Constructivism

This week’s assignment was to create an infographic summarising the most important points of the research around Constructivism.

Thus many hours of teaching myself Canva ensue. Why God, why…this sort of fiddling with text and graphics simply is not my favourite way to be creative. Also to me it’s not easy to illustrate these learning and development theories with pictures. I have done my best given the pictures in my head when I think about each concept.

Anyway here it is and I hope it’s 1. accurate and 2. gets the point across.

 

Learning through the ages

That 70s Girl

Photo: not me in the 70’s but pretty close! I wore those turtlenecks and crocheted vests. I had that Dorothy Hamill haircut after the 1978 Winter Olympics! I had streamers on my bike handles!

This is a Week 1 assignment for my LDT100x Instructional Design and Technology: Learning Theories course on edX. We are required to describe three learning experiences during our lives.

  1. Elementary school: I remember teaching myself long division. I was self-sufficient and ahead of the rest of the class, so the teacher explained the basic principles and assigned me loads of problems to go practise on my own. I literally did arithmetic problems over and over on paper until I learned the skill. I understand the method we used back then is considered to complicated for kids now and they learn shortcuts…but long division is one of those skills you just have to learn in life!
  2. High school: Switch to 4th year French. We needed to memorise the verb etre (to be) in about 20 different tenses and often our homework would be simply to conjugate the damn verb for all subjects and all cases on a piece of paper. Then we would review it in class on the blackboards together. This is a very necessary, yet boring skill required to speak proper French.
  3. As an adult, I’ve had to learn several software systems like the one I work with today. In my most recent learning experience, the training I did was all online. It was a combination of structured e-learning courses, recorded “deep dive” descriptions of each feature, and finally a “scavenger hunt” to encourage experimentation and building functionality in the system. I could submit questions to the instructor, as well as join a call to ask questions. The hunts were my favourite parts of the training. I needed to learn this skill to do my job, which is helping clients configure a good user experience in our system. This hopefully helps them achieve their business goals, which I also work with clients to help them define.

Behaviourism: Why is so much of education still like this?

Well, for one thing the Behaviourism approach is a good way to drill basic information into little and not-so-little brains rather quickly. My impression is that the primary purpose of education in the last few hundred years (in the industrialised West anyway) has been to prime students to go out and deliver some type of value in the economy. This was a worthy purpose for the time wasn’t it?

Behaviourism is the classic “carrot/stick” approach. The trainer explains the concept, shows how to obtain the correct answer (there are only a limited number of correct answers), and leads the student through various scenarios designed to help the student learn all the different ways to elicit the correct answer. The student gets some positive stimulus or reward (think: a good grade, praise, stickers, badges) for getting the correct answer and a negative one for an incorrect answer (think: poor grades, criticism or even lack of attention from the instructor). We are all familiar with this technique; it’s likely how we managed to cram the multiplication tables in when we were eight years old.

Behaviourist learning techniques are characterised by:

  • Significant repetition to consistently provide positive stimuli
  • Memorisation, learning by rote
  • Valuing observable behaviour and end result, not necessarily the process which got the student to the result

Behaviourism gets a bad rap, perhaps because the leading research is associated with B.F. Skinner’s lab rats. The method can be effective for learning structured material with a correct answer such as arithmetic, foreign language vocabulary, anatomy etc. After all, you don’t need to put a lot of reasoning why 8 x 7=56, or that bone there is called a tibia, you just need to remember that fact to move on to more sophisticated concepts. The disappointment comes when an instructor doesn’t move beyond this method, even when they could.

Behaviourism in action: I remember needing this technique even in university whilst taking my first East Asian History class. Early on in the semester, the professor gave us a test on all of the Chinese dynasties (names and years) as well as basic geography of China (provinces, cities, rivers). We had to train ourselves on these with flashcards, repetitive filling out of blank maps, lists etc. in order to pass the test.

Although this was a university course and we moved on to produce work with more nuanced thinking, knowing these basics was certainly important to understand the 4,000 years’ worth of history we were learning during that term.

Nerding out

I’ve started this blog as a place to display my nerdy work as I develop myself in coding and instructional design. Taking some MOOC courses, which are amazing by the way, on Khan Academy and edX, to learn some skillz. It’s a requirement for my instructional design course to share my work with the entire world, hooray!

My instructors want me to put my name on here but I’m paranoid. Suffice to say I’m in Sweden, I’m a lady, and I’m a nerd. I’ve been working in the SaaS world for awhile with “talent management” and learning software. Previously I worked as a management consultant advising HR and as a business analyst for a systems integrator. I feel the need to get just that bit more nerdy so I know what I’m talking about in front of technical specialists, so here I am.

Whilst googling I found this adorable image (above) of a NerdGirl, which is possible to order on a tote bag Order here at YuJean.