Wilensky U. & Papert S. (2010) Restructurations: Reformulating knowledge disciplines through new representational forms. In: Clayson J. & Kalas I. (eds.) Constructionist approaches to creative learning, thinking and education: Lessons for the 21st century. Proceedings of Constructionism 2010. Comenius University, Bratislava. https://cepa.info/3766
The goals of instruction are usually taken to be fixed, at least in their broad outline. Forexample, in elementary school mathematics, students progress from counting to addition,multiplication, and fractions. Given this state of affairs, the business of educational researchhas been to determine how the fixed instructional aims can best be reached. Educationresearchers have traditionally asked questions such as: What are the typical difficulties thatstudents experience? Which means of instruction – method A or method B – is better forachieving our instructional aims? In contrast, we will describe a line of work in which we have shifted the focus from themeans to the object of learning. We are concerned with how the structure and properties ofknowledge affect its learnability and the power that it affords to individuals and groups. Webriefly review three agent-based restructurations of traditional science content and discuss the consequences for scientific power and learnability.
Wilson B. C. (1996) Introduction: What is a constructivist learning environment. In: Wilson B. (ed.) Constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Publications, New Jersey: 3–8. https://cepa.info/7148
Mr. Windschitl sees articulating these challenges as a significant step in helping educators create and sustain a classroom culture that values diversity in learning and offers a new vision of the roles of teachers and learners – the culture of constructivism.
Winn W. D. (1991) The assumptions of constructivism and instructional design. Educational Technology 31(9): 38–40. https://cepa.info/6912
Excerpt: The idea that knowledge is constructed is not new. The dynamic nature of learning and the mediation of new knowledge by old are now generally accepted (Gagne, 1985; Gagne and Glaser, 1987). Yet the articles by the “constructivists” appearing in the May (1991) special issue of Educational Technology, and the replies to them by instructional designers, suggest that there is something new afoot that promises to generate debate and perhaps even to change the way we go about making instructional decisions. Why this debate should occur now is not serendipitous. Our ability to provide cognitive accounts of skill and knowledge acquisition have led instructional designers to develop cognitive theories of instruction and instructional design (Bonner, 1988; DiVesta and Rieber, 1987; Tennyson and Rasch, 1988). However, it seems that instructional designers have been reluctant to abandon their traditional assumptions, and particularly the procedures of instructional design, to accommodate the new ideas about learning. The evident autonomy of learners in knowledge construction makes it difficult (Winn, 1989, 1990) if not impossible (Streibel, 1989) to predict how they will learn or to plan instructional activities. A real accommodation of instructional design to cognitive theory therefore requires a change in the assumptions about how people learn and about how instructional decisions are made. The articles in the special issue of Educational Technology describe projects that are based on a different set of assumptions than those underlying traditional instructional design. For that reason they deserve our careful attention. The purpose of this article is to talk about three of these assumptions and to point out how they could lead to a reconceptualization of some aspects of instructional design so as to make it more responsive to constructivist accounts of learning.
Wong W., Watkins D. & Wong N. (2006) Cognitive and Affective Outcomes of Person–Environment Fit to a Critical Constructivist Learning Environment: A Hong Kong Investigation. Constructivist Foundations 1(3): 124–130. https://constructivist.info/1/3/124
Purpose: The aim of this research was to test whether Hong Kong science students would prefer a learning environment based on critical constructivism and whether a closer preferred-actual fit to such an environment would be associated with better learning outcomes. Method: The participants were 149 Hong Kong secondary school Chemistry students aged 16–19 years. They completed actual and preferred forms of a Chinese version of the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey and measures of self-efficacy and intrinsic value of their Chemistry course. Their Chemistry examination scores were also obtained at the end of the course. Findings: Analysis showed that these students would prefer their Chemistry classrooms to be more personally relevant, to allow students more say and to share more control, and to encourage more negotiation with their teacher. Regression surface analysis showed that congruence of person environment fit did not influence examination results but was associated with greater valuing of the course and higher student self-efficacy. Research implications: Further research with a wider sampling from Hong Kong and elsewhere and focusing on other subject areas will be necessary to assess the generalizability of these findings. Practical implications: It seems that educational reforms based on critical constructivist principles may be of value in non-Western contexts. Original value: Educational reforms in Hong Kong and elsewhere currently are based on traditional constructivist principles. But this is the first research to support a more radical approach in what is usually regarded as a relatively conservative Asian educational context.
Wood E. & Bennett N. (1998) Teachers’ theories of play: Constructivist or social constructivist? [Representations: External memory and technical artefacts]. Early Child Development and Care 140(1): 17–30.
