Constructing On Constructivism The Role Of Technology Education Essay

Constructing On Constructivism The Role Of Technology Education Essay


A complementary relationship exists between engineering and constructivism, the execution of each one profiting the other. Constructivism is a philosophy saying that larning takes topographic point in contexts, while engineering refers to the designs and environments that engage scholars. Recent efforts to incorporate engineering in the schoolroom have been within the context of a constructivist model ( e.g. , Richards, 1998 ) . The intent of this paper is to analyze the interrelatedness between constructivism and engineering as revealed by empirical research. The instances include a assortment of surveies in a assortment of scenes – instructor instruction, on-line acquisition, and K-12 instruction ; constructivist schemes include collaborative and concerted acquisition methods, prosecuting in critical and brooding thought, rating through electronic portfolios, and a critical expression at emerging instructor functions within constructivist paradigms. Success has been reported in the development of constructivist class faculties utilizing engineering as cognitive tools, profiting both pupils and module. However, many instructors do non utilize constructivist patterns, and those who do are non wise in their choice of engineering usage ( Rakes, Flowers, Casey, & A ; Santana, 1999 ) . Technology needs to be viewed in a 3-dimensional position: semiotic, epistemological, and matter-of-fact, enabling the “ building of cognition ” by scholars through a procedure of socialization.


“ Once cognizing is no longer understood as the hunt for an iconic representation of ontological world, but, alternatively, as a hunt for suiting ways of behaving and thought, the traditional job disappears. Knowledge can now be seen as something that the being builds up in the effort to order the as such formless flow of experienceaˆ¦ ”

von Glasersfeld ( 1984, p. 39 )

The usage of computing machine engineering to back up acquisition has been hard to document and quantify ( Clark, 1994 ; Russell, 1999 ) , go forthing the function of computing machines in the schoolroom unstable. In the past decennary, a sudden revival of involvement was markedly observed in the schoolroom usage of technological inventions, along with the increased usage of the Internet and other digital engineerings ( Reiser, 2002 ) . The field of Instructional Design and Technology, excessively, saw the development and outgrowth of alternate attacks, such as cognitive and constructivist theories, that deviated aggressively from traditional patterns, such as behavioural theoretical accounts. New accents, like electronic public presentation support systems, web-based direction, and knowledge direction systems, non merely agitate the cognition base of the field, but besides widened its skyline across concern and industry, the military, wellness attention and instruction, worldwide ( Reiser, 2002 ) . Enterprises, such as located larning theory and constructivism presented fresh attacks to convey about reforms in the spheres of public instruction and higher instruction ( Anderson, Reder & A ; Simon, 1996 ; Brown, Collins & A ; Duguid, 1989 ; Jonassen, 1999 ; Reiser, 2002 ) .

To understand the potency of engineering execution in heightening the teaching-learning procedure, the impact of constructivism on schoolroom patterns has been studied by many research workers ( e.g. , Black & A ; McClintock, 1995 ; Richards, 1998 ; Brush & A ; Saye, 2000 ) . Other research workers have suggested that constructivist schemes exploit engineerings for greatest impact in larning ( e.g. , Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) . A complementary relationship appears to be between computing machine engineerings and constructivism, the execution of each one profiting the other.

Constructivism, derived chiefly from the plants of Piaget ( 1970 ) , Bruner ( 1962, 1979 ) , Vygotsky ( 1962, 1978 ) , and Papert ( 1980, 1983 ) , is both a philosophical and psychological attack based on societal cognitivism that assumes that individuals, behaviours and environments interact in mutual manner ( Schunk, 2000 ) . Constructivism is a philosophy saying that larning takes topographic point in contexts, and that scholars form or construct much of what they learn and understand as a map of their experiences in state of affairs ( Schunk, 2000 ) . More late, research workers ( e.g. , Lave, 1990 ; Saxe, Guberman & A ; Gearheart, 1987 ) have presented more qualitative certification of larning in context.

Technology, harmonizing to Jonassen, Peck, and Wilson ( 1999 ) refers to “ the designs and environments that engage scholars ” ( p. 12 ) . The focal point of both constructivism and engineering are so on the creative activity of larning environments. Likewise, Hannfin and Hill ( 2002 ) depict these larning environments as contexts:

in which knowledge-building tools ( affordances ) and the agencies to make and pull strings artefacts of understanding are provided, non one in which constructs are explicitly taughtaˆ¦ a topographic point where scholars work together and back up each other as they use a assortment of tools and larning resources in their chase of larning ends and problem-solving activities ( p.77 ) .

