Constructivism in the Classroom Term Paper

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The Suchman Inquiry Model uses structured inquiry reasoning to facilitate learning. Whereas the Schwab approach is condusive to a laboratory or field research setting, the Suchman approach need not be conducted in a controlled environment, but rather focuses on assimilating and postulating data sets through a series of questions designed to use the process of elimination to isolate known conditions and to identify existing variables. The idea is to simulate the reasoning strategies which a research scientist might be expected to apply to the problem which the teacher has chosen as the focus. While the Schwab approach emphasizes reflective criticism, the Suchman model deals with the use of data, the formulation of questions, and the application of inference. (Eggen, 1979)

In developing a lesson plan for students utilizing constructivism techniques, we will develop a program that adheres to the following aims and objectives according to the key principles set forth by Jacqueline Grennon Brooks and Martin G. Brooks:

Problems posed will be relevant to the students

Learning will be structured around essential concepts

The students' points-of-view will be considered windows into their reasoning

The curriculum will be adapted to address students' suppositions and development

Students' learning will be assessed in a context of teaching

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Learning activities and experiences will encompass the following steps, which were designed by George W. Gagnon Jr. And Michelle Collay. These include, but are not limited to:

Developing a situation for students to explain

Selecting a process for groupings of materials to students

Building a bridge between what the students' current base of knowledge and what the teachers want them to learn

Anticipate questions to ask; answer without giving away the explanation

Encourage students to share their thinking with peers

Solicit students' observations about their learning

Term Paper on Constructivism in the Classroom Assignment

For instance, a lesson plan which incorporates the study of Egyptian hieroglyphics would include a set of questions to encourage exploration and discovery. It is likely that the students'prior exposure to this topic is negligent or limited. Therefore, it is important to ascertain the relevance of the topic at hand to the students' lives. The analogy for relevance in this case is the use of language for communication, and man's instinctual need to create a means to do so. The Suchman approach to inquisition, i.e., a series of questions, is probably the best methodology since hieroglyphics is not a candidate for a laboratory or experimental setting. A series of questions can be offered to the class. The students can individually choose which questions to explore, and their answers can be shared amongst the group and discussed collectively. The teacher can draw correlations to the meaning of the answers and their relevance to today's use of language, and to understanding ourselves as human beings by exploring the nature of our origins. Questions can be handed out as flashcards, chosen at random, or selected by placing the student's initials next to a line item in a list. Either way, each student participates by focusing on an area that is of the most interest to him or her individually, each student has control over his or her own environment as well as responsibility for it, and each student participates in the collective sharing of each one's learning experience, i.e., assimilation and socialization. A sample list of questions is presented below:

Egyptian Heiroglyphics: 20 Questions

1. Cuneiform evolved form which previous from of writing?

2. Scribes in ancient days were people of no real station or power. (TorF)

3. Explain in brief how papyrus was made.

4. List a few things that writing enabled the ancient societies to do.

5. What factors caused the importance of visual identification in Sumeria? Egypt?

6. The invention of what gave versatility to the concept of writing?

7. The discovery of what gave archeologists the ability to decifer hieroglyphics?

8. What was the first way of long lasting communication?

9. What did the development of writing bring for the Summerians?

10. What did Mesopotamia develop for visual identification?

11. What profession derived from the development of writing?

12. How did the recording of information in early Egypt spark the beginning of civilization?

13. The earliest written records are tablets from the city of

14. Egyptian scribes began at the right side of a scroll, writing hieroglyphs

15. The word hieroglyphics is actually Greek for

16. What are petroglyphs?

17. What are ideographs?

18. By what period in prehistory had some petroglyphs and pictographs been reduced to the point of almost resembling letters?

19. What was the use of a Mesopotamian cylinder seal?

20. A hieroglyph depicting the Old Kingdom pallete, drawstring sack for dried ink cakes, and reed brush holder stood for what word?

21. What are pictographs?

22. What was the earliest form of writing used for? Who sought out this system of writing?

23. What artifact allowed its finders to translate Egyptian language?

24. Why is the Blau monument important to the history of graphic design?

25. Writing is the visual counterpart to ____?

26. What two men played important roles in deciphering hieroglyphics?

27. Describe the evolution of the Egyptian writing form known as the Book of the Dead.

28. In what 2 ways did the early pictographs evolve?

29. What was the trademark of a scribe?

30. What was the name of the plant in Egypt used to make a paper-like substrate?

31. Who were the first people to produce illustrated manuscripts?

32. What's the name of the insect that Egyptians used to place over the heart of their mummies?

33. In what did the development of writing have its earliest origins in?

34. In what two ways did early pictographs evolve?

35. What difficult writing system did the Assyrians simplify into 560 signs?

36. What two natural by-products of the rise of village culture made visual identification neccessary?

37. What is Egyptian's picture-writing system called?

Materials for class use can include resources such as pictures containing examples of actual hieroglyphics, answers to the questions without the appropriate reference to the associated question, so that students must figure out the "match," a list of resources to aid students in locating the answers, and perhaps ending with a trip to a museum with an Egyptian exhibit, one where students can try to identify elements of their research. Educational films and videos can be part of the class experience. Students will be given reasonable timelines and manageable work assignments throughout the period of the course. Each class can be devoted to solving one of the questions and exploring its meaning. Students can be creative in presenting the results of their findings, using various forms of media and communication (role playing, arts, posters, graphics, etc.). The results of the students' research can be presented in an artistic display or portfolio for future classes. In this way the students have a tangible result, one that they can be proud of and look back on.

It is easy to understand why constructivism is widely accepted. It is fundamental that to experience something for yourself rather than being told it exists results in a more meaningful and lasting understanding and knowledge of whatever the subject matter may be. The danger is that some of the methods give students a large amount of latitude in their own learning. While it is a good thing to impart responsibility, the students' ability to embrace this style of learning will vary on an individual level. Some students will need more guidance, and discipline than others. It will be important to balance the need to be experiential with a sense of structure and security the traditional methods of teaching sought to provide. In this manner, the good intentions of constructivism will not get lost in the translation of granting the flavor of experience to a new, and inexperienced generation.


Dettrick, G.W. Constructivist Teaching Strategies. School of Education

Monash University - Gippsland Campus. Churchill Australia 3842

Dewey, John

1896 EW5: 96-109 The reflex arc concept in psychology

1916 MW9 Democracy and education

1916 MW10: 320-365 Introduction to Essays in experimental logic

Eggen, P.D., et al. 1979: Strategies for Teachers. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc., pp.

Joyce, B. & Weil, M. 1980: Models of Teaching. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall Inc., pp. 130-142.

Lock, A., Service, V., Brito, A. & Chandler, P (1989) The social structuring of infant cognition. In A. Slater and G. Bremner (Eds)Infant Development Chapter 10. Pp 243-72.

Piaget - Comments to Department of Psychology, Massey

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