EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

Analysis of a language lesson plan from the perspectives of constructivism and

information processing

As a preservice teacher, it is important to have a sound understanding of children's

psychological development, stages of learning and ways of thinking. Thus the study of

different development and learning theories such as constructivist theories, early brain

development, social and moral development etc., which the course of Development,

Learning and Cognition (DLC) has focused on, is significant for me to get the knowledge of

children's cognitive development and then consider how to apply these theories in the

classroom curriculum in the future. Through learning these theories, I notice that building

various connections among different factors in the classroom environment and throughout

learning process positively and successfully may facilitate effective teaching and learning.

These connections can be built between teachers and students, students and students as

well as prior knowledge and life experience that students can relate to when receiving new

information. Therefore, in this essay, constructivism theory is chosen to analyze the

language plan because it emphasize learner's process of knowledge construction

individually and interactively (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 322) and the relations between

knowledge and peers are involved. Another theory used in this essay is information

processing views of memory which use a cognitive view of the information processing

system to reflect how information flows in different part in memory system (Woolfolk &

Margetts 2013, p. 252). From the perspective of this theory, connections between teachers

and students, students and learning environment as well as students and knowledge play

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

considerable role in positive learning experience. Thus, this essay will firstly using a

constructivist view to analyze the lesson plan for language of French from individual

constructivism and social constructivism perspectives respectively. Individual

constructivism, also known as psychological constructivism, focus on how individuals

construct and organize their own cognitive elements and knowledge (Kim 2005, p. 9) which

is also shown in Piaget's study and concerns (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 323). In

contrast, Vygotsky's social constructivism believes that social interactions are important to

cognition development (Kim 2005, p. 9) as participating activities and working with others

help learners to think critically and appropriate their learning outcomes (Woolfolk &

Margetts 2013, p. 323). The essay will explain how students construct information and

knowledge through individual process or interactions with others in classroom. Then the

essay will make an analysis of the language lesson plan based on information processing

views of memory, highlighting important roles of attention and working memory in

processing information (Awh & Vogel 2006, p. 201), and demonstrate how it involves

attention gaining and retaining information in working memory to facilitate learning

experience.

Analysis A: Constructivist views of learning

 Individual constructivism

A reflection of individual constructivism can be seen from the lesson plan. Firstly, one of the

framework objectives on the first page of the lesson plan describes as understanding

longer and more difficult phrases or sentences of target language. To achieve this objective,

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

the teacher may show students some words or phrases related to the words and phrases

they have learnt before. It implies that students may have the prior knowledge of more

simple and basic vocabulary or phrases. Therefore, when they receive the new information,

they may try to understand the new phrases based on existing knowledge, reorganize the

meaning and construct new knowledge. It can be seen as the process of adaptation, in

terms of assimilation and accommodation, which is included in Piaget's theory of individual

constructivism (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 83). Furthermore, it is also shown in the

lesson plan that there are some activities that help students to compare the target language

with English. In these activities, students may find some similarities and differences

between French, which is the target language, and English, which is students' mother

language. From the view of adaptation, the process of finding similarities of two languages

may be seen as the stages of assimilation from Piaget's theory of individual constructivism

which occurs when students use the knowledge they have to understand the new

information (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 83). The process of recognizing the differences

between French and English related to the process of accommodation in which students

develop more appropriate understanding of the new knowledge (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013,

p. 83). It seems that all of these activities and internal process may help students get the

better understanding and construct the new information and knowledge individually.

Secondly, the framework objectives of the lesson plan also ask students to make short

conversation or oral passages by using the words, text and structure they have learned.

Before doing this activity, students have already had some knowledge of vocabulary and

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

structure of target language that they can use to form the short passage. To make a spoken

passage, students need to choose appropriate words and use their knowledge of grammar

and structure to combine those words into phrases and sentences, finally the passages.

This process shows the way that students organize and connect the existing and simple

knowledge to achieve a more complex task. This reflects the view of organisation

discussed in Piaget's cognitive constructivism theory which sees people's thinking

processes as combining and coordinating simple structures into the ones of higher level

(Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 82). It seems that based on the support of existing

knowledge, students may construct and develop their own knowledge actively.

