The Practice of Constructivism in Science Education

By Kenneth Tobin | Go to book overview

the Experimental Life ( Shapin and Schaffer 1985) provide excellent discussions of how scientific ideas arise within a cultural and social milieu (also see Latour 1990). In anthropology, there are highly informative accounts, such as "African Traditional Thought and Western Science" ( Horton 1967) or The Domestication of the Savage Mind ( Goody 1977), of how scientific ideas relate to more traditional forms of thought. And, as noted earlier, there are numerous sources on the methods of qualitative research.

This chapter began by attempting to show that contextual constructivism is a natural outgrowth of personal constructivism. These categories are not mutually exclusive but complementary. Figure 1 is thus somewhat misleading. The three avenues of constructivism should be brought back together to show that an adequate approach to teaching and learning research includes all three perspectives. While personal constructivism is the anatomy and physiology of constructivism, contextual constructivism is the ecology. Both categories are needed to achieve greater understanding of how students make sense of the world. In turn, this will enable educators to structure science instruction so that science makes sense to all students. In 1979, Elliot Mishler published a marvelous article with a title that neatly summarizes the case for contextual constructivist research, "Meaning in Context: Is There Any Other Kind?" As constructivist thinking has developed since the late 1970s, its proponents have converged on a "no" response to Mischler's rhetorical question.


REFERENCES

Ausubel D. P. The Psychology of Meaningful Verbal Learning. New York: Grune and Stratton, 1963.

Ausubel D. P., J. D. Novak, and H. Henesian. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978.

Berger P. L. The Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press, 1979.

Berger P. L., and T. Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Brewer J., and A. Hunt. Multimethod Research: A Synthesis of Styles. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 1989.

Capra F. The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Clement J. "Overcoming Students' Misconceptions in Physics: The Role of Anchoring Intuitions and Analogical Validity." In J. D. Novak (Ed.), Proceedings of the Second International Seminar on Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1987.

Chomsky N. Cartesian Linguistics. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.

Cobern W. W. World View Theory and Science Education Research. Cincinnati, OH: National Association for Research in Science Teaching monograph series, vol. 3, 1991a.

Cobern W. W. "The Natural World as Understood by Selected College Students: A World View Methodological Exploration." Paper, annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Lake Geneva, WI, 1991b.

Cole M., and S. Scribner. Culture and Thought, A Psychological Introduction. New York: Wiley, 1974.

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