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The Constructivist Approach to Teaching Science in the Primary Classroom - Case Study Example

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This paper "The Constructivist Approach to Teaching Science in the Primary Classroom" sheds some light on the principles of constructivism, and critically argues that the theory is useful for the primary science teacher to help pupils learn effectively…
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The Constructivist Approach to Teaching Science in the Primary Classroom
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Download file to see previous pages When students learn science, they construct meanings and develop understandings in a social context, state Duit & Treagust (1998: 4). Classroom verbal discourse in the form of teacher talk and teacher-student interactions form the basis for most of this meaning-making. Because teacher questions are a frequent component of classroom talk, they play an important role in determining the nature of discourse during science instruction. The cognitive processes that students engage in, as they undertake the process of constructing scientific knowledge, to a large extent depend on the kinds of questions that teachers ask and their way of asking the questions.

Chin (2007: 816) conducted a study to investigate questioning-based discourse practices in science classrooms, how knowledge is co-constructed through interactions between students and teachers across a number of classroom activities, and to identify different ways of teacher questioning that encourage productive thinking in students. The main theoretical framework defining this study is social constructivism, which focuses on how knowledge is constructed in the social context of the classroom through language and other semiotic means. The core idea is that scientific conceptual knowledge first appears between people on an interpsychological plane, and then inside the learner on an intrapsychological plane (Vygotsky, 1978: 128). The concept of the teacher assisting student performance through the “zone of proximal development” suggests that teachers can guide the discourse of the inner psychological plane to support student learning. As questions are a key component of classroom discourse, teacher’s questions act as a psychological tool in influencing students’ knowledge construction.

Classroom discourse can be analyzed in terms of its authoritative and dialogic functions, states Scott (1998: 45). The classroom activities include direct instructions, whole-class discussions, and laboratory investigations.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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