Although applying cognitive constructivism may help to improve learning efficiency of

individual student, there are some factors which may affect the outcomes should be

considered. For instance, each student may have different learning styles and needs to

obtain knowledge (Powell & Kalina 2009, p. 243). This means that teachers should notice

learning differences among individuals and facilitate students' learning experiences and

knowledge constructing process during classroom activities.

 Social constructivism

According the lesson plan, the teacher also applies social constructivism when planning

teaching and learning activities. Examples can be seen in the lesson plan in listending and

speaking activities of session 2 (students work in group to design and arrange the warm up

steps), session 4 (students work in group to revise the vocabulary of movements in French

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

and practise the warm up movements they have made) and session 5 (students teach

warm up routines in groups, then combine and make the final routine together). According

to vygotsky's social constructivism, individual learning and development are shaped when

working with others and participating in the social interactions (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p.

323). Therefore, when students join in the group to choreograph warm up, new knowledge

of the target language and strategies to accomplish the task may produce through the

interaction with other students. When students participate in the group work of revising and

practising, there may be some students in the group who have better understanding of the

new information or faster pace of learning and their achievement may have positive

influence on other students' learning experiences and outcomes through interactions. This

sort of group work can be seen as the cooperative learning which plays important role in

creating social interaction in social constructivist classroom (Powell & Kalina 2009, p. 244).

Moreover, the framework objectives show that discussion of the task is encouraged before

conducting activities in most of sessions. Students may share different understanding of the

task and materials with others. Meanwhile, students may have opportunities to gather more

information and ideas and think critically. Authors state that discussion about what students

are learning and going to learn is valued in social contructivism (Powell & Kalina 2009, p.

245). Therefore, discussion of task should be encouraged for students to construct the

knowledge through dialogue and interaction with others. It implies that applying social

constructivism in classroom activities may promote students' internalization of knowledge

and collaborative work experiences should be provided for students in class as what has

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

been shown in this lesson plan. To achieve better outcomes, more chances of

communication, interactions and collaborative work, such as pair work, group work, whole

class activities, could be add to each sessions.

Analysis B: Information processing views of memory

 Attention and teaching

Some activities in the lesson plan emphasize the role of attention in the learning experience.

In the lesson plan, it can be seen that the teacher use showing overall objectives of the

lesson as the starting activity for every session. In this case, students have the opportunity

to understand the purpose of the lesson clearly and this may help students focus on the

following activities better (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 256). It is obviously beneficial to

catch students' eyes and make learning objectives and outlines clear to encourage student

devote their attention.

There are also various of activities shown in each session to gain and maintain students'

attention. For example, in the reading and writing activity in session 1, the teacher use

some pictures to help students learn instructions in French. In the listening and speaking

activity in session 2, selected music and mini dance are included in the learning experience.

In the listening and speaking activity in session 3, students are allow to walking around the

classroom, acting and saying sentences in French in pairs. It can be seen that images,

music, physical movements are involved in activities in the classroom. Students are

motivated to use different senses, such as sight, hearing and touch, to explore and learn

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

knowledge. These ways of incorporation variety may help students pay and keep attention

in classroom (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 256).

Allied to this, in the reinforcement activity of session 2, question like 'what's missing?' is

used. This means that during this activity, students may use their existing knowledge and

focus on the given information to detect differences. The question like this may arouse

students' curiosity and help gain their attention (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 256). In the

lesson plan of session 3, there are also activities outside the classroom arranged for

students to practise the target language. Changing the learning environment and settings

may help capture attention (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 256) because the new learning

environment may engender the feeling of freshness and excitement. It seems that attention

gaining and maintaining strategies are in teacher's consideration when planning activities in

class and this may probably help produce positive learning experience and outcomes.

 Retaining information in working memory

Various activities in the lesson plan show that the teacher use strategies to retain

information in working memory. Firstly, plenty of activities are provided for students to

review information and reflect knowledge. For instance, in the starting activities of session 4,

students have a revision of instructions in French. This means the knowledge they learned

from prior lesson may be used as foundation of acquiring information and skills. A quick

review of information may help recall and retrieval the information and get ready for the

following learning (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 268). Another example can be seen in the

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

reinforcement activities of session 1, 2 and 3 that students are asked to act out the

instruction given by the teacher or choose the correct picture to pair with different

instructions. These activities can be seen as short tests and reflections in the middle of

lesson. Authors agree that giving short tests during class as the reflection of information

may help keep information in the working memory from the views of information processing

(Woolfolk & Margetts 2013, p. 268). Thus, the frequent reflection and reinforcement of

knowledge is important in resulting positive learning experiences and outcomes.

