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Constructivism as an approach to educational psychology: introduction
Historical background: behaviourism
Historical background: humanistic approach
Historical background: cognitive psychology
Constructivism and language teaching
Constructivism and language teacher
Constructivism and language learner
Constructivism and assessment
Constructivism and Learning Environments (CLEs)
Collaboration in constructivism
Constructivism and CALL
The role of reflection in constructivism
Constructivism and motivation
The role of reflection in Constructivism
Constructivism assumes that all language learners create their individual versions of reality, that is why there are many various ways of perceiving, describing, and understanding different phenomena (language as well) and each of this ways is genuine. Brown (2000:19) emphasises also a great role of attention and awareness of individual cognitive development, stressing that Constructivism emphasises “the primacy of each individual’s construction of reality”. Therefore, the term
plays an extremely significant role in the discussion on Constructivism.
Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics
defines REFLECTION as
“the process of thinking back on and considering experiences, in order better to understand the significance of such experiences. Reflection is thought to be an important component of learning in teacher development and is often a focus of teacher development activities”
Constructivism stresses the importance of reflecting on personal understanding, and re-evaluating different meanings and terms from personal experiences. The idea of encouraging student’s reflection on the learning process is strongly advocated by constructivists. Therefore, in the learning process, there should be adequate space and time devoted to analysis of one’s reflection. None of student’s ideas should be rejected, as each individual reflection deserves equal attention and respect.
Each person stores in his/her memory certain amount of knowledge, different structures, concepts and ideas. Being reflective means to be able to adjust the existing knowledge to new situations, categorize new ideas by means of interaction with the surrounding environment.
are able to take care of their own learning process. The process of reflecting on their previous experiences makes them feel aware and responsible for their own learning. It is important for the student to realise what was learned, by what means and above all, why. All in all, reflective students are usually open-minded, responsible for their own learning processes, and are able to take risks in order to improve learning strategies. One of the contemporary methods of provoking student’s reflection is using PORTFOLIOS (
). Engaging students in collecting selected samples of their work for assessment and career development is a powerful complement to traditional measures of student achievements. This action provokes continuous reflection about such work and about the process of developmental learning (Zubizarreta, 2003).
Using portfolios supports both the LEARNING and the TEACHING processes. There are different konds of portfolios: for learners (from kindergarten, to adult ones) and for teachers (future teachers, and those who already work in schools). Recording intellectual growth and of involving students and teachers in a reflective process enriches their experience, helps to make them more aware of their own learning, or teaching techniques in case of teachers.
Accordingly, the role of teacher is extremely significant, as he/she should provoke learners to ask inquisitive questions. A reflective teacher, just like a reflective learner, becomes constantly more self-aware of his/her abilities, serving at the same time as a guide for students. Reflective teachers are supposed to develop their own teaching strategies, adequate for the groups of students they teach. Teacher should reflect on the experiences of the actions he/she takes up, taking into consideration student’s responses. The role of the teacher is both to reflect on their own actions, and to facilitate students and make them active participants of the learning process, by provoking learners’ reflections.
Useful questions that the reflective teacher should answer:
Developing reflective attitudes in students is one of the most important roles of a teacher who is also responsible for creating supportive, comfortable atmosphere on language classes. Discussing reflective practises, Boud (1995:32) stresses Schön’s definition, who describes a reflective practitioner as “someone who is learning in the act of reflecting on their own practice – and drew attention to the need to prepare students for professional practice.” Certain group or individual activities should be held in order to provoke reflection on students’ prior views, and knowledge.
Here are a few tips that the reflective teacher should follow:
engage students to develop reflective processes
put emphasis on individual metacognitive skills
encourage students to be inquisitive
devote enough space in language lessons for reflection
create secure atmosphere in the classroom
-Teachers may ask students to fill a survey that would help teachers to improve their skills. (Feedback from students)
-On the basis of students' tests teachers should be able to recognise which aspects they failed to teach.
-Teacher should observe which tasks and activities stdents enjoy, and consequently, should make exercises attractive to the students
-The teacher should not repeat the same exercises all the time, as routine is borring- so the reflective teacher is usually able to reflect on his/her techniques and avoid the previously made mistakes
An interview with reflective teachers:
Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics
is defined as:
“an approach to teaching and to teacher education which is based on the assumption that teachers can improve their understanding of teaching by reflecting critically on their teaching experiences”
What is reflective teaching:
The authors of the
suggest three ways of developing teacher reflection:
“ 1) journals in which student teachers or practising teachers write about and describe classroom experiences and use their descriptions as a basis of review and reflection2) audio and video taping of a teacher’s lesson by the teacher, for purposes of latter review and reflection3) group discussion with peers or a supervisor in order to explore issues that come out of classroom experience.”
CERF promotes self-reflection
Peer-assessment activities point directly at the strong and weak aspects of an individual’s performance. Unlike teacher-assessment, peer-assessment offers a student many different “partnership” opinions and clues about his/her performance. It is no longer the teacher who serves as the only true, indisputable source of assessment. Students, by making their own observations and evaluations, become more engaged in the learning process. Their motivation rises as while justifying their opinions and views, learners develop their own attitude towards language learning. At the same time motivation increases. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages promotes the use of diversified evaluation techniques including peer-assessment, which develops learners’ motivation. During the process of peer-assessment, benefits are derived both by the students who are assessed and their “peer-assessors.” In order to comment on a peer’s performance, one must have specific knowledge of the subject, which also motivates learners to more efficient learning. Peer-assessing provokes self-reflection. ‘Assessors’, while thinking about their peers, also tend to evaluate themselves.
Boud, D. (1995). Enhancing Learning through Self-Assessment. London: Kogan Page.
Brown, H. D. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.
Richards, J. C. and R. Schmidt (Eds.) (2002) Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. London: Longman.
Zubizarreta, J. (2003). The learning portfolio: Reflective practice for improving student learning. Bolton: Anker.
Reflection and Constructivism:
How to become a reflective teacher:
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