Publication 7259

Taber K. S. (2020) Constructive Alternativism: George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory. In: Akpan B. & Kennedy T. J. (eds.) Science education in theory and practice. Springer, Cham: 373–388. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7259
George Kelly’s professional focus was on supporting people who were struggling with the stresses of their lives. Finding that the Freudian ideas he had been offered as tools in his own professional training offered little in working towards change with many of his clients, Kelly developed his own approach based upon a constructivist perspective of learning (which he called constructive alternativism) centred on the core metaphor of person-as-scientist. People, like good scientists, should always be open to exploring new data and considering alternative explanations and conceptions, rather than becoming fixed in established ways of thinking. Kelly’s work developed into a recognised approach in psychology, and became very influential in at least one school of thought in science education. Kelly did not only offer a theory that could support clinical practice for therapists, but also offered a methodology for exploring a learner’s developing thinking. In his own educational work, he found that his approach offered insights into teachers’ classroom difficulties. This chapter considers the core ideas of Kelly’s theory in comparison with other constructivist perspectives employed in science education. The chapter also discusses how Kelly’s personal construct theory can inform classroom teaching and reflects on an approach that explicitly expects people to behave scientifically as a perspective on science teaching and learning.

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