This paper is inspired by Edgar Morin’s paradigm of complexity and his constructivist and non-dualistic critique of scientific and philosophical forms of reductionism. It aims to challenge the fragmentation and the reduction framing the understanding of the notion of “critique” in educational sciences, and more broadly in the academia. Based on a review of the literature identified in French-speaking and English-speaking critical traditions in education, several factors determining the way the idea of critique is reduced are highlighted. Stressing the tacit character of those variables challenges the limits of traditional conceptions of critique in contemporary education. According to the constructivist, complex and non-dualistic position adopted, this paper illustrates the relevance of an epistemological framework integrating more systematically the conditions of emergence, the limitations, as well as the antagonistic, complementary and contradictory relationships, that connect educational theories of critique to one another. Based on this position, this paper finally suggests that a distinction be made between “hypocritique” and “hypercritique” as a semantic artifact, stressing the importance of challenging educational research and theories according to the level of complexity that one may attribute to them.
Beal J. W. (2007) Knowledge Construction and the Eclectic Approach to Education. Review of: David Geelan (2007) Undead Theories. Constructivist Foundations 3(1): 56. https://constructivist.info/3/1/056
Summary: This is a provocative book for those who have closely aligned themselves with a specific research or pedagogical paradigm. The underlying theme of the book is to encourage multiple approaches to educational research that will inform practice… Although the book is more about eclecticism than constructivism, it can serve as a basis for many discussions on educational research as it is and where it should go.
Cobb P. (2007) Putting philosophy to work. In: Lester F. K. (ed.) Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte NC: 3–38.
Excerpt: In inviting me to write this chapter on philosophical issues in mathematics education, the editor has given me the leeway to present a personal perspective rather than to develop a comprehensive overview of currently influential philosophical positions as they relate to mathematics education. I invoke this privilege by taking as my primary focus an issue that has been the subject of considerable debate in both mathematics education and the broader educational research community, that of coping with multiple and frequently conflicting theoretical perspectives. The theoretical perspectives currently on offer include radical constructivism, sociocultural theory, symbolic interactionism, distributed cognition, information-processing psychology, situated cognition, critical theory, critical race theory, and discourse theory. To add to the mix, experimental psychology has emerged with a renewed vigor in the last few years. Proponents of various perspectives frequently advocate their viewpoint with what can only be described as ideological fervor, generating more heat than light in the process. In the face of this sometimes bewildering array of theoretical alternatives, the issue I seek to address in this chapter is that of how we might make and justify our decision to adopt one theoretical perspective rather than another. In doing so, I put philosophy to work by drawing on the analyses of a number of thinkers who have grappled with the thorny problem of making reasoned decisions about competing theoretical perspectives.
Colliver J. A. (1999) Constructivism with a dose of pragmatism: A cure for what ails educational research. Advances in Health Sciences Education 4(2): 187–190. https://cepa.info/7473
Excerpt: In summary, I agree that “there are no ‘true’ theories, so there are no universally ‘right’ methodologies” (Norman, 1998). But the realist/dualist thinking of modern science has been overtaken by the “post” modern constructivist view which, when coupled with a pragmatic approach to justification – not verification – is very convincing and has important implications for assessing the relevance of methodologies within the various areas of educational research. At the least, researchers in medical education should seriously explore this new pragmatic thinking (e.g., Rorty, 1998), which I think has considerable potential for keeping us on track and dispelling what Kaestle (1993) has called “the awful reputation of educational research.”
Derry S. J. (1996) Cognitive schema theory in the constructivist debate. Educational Psychologist 31(3–4): 163–174. https://cepa.info/4783
Excerpt: Cognitive constructivism is not a unique theoretical framework, pedagogical approach, or epistemology, but a general, metaphorical assumption about the nature of cognition that virtually all cognitive educational researchers accept. Despite this unifying assumption, there are many different cognitive constructivist research programs and theories within the community at large. This article contrasts cognitive constructivism with several other forms of constructivism in the educational research community. It then attempts to represent the range of theoretical approaches within cognitive constructivism, pointing to examples and potential educational applications of cognitive constructivist ideas. Cognitive schema theory receives special attention as an important theoretical perspective that has been relatively neglected in recent theoretical discussions. It is believed to have significant potential for building conceptual bridges between information processing and radical constructivist viewpoints.
Garrison J. (1997) An alternative to von Glasersfeld’s subjectivism in science education: Deweyan social constructivism. Science & Education 6: 301–312. https://cepa.info/3022
An influential view of constructivism in science and mathematics educational research and practice is that of Ernst von Glasersfeld. It is a peculiarly subjectivist form of constructivism that should not be attractive to science and mathematics educators concerned with retaining some sort of realism that leaves room for objectivity. The subjectivist constructivism of von Glasersfeld also becomes entangled in untenable mind/body and subject/object dualisms. Finally, these dualisms are unnecessary for social constructivism. I will provide one example of a social constructivist alternative to social constructivism, that of the pragmatic philosopher John Dewey. In presenting Dewey’s position I will appeal to Ockham’s razor, that is, the admonition not to multiply entities beyond necessity, to shave off the needless mentalistic and psychic entities that lead von Glasersfeld into his subjectivism and dualism.
