From Theory to Practice
From Theory to Application.
design is concerned with selecting optimal methods of instruction to bring about
the desired changes in students knowledge and skills and the practitioners need
the best guidance for their design and development efforts.
But translating a theory into practice can be risky.
Currently the field of instructional technology draws principles of
instructional design and development from empirical studies conducted within the
traditions of variety of paradigms and disciplines: behavioural learning theory,
cybernetics, information processing, cognitive theory, media design/production,
adult learning, systems theory, and so forth.
instructional design tended to rely on the behavioural learning theories, but as
the cognitive theory has moved to the forefront the concern is how the
instructional designer can integrate into the professional practice the ideas
basic to current cognitive theories. Howard
Gardner (1987, p.6) defines cognitive science as “ a contemporary, empirically
based effort to answer long-standing epistemological questions-particularly
those concerned with the nature of knowledge, its components, its sources, its
development, and its deployment.” He
inscribe the features that generally are associated with cognitive science, such
as that cognitive science is definitely multidisciplinary, drawing upon the
disciplines of psychology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy, neuroscience,
and artificial intelligence.
will view the implications for instructional design derived from the
constructivist theories. The view
of learning as a constructive process affects all aspects of the design process:
the concept of the learning objective; the specification of goals outcomes; and
methodologies for analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
developer must start with analysing the content and the learner to prepare for
the specification of intended learning outcomes.
traditional approach to content analysis has two goals. First is the effort to
simplify and regularise the elements to be learned and rephrase them into
process or method. One must
identify the content components and classify them based on the nature of the
content and the goals of the learner. Second,
the analysis specifies prerequisite learning, it prespecifies all of the content
and the logical dependencies between the components of the content.
view of the constructivist it is very different.
Because the learner must construct an understanding or viewpoint, the
content cannot be prespecified. The
knowledge domain may be specified but the student is encouraged to search for
applicable knowledge domains that may be relevant to the issue. Information from many sources bears on the analysis of any
issue and learners must be encouraged to seek new points of view and to consider
alternative data sources. It is
necessary to define a central or core body of information, but it is difficult
to define the boundaries of what may be relevant (Bendar,A.K., Cunningham,D.,
Duffy,T.M., and Perry,J.D. 1995).
constructivist view is also that the types of learning can not be identified
independent of content and context of learning, from their view point it is not
possible to isolate units of information or make priori assumptions of how the
information will be used. ´Facts
are not simply facts to be remembered in isolation´.
Instead of dividing up the knowledge domain based on a logical analysis
of dependencies, the constructivist view turns toward a consideration of what
real people in a particular knowledge domain and real life context typically do
(Bendar et al, 1995). The main goal
of such an approach is to make the learner think like an expert of that
particular knowledge domain would think in that particular circumstances. For an example the goal should not to be to teach students
geography principles or geography facts, but to teach students to use the domain
of geographic information as a geographer, navigator, cartographer, etc., might
do. It is the case of constructing
a perspective or understanding that is fundamental to learning; no meaningful
construction is conceivable if all relevant information is prespecified.
a traditional instructional designing viewpoint,
the ´learner´ is most often the pool of learners, the average
conditions and the range under which the system must function.
It is the concept of the general learner that guides the original design
of the material and the placement of individuals within the materials is
attained through pre-test. They
stress upon the accurate storage and retrieval of externally defined
constructivist approach focus on skills of reflexivity not remembering, they
focus on the process of knowledge construction and the development of reflexive
awareness of that process: the possibility of alternative sign systems, the
imaginative (e.g., metaphorical) aspects of much of our knowledge, the
development of self-conscious manipulation of the constructive process, etc.
Because every learner will have a unique perspective going into and
leaving the learning experience, the concept of global learner is not a part of
the constructivist perspective (Bendar et al, 1995).
the traditional instructional design view point, the outcome of the analysis
phase is the detail of intended learning results.
Through the analysis proceeding the developer classifies the
characteristics of the content and the learner so as to accommodate their
transaction in the synthesis phase to instructional method.
The classification the developer uses are used across contends,
disregarding the nature of the domain.
constructivist think of it , every field has a unique ways of knowing, and the
purpose of analysis is to try to characterise this.
