The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education

By Kenneth Tobin | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Constructivist Perspectives on Teacher Learning

Kenneth Tobin

The focus for the research described in this chapter is on teacher learning and curriculum change. We were interested in factors associated with teachers making changes in their classrooms and institutionalizing those changes. The program of research has been in progress since 1984 and continues today (e.g., Tobin 1990a, Tobin and Espinet 1989; Tobin and Fraser 1987; Tobin and Gallagher 1987; Tobin et al. 1990; Tobin and Ulerick 1989). Throughout the entire research program, we have focused on the teacher and the rationale for teaching practices. Our research questions have involved teacher beliefs and other cognitive factors such as metaphors. It is now clear that a prerequisite to understanding the change process is to understand the culture in which teaching and learning are embedded.

A teacher's experience is sensory and is given meaning by reflection, which involves the construction of images, and, in some cases, the assignment of language to images, which can be thought of as dynamic reconstructions of experience ( Clandinin 1986; Paivio 1974). Sanders and McCutcheon ( 1986) and Elbaz ( 1983) reported how teachers used images as they thought about teaching. Kennison ( 1990) described how the teachers in her case studies used images in the process of imagining lessons in their classrooms, developing and maintaining innovations, and planning for learning. In our own research, we observed how Marsha perceived her roles in terms of metaphors and associated visual images ( Tobin and Ulerick 1989). Even more graphic was the example of a science teacher who envisioned himself as a swashbuckling captain of a ship, barking orders to his crew to keep them under tight control ( Tobin 1990b).


An important aspect of language and knowing is referred to by Lakoff ( 1987) as metonymy. This occurs when a person uses a part of a concept to give meaning to an entire concept. For example, Marsha, and most of her colleagues, defined teaching predominantly in terms of management, which, in turn, was defined in terms of control of students. Solutions to teaching problems were, therefore, sought in terms of management and control. Another way to think


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 344

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?