Specific Learning Model
One of the efficient instruments which enable teachers to assist students in creating their knowledge networks is a theory developed by Merlin Wittrock, known as Generative Learning Model. Fiorella and Mayer believe that learning is a generative activity.1 Learning involves the generation of knowledge from the integration of the information which has to be learned and the knowledge obtained earlier. It allows students not only to study new material but also to learn how to apply it in other situations. Finally, the way of presenting information is not decisive in generative learning. For this model, the interpretation and making sense of the material by learners is more important.
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For the pre-kindergarten level, the generative learning model can be applied, for example, while studying shapes: circle, square, rectangle, triangle.
Discovery activities in the exploration phase include the exercises which help young learners to explore shapes. For example, children find different shapes in the pictures. Another step of this phase can be the search for the objects which are of circle, square, rectangle, or triangle shape in the classroom. It is the use of natural learning situation which is efficient for fostering early mathematical competences.2
Term Introduction Phase
During this phase, students try to figure out the differences between the shapes under consideration. A matching activity can be useful during this phase. Learners match shapes and everyday objects which are similar and try to explain their choice. It stimulates both memory and thinking processes and teaches students to apply associative thinking.
The application phase is the most significant in the implementation of any model. When it comes to generative learning, various types of tasks can be used. For example, it is possible to apply learning by drawing which is both interesting and useful for young learners.3 Drawing allows creating the shapes and training students to distinguish between them. This activity can develop from following a pattern to independent drawing.
Another activity applicable to this topic is team-work. Students are divided into teams, each of which is responsible for one shape. Their task is to find as many subjects as possible of a suitable shape. The topic of shapes also has a real-life application. The knowledge of the issue helps children distinguish between the road signs which are the topic of another class and thus this knowledge is relevant to students.
The generative learning model creates a cycle of students’ knowledge development. First of all, students receive some knowledge. Later, they get more new information which is integrated with the previously obtained and results in the new, more profound knowledge. Further, this cycle continues. With every step, the volume of knowledge which students possess, increases. Consequently, every new portion of information can be better integrated and generate better knowledge.
The generative learning model perfectly suits the purpose of schools and the nature of mathematics as the subject. Usually, the curriculum also has a cycle structure, meaning that year after year students deepen their knowledge grounded on the previously obtained information.
The significance of such cycles is evident in an example of a student who missed many classes. When such a student comes back to school, he or she can have problems with learning new material because of the lack of previously generated knowledge. It is particularly true for mathematics classes because a student who did not learn how to add numbers will have problems with multiplying and more complicated tasks. Thus, it is important to follow the generative learning model and make use of its opportunities to provide sustainable learning.
Fiorella, Logan, and Richard E. Mayer. “Eight Ways to Promote Generative Learning.” Educational Psychology Review 28, no. 4 (2016): 717-741.
Gasteiger, Hedwig. “Fostering Early Mathematical Competencies in Natural Learning Situations—Foundation and Challenges of a Competence-Oriented Concept of Mathematics Education in Kindergarten.” Journal für Mathematik-Didaktik 33, no. 2 (2012): 181-201.
- Logan Fiorella and Richard E. Mayer, “Eight Ways to Promote Generative Learning.” Educational Psychology Review 28, no, 4 (2016): 717.
- Hedwig Gasteiger, “Fostering Early Mathematical Competencies in Natural Learning Situations—Foundation and Challenges of a Competence-Oriented Concept of Mathematics Education in Kindergarten.” Journal für Mathematik-Didaktik 33, no. 2 (2012): 181.
- Logan Fiorella and Richard E. Mayer, “Eight Ways to Promote Generative Learning.” Educational Psychology Review 28, no, 4 (2016): 726.