Publication 4658

Abbott M. L. & Fouts J. T. (2003) Constructivist teaching and student achievement: The results of a school level classroom observation study in Washington. Technical Report #5. Washington School Research Center, Lynnwood WA. Fulltext at
This study built on a 2001–02 classroom observation study of Washington K-12 and technical schools that identified the extent of constructivist teaching activity. Results from classroom observations found that strong constructivist teaching was observable in 17 percent of the classroom lessons. The other 83 percent of the lessons observed may have contained some elements of constructivist teaching, but up to one-half had very little or no elements of constructivist teaching present. More constructivist teaching appeared to occur in alternative schools and integrated subject matter classes. There appeared to be no differences among elementary, middle/junior, and high schools in the degree to which constructivist practices were used. This study explored the relationship of this practice to student achievement, examining the percent of variance in student achievement accounted for by constructivist teaching beyond that contributed by low-income. Data came from the original observation study and from school-level standardized test scores of 4th, 7th, and 10th graders. Results found large correlations between study variables (a negative correlation between school-level family income and student achievement, large positive correlations between constructivist teaching and student achievement, and a negative correlation between constructivist teaching and school-level family income).


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