Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

holder for these ideas to exist outside of Ellie. Moreover, because this language is dynamic--it can be "run"--it provided feedback to Ellie's ideas. This trialogue between Ellie's mental model, the expression of her mental model in encapsulated code and the running of that code, allowed Ellie to successively refine the creative structure of her thought. Although one might concede that it is theoretically possible for Ellie to have resolved her problem with a prebuilt model in which a randomizing parameter was modified, the learner-modeling approach is clearly significant in its outcome and arguably more practical in its implementation. This is because, for Ellie to have come to a similar set of insights, a model designer would have had to anticipate all of Ellie's concerns and built them into the model. Clearly, this is impossible to do in general--educational software designers cannot anticipate all the directions that a learner might want to investigate and incorporate them into a parameter model. Moreover, users of "parameter-twiddling" software realize that they are pursuing someone else's investigation. This realization decreases the motivation of discovery. Lastly, such closed environments reinforce a view of mathematics learning as a process of verifying already known mathematics, as opposed to seeing it as a personal odyssey of mathematics making. In designing computer-based environments for learning probability, we must remember that allowing users to create their own models is necessary for truly learner-owned investigations.

For many learners in the Connected Probability project, this experience of doing Connected Mathematics was so different from their experience in regular mathematics classrooms that they did not recognize their activity as being mathematics. Learners who had "always hated mathematics" and had been told that they were not "good at mathematics" were excitedly engaged in doing mathematics that could be easily recognized by mathematicians as "good mathematics." Having created a strong intuitive foundation for the conceptual domain, learners could also go on to engage the formal approaches and techniques with an appreciation for how they connect to core ideas of probability and statistics. Even more importantly, they now understood that mathematics is a living growing entity which they could literally make their own.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A version of this chapter appeared in 1995 in the Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 14 ( 2). The preparation of this chapter was supported by the National Science Foundation ( Grant 9153719-MDR), the LEGO Group, and Nintendo Inc. The ideas expressed here do not necessarily reflect the positions of the supporting agencies. I would like to thank Seymour Papert, Mitchel Resnick, and David Chen for extensive feedback about this research. I also thank Donna Woods, Paul Whitmore, Ken Ruthven, Walter Stroup, David Rosenthal, Richard Noss, Yasmin

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Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Acknowledgments 8
  • Part I - Perspectives in Constructionism 8a
  • 1 - A Word for Learning 9
  • References 24
  • 2 - Perspective-Taking and Object Construction 25
  • Conclusion 32
  • Acknowledgments 34
  • References 34
  • 3 - Elementary School Children's Images of Science 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Conclusions 62
  • Acknowledgments 64
  • Acknowledgments 65
  • Appendix B - Image of Science Interview Guideline 65
  • Part II - Learning Through Design 70a
  • 4 - Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact 71
  • Conclusion 93
  • Acknowledgments 94
  • References 94
  • 5 - Electronic Play Worlds 97
  • Conclusions 119
  • Acknowledgments 121
  • References 121
  • 6 - The Art of Design 125
  • Foreword 125
  • References 158
  • 7 - Building and Learning with Programmable Bricks 161
  • Introduction 161
  • References 172
  • Part III - Learning in Communities *
  • 8 - Social Constructionism and the Inner City Designing Environments for Social Development and Urban Renewal 175
  • Introduction 175
  • Acknowledgments 204
  • Appendix - Statistical Data About the Four Corners Neighborhood 204
  • References 205
  • 9 - The MediaMOO Project Constructionism and Professional Community 207
  • Conclusion - Constructionism and Virtual Reality 220
  • Acknowledgments 221
  • References 221
  • 10 - A Community of Designers Learning Through Exchanging Questions and Answers 223
  • Introduction 223
  • References 239
  • 11 - They Have Their Own Thoughts 241
  • Introduction 241
  • Conclusion 251
  • Acknowledgments 252
  • References 253
  • Part IV - Learning About Systems 254a
  • 12 - New Paradigms for Computing, New Paradigms for Thinking 255
  • Introduction 255
  • Acknowledgments 266
  • References 267
  • 13 - Making Sense of Probability Through Paradox and Programming A Case Study in a Connected Mathematics Framework 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Concluding Remarks 290
  • Acknowledgments 292
  • References 293
  • 14 - Ideal and Real Systems 297
  • Introduction 297
  • Analysis and Conclusions 318
  • Acknowledgments 322
  • References 322
  • Author Index 323
  • Subject Index 329
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