Saturday, November 24, 2012

Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theories
“Every thought tends to connect something with something else [intentionality], to establish a relation between things.  Every thought moves, grows and develops, fulfils a function, solves a problem” (1962, p.125; 1986, p.218).

I have been studying Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget this week and the process tends to have been, as Vygotsky has been quoted, “every thought tends to connect something with something else to establish a relationship”. It is with this in mind that I am coming to an understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development that comprises the student experience within the classroom and teaching experience.  It is with the cognitive tools that an instructor supplies that a student can begin to make those connections that will change the schema that they bring into the classroom. Whether by accommodation or assimilation it is the instructor’s role to provide the student the opportunity to find equilibration.  Providing the student with the social connection to guide cognitive growth is only the beginning of the learning process. The student should also have an active role in the development of their learning, and their peers.
The instructor has a number of options at his disposal for providing a well-laid and fertile ground for student growth. Two that would be affective would be in the area of problem solving and with the incorporation of project based learning opportunities. 
In an age where technological growth has made such amazing inroads, its use in the classroom can provide opportunities for more learning to occur by relieving the student of the weight of burdensome calculations, and the time consuming searches that can be a deterrent for student motivation to advance. Technology in and of itself can also provide the means for, cognitive growth, success at problem solving activities, and interpersonal skill development through cooperative opportunities both real time, and through social networks. (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Melonoski, 2007, p. 140). An example of technology that has proven successful in my classroom is with the development of a virtual field trip  This mechanism provides the instructor and learner with the opportunity to work together in the creation of an online tool where the students become a part of not only the questioning process but the development and synthesis of the information that is being produced.   This in a sense adds another connection for the process of learning and student cognition.