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Constructivism and qualitative research

Rebecca J. Hogue

❶A manifesto for a constructivist approach to uses of technology in higher education.

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Kincheloe has published numerous social and educational books on critical constructivism , , , a version of constructivist epistemology that places emphasis on the exaggerated influence of political and cultural power in the construction of knowledge, consciousness, and views of reality.

In the contemporary mediated electronic era, Kincheloe argues, dominant modes of power have never exerted such influence on human affairs. Coming from a critical pedagogical perspective, Kincheloe argues that understanding a critical constructivist epistemology is central to becoming an educated person and to the institution of just social change.

For some [ who? Some have gone so far as to attribute the rise of cultural studies the cultural turn to social constructionism. From a realist's point of view, both postmodernism and constructivism can be interpreted as relativist theories. Cultural constructivism asserts that knowledge and reality are a product of their cultural context, meaning that two independent cultures will likely form different observational methodologies.

Ernst von Glasersfeld was a prominent proponent of radical constructivism. This claims that knowledge is not a commodity which is transported from one mind into another. Rather, it is up to the individual to "link up" specific interpretations of experiences and ideas with their own reference of what is possible and viable. That is, the process of constructing knowledge, of understanding, is dependent on the individual's subjective interpretation of their active experience, not what "actually" occurs.

Understanding and acting are seen by radical constructivists not as dualistic processes, but "circularly conjoined".

Constructivist Foundations is a free online journal publishing peer reviewed articles on radical constructivism by researchers from multiple domains. Relational constructivism can be perceived as a relational consequence of the radical constructivism. In contrary to social constructivism, it picks up the epistemological threads and maintains the radical constructivist idea that humans cannot overcome their limited conditions of reception i.

Therefore, humans are not able to come to objective conclusions about the world. In spite of the subjectivity of human constructions of reality, relational constructivism focusses on the relational conditions applying to human perceptional processes. Coming from this perspective it then focusses on the not only social, but also material relations under which these cognitive construction processes are performed. A series of articles published in the journal Critical Inquiry served as a manifesto for the movement of critical constructivism in various disciplines, including the natural sciences.

Not only truth and reality, but also " evidence ", " document ", " experience ", " fact ", "proof", and other central categories of empirical research in physics , biology , statistics , history , law , etc. Thus, a "realist" or "rationalist" interpretation is subjected to criticism.

Kincheloe's political and pedagogical notion above has emerged as a central articulation of the concept. While recognizing the constructedness of reality, many representatives of this critical paradigm deny philosophy the task of the creative construction of reality.

They eagerly criticize realistic judgments, but they do not move beyond analytic procedures based on subtle tautologies. They thus remain in the critical paradigm and consider it to be a standard of scientific philosophy per se. James Mark Baldwin invented this expression, which was later popularized by Jean Piaget.

Numerous criticisms have been leveled at Constructivist epistemology. The most common one is that it either explicitly advocates or implicitly reduces to relativism.

This is because it takes the concept of truth to be a socially "constructed" and thereby socially relative one. This leads to the charge of self-refutation: In another social formation, it may well be false. If so, then social constructivism itself would be false in that social formation. Further, one could then say that social constructivism could be both true and false simultaneously. Another criticism of constructivism is that it holds that the concepts of two different social formations be entirely different and incommensurate.

This being the case, it is impossible to make comparative judgements about statements made according to each worldview. This is because the criteria of judgement will themselves have to be based on some worldview or other.

If this is the case, then it brings into question how communication between them about the truth or falsity of any given statement could be established. Social Constructivists [ who? As the Wittgensteinian philosopher Gavin Kitching [11] argues, however, constructivists usually implicitly presuppose a deterministic view of language which severely constrains the minds and use of words by members of societies: Kitching notes the contradiction here: While other individuals are controlled by the dominant concepts of society, the advocate of constructivism can transcend these concepts and see through them.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Constructivism philosophy of education. The Foundations of Social Science Research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process , Sage. Award Abstract , Constructionism: University of Chicago Press. Archived PDF from the original on A paradigm governs, in the first instance, not a subject matter but rather a group of practitioners.

The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution. Random House Digital, Inc. We shall adopt an approach that we call model-dependent realism. It is based on the idea that our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the world.

When such a model is successful at explaining events, we tend to attribute to it, and to the elements and concepts that constitute it, the quality of reality or absolute truth.

But there may be different ways in which one could model the same physical situation, with each employing different fundamental elements and concepts.

The students get it rolling, direct it, and focus it. They act as a team, cooperatively, to make it work. They all participate, but not in a competitive way. Rather, they all share in the responsibility and the goals, much as any members share in any team sport. Although the goals of any discussion will change depending upon what's under discussion, some goals will always be the same: Discussion skills are important.

