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Chapter Nine Discussion

Neill Rielly
Vincent Arizzi

Constructivism, one of the main ideas of the chapter, says that meaningful learning occurs when people actively try to make sense of the world. By saying this, they mean that people construct an interpretation in their mind of how and why things are. The example that was put forth in the book involved the feeling people have of government when they live in a country that pays for medicare, verses the mindset of people that live in a country that doesn't support medical care. These two different groups of people would have totally different views towards their governing bodies. How do feel that students would use a constructivist view in the classroom? What would an example of constuctvism be within the classroom?

Chapter 9 discusses many important topics. It focuses on meaningful learning, and how you as a teacher can make it meaningful. Constructivism is a main point of the chapter, being discussed in many different fashions. Chapter nine also goes into some detail about problem solving. Problem solving is something that is taught by teachers, as easy as an addition problem. This skill can be taken out of the classroom, and will be of much use to your students. The book then talks about transfer of learning, which is what I was describing with taking skills from the classroom. I will discuss the different types of transfers – Low-road and High-road transfers. The chapter finishes off with technology for constructivism as well as problem solving.

Jerome Bruner, noted psychologist, had an idea called discovery learning, which changed and improved some of the ideas behind school learning in the 1960s. Bruner believed that students become too dependent on others when they are presented with worksheets and other drill-and-practice exercises. He believes that students should be confronted by problems, and then learn how to solve them independently. This teaches them how to learn as they learn. What are some simple problems you as a teacher could give a primary grade child to solve by him/herself? Problems that wouldn’t overwhelm small children?

Today, constructivism has only grown since the days of discovery learning. One belief is that “meaningful learning is the active creation of knowledge structures from personal experience.” (S/B p.293) Another idea is that knowledge comes from the personal interpretation of experience. This is influenced by factors like age, gender, race, etc. The third idea behind today’s philosophies is that constructivism doesn’t mean that everyone has entirely different ideas and views of the world, and that no one agrees on anything. People can come to a consensus about things. The last facet of constructivism is that multiple perspectives on a view or idea cause adding, deleting, or modifying of these interpretations. Do you agree or disagree with the general statements of today’s constructivism? Do you think they should be modified a little maybe?

Problem solving is basically using a skill that you already have in your possession to attain a goal. There are three common types of problems. The first is the well-structured problem. This is clearly formulated, and can be resolved by a specific method. The result is often clear, and easily evaluated. Ill-structured problems are more common in everyday life. This type of problems points to cues to help solve it. The last kind of problem is called an Issue. Issues tend to have lots of controversy, because they arouse strong feelings.

Here is a brief look at the 5 steps to solving a problem. They are pretty self-explanatory.

1) Realize that a problem exists

2) Understand the nature of the problem

3) Compile relevant information

4) Formulate and carry out a solution

5) Evaluate the solution

One of the final points of the book is Transfer of learning. The theory of identical elements, by Thorndike and Woodworth in 1901, says that the greater the similarity between the tasks, the better the transfer will be. A categorization of transfer into 3 subtitles is positive, negative, and zero transfer. They pretty much speak for themselves. A good division of transfer is that of the Low-road transfer, and high-road settings. Low-road refers to a skill you already know being applied to help with a similarity automatically. High-road transfer means taking the ideas, and rules of one task, and applying them to another similar task. This type seems to me to be the more difficult. More active thinking, and planning is put into high-road transfers. What is a good example from your personal experiences of using high-road transference in a classroom setting?

A second area of discussion in the book is Problems, and Problem solving. One of the roles of teachers is to help students with their problems and therefor help them become good problem solvers. What are some types of problems that you would expect many students to come accross? and, by using the 5 step approach how would you help them solve their problems? While there are many different ways of solving problems, I feel that there is no way of telling what each situation will bring and therefore you must be able to act according to the situation that arises.