Nina's Notes

for Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning

Constructive Tools for Effective Learning

Perceiving learning objectives and acting upon them are prerequisites for successful learning experiences and academic performance. Classroom learning includes perceiving (sensorimotor) and doing (psychomotor) skills, and combining students' thinking to the art of putting their thoughts on paper (or on computer) in clear sentences or equations enhances both types of these skills. To further improve sensorimotor skills we need to provide opportunities to practice perceiving and understanding, as well as differentiating essentials from unimportant items. The easiest way for doing this is to provide choices for students, and guide them to choose well.

Constructivist approach to teaching and learning emphasizes the students' need to construct their own understanding. Delivered or transmitted knowledge does not have the same emotional and intellectual value. New learning depends on prior understanding and is interpreted in the context of current understanding, not first as isolated information that is later related to existing knowledge.

When students construct their own learning with teacher's guidance, most misinterpretations of phenomena can be avoided. Everyone working with young children has heard various interesting explanations about how they understand the surrounding environment.  Often these are very funny, to the adult mind, but the truth is that children have an innate need for explanations and categorizations, otherwise Pokemons and Bakugans could not attract kids so much. And if an explanation is not offered, children will create their own one, using the experiences that make sense to them.

One of the main principles in constructive approach is the cumulative nature of knowledge  and understanding.  Different types of categorization are very necessary, so that the relations of subjects  taught at schools will make sense and become connected. The amount of information in our world, and our schools,  is so huge, that students need good understanding and excellent teaching about how  different things are connected to each other.  Without that help most students will end up gathering small pieces of unimportant knowledge that they cannot utilize in higher level thinking processes.

Constructive tools combined with the cognitive ones make students aware of what they need in order to succeed at school and in life. Imagining building a pyramid is a very good visualization about constructive-cognitive approach. Having wide and steady foundation on the bottom on which to build makes very much sense. This way the building of knowledge and understanding becomes strong and useful.



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