Everyone must be aware of how to get this discussion rolling and keep it rolling and interesting. Just as in any sport, a number of skills are necessary to work on and use at appropriate times. Everyone is expected to contribute by using these skills. Another crucial assumption regarding the nature of the learner concerns the level and source of motivation for learning.

According to Von Glasersfeld, sustaining motivation to learn is strongly dependent on the learner's confidence in his or her potential for learning. By experiencing the successful completion of challenging tasks, learners gain confidence and motivation to embark on more complex challenges. According to the social constructivist approach, instructors have to adapt to the role of facilitators and not teachers.

In the former scenario the learner plays a passive role and in the latter scenario the learner plays an active role in the learning process. The emphasis thus turns away from the instructor and the content, and towards the learner. The learning environment should also be designed to support and challenge the learner's thinking.

The critical goal is to support the learner in becoming an effective thinker. This can be achieved by assuming multiple roles, such as consultant and coach. Social constructivism, strongly influenced by Vygotsky's work, suggests that knowledge is first constructed in a social context and is then appropriated by individuals.

Social constructivist scholars view learning as an active process where learners should learn to discover principles, concepts and facts for themselves, hence the importance of encouraging guesswork and intuitive thinking in learners. Kukla argues that reality is constructed by our own activities and that people, together as members of a society, invent the properties of the world.

Other constructivist scholars agree with this and emphasize that individuals make meanings through the interactions with each other and with the environment they live in. Knowledge is thus a product of humans and is socially and culturally constructed. He further states that learning is not a process that only takes place inside our minds, nor is it a passive development of our behaviors that is shaped by external forces and that meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.

Vygotsky also highlighted the convergence of the social and practical elements in learning by saying that the most significant moment in the course of intellectual development occurs when speech and practical activity, two previously completely independent lines of development, converge.

A further characteristic of the role of the facilitator in the social constructivist viewpoint, is that the instructor and the learners are equally involved in learning from each other as well. Learners compare their version of the truth with that of the instructor and fellow learners to get to a new, socially tested version of truth Kukla The task or problem is thus the interface between the instructor and the learner.

This entails that learners and instructors should develop an awareness of each other's viewpoints and then look to their own beliefs, standards and values, thus being both subjective and objective at the same time.

Some studies argue for the importance of mentoring in the process of learning. Some learning approaches that could harbour this interactive learning include reciprocal teaching, peer collaboration, cognitive apprenticeship , problem-based instruction, web quests, Anchored Instruction and other approaches that involve learning with others.

Learners with different skills and backgrounds should collaborate in tasks and discussions to arrive at a shared understanding of the truth in a specific field. Some social constructivist models also stress the need for collaboration among learners, in direct contradiction to traditional competitive approaches.

Defined as the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem-solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers, it differs from the fixed biological nature of Piaget's stages of development. Through a process of 'scaffolding' a learner can be extended beyond the limitations of physical maturation to the extent that the development process lags behind the learning process.

If students have to present and train new contents with their classmates, a non-linear process of collective knowledge-construction will be set up. The social constructivist paradigm views the context in which the learning occurs as central to the learning itself.

Underlying the notion of the learner as an active processor is "the assumption that there is no one set of generalised learning laws with each law applying to all domains". Holt and Willard-Holt emphasize the concept of dynamic assessment, which is a way of assessing the true potential of learners that differs significantly from conventional tests. Here the essentially interactive nature of learning is extended to the process of assessment.

Rather than viewing assessment as a process carried out by one person, such as an instructor, it is seen as a two-way process involving interaction between both instructor and learner. The role of the assessor becomes one of entering into dialogue with the persons being assessed to find out their current level of performance on any task and sharing with them possible ways in which that performance might be improved on a subsequent occasion.

Thus, assessment and learning are seen as inextricably linked and not separate processes. According to this viewpoint instructors should see assessment as a continuous and interactive process that measures the achievement of the learner, the quality of the learning experience and courseware. The feedback created by the assessment process serves as a direct foundation for further development.

Knowledge should not be divided into different subjects or compartments, but should be discovered as an integrated whole. This also again underlines the importance of the context in which learning is presented.

Learners should constantly be challenged with tasks that refer to skills and knowledge just beyond their current level of mastery. This captures their motivation and builds on previous successes to enhance learner confidence.

Vygotsky further claimed that instruction is good only when it proceeds ahead of development. Then it awakens and rouses to life an entire set of functions in the stage of maturing, which lie in the zone of proximal development.

It is in this way that instruction plays an extremely important role in development. To fully engage and challenge the learner, the task and learning environment should reflect the complexity of the environment that the learner should be able to function in at the end of learning. Learners must not only have ownership of the learning or problem-solving process, but of the problem itself.

