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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.
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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- Spring '08