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"This is nothing like school": Discourse and the social environment as key components in learning science

Watters, James J. & Diezmann, Carmel M. (1998) "This is nothing like school": Discourse and the social environment as key components in learning science. Early Child Development and Care, 140(1), pp. 73-84.

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Abstract

Constructivism as a philosophical belief argues that coming to know is not the discovery of some pre-existing reality but the subjective personal interpretation of that reality. Elements of constructivism can be traced back through the aeons from Dewey in the early twentieth century, to Comenius in the seventeenth century to the Greek philosophers. Constructivists posit that knowledge is the representation that individuals hold of the physical and social world and accords with their previous experiences (e.g. Coburn, 1995; Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, & Scott, 1994, Tobin, 1993). Knowledge is developed by active mental engagement with experiences, not passively received from the environment. Therefore, understanding becomes a process of adaptation based on and continually adjusted by the learner's experiences. The implications for teaching suggest that while information may be shared with students, knowledge generation or understanding is the responsibility of the student. Therefore the teacher's responsibility is to provide the support for the student to become a learner (Fenstermacher, 1986). However, constructivism is yet to make an impact at the classroom level as a referent for teacher actions in the teaching of science (Tobin, Tippins, & Hook, 1993). Among the reasons for this may be the reluctance of teachers to adopt new strategies without convincing evidence that the changes are beneficial and worth the effort (Sevilla & Marsh, 1992; Summers & Kruger, 1994). In this paper we explore the role of constructivism in the early years of primary school by describing an intervention that attempts to develop a social learning environment facilitatory of children learning science.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 2697
Item Type: Journal Article
DOI: 10.1080/0300443981400106
ISSN: 1476-8275
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 1998 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in Early Child Development and Care140:pp. 73-84.
Deposited On: 22 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:28

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