Should I be a constructivist language teacher? Mike Lawson Flinders University April 2008

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  • Should I be a constructivist language teacher? Mike Lawson Flinders University April 2008
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  • 2 My Answer YES YES Be a teacher who makes use of the well-founded theories of cognitive constructivism Be a teacher who makes use of the well-founded theories of cognitive constructivism
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  • 3 Why be concerned about constructivism?
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  • 4 On the one hand: Constructivism as basis for curriculum The theoretical basis for the conception of learning in the SACSA Framework is provided by the family of theories of learning that are grouped under the title constructivism. While theoretical distinctions exist between particular versions of constructivism, such as personal, social and radical, it is this family of theories which have guided the preparation of the Framework.
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  • 5 On the other hand: Critique Of particular concern in Australia, for example, is that despite a lack of supporting evidence for its utility, the prevailing educational philosophy of constructivism (an established student-centred theory of learning and knowing rather than a theory of teaching) continues to have marked influences on shaping teachers interpretations of how they should teach. Of particular concern in Australia, for example, is that despite a lack of supporting evidence for its utility, the prevailing educational philosophy of constructivism (an established student-centred theory of learning and knowing rather than a theory of teaching) continues to have marked influences on shaping teachers interpretations of how they should teach. Rowe, K. J. (2007). The Imperative of Evidence-based Practices for the Teaching and Assessment of Numeracy, (p. 8). Invited submission to National Numeracy Review July. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research Rowe, K. J. (2007). The Imperative of Evidence-based Practices for the Teaching and Assessment of Numeracy, (p. 8). Invited submission to National Numeracy Review July. Camberwell, Vic: Australian Council for Educational Research
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  • 6 Education writer critique Constructivist a term used by progressive teachers to argue that instead of being taught, that students learn best by constructing their own knowledge and understanding. Similar to discovery learning, the belief is that it is best for students to negotiate what they learn, to learn at their own pace and not to be taught in a formal, structured way.. (195) Constructivist a term used by progressive teachers to argue that instead of being taught, that students learn best by constructing their own knowledge and understanding. Similar to discovery learning, the belief is that it is best for students to negotiate what they learn, to learn at their own pace and not to be taught in a formal, structured way.. (195)
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  • 7 Spelling it out Spelling it out While state governments and teacher unions keep saying there are no illiteracy problems in our schools, the latest ACER research shows conclusively that current primary teaching methods (whole language and constructivism) are flawed and cause the 30 per cent illiteracy level in schools While state governments and teacher unions keep saying there are no illiteracy problems in our schools, the latest ACER research shows conclusively that current primary teaching methods (whole language and constructivism) are flawed and cause the 30 per cent illiteracy level in schools Jo Rogers, Frankston Jo Rogers, Frankston (Education 19/3/2007). (Education 19/3/2007).
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  • 8 Background to my answer Constructivism is a group of theories about a range of issues, Constructivism is a group of theories about a range of issues, not only theories about learning, not only theories about learning, Also theories about knowledge, reality, truth discussed in sociology, philosophy, language, science Also theories about knowledge, reality, truth discussed in sociology, philosophy, language, science We must be specific about the type of constructivism we are talking about. We must be specific about the type of constructivism we are talking about. As a word constructivism is like democracy. A reference to constructivist learning or constructivist teaching is too vague, because these terms could refer to many different theories in different disciplines As a word constructivism is like democracy. A reference to constructivist learning or constructivist teaching is too vague, because these terms could refer to many different theories in different disciplines
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  • 9 One group of constructivist theory does provide a sound and useful basis for designing teaching procedures One group of constructivist theory does provide a sound and useful basis for designing teaching procedures Cognitive constructivism Cognitive constructivism Focus on this theory Focus on this theory The critiques just shown are not of relevance to cognitive constructivist theory of learning and teaching The critiques just shown are not of relevance to cognitive constructivist theory of learning and teaching
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  • 10 Sorting out different constructivisms Denis Phillips two categories of constructivism Denis Phillips two categories of constructivism Social constructivism Social constructivism Psychological constructivism Psychological constructivism Both are broad categories covering diverse views Both are broad categories covering diverse views
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  • 11 Social constructivism embodies a thesis about the disciplines or bodies of knowledge that have been built up during the course of human history - that these disciplines (or public bodies of knowledge are human constructs and that the form that the knowledge has taken in these fields has been determined by such things as politics, ideologies, values, the exertion of power and the preservation of status, religious beliefs and economic self-interest. This thesis denies that the disciplines are objective reflections of an external world. (Phillips 2000, p. 6)
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  • 12 Psychological Constructivism A set of views about how individuals learn (and about how those who help them to learn ought to teach). Roughly, this second type of constructivist view is that learners actively construct their own (internal, some would say) sets of meanings or understandings; knowledge is not a mere copy of the external world, nor is knowledge acquired by passive absorption or by simple transference from one person (a teacher) to another (a learner or knower). A set of views about how individuals learn (and about how those who help them to learn ought to teach). Roughly, this second type of constructivist view is that learners actively construct their own (internal, some would say) sets of meanings or understandings; knowledge is not a mere copy of the external world, nor is knowledge acquired by passive absorption or by simple transference from one person (a teacher) to another (a learner or knower). (Phillips, 2000) (Phillips, 2000)
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  • 13 Mt focus is now on Psychological Constructivism This is a mainstream theory of learning This is a mainstream theory of learning Broad principles in handout Broad principles in handout
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  • 14 Situated Social Motivated, affective Cognitive Metacognitive Developmental Learners exist in specific situations, and their learning and the outcomes of that learning, are always impacted by the situation. People learn through and from their interactions with other people. Learners approach all learning activity with a set of inter-related dispositions and motivational expectations. In their attempts to understand the world, learners represent that world and develop and transform these representations. Learners develop knowledge about themselves as learners and use this as they plan, monitor and reflect upon their actions and their current situations. Learners change across time: New structures and functions emerge and are developed.
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  • 15 Teacher: Listen to me say Zhou LEARNER BEHAVIOUR LEARNER BEHAVIOUR MENTAL PROCESSES Engages with, enters the teaching Motivation Attends to the information being presented Allocation of attention in working memory Interprets the teachers utterance Perception, activation in working memory Associates the sound with a known sound in English Retrieval of prior knowledge Sets up a first draft representation of the pronunciation of Zhou Organisation and storage of information in long term memory Tries out and checks the sound silently Metacognition Talks to Maria: Is it like Oh dear Talks to Maria: Is it like Oh dear,Metacognition, Social interaction
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  • 16 This student is constructing knowledge Construction is occurring through Construction is occurring through Engagement: [Kates presentation] Engagement: [Kates presentation] Interpretation Interpretation Associating: [Mirellas presentation] Associating: [Mirellas presentation] Retrieval:[Mariettas and Mirellas presentations] Retrieval:[Mariettas and Mirellas presentations] Organisation during storage Organisation during storage Evaluation of the first utterance Evaluation of the first utterance Discussion with Maria and interpretation of feedback Discussion with Maria and interpretation of feedback NB: Each of these processes could run off in different ways NB: Each of these processes could run off in different ways
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  • 17 Constructing a mental representation The learner is constructing a mental representation for a new word. The learner is constructing a mental representat