The constructivism model in the classroom is a theory created to explain how and what we know. Building knowledge and problem solving are the main focuses for this model. From the analysis of our own experiences, both past and present, we “construct” our understanding of content. From doing things and reflecting upon them, we acquire information that can be useful in future applications. (Lamon, M. 2003). The model was conceived by Jean Piaget (1896-1980), who believed that human beings developed intelligence through adaptation and organization.
One example is that of transformative learning, whereby children develop an understanding of something using whatever details they have at the time, and then adjust that understanding as they go along, rather than putting the details together piecemeal to come to a conclusion. Piaget is considered the originator of constructivism. However there are a number of different theories that have been applied to modify his original model.
For instance, Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), developed a relevant contribution to constructivism with his ideas about language, thought, and how they work within the societal picture. For example, he believed that children learn better in environments where there is guided interaction versus those where they work independently. (Lamon, M. 2003). The 5E model: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation, was a model developed from the ideas of Piaget, John Dewey, and Johann Herbart.
This model was designed to encourage knowledge construction and begins with prompting the current understanding of a subject matter. Engagement is used to recall prior knowledge. Students who are learning new subjects and content have their interest piqued through engaging in brief activities. Some of these activities include asking specific questions, brainstorming, and providing a scenario to see what the students know already. Exploration uses activities with a common base to identify current concepts and then help change those concepts.
To achieve this, the teacher should start a discussion or demonstrate an activity that poses a challenge to the student’s understanding, and then delve into any misconceptions behind the challenges. Explanation is used to provide opportunities for students to develop skills, knowledge, or behavior, by presenting them with information that they would be unlikely to discover on their own. This helps the students develop their own expertise, with assistance. Elaboration is used for the students to apply new experiences and to broaden the understanding and application of the skill set being taught.
Evaluation is used by students to identify where they are at in understanding of a new knowledge set. Teachers also use evaluation to measure if the progress is being made toward the general instruction goal. This gives the teacher a chance to modify a unit or lesson for future applications. Jorback, B. (n. d. ) A modified version of the 5E model was developed for science curriculum in the 1980s by Rodger Bybee. Bybee used constructivism as his base when he developed this version. He only changed the last two aspects of the original 5E model.
He switched evaluation’s order and used it as the fourth E. Evaluation is used for the assessment, both formative and summative. With formative assessments, the teacher can measure if the students are learning by providing quizzes, observations, or question and answer discussions after a lesson or while it is being taught. A summative assessment can be delivered at the end of the unit. This provides the teacher with an idea of what the students have retained throughout the unit and then they can adjust for successive lessons.
Extension is similar to the elaboration phase, in that it utilizes the premise that learning will occur when instruction is orderly and increases with intricacy as the unit moves forward. Connections made with the new knowledge can be used for new experiences, by extending the knowledge even further into applications that could not have been achieved before the lesson or unit was taught.
Take Chemistry for example. One could not do chemical equation balancing without the prior knowledge of atomic structures and understanding the key components of what they mean. Jorback, B. (n. . ) Some potential challenges that can arise from the constructivism model if the teacher is not well versed in the knowledge of the subject and its content. This model would also be challenging for those who possess problem solving skills, yet lack in basic knowledge of real world knowledge. Constructivism is a knowledge based model where we learn new concepts through prior experience. The instructor must be able to predict preconceptions the students may have and decide on appropriate activities, in addition to effectively modifying and assessing the content being taught.
Jorback, B. (n. d. ) In conclusion, many current theories have been applied to constructivism to adapt it to the modern day classroom. However, the theories all share the belief that a prior knowledge base is required. That prior knowledge does not have to be on the subject that is being taught. One must be able to apply prior knowledge in order to make connections for new knowledge. Applying this and evaluating it gives both the students and teachers a measurement of what has been learned and still needs to be learned.
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