Unformatted text preview: rning are not equally effective in producing
meaningful understanding and transfer. In general guided discovery methods tend to be
more effective than open or free discovery methods (Mayer & Wittrock, 1996). Students
may fail to discover the intended relationships and principles without guidance and
Second, students’ prior knowledge clearly affects what they will learn from
instruction (Dochy, Segers, & Buehl, 1999). Constructivists seem to acknowledge this
when they suggest that students can better understand the concepts they are learning if
they connect them to previously constructed knowledge (Ward, 2001). However, it has
also been suggested that the perils of having students construct their own knowledge are 44
as apparent as the advantages (Cobb, 1999). In particular, students may construct
misconceptions that can be very difficult to change. In the case of transfer, these
misconceptions could make it difficult to transfer knowledge when appropriate, and
possibility even result in negative transfer. The construction of knowledge by students
needs to be supervised carefully because of these potentials.
Students can also differ in terms of the required skills to construct knowledge
successfully (de Jong & van Joolingen, 1998; Kuhn, Black, Keselman, & Kaplan, 2000).
In the area of science discovery learning, for example, students could differ in terms of
how skillfully they can manage and execute key components of discovery such as
formulating hypotheses, designing experiments that provide tests of hypotheses, and
interpreting data generated from these experiments.
The prior knowledge and prerequisite skills issues may be more pronounced for
some populations of students than for others. For example, Mastropieri & Scruggs (1997)
found that students with mild disabilities were less likely to reach a correct induction
during a guided inquiry lesson than were their peers without disabilities. Teachers may
find it helpful to teach key concepts, skills, and necessary terms that are necessary for
successful discovery (Gersten & Baker, 1998).
The general implication here is that learners may vary in their ability to learn
meaningfully from discovery learning lessons, and consequently to transfer what they
have learned. Teachers may account for these differences in a number of ways including
providing more explicit guidance or support during discovery, or by combining teacherdirected and discovery lessons together. 45
Principle 5.3: Students’ Knowledge Construction is Assisted by the Nature of their
Interactions with People and/or Objects in Their Environments.
Developmental and constructivist theoreticians have added another important
dimension to our understanding of transfer. They point out that context is an important
factor that influences quality of learning and consequently students’ ability to transfer
what they have learned. When constructivists talk about context, they are discussing a
social context that is defined by participation in particular social practices (Cobb &
Bowers, 1999). For example, a research team is defined by certain social ro...
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- Spring '08
- Procedural knowledge, Mary Eddistone