This week’s readings mostly focused on various elements of constructivism, social constructivism, and generative learning theory. Constructivism has its foundations in many different educational approaches—Goodman, Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, Dewey, situated learning, even some behaviorism—all have fingerprints on what we read about constructivism this week. It is clear from these readings that constructivism cannot easily be defined, but constitutes a multitude of approaches. My general understanding of constructivism came from the Driscoll textbook and the metaphor of a passive empty vessel versus an active organism. Students do not learn because we as teachers pour our knowledge into them; if they are creating knowledge, it is because they are actively constructing connections between the material and their long term memory. While I do think there are holes in the constructivist approach, as we discussed in week five with the guest lecturer Dr. Stefaniak, I think constructivist theories encourage self reflection, self regulation, and active learning, all of which are important elements of higher order thinking.
Generative learning theory appeared to me to be one expression of a constructivist approach. In this theory, the instructor and designer are setting up students to be engaged in the content. This allows for the stages described in the Fiorella and Mayer (2016) article: generating connections, motivating learners, directing attention toward incoming material, and accessing prior memory storage. I found this to be an interesting design approach with constructivist principles, but I think I need greater parsing between instructional strategies and learning strategies as I feel the instructional strategy is what directs the learning strategy and is difficult to separate.
The concept of constructivism has some followers in librarianship—the thinking goes, we as librarians, can not provide judgment on the information patrons wish to learn as all information is useful if a patron wants it. We should provide equal access to information regardless of what that information is. I saw this reflected in what we read about constructivism that knowledge construction does not have to be objectively reflected in the world for it to be useful to the person who constructed it. I struggle with this concept in my field because while one can argue the nature of reality and truth, just because a patron believes the world is flat does not mean we should cultivate a collection that represents that belief. However, a constructivist approach would say that belief is equally valid and it is not our job to ignore collections that speak to that patron.
I am making progress on my literature review—it is a lot of work that is for sure! There is a lot of reading, it can be hard to balance with all of the reading that needs to be done for the literature review with all of the reading that needs to be done for this and other classes. I definitely have been guilty of mixing up one week reading’s with another’s and being lost. Having to dig in my notebook during the lectures is the only way I can keep things straight!