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First he believed that the focus should be on helping

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Unformatted text preview: evant background knowledge and skills are unlikely to be successful at discovery, a point that has been supported by later research on inductive learning (Kuhn, Black, Keselman, & Kaplan, 2000). He also supported forms of discovery that were scaffolded or guided by more expert learners, rather than completely unstructured or open forms of discovery. Bruner’s supported or scaffolded form of discovery called guided discovery. Bruner and Curriculum Design 41 Bruner’s views on curriculum design or developing a “course of study” were organized around two key ideas. First, he believed that the focus should be on helping students understand the psychology of a subject matter. Second he believed that curriculum should be spiraled. The psychology of a subject matter. The psychology of a subject matter includes both the key organizing principles or ideas of a discipline, and the characteristic ways in which practitioners of that discipline solve problems (Bruner, 1965). For example, when students study environmental science, they would focus on understanding major concepts such as biological interdependence rather than memorizing a large number of facts., because these important ideas provide a structure for organizing subsequent knowledge. Also, students need to engage in the research and inquiry methods of the discipline. Bruner wanted students to acquire knowledge, but he also wanted them to learn to think and problem solve. In the environmental science example, therefore, students would learn ideas through the application of the scientific method. In history, they were learn history through the research methods used by historians. One important implication of organizing a curriculum around the psychology of a subject matter is that teachers would have to make decisions about what to include in a course of study. This approach tends to replace breadth 42 of coverage with depth of coverage, an idea referred to as “less is more” (Dempster, 1993). Spiral curriculum. A spiral curriculum involves periodically revisiting key organizing ideas in a discipline throughout a curriculum (Bruner, 1960). Each revisiting of an idea should be done at a higher level of complexity and sophistication that is consistent with learners’ increasing prior knowledge and representational abilities (Hardin & Stamper, 1999; Parry, 2000). For example, the idea of biological interdependence could be introduced to young children through their observations at local ponds. In later grades, interdependence would be reintroduced a higher level of complexity. For example, students might study the idea in terms of the impact of reduced numbers of predators on their prey. Constructivism Constructivism is somewhat difficult to define succinctly because it means so many different things to different people. It has been referred to as an epistemology or explanation of how knowledge is acquired (Simpson, 2001), a theory of classroom learning (Bevevino, Dengel, & Adams, 1999), or a worldview or an ideological position (Matthews, 2000). Also, constructiv...
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