Secondly, some educational games are also used in session 1, 2 and 3 to either enhance

memorisation or reinforce knowledge. From the language learning strategies in framework

objectives of session 2, it can be seen that memory games are used to help process

information in memory. These memory games may involve some activities for students to

repeating information in mind as mentioned in maintenance rehearsal process (Woolfolk &

Margetts 2013, p. 259). It is important because involvement and interest in the information

are increased, students perceive and try to apply the information actively and interactively

through games (Lujan & Stephen 2006, p. 20). Moreover, process of chunking and

elaborative rehearsal could also be used by brain storming or presenting new structures

with structures that students have already known and let them tell similarities or differences.

These ways of information association may help keep information in working memory as

well as transfer knowledge from short-term to long-term memory (Woolfolk & Margetts 2013,

p. 259).

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

It is also noticeable that at the end of session 2, 3 and 4, students are encouraged to

discuss their successes or difficulties they experience during classroom activities. This

means that students need to think back of the knowledge the learned and learning

experience of the lesson and then summarize it in mind. This reflection of learning

processes may help with information organisation and reinforcement (Woolfolk & Margetts

2013, p. 268). It is clear that the lesson plan reflects the teacher arranges sufficient

activities at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of class to facilitate students'

information processing and this may lead to positive learning experience and outcomes.

In conclusion, the lesson plan shows that the teacher applies constructivism and

information processing theories soundly in classroom activities. There are some activities

help individuals learn from simple vocabulary to complex structures step by step and build a

bridge between their prior knowledge and the new information, construct their own

knowledge. Opportunities of working with others are provided effectively to enhance

collaboration in class. From activities from session 1 to session 5, various form of work can

be seen such as making warm up in groups, discussion in class, teach students from other

year/level warm up routines and finally combine the warm up together. These interactions

involve the application of new knowledge and a large amount of communication with others

which may help students thinking critically and shape their understanding. Furthermore,

many strategies are used to gather students' attention during class. For instance, Lesson

objectives and outlines are clearly shown to students, visual and auditory aids are provided

and physical movements are allowed in activities, there are also some activities outside the

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

classroom. All of these strategies may help student build positive connection to teachers

and learning materials, engage in class and keep focusing on the tasks in learning process.

Allied to this, quick revision, short tests, educational games are included in each session of

the lesson plan to foster the information retaining and processing. These reinforcement

activities can be seen in different stages of class to make sure effective learning. However,

other factors such as differences in learning needs and pace should be noticed by teacher

and efficient help should be provided for students through individual activities. When

conducting group works, it is important to divide faster learners into different groups to

promote efficient interactions. Furthermore, class management skills are required for

teachers to organize the games and activities outside successfully. From the analysis of

this language lesson plan, it can be seen that different connections are promoted through

activities in class. Good teacher-student connections can be built when the teacher gather

students' attention effectively, relationships between peers are formed when working in

groups and in the whole class, motivation and engagement in tasks generate links between

students and knowledge, multiple ways that teacher uses to present new information help

students build connections between new and existing knowledge. All of these connections

may facilitate positive learning experiences and therefore positive learning outcomes are

generated. I believe that effective teaching and learning occur when strong and effective

connections are built successfully in the classroom.

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EDUC 5160 Development, Learning and Cognition M Assignment 2: Essay

References

Awh, E & Vogel, EK 2006, 'Interactions between attention and working memory',
Neuroscience, vol. 139, pp. 201-208.

Kim, JS 2005, 'The effects of a constructivist teaching approach on student academic
achievement, self-concept, and learning strategies', Asia Pacific Education Review, vol. 6,
no. 1, pp. 7-19.

Lujan, HL & Stephen, ED 2006, 'Too much teaching, not enough learning: what is the
solution?', Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 30, pp. 17-22.

Powell, KC & Kalina, CJ 2009, 'Cognitive and social constructivism: developing tools for an
effective classroom', Education, vol. 130, no. 2, pp. 241-250.

Woolfolk, A & Margetts, K 2013, Educational psychology, 3rd edn, Pearson Australia,
Frenchs Forest, NSW.

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