The intent of this paper is to reexamine the research on the integrating of engineering in the schoolroom, foregrounding the connexion between constructivism and engineering. The focal point is on the constructivist position of larning as an active procedure of building instead than geting cognition, and direction as a procedure that supports building instead than pass oning cognition. The reappraisal is followed by a series of instance surveies, stressing constructivism and engineering ‘s relationship. Finally, deductions for instructors and instructor pedagogues are presented.

Review of Related Literature

In order to understand larning within a constructivist model, as an activity in context, the whole acquisition environment must be examined. However, the broad diverseness of constructivist positions makes the task really complex and beyond the range of this paper. These positions normally emphasize the function of the instructor, the pupil, and the cultural embeddedness of acquisition ( see for example, Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Honebein, Duffy, & A ; Fishman, 1993 ; Simons, 1993 ) . Using these commonalties as guidelines, this reappraisal outlines the relationship of constructivism with engineering by looking at ( a ) engineering as cognitive tools, ( B ) constructive position of the thought procedure, and ( degree Celsius ) the function of the instructor in engineering enhanced environments.

Technology as Cognitive Tools

A cardinal premise of constructivism is that larning is mediated by tools and marks ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Ezell & A ; O’Keeffe, 1994 ) . “ Culture creates the tool, but the tool changes the civilization. Participants in the civilization appropriate these tools from their civilization to run into their ends, and thereby transform their engagement in the civilization ” ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996, p. 180 ) . The computing machine is an example of mediational agencies that has facets of both tool and mark. The computing machine ‘s function in instruction has been mostly viewed as an instructional tool and for supplying a richer and more exciting acquisition environment ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Jonassen & A ; Reeves, 1996 ; Taylor, 1980 ) . However, by concentrating on the scholar, the function of engineering can back up new apprehensions and capablenesss, therefore, offering a cognitive tool to back up cognitive and metacognitive procedures. For illustration, an electronic exchange plan between pupils of a category in the U.S. with a similar schoolroom in Northern Ireland shared multiple cultural positions through images, narratives, letters and multimedia plans ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) . The experience was enriching, increasing their apprehension.

Further, clear uping the function of engineering in acquisition, Duffy and Cunningham ( 1996 ) province:

Technology is seen as an built-in portion of the cognitive activityaˆ¦.This position of distributed knowledge significantly impacts how we think of the function of engineering in instruction and preparation, the focal point is non on the person in isolation and what he or she knows, but on the activity in the environment. It is the activity – focused and contextualized- that is cardinal… The procedure of building is directed towards making a universe that makes sense to us, that is equal for our mundane operation ( pp. 187-188 ) .

Therefore, the undertaking of the scholar is seen as dynamic, and the computing machine makes available new larning chances.

The position of engineering as cognitive tools is besides shared by other research workers ( e.g. , Jonassen, 1994 ; Jonassen & A ; Reeves, 1996 ; Lajoie, 2000 ) . The traditional position of instructional engineerings of direction as conveyers of information and communicators of cognition is supplanted with active function the scholar plays in larning with engineering. Technologies, chiefly computing machines, help construct cognition bases, which will “ prosecute the scholars more and ensue in more meaningful and movable knowledgeaˆ¦ Learners map as interior decorators utilizing the engineering as tools for analysing the universe, accessing information, interpretation and forming their personal cognition, and stand foring what they know to others ” ( Jonassen, 1994, p. 2 ) . Technological tools such as spreadsheets, databases, adept systems, picture conferencing and others can be used by pupils to analyse capable affair, develop representative mental theoretical accounts, and so transcribe them into cognition bases ( Jonassen, 1994 ; Jonassen & A ; Carr, 2000 ; Jonassen & A ; Reeves, 1996 ) .

An illustration is the development of fake microworlds and games by kids utilizing Logo scheduling. Logo scheduling has evolved since the early text-based medium conceived by Seymour Papert and his squad at MIT in the 1970 ‘s, to a well easy, digitized format. Kafai, Ching, and Marshall ( 1997 ) gave an introductory preparation plan to fifth and sixth grade pupils one hebdomad before the design undertakings. The Logo version included support for modern computing machine characteristics like multimedia, sprite life, sounds, films, and pigment tools. Harmonizing to Kafai and her co-workers ( 1997 ) , the multimedia package proved to be a good context for pupils to larn through coaction and undertaking direction. The interaction between squad members, the flow of thoughts and loud thought encouraged the kids to experiment and happen alternate ways for planing and work outing jobs. For illustration, the pupils worked on different characters separately, but so worked together to incorporate all the characters, and in debugging ( Kafai et al. , 1997 ) .

