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Constructivist Theory by J. Bruner

Constructivist Theory by J. Bruner

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Published by: man_dainese on May 14, 2010
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Constructivist Theory

About the Originator

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Jerome Seymour Bruner was born in New York City on October 1st 1915 to Polish immigrants. Formerly blind. Received his first B.A degree from Duke University (1937), then his Ph. D. from Harvard (1947) A leading educational and cognitive psychologist and one of the founder of constructivism. He is 94 years old.

About the Theory

Constructivist theory places emphasis on the development of self-learning (student-centred). Learners are equipped with prior knowledge and understanding to construct meaning of what they learn. Bruner developed 3 stages of representation. They are enactive, iconic, and symbolic. Teachers act as facilitators as well as encourager to students in order for them to be actively involved in their learning.

Principles of the theory:

Learning begins with issues or ideas that let the learners to do active thinking. Focused on primary concepts as a whole, not in isolation. Teachers must understand learners’ mental models that they use to perceive the world and assumptions that support them. The purpose is for learner to construct meaning.

Strength Weaknesses

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Promotes students’ active involvement in their own learning. Promotes motivation and responsibility. Encourages creativity and problem-solving skills. Relevance of real life. Fosters curiosity. A tailored learning experience.

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Confusions may occur if there is no initial framework given. Cognitive overload. Inefficient and timeconsuming. Misconceptions. Problem in trying to detect the root of those misconceptions. Frustration.

Applications in Educational Setting
3 key principles of instructions:

Readiness: must concern with learners’ experiences that will enable them to willingly learn. Spiral organization: must be structured so that learners grasp the idea easily. Going beyond the information given: designed to facilitate extrapolation.

Learners work best in groups. Examples of the applications of constructivism in classroom activities:

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Classroom discussions: Learners sit in groups, discuss together about a particular topic and reach an understanding towards it. Research: Conduct a research and share findings. Field trips: Allows learners to put the concepts and ideas discussed in class in the context of real world. Experimentations: Performing experiments. Visuals: Using visual items to transform perceptions into meaning.

Also useful in online educational settings. (Educational websites, forums and blogs) Alexandria and Larson (2002) listed 10 events, divided in 4 categories, which provide the framework of how constructivism can be applied in educational settings:

Investigation: 1) Contextualize (explain the project’s process) 2) Clarifying (learners discuss about the project) 3) Inquiring (acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to complete the project.) Invention and Initial Implementation: 4) Planning (develop initial plans) 5) Realizing (first draft that will meet the criteria for the project)

Further implementation and Evaluation: 6) Testing (check whether what is planned is working) 7) Modifying (rework if there is modification) 8) Interpreting (relate value with background experiences) 9) Reflecting (put their evaluations in a larger context) Celebration: 10) Celebration (Learners present their completed work)

Constructivist assessments strategies:  Mind mapping (create a list of categorised concepts)  Hands-on activities (teachers use checklist etc. to evaluate learners’ success. Learners try doing things)  Pre-testing (teachers access what learners bring to class)  Oral discussions (a topic is brought upon for an open discussions.

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