The concept of play and its relationship to learning is problematic in theory and practice. This paper examines this relationship from two standpoints. First, the contrasts between two dominant formal theoretical orientations deriving from the work of Piaget and Vygotsky, and the extent to which they have influenced pedagogy is explored. Second, data from an empirical study on teachers’ theories of play provides insights into how play is conceptualized and enacted in classrooms, and how teachers and contexts mediate the theory-practice relationship. Multi-method approaches were used to elicit teachers’ theories and juxtapose these to their practice. At the outset, their theories revealed a predominantly Piagetian, developmental orientation. An unintended outcome of the study was the changes in teachers’ theories, or practice, or both, towards a more social-constructivist orientation. Implications are drawn for understanding teachers’ perspectives and for their professional development.
This article reports part of a study (Wright 1989b, 1990c, 1988) in which the epistemology of radical constructivism (e.g., von Glasersfeld 1987, in press) was used as a basis for a teaching experiment which involved an investigation of the mathematics learning of young children. The research methodology adopted for the study has been expounded by Cobb and Steffe (e.g. Cobb & Steffe 1983; Steffe & Cobb 1988) and, according to Sinclair, is “methodologically… original, … [and] longitudinal but not naturalistic” (1988: v). Further, the methodology is hermeneutic rather than positivistic (Candy 1989: 2–3), has much in common with phenomenographic approaches (e.g., Marton 1981, 1987; Neuman 1987) and, as Hockings advocates when describing insights for educational researchers from the science of chaos, “has [moved] away from a reductionist approach to knowledge and [works] across discipline boundaries” (1990: 17). The article begins by briefly reviewing recent developments in K-6 mathematics in order to demonstrate, in general terms, the compelling need for research into mathematics learning.
This article considers drama/theater education as a form of constructivism where popular culture is both accessed and employed to engage young people and animate education. Using the familiar cultural trope of zombies, and in reference to three separate performance projects, attention is drawn to why projects such as these matter and why they work – and those who might be touched by them. The article further considers how knowledge might be transformed when young people work as artists and how participatory arts experiences reference questions relating to the nature of knowledge, our relationship to knowledge, and what this relationship might mean. Finally, the article considers how policy might delimit these generative possibilities.
Xu F. (2016) Preliminary thoughts on a rational constructivist approach to cognitive development: Primitives, symbols, learning, and thinking. In: Barner D. & Baron A. (eds.) Core knowledge and conceptual change. Oxford University Press, New York: 11–28. https://cepa.info/6394
Excerpt: This chapter considers a newly emerging view of cognitive development: rational constructivism. I will attempt to sketch the view as I see it, in broad strokes. I will draw on arguments and evidence to see if an overall picture will emerge. Two key developmental issues are discussed: how to characterize the initial state, and how to characterize mechanisms of learning and developmental change. I will argue for the following theses: (1) Infants are much smarter and much more sophisticated learners than what William James, Piaget, or Quine had thought; infants’ world is not “a blooming, buzzing confusion.” However, it remains unclear how best to characterize the initial state. Instead of sensorimotor primitives or core knowledge, the initial state may perhaps be best characterized as a set of proto-conceptual primitives. (2) Over the last several decades of research on cognitive development three types of learning mechanisms have been uncovered: language and symbol learning as a vehicle for conceptual development; Bayesian learning as a tool for belief revision; and explanation, analogy, and related processes as ways to organize factual knowledge and generate new hypotheses that drive genuine conceptual change. These mechanisms may be considered both rational and constructive.
Xu F. (2019) Towards a rational constructivist theory of cognitive development. Psychological Review 126(6): 841–864. https://cepa.info/6391
This article provides a synthesis and overview of a theory of cognitive development, rational constructivism. The basic tenets of this view are as follows: (a) Initial state: Human infants begin life with a set of proto-conceptual primitives. These early representations are not in the format of a language of thought. (b) Mature state: Human adults represent the world in terms of a set of domain-specific intuitive theories. (c) Three types of mechanisms account for learning, development, and conceptual change: language and symbol learning, Bayesian inductive learning, and constructive thinking. (d) The child is an active learner, and cognitive agency is part and parcel of development. I will discuss each of these tenets, and provide an overview of the kind of empirical evidence that supports this view. This is a non-Piagetian view though it is in the spirit of constructivist theories of development; this view emphasizes the utility of formal computational models in understanding learning and developmental change. Lastly, this view also has implications for the study of philosophy of mind and epistemology.