Various theories have emerged as researchers continue to focus on different kinds of learning approaches. Some have focused on acquisition of skills such as learning to type, write and read. Others have focused on learning without understanding and its effects on schema formation and transfer.
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Still others studies have led to emergence of new ideas due to interaction between people. Education theorist have also explored different settings on learning including, preschools, schools, experimental laboratories, informal gathering spots, homes and workplaces. In addition they have used the variety of learning measurement in developing these learning approaches.
This article compares and contrasts direct instruction approach with constructivist learning approach. Direct instruction approach is used to describe a phenomenon in which a teacher or an expert passes information directly to learners. The information passed to learners is well structured with clearly defined objectives set to be achieved. In constructivist approach, learners engage in solving problem in different situations and environments contributing to knowledge construction.
In this approach every learner is left by himself to acquire meaning and knowledge through engaging in group work. Pertaining methods of learning and teaching applied in both approaches, learners in direct instruction approach are required to learn independently as compared to constructivists approach where group work is encouraged. In direct instruction approach all learners follow the same rules and share comparable objectives while in constructivist approach learners are not guided by parallel rules and objectives.
In direct instruction approach the learning process is predetermined and the criterion used is geared towards helping learners understand concepts, be able to remember them in the future and practically apply them in their endeavor. Constructivist approach is not guided by structured procedure of events; learning is motivated by arising situations, problems and difficult learning environment.
In direct instruction approach old procedural tactics of teaching are used. For instance it makes use of work sheets and lecturers to assist in learning. In constructivist approach learners are motivated by exploration and urge to come up with solution to problems (Baker, McGraw & Peterson, 2007).
In assessment, direct instruction approach learners are graded using rubric. Assessment comprises specific questions and teachers expect learners to answer them in a specific way which comply with the set standards. Constructivist approach does not follow any traditional assessment tactics. Students learn through group work. In addition, self reports are used to grade the learners.
In direct instruction approach, community brand learners are educated after achieving certain set of standards while in constructivist approach one is termed due to his or her creativity and when he or she is in a position to critically solve problems (Duffy, 2003). Direct instruction approach aims at helping learners of various levels to achieve their objectives and goals while constructivist approach focuses on helping learners accomplish goals and solve problems as a group. It also nurtures the spirit of team work.
Regarding instruction requirement and problem solving, direct instruction approach instructions follow certain sequence and are of high quality while in constructivist approach learners focus more on their experiences and what is of relevance to their lives. In direct instruction approach learners end up attaining same skills and convergent thinking while in constructivist approach divergent thinking is attained. In this approach learners think separately and solve their problem independently.
Direct instruction approach is predictable and boring due to repetitive teaching tactics which lead to poor student motivation causing them to drop out. Constructivist approach wastes time by letting learners create their own ideas. In addition, learners may lack the basic ideas to solve particular problem effectively.
Also, some of topics may not require both of these approaches. In direct instruction approach learners eventually are not able to work efficiently as a group like in constructivist approach where learners face challenges when dealing with real life situation (Bentley, Ebert & Ebert, 2007).
Direct instruction approach advocates for organization of principles, ideas and concepts in order to achieve amicable learning. Direct instruction approach is capable of producing a significant level of correct performance with respect to the control of variables strategy immediately following instruction. In constructivist approach, knowledge is interconnected with the experience learners acquire.
Learners create ideas in their mind; one continues to solve more problems and meet new environmental situation. For example, in clinical settings a doctor act may provide hands on learning experience for learners but this does not adequately provide an individual with the full practicing mind. This learning approach requires material and other necessary support from a teacher. It also requires planning and setting up of specific objective to be attained.
In constructivism approach learners get experience through learning process and gain new knowledge in attempt of solving particular problems. Learning is an interlinked system where learning process is a step toward exploring more knowledge (Alexander, 2003). For instance, a learner who learns the chronology of dates related to certain past events, gets to know the meaning of chronology. When learners come up with new meanings, they are able to associate them with the related situations.
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According to constructivist approach, learning is assumed to be a social activity. Learners in constructivist learning approach are able to connect with their friends and teachers during their interaction in learning activities. Constructivists approach involves attention to the individual and respect for students’ background, developing understanding and belief about element of domain which in other words could be defined as student centered.
It facilitates group dialogue which explores an element of domain with the purpose of leading to the creation and sharing of topic understanding. In direct instruction, teachers activate students’ relevant prior knowledge, experience and help them to connect it to the new knowledge they gain from a lesson. They also familiarize learners with the focus of a lesson. In a student friendly language, they explain the lesson’s purpose telling students what they are expected to do.
Also, teachers identify a specific strategy for students, then model exactly where, how, and why to apply the strategy to get meaning. When teachers use the direct explicit instructional approach of the program, they clarify concepts and demystify strategies, modeling and thinking loud about how to make inferences or determine the importance of ideas in a text.
By doing so, they reveal the secrets of what proficient learners consider as mystery. Once students are on the strategies of good readers, teachers can gradually hand over to students the responsibility of using these strategies as they read independently (Graves, 2004).
To provide support to my faculty, I would advise and educate them on the right learning approach to adapt. I would inform my faculty on critical policies and considerations required before deciding on what learning approach to adopt. Additionally, it is important to inform the faculty on benefits and shortcomings of each approach for them to make decisive choice.
I would support them in identifying the problem and coming up with objectives required in learning approach. For them to adapt effective learning approach they have to prioritize their intention and set out the duration required. They have to come up with phases in which they should evaluate the progress of embracing the new approach.
I should help them come up with policies to guide through the approach process, flexibility and in risk management. Also, I should help the faculty in approach assessment which requires considering the short coming, accountability issues and policies’ implementation.
To conclude, direct instruction approach describes phenomena in which a teacher or expert passes information directly to learners. In constructivist approach, learners engage in problem solving in different situations and environment contributing to knowledge construction. One must reiterate that the direct instruction approach though not perfect does have certain merits and advantages.
However, it is also important to mention that this approach should be used with care and caution especially in E-learning. Direct instruction approach is capable of producing a significant level of correct performance with respect to the control of variables strategy immediately following instructions.
Constructivist approach continues to be the dominant research program in science education and it continues to generate new research and insights. Constructivists approach involves attention to individual and respect for learners’ background and development of understanding and beliefs about elements of domain which in other words is defined as student centered.
Alexander, P. (2003). The development of expertise: The journey from acclimation to proficiency. Educational Researcher, 32, 10-14.
Baker, E., McGraw, B., & Peterson, P. (2007). Constructivist and learning (3rd ed). Oxford: Elsevier.
Bentley, M., Ebert, S. E., & Ebert, C. (2007). Teaching constructivist science. Washington, DC: SAGE Publications
Duffy, G. (2003). Explaining reading: A resource for teaching concepts, skills, and strategies. New York: The Guilford Press.
Graves, M. (2004). Theories and constructs that have made a significant difference in adolescent literacy have the potential to produce still more positive benefits. New York: The Guilford Press.