William Wallace (IMDb, n.d.): Aye, be constructivist and you may lose focus on teaching. Be behaviourist, and you’ll teach… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM to build knowledge from our perceptions, and develop learning that forms the catalyst for individuals to create meaning from his or her own experience (Ertmer & Newby, 2013)!
After reading through Behaviorism, cognitivism,constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective (Ertmer & Newby, 2013), and First principles of instruction (David Merrill, 2009), I have chosen a stance to take for the sake of my activity 5. As you have no doubt have guessed from the Braveheart inspired introduction, of the theories provided I have chosen constructivism, not that I feel that the others do not have merits, it’s the one that I see the most applicable in my daily life. In this blog post, I will explain why I chose constructivism.
Some of the most applicable merits of constructivism revolve around the individualism of the learning. On a neuropsychological level, when an experience occurs a path of neurons are activated through a series of synapses. As you learn form this experience the pathway of synapses for the activated neurons becomes more efficient and strengthens the learning (Christiansen, 2015). This illustrates that everyone develops learning and experience individually at different times and under different circumstances. These leanings are directly connected to experiences and perhaps never experienced the same way by separate individuals (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). For this reason, learning effective learning takes place individually. There is a difference though between forming new knowledge and experiences, and reforming old ones. Ertmer & Newby (2013) stated that because knowledge is built on personal interpretations of experiences and interaction, the knowledge is malleable and is open to consistent change (p. 55). This is similar to developments of brain plasticity. Salter and Woolf (2000), explain that neural plasticity is the neurons capacity to change function, chemical profile or structure (p. 1765). It is this neural plasticity allows learned habits to be rewritten into more positive behaviours.
In the world of healthcare adaptability and flexibility is key. Peer reviewed studies are constantly being developed and published, new drugs are released and waves of outbreaks which can have an impact on both healthcare professional and patient education. Not only this but training for these groups requires approaching the subject matter in a way that speaks to the learner’s experience. For example in one program we teach healthcare professionals to address each patients’ conditions individually. Rather than focusing on what the doctor feels is the largest obstacle, the patient is asked what s/he would like to accomplish or what is the most important ability s/he would like to have. This way motivation and learning built directly from the patients’ experience and current understanding. Most importantly we have to know that the patient is willing to change routines and habits in order to maximize health benefits, for this we have to assume that knowledge and behaviour are open to change as suggested by Ertmer & Newby. Without an openness to change, health benefits will be severely limited, therefore the additional challenge is to ensure the doctor mentally prepares the patient sufficiently enough to be accepting of the change.
In summary, because of the separation from ‘real world’ understanding and perceived understanding, individualized experience of the learner, and the adaptive nature and openness to change, I feel that I can relate most closely to constructivism from a personal and professional perspective built on my interpretations of what I have perceived from experience.
Christiansen, L. (2015, March 28). How the brain creates new neural pathways. Retrieved September 21, 2018, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-brain-creates-new-neural-pathways-dr-lisa-christiansen/
IMDb. (n.d.). Braveheart – quotes. Retrieved September 21, 2018, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112573/quotes
David Merrill, M. (2009). First principles of instruction. instructional-design Theories and Models, 3(3), 41–56. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203872130
Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43–71. https://doi.org/10.1002/piq
Woolf, C. J., & Salter, M. W. (2000). Neuronal plasticity: increasing the gain in pain. Science, 288(5472), 1765–1768. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.288.5472.1765