Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Constructivist Translation Classroom Environment Survey (CTLES): Development, Validation and Application

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Constructivist Translation Classroom Environment Survey (CTLES): Development, Validation and Application

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Following Piaget and Vygotsky, constructivism, both in its radical or social form, has been enthusiastically discussed and greatly supported as an efficient and alternative approach to learning (von Glasersfeld, 1995, 1998; Wang & Walberg, 2001; Brooks, 2002). The basic and the most fundamental assumption of constructivism is that knowledge is not independent of the learner, it is constructed by the learner.

Social constructivism has also had a great impact on translation teaching and Kiraly's book called A Social Constructivist Approach to Translator Education; Empowerment from Theory to Practice (Kiraly, 2000) has been cited as an important step in that 'it introduces useful theories to conceptualise how the focus of translation teaching needs to be shifted from being teacher-centred or learner-centred to learning-centred' (Malena, 2003, p.596).

It is unfortunate that constructivist education has not been investigated enough in action in translation classrooms and just a few studies (e.g. Kiraly, 2001; Varney, 2009) are available in this domain. Comprehensive studies are needed to assist researchers not only to investigate how constructivist education affects the students' final outcomes in their translation classroom but also to assess the effects of constructivist educational ideas on students' perceptions of and satisfaction with their translation classroom environments. It is necessary to provide researchers and educators with some instruments so that they can assess the degree to which a particular translation classroom's environment is consistent with constructivist ideas. Instruments are necessary to assist educational practitioners to reflect on their assumptions and reshape their practice and policies in the teaching of translation.

This paper describes the validation of an existing instrument, i.e. the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES), for assessing students' perceptions of the psychosocial environment that should exist in constructivist translation classrooms and reports comprehensive validation information for a large sample of university students from Iran. It also explores, from a constructivist perspective, Iranian university students' satisfaction with their translation classroom environment. The work is distinctive because it is the first learning environment study in translation classrooms and provides one of the few classroom environment studies conducted in Iran.

2. Literature review

2.1 Constructivism

The general sense of constructivism is that it is a theory of learning or meaning making, that individuals create their own new understandings on the basis of an interaction between what they already know and believe and ideas and knowledge with which they come into contact (Resnick, 1989). The basic and the most fundamental assumption of constructivism is that knowledge is not independent of the learner, it is constructed by the learner. Among the most prominent philosophers and educators that are associated with constructivism are Piaget, Vygotsky, Kuhn, and von Glasersfeld. Cobb (1994) and Jonassen (1991) present the major philosophical and epistemological assumptions of constructivism as follows: (I) There is a real world that puts boundaries on what we can experience. However, reality is local and there are multiple realities. (II) The mind creates symbols by perceiving and interpreting the world. (III) The structure of the world is created in the mind through interaction with the world and is based on interpretation. (IV) Meaning is a result of an interpretive process and it depends on the knower's' experiences and understanding. Symbols are products of culture and they are used to construct reality. (V) Human thought is imaginative and grows out of perception, sensory experiences, and social interaction.

There are several schools of thought within the constructivist paradigm. The two most prominent ones are radical constructivism and social constructivism. …

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