Constructivist Teaching Strategies

Learning should involve activities to process the new material, linking it to what the student already knows. Tasks should be authentic, set in a meaningful context, and related to the real world. They should not just involve repeating back facts as this causes ‘surface' learning.

As students' learning will involve errors, tasks should offer opportunities for self-assessment, correction, peer discussion, teacher feedback and other ‘reality checks'.

Brain friendly strategies involve plenty of water, oxygen, protein, good diet, rest, and physical exercise as well as brain exercise. Learning drops by 20% if you eat excessive carbohydrates as this causes the release of ceratonin into our blood which relaxes us.

Full focus can only be attained for the same number of minutes as your age, up to about 20 or 25 mintues maximum. Short breaks and changes of focus help.

Use:

Analysis: ‘why?' questions.

Synthesis: ‘how' could you? questions.

Evaluation: judgement questions.

These high order questions require students to construct their own conceptions of the new material. You can't reason with material until you have conceptualised it, so questions that require reasoning force conceptualisation.

For more constructivist teaching strategies see the following handouts:

25 ways of teaching without talking

Formative Teaching Methods

See also the chapter in Teaching Today called ‘Teaching is a two way process'. This includes a game which is an excellent experiential way of putting over constructivism.

Also see Carole Dweck's theory of motivation. This shows that students do not hold a constructivist view, but believe that learning depends on talent.

Constructivist Teaching Strategies

•  Use teaching strategies that require students to make a construct. (Presenting information is not enough.) Students must apply, use, or process the information.

•  Ensure that all students are participating in making constructs; holding them accountable for their learning.

•  Ensure the tasks require students to process the information at a high level on Bloom's taxonomy: Evaluation, synthesis, analysis etc.

•  Require the students to make a product that is used to diagnose learning errors and omissions. e.g. speaking to a partner, matching cards, written work etc.

•  Require students to check for their own, and each other's learning errors and omissions.

•  Require students to correct these learning errors and omissions.

•  Make the above fun!

For example:

•  Decisions-decisions

•  Evaluation matrix

•  Peer explaining, jigsaw

•  Problem solving tasks with self assessment and peer assessment