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Constructivism

Learners create meaning by grasping and transforming experience (Kolb, 1984). This understanding provides the foundation for the over arching theory of constructivism and is proceduralized by the fluid interconnection of the community of inquiry (CoI) and practical inquiry models (PIM). Through the strategic use of these models, critical thinking skills and dispositions are both called upon and developed.

Constructivism is the educational theory that learners learn best by creating meaning from experience (Driscoll, 1993). Constructivism earned its footing through researchers such as Kolb (1984), who believed that “knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience” (p. 41), and Vygotsky (1978), who proposed that learning takes place as learners build new ability levels. Dewey (1997) held that learning took place when the past met the present learning situation. Bruner (1966, 1985) identified the interaction between experienced teachers and learners seeking to build on what they know as scaffolding. A number of researchers refer to constructivism and its associated learning processes as providing the best framework for nurturing critical thinking skills (Brookfield, 1987; Paul & Elder, 2005; Quitadamo, 2001). Mayes (2001) provides an overview of constructivist learning, classified in four ways:

  1. learning communities,
  2. authentic tasks,
  3. collaborative learning, and
  4. reflection and dialogue.

A number of researchers have recognized computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) as allowing instructional benefits for developing critical thinking (Land & Dornisch, 2002; Sharma & Hannafin, 2007).

References

  • Brookfield, S. D. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Bruner, J. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
  • Bruner, J. (1985). Narrative and paradigmatic modes of thought. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Dewey, J. (1997). Experience and Education. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Driscoll, M. P. (1993). Psychology of learning for instructionBoston: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experiences as the source of learning and development.Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Land, S., & Dornisch, M. (2002). A Case Study of Student Use of Asynchronous Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) To Support Reflection and Evaluation. Journal of Educational Technology Systems,30 (4), 365-77. Retrieved from ERIC database.
  • Mayes, T. (2001). Learning technology and learning relationships, in J. Stephenson (Ed.) Teaching and learning online (London, Kogan Page), chapter 2, 16.
  • Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2005). A guide for educators to critical thinking competency standards: Standards, principles, performance indicators, and outcomes with a critical thinking master rubric. Dillon Beach, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking.
  • Quitadamo, I. J. (2001). Effective teaching styles and instructional design for online learning environments.Chicago, IL: National Educational Computing Conference Proceedings.
  • Sharma, P., & Hannafin, M. (2007). Scaffolding in technology-enhanced learning environments.Interactive Learning Environments 15(1), 27-46. doi:10.1080/10494820600996972.
  • Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes.Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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