Unformatted text preview: n their
own learning. Although traditional approaches to instruction have their use, they
often do not create the levels of learner activity necessary for deep conceptual
understanding. This principle implies that students should be allowed to learn by
forming and testing their own hypotheses, by physically interacting with their
environments, and by learning to reflect on their own learning processes and
outcomes. Classrooms should be places in which students seek connections
among ideas, and major organizing principles and concepts are stressed.
Principle 5.2: Learning Experiences are More Effective if They Take into
Account the Cognitive Developmental Levels of the Learners.
This principle relates to Piaget’s cognitive developmental stages,
Vygotsky’s notion of the zone of proximal development, and Bruner’s ideas of
knowledge representation systems. This importance of learners’ developmental 52 levels or prior knowledge for new learning is a key idea in constructivist views of
learning also. Here are some implications of these principles.
• Adults should understand the nature of cognitive development in
children and adolescents, and they should use that understanding in
designing learning experiences for children and adolescents. • Young children or novices in an academic domain profit from concrete
experiences with new learning. Eventually teachers should help
students link those experiences to more abstract or symbolic
experiences. • Try to assess students’ current levels of understanding and design
instruction that is moderately challenging for those students. • Try to understand learners’ mental models that guide their thinking.
Provide activities that help them expand or challenge those models. • When working with young children, assume there is an underlying
logic to what they say, even if it is not the same as yours. Principle 5.3: Students’ Knowledge Construction is Assisted by the Nature of
their Interactions with People and/or Objects in Their Environments.
Students’ interactions with their environments influence the types of
understandings they develop, especially their interactions with other people. This
principle is reflected in the importance that Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner place on
social interactions for children’s development. The principle also relates to 53 Vygotsky in terms of his ideas of cultural tools, the impact of the social-cultural
history of the learner, and his general law of development, and to Bruner in terms
of his idea on amplification systems. Finally, this principle is present in
constructivism in terms of the idea of social constructivism and authentic learning
experiences. Here are some general implications of this principle.
• Students should be allowed to debate different points of view on an
issues. • Students need to develop technological competencies that can extend
their capabilities as problem-solvers. • Students need to engage in collaborative problem-solving activities,
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- Spring '08
- Theory of cognitive development, Lev Semenovich Vygotsky