Teachers and Constructivism

IN PRACTICE, there are a thousands of educators who believe that learning by doing leads to long term knowledge building and thus should be worked into traditional teaching methods, despite their limitations of time and personalization. In 1995 the Department of Education surveyed teacher practices and reported that more than half of K-12 teachers had their students engage in complex activities in order to promote higher-level thinking skills. According to this report, What Happens in Classrooms?: Instructional Practices in Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1994-95, 64% of teachers had students articulate relationships between in-class activities and real-world experiences; 59% of teachers created learning situations where more than one single answer might be considered correct, depending on student interpretation; and 38% of teachers had students construct projects and explain why the elements of those projects were organized in that fashion.

The report also suggested that teachers were generally less likely to ask students to engage in higher-level thinking schools in their homework than in the classroom. On a weekly basis, 13% of teachers had students work on problems with no obvious solution; 23% assigned projects or experiments for the home; and 43% assigned tasks that required students to apply new concepts in a new context. However, as students demonstrated an increase in knowledge, teachers became more likely to assign homework that would require constructivist skills.

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