Hutto D. D. & Abrahamson D. (2022) Embodied, enactive education: Conservative versus radical approaches. In: Macrine S. L. & Fugate J. M. B. (eds.) Movement matters: How embodied cognition informs teaching and learning. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 39–52. https://cepa.info/7989
E-approaches to cognition, which have been developed over recent decades, challenge the mainstream representational-cum- computational approach, offering us an alternative understanding of cognition. Yet fundamental differences in philosophical outlook divide the more conservative and radical branches of the E-family. This chapter introduces the core assumptions of E-approaches to cognition and details in which ways E-theorists divide into more conversative and more radical camps. Bracketing questions about how to decide between these options and other challenges to E-approaches, this chapter instead focuses on articulating possible practical outcomes for educators should they come to accept either of these E-approaches to cognition. Taking an imaginative leap, this chapter asks the following question: Assuming one has adopted either a more conservative or more radical E-framework, how would that choice matter to one’s thinking about educational research and practice?
Kaschak M. P. & McGraw A. L. (2022) Educational applications of enacted, embodied approaches to language comprehension. In: Macrine S. L. & Fugate J. M. B. (eds.) Movement matters: How embodied cognition informs teaching and learning. MIT Press, Cambridge MA: 91–102. https://cepa.info/7992
Excerpt: Embodied cognition refers to the idea that cognitive processes are grounded in the operation of our bodies, and our bodies’ systems of perception, action planning, and emotional responding (e.g., Glenberg, 1997; Barsalou, 1999; Wilson & Golonka, 2013). Embodied cognition started to receive increased attention in the cognitive science literature in the mid-to- late 1990s (e.g., Barsalou, 1999; Glenberg, 1997). Even at this early stage in the development of the embodied approach to cognition, it was apparent that the ideas associated with embodiment had the potential to impact thinking about education. For example, the idea that action is important for learning has a long history in the study of education (e.g., Montessori, 1917, among others). Additionally, there is a literature in cognitive psychology suggesting that action has benefits for learning and memory (e.g., Engelkamp & Zimmer, 1994). Finally, one of the first “embodiment” studies to appear in the cognitive science literature was a demonstration that the learning of a new task (using a compass to orient toward different locations) was improved when the learners were able to observe an actor pantomiming the motor components of the task (Glenberg & Robertson, 1999). As demonstrated by the chapters in this volume, embodied cognition has made a number of substantive contributions to educational research over the past two decades. Embodied approaches to language comprehension are centered around the idea that the understanding of language involves construction of sensorimotor simulations of the content of the linguistic input (e.g., Glenberg & Robertson, 2000; Kaschak et al., 2005). To illustrate, consider this sentence: Michael saw Meghan kick through a pile of leaves. The embodied approach suggests that understanding this sentence requires a sensorimotor simulation of the perceptual elements of the input (e.g., seeing a girl kicking leaves; seeing the leaves move through the air; hearing the sound of the leaves moving) and the action-based elements of the input (e.g., the action of kicking while you walk). Note that the sensorimotor activity during sentence comprehension need not be consciously accessible, and that it is not necessary that all elements of the sensorimotor experience are simulated in detail.
Kemp S. J. (2012) Constructivist Criteria for Organising and Designing Educational Research: How Might an Educational Research Inquiry Be Judged from a Constructivist Perspective? Constructivist Foundations 8(1): 118-125. https://constructivist.info/8/1/118
Context: Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism has been very influential in education, particularly in mathematics and science education. Problem: There is limited guidance available for educational researchers who wish to design research that is consistent with constructivist thinking. Von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism, together with the theoretical perspectives outlined by constructivist educational researchers such as Guba and Lincoln, can be considered as a source of guidance. Method: The paper outlines a constructivist knowledge framework that could be adopted for educational research. The discussion considers how judgement of what counts as knowledge could be made, and how the set of procedures chosen could enable the researcher to represent the findings of the inquiry as knowledge. Results: An argument is made for researchers to explicate the criteria for judging an inquiry. Each criterion can then be linked to the standards to be reached and the techniques for generating data. The joint satisfaction of criteria and techniques for a constructivist inquiry creates conditions that indicate the “trustworthiness” or “authenticity” of an educational research study. Implications: The illustration of how a constructivist inquiry could be judged recognises how the contribution of von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism can be used to inform the practice of educational research. Constructivist content: The argument presented in the paper links to radical constructivism and suggests ways in which it can be applied in the context of educational research.
There is something of a controversy taking place over how best to theorize human learning. This article joins the debate over the relation between sociocultural and constructivist perspectives on learning. These 2 perspectives differ not just in their conceptions of knowledge (epistemological assumptions) but also in their assumptions about the known world and the knowing human (ontological assumptions). Articulated in this article are 6 themes of a nondualist ontology seen at work in the sociocultural perspective, and suggested is a reconciliation of the 2. This article proposes that learning involves becoming a member of a community, constructing knowledge at various levels of expertise as a participant, but also taking a stand on the culture of one’s community in an effort to take up and overcome the estrangement and division that are consequences of participation. Learning entails transformation both of the person and of the social world. This article explores the implications of this view of learning for thinking about schooling and for the conduct of educational research.