However it has also been suggested that the perils of

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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 support. 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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