If, for example teaching a biology, the aim is to discover in which way a
biologist think about the world and provide means to promote such thinking in
the learner not to teach any particular version of biology. Therefore constructivists do not have learning and
performance objectives that are internal to the content domain (e.g., employ the
principle), but rather they seek for authentic tasks and let the more specific
objectives emanate and be realised as they are suitable to the learner in
solving the real world task.
traditional way of the design process is to apply principles derived from the
psychology and media research to design an instructional sequence (macro level)
and message (micro level), which are the optimal strategy to obtain a specified
performance objective. The sequence
of instruction is specified based on logical dependencies in the knowledge
domain and on hierarchy of learning objectives, like in Keller´s plan, PSI.
the constructivist viewpoint it is important that the development of the
learning environment encourage understanding from multiple perspective. “The instructions should be based on techniques drawn from
the constructivist´s epistemological assumptions which are consistent with that
theory of learning, e.g., situated cognition in real world contexts, teaching
through cognitive apprenticeship, and construction of multiple perspectives”
(Bendar et al, 1995, p.106).
et al suggest by real world context that:
task is not isolated, but rather is a part of a larger context (Brasford,
Sherwood, Hasselbring, Kinzer, & Willams, 1990).
We do not simply ask students to do word problems in the book.
Rather we create projects, or create environments, that capture a larger
context in which that problem is relevant.
“real worldness” of the context refers as much to the task of the learner as
it does to the surrounding environment or the information base (Brown, Collins,
& Duguid, 1989a; Resnick, 1987). We
are not simply talking about critical and incidental attributes of the
environment. We also argue that the
reason for solving a problem must be authentic to the context in which the
learning is to be applied. Thus we
do not have learning and performance objectives that are internal to the content
domain (e.g., apply the principle), but rather we search for authentic tasks and
let the more specific objectives be realised as they are appropriate to the
environmental context is critical. An essential concept in the constructivist
view is that the information cannot be remembered as independent, abstract
entities. Learning always takes
place in a context and the context forms an inexorable link with the knowledge
embedded within it. Most simply
stated, an abstract, simplified environment (school learning) is not just
quantitatively different from the real world environment but also qualitatively
different. The reason that so much
of what is learned in school fails to transfer to non-school environments or
even from one subject matter to another is attributable, in part, to the fact
that the school context is so different from the non-school environment. Hence, Spiro (1988) argues that we must not simplify
environments as we typically do in school settings, but rather we must maintain the complexity of the environment and help the student to
understand the concept embedded in the multiple complex environments in which it
is found. Salomon and Perkins
(1989) make a similar point in their discussion of high-level transfer.
Authentic learning environments may be excepted to vary in complexity
with the expertise of the learner. That
is, the child would not be confronted with the complexity of the adult’s
world-indeed, the child’s world is not that complex.
Similarly, the economic world seen by the average citizen is far less
complex than the world seen by the economist.
Hence, when we propose an authentic environment and a complex
environment, we are referring to authenticy and complexity within proximal range
of learner’s knowledge and prior experience (p.107).
has been the tendency in traditional designing that we learn about something so
that we can use that knowledge later. From
the constructivist view it is necessary that the learning of the content is
embedded in the use of that content. In
their design of basic electricity training Stich and Hickey (1988) demonstrated
this approach. The traditional way
to this particular course had been to prepare an electricity curriculum based on
an analysis of the facts, procedures, concepts, and procedures in the knowledge
domain and taught in the traditional textbook fashion.
When this was learned students should be able to go to their particular
specialities and apply the knowledge.
the contrary, Stich and Hickey (1988) concentrated on the functional context of
the electricity knowledge. They
recognised authentic tasks and provided instruction in the context of those
tasks. In their design, students
were asked to diagnose why a flashlight would not light.
Then the class discussed how a different diagnoses might be represented
in an overall picture (i.e., a functional analysis). From context to context, they transferred the students to
more complex and less familiar systems, but always maintaining the functional
context of the task.
constructivist teacher must model the pattern for students and coach the
students toward expert achievement. Teachers
can not be good models if they have arranged responses and strategies ahead of
time and only reveal an idealised path to the correct solution.
It is important that students comprehend the way in which the teacher
(expert) seek to represent an issue. Schoenfelde
(1985), for example, when teaching university-level students mathematics invites
them to bring him word problems (brain teasers).