Cognitive tools do non prevent the usage of computing machines to increase productiveness for larning. Off-loading insistent undertakings and lower order undertakings to cognitive tools frees cognitive resources for deeper thought ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Jonassen, 1999 ) and reduces mistakes. Harmonizing to Swain and Pearson ( 2001 ) , instructors and pupils must be educated to utilize the computing machine as a productiveness tool, every bit good as a tool for acquisition, research, networking, coaction, telecommunications, and problem-solving. Using computing machines as a productiveness tool is one of the six National Educational Technological Standards ( NETS ) ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) for instructors which states that instructors will “ utilize engineering to heighten their productiveness and professional patterns ” ( Morrison, Lowther, & A ; DeMeulle, 1999 ) .

Constructive position of “ Thinking ”

The procedure of thought in constructivist paradigms requires higher-order accomplishments, diging deeper and harder into content and context ( Black & A ; McClintock, 1995 ; Jonassen, n.d. ; Manzo, 1998 ; Swain & A ; Pearson, 2001 ) . Traditional schooling, harmonizing to Manzo ( 1998 ) , really discourages constructive believing with ends of conveying bing cognition that conflicts with any existent effort to bring forth new apprehension. “ Constructivist thought combines both the critical and originative rational procedures. It can be practiced by promoting critical analysis in activities. Schools, instructors and pupils can be conditioned to swerve away from traditional schooling regimen to promote constructive thought ” ( Manzo, 1998, p. 287 ) . Cognitive tools, along with constructivist larning environments, usher and activate cognitive acquisition schemes and critical thought ( Jonassen, 1994 ) . Cognitive tools help in cognition building and non knowledge reproduction. The cognition constructed by the scholars reflects their comprehension and construct of the information. To exemplify, when pupils build cognition bases with databases, they need to analyse the content sphere and engage in critical thought.

Black and McClintok ( 1999 ) emphasis the importance of reading as being cardinal to knowledge and acquisition. Their design of Study Supported Environments ( SSEs ) based on constructivist design rules called Interpretation Construction Design ( ICON ) focused chiefly on the interpretative building of reliable artefacts in the context of rich background stuffs, and crossing across different Fieldss of survey. Their survey showed that in add-on to larning specific content, pupils were able to get generalizable reading and debate accomplishments.

For illustration, in learning 6th grade antediluvian history, a plan called Archaeotype A© was used that presented pupils with a in writing simulation of an archeological site. Students who worked collaboratively in groups, had to delve up artefacts through simulation, observe and mensurate them in fake research labs, and eventually through a procedure of reading and debate, arrived at the apprehension of general rules behind what they were making. In a follow-up rating survey, it was found that there were important additions in the interpretive and debate accomplishments of pupils who had participated in the survey against a control group ( Black & A ; McClintock, 1999 ) .

Brooding thought, that requires careful deliberation, is besides encouraged by constructivists ( e.g. , Kafai et al. , 1997 ; Swain & A ; Pearson, 2001 ; Walker, 2000 ) . Metacognition, or the self-monitoring and self-denial of the acquisition procedure, is emphasized. New cognition which is composed is added to old representations, modifying them in the procedure. This normally requires external staging in the signifier of people, books, or engineerings such as computing machines. Swain and Pearson ( 2001 ) recommend the pattern of brooding thought by instructors to measure their engineering usage. They stress the importance of certification of brooding ideas to find the extent and quality of personal versus instructional utilizations of engineering, organisation and execution of environments and activities. Jonassen ( 1994 ) describes technological tools as “ rational spouses ” and “ powerful accelerators ” in the procedure of acquisition, “ scaffolding the all important procedures of articulation and contemplation, which are the foundations of cognition building ” ( p. 5 ) .

The Role of the Teacher in Technology Enhanced Environments

The function of the instructor as a facilitator is seen as most of import in a constructivist context ( Witfelt, 2000 ; Richards, 1998 ) . Within a constructivist schoolroom, the instructor engenders societal and rational climes, where collaborative and concerted acquisition methods are supported. In parallel, technology-enhanced schoolrooms tap constructivist schemes ( Jonassen, 1999 ) , set uping problem-based undertakings where pupils actively construct cognition, associating knew cognition with old cognition.

