A Comparative Analysis and Validation of Instructivist and Constructivist Self-Reflective Tools (IPSRT and CPSRT) for Novice Instructional Planners

Article excerpt

Developing effective instructional plans from both a traditional approach (e.g., instructivist) as well as a constructivist approach is clearly important for preservice teacher education. This study was designed to validate and compare two cognitive tools, the Instructional Planning Self-Reflective Tool (IPSRT) and the Constructivist Planning Self-Reflective Tool (CPSRT), which were each found in prior research to significantly improve instructional planning performance and motivation/attitude for preservice teachers. In a repeated-measures design, 42 preservice teachers received both the IPSRT and the CPSRT in differing order (counterbalanced between groups) and wrote two instructional plans on the same topic, one with each tool. Results validated the IPSRT for its efficacy in facilitating the development of instructivist plans and the CPSRT for constructivist plan development. No significant differences were found between the IPSRT and CPSRT in participants' instructional planning performance, motivational/attitudinal impact, and perceived tool value, thus confirming that neither tool is more effective than the other. Differences were revealed in preservice teachers' perceptions of metacognitive value of each tool, where the IPSRT was found to better support self-monitoring whereas the CPSRT better supported cognitive flexibility. Implications for implementing these two tools for instructivist and constructivist planning are discussed.

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An important goal of teacher preparation programs is to convince preservice teachers of the significance of instructional planning and assist them in becoming effective instructional planners. The success of this goal is dependent upon the preservice teacher's beliefs about instructional planning, available cognitive and metacognitive strategies, and adeptness in the adopted theoretical approach to instructional planning.

First, the degree to which preservice teachers feel capable of preparing an instructional plan, known as self-efficacy (Bandura, 1986), may influence whether they will engage in the task. Students who are self-efficacious set higher goals, demonstrate more intrinsic motivation in a task, persist longer in the face of obstacles, and select more effective learning strategies (Zimmerman & Bandura, 1994). Further, preservice teachers' disposition or attitudes and perceived instrumentality (i.e., importance) regarding instructional planning could also predict their commitment to engage in effective instructional planning (Kitsantas & Baylor, 2001).

Second, the ill-structured nature of instructional planning can make the process difficult for novice preservice teachers. Jonassen (1997) clearly illustrates that instructional planning is an archetypal ill-structured problem because "the designer is constrained by circumstances, though in most design problems, there are a variety of solutions, each one of which may work as well as any other" (p. 69). Instructional interventions that embed metacognitive strategies may facilitate the instructional planning process, given its ill-structured nature. Metacognitive strategies, defined as one's ability to think about his/her own thinking and to proactively select effective strategies for different learning environments (Zimmerman & Risemberg, 1994), may include organizing, self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and cognitive flexibility. Strategies such as these have been shown to positively influence achievement in different learning contexts (Kitsantas, 2002; Zimmerman, 2000).

Third, and the focus of this study, is the need for preservice teachers to flexibly employ these cognitive and metacognitive strategies in developing instructional plans according to different instructional approaches. Considering that more than one problem-solving path is possible to reach a solution for a given instructional problem, the ability for a preservice teacher to take multiple perspectives (e. …