These problems are given to him in class where he thinks aloud as he
search for the solution. There are
of course many dead ends and errors in thinking.
The class discussions after that focus on the strategies that were used,
the method used in representing the problem, how various origin of information
were called upon, and how errors were natural occurrence of trying alternative
representations or strategies(Bendar et al, 1995, p.108).
the constructivist standpoint it is essential that students learn to construct
multiple perspective on an issue and that they can make the best case possible
from each one.
method for achieving these perspectives is to make a collaborative learning
environment so the students can develop alternative views, that is to share,
develop, compare, and understand multiple perspective on an issue.
Co-operative learning is nothing new but constructivist emphasise that
sharing a workload or coming to a consensus is not the goal of collaboration.
Instead the goal is to search for and evaluate the evidence for a
viewpoint. Different sorts of
evidence and different reasoning will keep up the differing views.
In addition, this is not a competitive exercise, where groups have debate
on who is right. It is rather seen
as a co-operative effort where students are coming to understand each
perspective and even contributing to the development of each perspective.
use of examples is another factor important in achieving multiple perspectives
and a rich understanding. In
traditional instructional approaches the examples are selected to stress
critical characteristic and systematically manipulate the complex of irrelevant
attributes. One solution is
acquired to a problem and the student’s job to find that solution.
This not the way it works out in real life; there is little in real life
in the way of clear cut examples with only one answer.
The constructivist approach to the use of examples would be in using a
real ´slice of life´. For example, to support teacher education, the entire class
period would be recorded to provide rich contexts for developing perspectives on
teaching, when the traditional approach would be selecting clips that
represented correct or incorrect examples of a particular concept or principle.
The goal is to have student see the alternative views of how a idea is
seen in real instruction and therefore develop and evaluate the evidence to
support each connection. This
setting supports a construction of understanding and supply authenticity to the
instruction as well as supporting the developments of multiple perspectives
(Bendar et al, 1995)
traditional instructional design, evaluation presumes a universal goal or
objective for the instruction. An
exam, measures the progress towards the goal, and the information compiled about
many students suggest the relative proficiency of the system in terms of
achievement of the goal. With a
constructive view of knowledge, the goal is to improve the ability to use the
content domain in authentic tasks (Brown, Collin, Duguid, 1989a).
The evaluation must examine the thinking process.
This is not to suggest, however, that the issue of thinking is
independent of the content domain. Researches on expert and novice strategies indicates,
effective problem solving strategies are intimately tied to the content domain
(Bendar et al, 1995).
ways of evaluation would for example be in asking the student to address a
problem in the field of content and then defend their decision, or to reflect on
their own learning and document the process through which they have constructed
their view of the content.
are two elements that seems important so the perspectives that the students
develop in the content area are effective in working in that area and that the
students can defend their judgements. The
first element might be referred to as instrumentality; to what degree does
learners´ constructed knowledge of the field, permit them to perform
efficiently in the discipline? The
most apparent application of the concept of instrumentality might be the problem
solving. Can students come to a
reasoned solution to problems in the field?
But the concept similarly affect the contents that are not typically
considered to be problem solving fields, such as literature students analysing a
body of literature or art students critiquing a painting or elementary school
students learning how different cultures in the world share universal concerns
from differing perspectives.
second element, the capability to clarify and defend decisions, is connected to
the development of metacognitive skills, thinking about thinking.
Reflexive awareness of one’s own thinking means monitoring both
development of the structure of knowledge being studied and the process of
constructing that knowledge representation.
of these student evaluation mechanism suggest a sound and workable system
evaluation method, so it certainly contrast with instructional design’s
traditional mastery model. One of
the issues is how to operate the concept of instrumentality given that no two
students would be expected to make the same interpretations of learning
experience nor to apply their learning in exactly the same way to real world
problems that do not have one best answer (Bendar et al, 1995).
of learning does not in principle lead smoothly and unambiguously to
generalisable prescriptions for practice. Instead,
instructional designers must use theory as a “point of view” or as a means
for forming expectations of how real world problems will behave.
Roundstone the band see their site here
Some photos from Iceland see here
Sólrún B. Kristinsdóttir © 2001 Síðast uppfært 21.10.2008