In non-traditional schoolrooms such as the open/global schoolroom ( Walker, 2000 ; Witfelt, 2000 ) , the function and duties of the instructor have changed. The instructor, as an agent, has to invariably update information and engineering for doing learning reliable and relevant. For illustration, while developing a class faculty for instructors and taxonomy for instructor competences in the usage of educational multimedia, Witfelt ( 2000 ) observed that it was of import to unite several theories such as constructivism, postmodernism, situated intelligence and multiple intelligences. However, the theoretical model would be constructivist in nature with the instructor presuming the function of the facilitator, supplying an environment for self-generated research, understanding the societal and collaborative nature of acquisition, assisting kids concept cognition and initiate problem-based, project-oriented work. With this passage in functions and duties, Witfelt ( 2000 ) listed new instructor competences in constructivist contexts that include supervisor makings, protagonist and facilitator of pupils ‘ work, adviser and subject-matter expert, galvanizer and encourager, supreme authority at group treatments, critic in mobilising greater attempt when aims are non being met, and judge to better general larning capacities of pupils.

Case Studies

After analyzing the literature on engineering integrating and constructivist rules, a complementary relationship between engineering and acquisition within a constructivist model seems sound and advantageous to instructors and scholars. To exemplify these rules discretely, model instances are presented that reflect the doctrine established above.

Teacher-trainees at Winthrop University in South Carolina undertook a meaningful technology-based activity to carry through literacy ends ( Richards, 1998 ) . They developed an electronic portfolio around a literacy-related subject, including informations, contemplations and critical responses, which they shared with their equals and other pedagogues. The extract of engineering was helped by implementing constructivist-based activities, such as coaction and cooperation in a group, prosecuting in job resolution and building possible solutions to social quandary, and pass oning the deeper processing of content and the critical development of literacy accomplishments and schemes ( Richards, 1998 ) . Student perceptual experiences were determined through formative and summational appraisal methods. Students responded positively toward achievement of concerted and collaborative acquisition, the engineering constituent maps and the relevancy of the activities to future callings in schools. However, they recommended that more clip be provided for treating thoughts and synthesising them in the portfolio.

Research conducted at the Open University, U.K. besides demonstrated a positive relationship between constructivism and engineering integrating ( Walker, 2000 ) . A distance-learning class was developed maintaining in head the experiential and constructivist positions of larning. The intent was to assist pupils in a distance-learning class learn in better and more effectual ways, to be active scholars, building their ain apprehension. Assignments and appraisals were besides oriented towards constructivist ends. Their attempts culminated in a new paradigm of class development. A study of all the pupils who completed the class and took the scrutiny revealed that the bulk felt that they had improved their acquisition accomplishments to a considerable extent.

A follow-up study was undertaken the undermentioned twelvemonth. These findings revealed a high proportion of positive responses to inquiries sing the continued usage of contemplation to better assignments, based on teachers ‘ feedback and rating standards. However, pupils were less positive about their usage of contemplation in general. These pupils like those described above ( Richards, 1998 ) struggled with maintaining and utilizing contemplation efficaciously.

Students were non the lone donees of the mixture of constructivist schemes with engineering tools. Harmonizing to Richards ( 1998 ) and Walker ( 2000 ) , the development of class faculties based on constructivist patterns and the integrating of engineering were besides good to the module, as they had to be after and revise to incorporate engineering so that pupils could be helped to go more capable and mature scholars.

Deductions for Practice

These instances have important deductions for instructor pedagogues and instructors. In the country of instructor instruction, Kim and Sharp ( 2000 ) observed that the planning of instructors consistent with constructivist patterns was extremely variable with most preservice instructors cognizing really small about the effectual integrating of engineering in instruction. Since instructors tend to learn as they were taught, it is indispensable that both preservice and inservice instructors must be exposed to constructivist-based direction, which would so ease the development of learning schemes consistent with recent reform motions ( Kim & A ; Sharp, 2000 ) . An exposure to constructivist learning methods and coincident multimedia acquisition experiences influenced the planning of constructivist behaviours and extract of engineering ( Kim & A ; Sharp, 2000 ) .

Technology may besides act upon teacher pattern to integrate constructivist rules. Rakes, Flowers, Casey and Santana ( 1999 ) study that as the sum of engineering available, the degree of engineering accomplishments of the instructors, and the usage of engineering increased, the usage of constructivist schemes in the schoolroom besides appeared to increase. “ Technology can supply the vehicle for carry throughing constructivist instruction patterns ” ( Rakes et al. , 1999, p. 3 ) . So, increasing the accomplishment degrees of instructors with respect to computing machines and supplying extra chances for instructors to incorporate engineering into lessons may promote the usage of constructivist behaviours.

