39 one particular form of an instructional

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Unformatted text preview: e Kalihari, he noted that instruction in amplification systems tends to occur continually, always in a situation where the amplification system would be used, and more through showing than through telling (Bruner, 1965). Bruner noted that these interactions are quite different from how formal schooling occurs in industrialized countries, a point also endorsed by Vygotskians. To some extent, classrooms should be cultures of learning that allow students to develop the tools needed to function in their societies (Bruner, 1996). 39 One particular form of an instructional interaction that interested Bruner is the interaction between adults and children in problem-solving situations. In these problem-solving situations, adults guide or support learners as they solve problems together. As we suggested earlier, the term scaffolding is used for this type of guidance and support (Wood, 1989; Wood, Bruner & Ross, 1976; Wood & Middleton, 1975). The shared usage of scaffolding by Vygotskians and Bruner provides one more example of the connections that exist between the two theories. Table 5.3 contains the types of instructional support that Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976) first labeled as scaffolding behaviors. Bruner and Classroom Instruction Bruner perceived a close relationship between his theory of cognitive development and his theory of instruction. Discovery learning, the psychology of the discipline, and the spiral curriculum are Bruner’s three main contributions to a theory of classroom instruction. Discovery Learning Bruner (1961) believed that knowledge we discover for ourselves is the most uniquely personal knowledge we have. His definition of discovery learning would “include all forms of obtaining knowledge for oneself by use of one’s own mind” (Bruner, 1961, p. 22). As an approach to classroom instruction, discovery learning is an inductive process that allows learners to discover important principles, relationships. or concepts through their own experiences. According to 40 Bruner (1995) the discovery process can occur in a number of ways, including the use of Socratic questioning, problem examples that allow students to find patterns, and activities that encourage students’ willingness to take risks in their learning. Consider this example of discovery learning in Mary Hartley’s class. ⇒ I provide my students with circles of different sizes, a ruler and a piece of string. My students use the ruler and string to get measures of circumference and diameter for each circle. They are asked to divide each measured circumference by its diameter and to tabulate the results. With measurement error factored in, they are going to observe that for each circle, the result turns out to be about 3.14 or pi. Bruner advocated for discovery learning because he felt it took advantage of learners’ natural curiosity, and that it helped them develop their thinking capabilities. He, however, also noted that “discovery, like surprise, favors the well-prepared mind” (Bruner, 1961, p. 22). Students who lack rel...
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