Action Research 14
Constructivism focuses on several important facets of education including providing experience with the knowledge; it can be defined as a process that includes students actively building meaning and understanding of reality through experiences and relations (Slavin, 2003). There are seven specific design goals for successful constructivist teachings according to Honebein (1996): to provide experience with the process of making knowledge, to provide experiences that provide multiple perspectives, to infuse learning in authentic contexts, to promote ownership of the learning, to suffuse social interaction, to exercise multiple modalities, and to encourage metacognition.
In their study on constructivism, Czerniak, Haney, and Lumpe (2003) examined the views of a small group of science teachers, studets, administrators, and parents respectively. Using the Beliefs About Learning Environment Instrument, they found that school administrators and science teachers hold the constructivism in high regard as a teaching philosophy for science courses. The tenets of constructivism align closely with the objectives of engaging fieldwork and of increasing student motivation.
According to educational psychologist Slavin (2003), “much of what must be learned in school is not inherently interesting or useful to most students in the short run” (p. 348). This may be an issue many teachers, including myself, have faced on a daily basis. However, according to Slavin there are some methods that can help. By offering rewards for learning activities teachers can hurt intrinsic motivation. Instead he recommends enhancing intrinsic motivation by arousing interest, presenting demonstrations that lead to cognitive dissonance,