Availability, skill degree and usage may non, nevertheless, warrant purposeful usage of engineering nor constructivist rules. Rakes et Al. ( 1999 ) reported many instructors concentrated on the drill and pattern type of package, pretermiting basic computing machine accomplishments development, or dealt merely with presentation accomplishments and Internet resources. These research workers recommended concentrating on staff development and preparation in engineering usage and constructivist patterns that moved beyond literacy accomplishments to turn to more thoroughly application and curriculum integrating issues.

When turn toing the function of the instructor in constructivist paradigms, there should be no misconstruing sing the importance of the instructor. Yet, many instructors feel uncomfortable with the deficiency of a chiseled content and the displacement of venue of control to the scholars ( Brush & A ; Saye, 2000 ; Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) . Making suited contexts is non simply supplying scholars with resources and allowing them discover things for themselves, but forming resources in such a manner to breed cognitive disagreements in the heads of the scholars, animating them to larn how to larn through a procedure of coaction and defendable apprehensions ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) .

As a facilitator of acquisition, the instructor is non ineffective and on the out of boundss. On the contrary, the instructor is free to utilize a assortment of constructivist schemes, such as coaching, mold, and scaffolding, to help each scholar ( Collins, Brown & A ; Newman, 1990 ) . Scaffolding may include support from other persons and artefacts, every bit good as the cultural context and history that the scholars bring to the environment. Scaffolding, nevertheless, does non intend guiding and learning a scholar toward some chiseled end but back uping the growing of the scholar through cognitive and metacognitive activities ( Hannafin, Hill & A ; Land, 1997 ) . Therefore, the instructor assumes the function of a manager and ensures common apprehension of the positions of the scholar. In utilizing collaborative and concerted groups, the instructor must be careful in guaranting that they are non merely schemes for acquisition, but means to advance dialogical interchange and reflexiveness ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) .

As Morrison, Lowther, and DeMeulle ( 1999 ) competently suggest, “ Technology and a constructivist attack need non be at odds with each other. If we change our position of computing machines from simply a agencies to present direction to one of a tool to work out jobs, so the reform motion can act upon the usage of engineering, and engineering can act upon the reform of instruction ” ( p. 5 ) .


Constructivist positions assert that acquisition is the active procedure of building instead than passively geting cognition, and direction is the procedure of back uping the cognition constructed by the scholars instead than the mere communicating of cognition ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Honebein, Duffy & A ; Fishman, 1993 ; Jonassen, 1999 ; ) . Truth is determined by the viability of the scholars ‘ apprehension in the existent universe, where viability is culturally determined. The constructivist model seeks to understand multiple positions, and challenges the scholars ‘ thought ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Jonassen, Mayes & A ; McAleese, 1993 ) . It examines the societal beginnings of buildings, whereby it acknowledges larning as a procedure of socialization. Therefore, the survey of societal and cultural procedures and artefacts becomes a cardinal issue. Context is a dynamic whole including the person and sociohistorical facets ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ; Ezell & A ; O’Keefe, 1994 ) . Thinking is ever dialogic, linking heads, either straight or indirectly. The indirect or semiotic agencies are the marks and tools appropriated from the sociocultural context ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) .

Within this displacement in focal point from the objectivist to the constructivist context sphere, engineering can play an built-in portion in the acquisition environment ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996 ) . “ The profusion of the engineering permits us to supply a richer and more exciting ( entertaining ) larning environmentaˆ¦ our concern is the new apprehensions and new capablenesss that are possible through the usage of engineering ” ( Duffy & A ; Cunningham, 1996, p. 187 ) . By incorporating engineering with constructivist methods, such as problem-based acquisition and project-based acquisition, scholars are more responsible for and active in the acquisition procedure ( Grant, 2002 ) . Additionally, mundane applications, such as word processors and spreadsheets, become powerful instruments for reliable acquisition. Constructivism offers flexibleness to instructors to individualise larning for each pupil while utilizing engineering tools to augment cognitive and metacognitive procedures.


Aloka Nanjappa is presently a doctorial campaigner, Instructional Design and Technology, Department of Instructional Curriculum and Leadership, University of Memphis, Tennessee. She was Assistant Professor in a college of instruction, affiliated to the University of Bombay, India, learning Experimental Psychology, Educational Technology, and Methodology of learning Mathematicss. She has besides taught in the K-10 and undergraduate degree ( Zoology ) in India. Aloka was late awarded the Outstanding ID & A ; T Graduate Student Award by the University of Memphis, Tennessee. Her research involvements lie in teacher instruction with a focal point on engineering integrating in the schoolroom.

Michael M. Grant is an Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis in the Instructional Design and Technology plan within the teacher instruction section. His most recent research has focused on suiting single differences and constructionism. He has worked with both preservice and inservice instructors on incorporating engineering.