.). If Constructivism were proven to be the best model of learning, then shouldn't good teaching then be based around it? If so, would it not then follow,that testing scores should increase? So the question remains, is Constructivism the best way for students to learn.Constructivism didn't sprout from dry earth, it was cultivated by philosophers, educators, behaviorists, and scientists over a great period of time. Looking back, Constructivism “has rootsin classical antiquity, going back to Socrates's dialogues with his followers, in which he askeddirected questions that led his students to realize for themselves the weaknesses in their thinking”3

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