Where the sequencing of subject matter is concerned, it is the constructivist viewpoint that the foundations of any subject may be taught to anybody at any stage in some form. This notion has been extensively used in curricula. It is important for instructors to realize that although a curriculum may be set down for them, it inevitably becomes shaped by them into something personal that reflects their own belief systems, their thoughts and feelings about both the content of their instruction and their learners.

The emotions and life contexts of those involved in the learning process must therefore be considered as an integral part of learning. The goal of the learner is central in considering what is learned. It is important to achieve the right balance between the degree of structure and flexibility that is built into the learning process.

Savery contends that the more structured the learning environment, the harder it is for the learners to construct meaning based on their conceptual understandings. A facilitator should structure the learning experience just enough to make sure that the students get clear guidance and parameters within which to achieve the learning objectives, yet the learning experience should be open and free enough to allow for the learners to discover, enjoy, interact and arrive at their own, socially verified version of truth.

Constructivist ideas have been used to inform adult education. Current trends in higher education push for more "active learning" teaching approaches which are often based on constructivist views. Approaches based on constructivism stress the importance of mechanisms for mutual planning, diagnosis of learner needs and interests, cooperative learning climate, sequential activities for achieving the objectives, formulation of learning objectives based on the diagnosed needs and interests.

While adult learning often stresses the importance of personal relevance of the content, involvement of the learner in the process, and deeper understanding of underlying concepts, all of these are principles that may benefit learners of all ages as even children connect their every day experiences to what they learn. Various approaches in pedagogy derive from constructivist theory.

They usually suggest that learning is accomplished best using a hands-on approach. Learners learn by experimentation, and not by being told what will happen, and are left to make their own inferences , discoveries and conclusions.

For example, they describe a project called GenScope, an inquiry-based science software application. Students using the GenScope software showed significant gains over the control groups, with the largest gains shown in students from basic courses. This study also found that inquiry-based teaching methods greatly reduced the achievement gap for African-American students.

The constructivist approach, called CORI Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction , resulted in better student reading comprehension, cognitive strategies, and motivation. Jong Suk Kim found that using constructivist teaching methods for 6th graders resulted in better student achievement than traditional teaching methods. This study also found that students preferred constructivist methods over traditional ones. However, Kim did not find any difference in student self-concept or learning strategies between those taught by constructivist or traditional methods.

In their initial test of student performance immediately following the lessons, they found no significant difference between traditional and constructivist methods. However, in the follow-up assessment 15 days later, students who learned through constructivist methods showed better retention of knowledge than those who learned through traditional methods.

Several cognitive psychologists and educators have questioned the central claims of constructivism. It is argued that constructivist theories are misleading or contradict known findings. In the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development it is maintained that learning at any age depends upon the processing and representational resources available at this particular age. That is, it is maintained that if the requirements of the concept to be understood exceeds the available processing efficiency and working memory resources then the concept is by definition not learnable.

This attitude toward learning impedes the learning from understanding essential theoretical concepts or, in other words, reasoning. If this condition is not met, construction goes astray. Several educators have also questioned the effectiveness of this approach toward instructional design, especially as it applies to the development of instruction for novices [7] [42] While some constructivists argue that "learning by doing" enhances learning, critics of this instructional strategy argue that little empirical evidence exists to support this statement given novice learners.

Mayer argues that not all teaching techniques based on constructivism are efficient or effective for all learners, suggesting many educators misapply constructivism to use teaching techniques that require learners to be behaviorally active.

He describes this inappropriate use of constructivism as the "constructivist teaching fallacy". In contrast, Kirschner et al. Slezak states that constructivism "is an example of fashionable but thoroughly problematic doctrines that can have little benefit for practical pedagogy or teacher education. While there are critics of the Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark [7] article, Sweller and his associates have written in their articles about:. Evidence for learning by studying worked-examples, is known as the worked-example effect and has been found to be useful in many domains e.

The reasoning for this grouping is because each learning theory promotes the same constructivist teaching technique—"learning by doing. Mayer states that it promotes behavioral activity too early in the learning process, when learners should be cognitively active.

In addition, Sweller and his associates describe a continuum of guidance, starting with worked examples to slowly fade guidance. This continuum of faded guidance has been tested empirically to produce a series of learning effects: After a half century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, there appears no body of research supporting the technique.

In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather constructivist-based minimal guidance during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners. Even for students with considerable prior knowledge, strong guidance while learning is most often found to be equally effective as unguided approaches.

Not only is unguided instruction normally less effective; there is also evidence that it may have negative results when students acquire misconceptions or incomplete or disorganized knowledge. Mayer argues against discovery-based teaching techniques and provides an extensive review to support this argument. Mayer's arguments are against pure discovery, and are not specifically aimed at constructivism: The main conclusion I draw from the three research literatures I have reviewed is that it would be a mistake to interpret the current constructivist view of learning as a rationale for reviving pure discovery as a method of instruction.

