My initial research focused on social constructivist pedagogy which involves group work, interaction and discussion with peers. These interactions and group work are executed by the instructor as she adjusts how she teaches rather than what she teaches and students become active participants rather than passive participants (Chandler, & Teckchandani, 2015). In an academic setting, social constructivist pedagogy is exhibited through the instructor organizing the activities and facilitating discussions with students. According to Chandler, & Teckchandani (2015), the instructor is not the sole distributor of knowledge and learning is not a one-sided download of information where the teacher provides all the content for the students. Learning and the construction of knowledge becomes the responsibility of the team and each individual is tasked with co-creating knowledge. The co-creation of knowledge by a community of students working together defines the social constructivist pedagogy.
Social constructivist pedagogy is centered on Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of learning. Phillips, Sheffield, Moore & Robinson (2016), asserted that learning is a social activity which occurs through group discourse and emphasis is placed on group work created by all participants. According to Vygotsky students can advance their learning through the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) which he conceptualized as “the distance between a person’s cognitive development level as determined by independent learning and the level of potential cognitive development as determined through collaboration with peers …. ZPD includes a variety of cognitive operations that a person cannot achieve independently, only with assistance from others” (Barak, 2017, p. 285). Therefore, ZPD focuses on the concept that a student’s cognitive development increases with peer collaboration as other perspectives are shared within the group. It also reinforces the notion that non-collaborative independent studies have the potential to limit cognitive development as the student does not have the opportunity for discourse with others and knowledge in this environment occurs in isolation. In addition, Vygotsky purported that in order for collaboration to excel, each group should consist of individuals who are more capable then other group members or who are subject matter experts on the topic (Vygotsky ,1978, as cited in Phillips, Sheffield, Moore & Robinson, 2016). Not only can subject matter experts provide guidance and answers for the group, but also this individual can be a mentor and leader to the group. The role of the instructor is to provide the opportunity for learning, the leader provides insight and direction and the team co-creates their knowledge within a community of practice.
In an academic setting, teams can be organized by the instructor to ensure a zone of proximal development for all participants, however, in a corporate learning environment the instructor may not have an existing relationship with the participants to know their strengths and areas of growth. Groups may be formed without an understanding of who has exposure or experience as the subject matter expert. Therefore, in a corporate learning environment, I see the value of creating team agreements. These agreements provide opportunities for discussion to highlight each team member’s interests, capabilities and strengths which in turn is the first step in designing a community of practice to build an environment that is founded on the co-creation of knowledge.
Barak, M. (2017). Science Teacher Education in the Twenty-First Century: a Pedagogical Framework for Technology-Integrated Social Constructivism. Research in Science Education, 47(2), 283–303. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-015-9501-y
Chandler, J. D., & Teckchandani, A. (2015). Using Social Constructivist Pedagogy to Implement Liberal Learning in Business Education. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 13(3), 327–348. https://doi.org/10.1111/dsji.12073
Phillips, Alana S., Anneliese Sheffield, Michelle Moore, and Heather A. Robinson. 2016. “An Online Social Constructivist Course: Toward a Framework for Usability Evaluations.” Quarterly Review of Distance Education 17(1):1–10. Retrieved from https://royalroads.on.worldcat.org/oclc/7132229715