Educational Psychology A) Student Learning: Constructivism Arose Term Paper

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Educational Psychology

a) Student Learning: Constructivism

Constructivism arose from learning theories originally created by Piaget and Vygotsky. At the basis of the theory is the use of prior knowledge or existing cognitive frameworks to use as a basis for acquiring new knowledge and skills (Cakir, 2008, p. 196). Van Glaserfeld (1995) offers a number of principles to describe constructivist knowing. The first of these concerns the way in which knowledge is constructed in an active, rather than passive way. Knowledge is not received, it is constructed from within by means of thinking processes. The second principle concerns social interactions to promote learning and knowledge construction. Third, the focus is on cognition as functional and adaptive. Knowledge adapts itself according to the input received. The fourth principle holds that the purpose of cognition is to help the individual organize his or her world of experience (Cakir, 2008, p. 197).

For teaching and learning, this means that the individual applies cognition to create knowledge from the input provided by the instructor. In helping the student to learn, the instructor should, as far as possible, help this process to occur according to the individual's personal constructs, rather than the instructor's.

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According to Cakir (2008, p. 197), the constructivist way of seeing the world involves an underlying philosophy, by means of which reality is constructed on the basis of mental perceptions, while knowledge adapts to these perceptions according to various types of input, including those from instructors in the classroom. Human interaction then relies on a number of negotiated meanings, rather than meanings that are imposed by one party upon another. Constructivism therefore means that learning takes place on the basis of interaction and critical thinking.

b) Motivational factors can enhance or debilitate learning.

Term Paper on Educational Psychology A) Student Learning: Constructivism Arose Assignment

When applied to learning, there are several motivation factors that could influence the learning process (Weller, 2005). The first of these is that the environment can be used to focus the student's attention on the learning material or topic. In addition to interesting visual aids, teachers should also promote favorable attitudes toward learning by creating a warm and accepting attitude while remaining business-like and focused on the task at hand.

A further principle is that incentives should be provided to motivate learning. These could include elements like privileges, praise from the teacher, or other types of reward. According to Weller (2005), self-motivation is unlikely to work without some rewards in the learning situation. Teachers must actively provide incentives. This lack of internal motivation should therefore be almost constantly addressed in the classroom. Because internal motivation is much longer lasting than external motivation, this must be constantly encouraged.

Teachers must also focus on cultivating the desire to learn. This will prepare learners to be more receptive to the material being presented. Like internal motivation, this is not something that will come naturally to the student without encouragement. Teachers therefore need to cultivate the desire to learn new things over time. The teacher should also be highly aware of students' readiness to learn at any given time, and supervise where necessary if students are not optimally ready.

To accomplish this, material must be organized in a way that makes it meaningful to the student. One way to do this, according to Weller (2005), is to including new tasks with ones that have already been done in class, hence building on knowledge the teacher knows has been cultivated in each learner. Learners can then build upon their existing knowledge to create the desired new outcomes.

c) High-Stakes Testing

According to Amrein and Berliner (2005, p. 32), the assumption at the basis of high-stakes testing is the assumption that the rewards and consequences associated with rigorous tests will provide extra motivation for learning. Research has shown, however, that the opposite is the case. The high stakes associated with these tests in fact diminish both intrinsic motivation and the drive to think critically. It also diminishes the learner's ability to direct his or her own learning, since high-stakes testing tends to be controlled by teachers, who in turn are no longer concerned with encouraging students to pursue the topics that are of interest to them.

Ultimately, this affects the ability of students to become lifelong, self-directed learners. Students are alienated from their own learning experiences. The authors note that this has… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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