Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

First off, to those of you those are in my blog group that have yet to change the reply settings on your own blog to allow for “anonymous” posting, can you please do that so that I have two blogs I can post to.  Thanks in advance.

The constructivist theory involves the learner being more integrated and active in there own learning.  A great way to accomplish this is to have the students use real-life problems to enhance critical thinking (Orey, 2001).  Problem-based instruction puts students within the conflict and forces them to really connect with the problem to find a possible solution.  Often anchored by an example, this form of instruction can build a sense of community worth, social correspondence and teamwork (2001).

One thing I discovered this week while exploring constructivism and constructionism is that outlining expectations and explaining possible pathways to reach a potential outcome is a strong way to begin within these learning theories (Orey, 2001).  With this in mind, the need for generating, teaching and creating a clear hypothesis is essential.

Having a clear hypothesis will help students consider variables, create a solution set, hold an investigate, create, test and make decisions based off a the foundation with which the activity was created (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhl & Malenoski, 2007, p. 203).  Also, with the incorporation of many technological tools, time that was once spent on testing and gathering data and now rerouted to finding additional data and focusing more on evaluating the hypothesis (p. 203).  When more data is available for collect and inserted into a technological tools, the likeliness of patterns forming becomes more prevalent and more accurate conclusions can be derived (p. 207).

As an undergrad, I had to take an Anatomy and Physiology class online.  As with any science-based course, labs were a major portion of the class.  For the first time ever though, I found the labs working out perfectly, because they were done online.  It was great to expedite the tedious process and get a better understand for the concept at hand.  Sometimes it is just better to keep things simple and make the solution more attainable.

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Pitler H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. It is interesting the way you interpreted the creation of a hypothesis. In your summary above, the teacher creates a solid hypothesis for the students to test. The way I read our was that the students developed the hypothesis and tested it to see if it holds true. The role of the teacher, as I understood it, was to provide a guided lesson so that students could prove or disprove the concept you know to be true/untrue. All the while, students are the ones who discover it rather than teachers providing the details. I think that teachers could accomplish such a task by providing simple guided notes to help students arrive at a conclusion. I now wonder about the other members of our class and how they read the material, and more importantly if I received the right message from our lesson this week.

  2. Joe,

    Yeah I am not sure because it really seemed to be about setting up the students correctly. I think the bigger emphasis was on having students understand the hypothesis or scenario and then adjust it accordingly? Does that make sense?

  3. I agree that having a clear hypothesis will help the students with other aspects of their experiment. My 7th grade students would sometimes start off an experiment with an unclear hypothesis, and this would taint the rest of their efforts. They ultimately did not have a clear vision of what their goals were and what they were trying to accomplish, so they did not know how to proceed with their testing, or they got so far off track that the experiment did not work. I went through many years of science fair, and I quickly came to realize that many of my students needed help formulating their hypothesis, and then every thing else fell into place. Technology has also made data collection much easier. Depending on the experiment, the right tool can save lots of time for the students, allowing more time for data analysis. I also like programs like Excel that facilitate data analysis and make its easier for the students to see trends in their data.