Mayer's concern is how one applies discovery-based teaching techniques. He provides empirical research as evidence that discovery-based teaching techniques are inadequate. Here he cites this literature and makes his point "For example, a recent replication is research showing that students learn to become better at solving mathematics problems when they study worked-out examples rather than when they solely engage in hands-on problem solving.

Yet a dispassionate review of the relevant research literature shows that discovery-based practice is not as effective as guided discovery. Mayer's point is that people often misuse constructivism to promote pure discovery-based teaching techniques.

He proposes that the instructional design recommendations of constructivism are too often aimed at discovery-based practice. The study by Kirschner et al. See the preceding two sections of this article. This would agree with Mayer's viewpoint that even though constructivism as a theory and teaching techniques incorporating guidance are likely valid applications of this theory, nevertheless a tradition of misunderstanding has led to some question "pure discovery" techniques.

The math wars controversy in the United States is an example of the type of heated debate that sometimes follows the implementation of constructivist-inspired curricula in schools. In the s, mathematics textbooks based on new standards largely informed by constructivism were developed and promoted with government support. Although constructivist theory does not require eliminating instruction entirely, some textbooks seemed to recommend this extreme. Some parents and mathematicians protested the design of textbooks that omitted or de-emphasized instruction of standard mathematical methods.

Supporters responded that the methods were to be eventually discovered under direction by the teacher, but since this was missing or unclear, many insisted the textbooks were designed to deliberately eliminate instruction of standard methods.

In one commonly adopted text, the standard formula for the area of a circle is to be derived in the classroom, but not actually printed in the student textbook as is explained by the developers of CMP: If the format of the texts included many worked examples, the student role would then become merely reproducing these examples with small modifications.

Similarly, this approach has been applied to reading with whole language and inquiry-based science that emphasizes the importance of devising rather than just performing hands-on experiments as early as the elementary grades traditionally done by research scientists , rather than studying facts.

In other areas of curriculum such as social studies and writing are relying more on "higher order thinking skills" rather than memorization of dates, grammar or spelling rules or reciting correct answers.

Advocates of this approach counter that the constructivism does not require going to extremes, that in fact teachable moments should regularly infuse the experience with the more traditional teaching. The primary differentiation from the traditional approach being that the engagement of the students in their learning makes them more receptive to learning things at an appropriate time, rather than on a preset schedule.

During the s, several theorists began to study the cognitive load of novices those with little or no prior knowledge of the subject matter during problem solving. Cognitive load theory was applied in several contexts. Ill-structured learning environments rely on the learner to discover problem solutions. Jonassen also suggested that novices be taught with "well-structured" learning environments. Jonassen also proposed well-designed, well-structured learning environments provide scaffolding for problem-solving.

Finally both Sweller and Jonassen support problem-solving scenarios for more advanced learners [62] [63]. Sweller and his associates even suggest well-structured learning environments, like those provided by worked examples, are not effective for those with more experience—this was later described as the " expertise reversal effect ".

Many people confuse constructivist with maturationist views. The constructivist or cognitive-developmental stream "is based on the idea that the dialectic or interactionist process of development and learning through the student's active construction should be facilitated and promoted by adults". Ernst von Glasersfeld developed radical constructivism by coupling Piaget's theory of learning and philosophical viewpoint about the nature of knowledge with Kant's rejection of an objective reality independent of human perception or reason.

Radical constructivism does not view knowledge as an attempt to generate ideas that match an independent, objective reality. In contrary to social constructivism, it picks up the epistemological threads and maintains the radical constructivist idea that humans cannot overcome their limited conditions of reception. In spite of the subjectivity of human constructions of reality, relational constructivism focusses on the relational conditions applying to human perceptional processes.


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Constructivism Research Philosophy “ Constructivism is the recognition that reality is a product of human intelligence interacting with experience in the real world. As soon as you include human mental activity in the process of knowing reality, you have accepted constructivism ” Davis Elkind.

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The readings, including the first chapter of Denzin and Lincoln’s “Strategies of qualitative inquiry” (), talked more about qualitative research than constructivism. Fortunately, I’m familiar with constructivism from learning theory, and the epistemology, although different, shares many of the same ideas.

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Explore the research methods terrain, read definitions of key terminology, and discover content relevant to your research methods journey. What is the difference between constructivism and pragmatism philosophical approaches in drawing on quantitative methods of data collection? in both constructivist and pragmatic research, but.

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International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 3, Issue 12, December 1 ISSN blossomlamar8.ml Educational Research on “Constructivism” - An Exploratory View. Constructivist Learning Theory research papers discuss constructivism as a learning theory. Bruner Constructivism - One of the founding fathers of constructivist theory. Constructivist Learning Environments discusses an order placed for a compare and contrast paper on what u have created as a teacher.