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‘Experiencing the Theory': constructivism in a pre-service teacher preparation program

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In two Bachelor of Education courses, students experienced social constructivist principles for teaching Elementary Language Arts. In the first course, they were introduced to the theory upon which curricula, methods, and strategies are based. Implications for instruction were explored through discussion of readings and participation in child-centered activities, later examined from the points of view of the learner and of the theory. In the second course, the seminar group pursued advanced questions about social constructivist theories, methods, and strategies. Students kept informal written responses to readings; shared reactions, ideas, and questions; suggested readings and approaches; and summarized their understanding in final papers. Students evaluated both experiences as being exceptionally useful to their own understanding of instruction. Four pedagogical points are worth consideration. First, despite differences in their undergraduate disciplines, all students demonstrated that they could contribute to their peers' construction of knowledge or meaning making of the concepts and theories examined. Second, the sequence of the two courses seemed to be important for establishing a base of understanding and inquiry for the seminar group. Third, students used metacognitive analysis of their experiences in order to examine their own learning, to investigate learning in general, and to inquire into the use of this understanding in their teaching. Fourth, students' excitement, as expressed in their evaluations, suggests that they began to construct a notion of what a teacher can be, of the obligation that a teacher has to continuous professional development, and of the need to inquire about their own practice.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Nova Scotia Department of Education, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication date: 2000-06-01

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