Archive for November, 2012

Motivation and Ambiguous Constructivism

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Task 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy and Educational Motivation

My motivation for education is varied. Growing up as a homeschooled student throughout elementary, middle, and high school I was given a lot of freedom in regards to my education. If I found a certain area of study especially interesting I was able to pursue it at my leisure. This created in me a desire for knowledge unlike many of my peers. It developed a deep sense of life-long learning. I would match this with Maslow’s need of intellectual achievement.

At times in my life one of my motivations for education has been a desire to make my parents and grandparents proud. I am not the first in my family to attend a four year University, so there was almost an expectation for me at times that that is what I would do. Thankfully they did not put pressure on me, but I definitely put pressure on myself. This motivation falls under the lower level need of belonging.

Another motive that I have had for education was recognition, or making a name for myself. When my dad named me he gave me the name “Jamie Frances” and as a baby he started calling me “Miss Freedom,”(Frances means freedom) but he took Jamie to mean as “needing a title.” I hate to admit that that is something I fall prey to in education, but I know that it has been the case at times. I like a title in front of my name. It was very natural for me to ask students to call me Ms. Carlson, since when I was eleven years old and babysitting I wanted kids to call me Miss Jamie. I would love to say that this falls under a higher level need, but in reality it probably falls under self-esteem.

Now as a graduate student my motivation for education is to be able to be an excellent teacher. I taught for two years overseas and would say that I have been gifted with teaching, but I wanted to refine my skills and receive more training before I entered a classroom again. This need falls under the higher level need of self-actualization, because I want to be the best teacher that I can be.(Woolfolk, 2010, p. 434)

These items would be ranked starting with the lower level as 1) Desire to make grandparents and parents proud or belonging 2) The need to make a name for myself or self-esteem 3) The desire to be a life long learner which is intellectual achievement and 4) The desire to be the best teacher I can be which is reaching my full potential and self-actualization.

Task 2. Ambiguity and the classroom

A constructivist classroom is managed with a variety of learning styles applied and real life scenarios for students to engage in, often these scenarios can be ambiguous. For a student that is not a risk taker, this can often be intimidating, especially with the addition of asking students to think for themselves. This is extremely practical for their futures, but students are often intimidated to express their own views when it would be much easier to spew out something they had read in a book.

As I am writing this my mind goes back to my time teaching in China. Chinese students are traditionally not taught in constructivist classrooms, but I would say that most American teachers who go over there to teach do use constructivist concepts. I know especially for myself, I wanted to hear my student’s opinions, not just something they read off the internet. They were wary of taking risks because they had been told that their opinion was not as valuable as a famous scholar’s opinion.

One of the ways I aided my students to be willing to take risks was to give them constant examples of what that can look like, I would demonstrate projects and speeches for them. I gave them a lot of materials and asked questions that would engage them. I discussed topics that interested them and applied to their lives. I also gave them constant encouragement and praised them when they shared their opinions.

Another way to help these students is to give them rubrics and structure, but embedded in these rubrics give points for creativity to encourage students to add their own thoughts. In China,  I would encourage my students to take ownership of their learning by helping me plan out the semester and the types of things they would like to study, and how they would be assessed(Woolfolk, 2010, p. 365).

Teaching students in a constructivist style, when that is something they have never experienced before is definitely a challenge. It is a challenge though that I think made me a better teacher and helped make me aware of the problems that different students might encounter.


Woolfolk, A. (2010). Educational psychology. (12 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Success for the Inductive Group

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.”-Frank Herbert

When studying any type of science or any subject in fact it is important to give students hands on experiences with the material. Self-discovery is extremely important but for self-discovery to happen effectively a teacher must first set up the framework for students to learn. Once again we see the need for teachers to be aware of their students learning styles. The first teacher really only focuses on visual and linguistic learners whereas the second teacher realizes the need for kinesthetic processes to be used in the classroom.

Ms. Baveja activates prior knowledge in her students which “…is key. Students come into our classrooms filled with knowledge and beliefs about how the world works. Some of these preconceptions are right, some are part right, and some are wrong. If teaching does not begin with what the students ‘know,’ then the students will what it takes to pass the test, but their knowledge and beliefs about the world will not change”(Woolfolk, 2010, p. 356). By using this prior knowledge Ms. Baveja is able to help them gain a deeper real world understanding of what they are learning in class. Not only do they memorize the plants in their book, but they are able to use the knowledge they have learned in a practical sense by categorizing other plants as well.

The students in the inductive group are able to take concepts and turn them into schemas which, “are abstract knowledge structures that organize vast amounts of information”(Woolfolk, 2010, p. 300). They are able to attain concepts and use the tools that they have been given. I think that this is a main reason that the inductive group did so much better on the test than the illustration group. Ms. Baveja has taken theory-based knowledge, along with defining attributes for the different plants and given them to the students to be carried out in research.

She takes abstract concepts and makes them concrete. The students in the inductive group are able to thrive in the classroom as opposed to the illustration group. The most unnerving part of the illustration group is that the word ‘tutorial’ was used for them. The teacher should be doing more engaging activities with them as opposed to just showing them their textbook. They are not able to practically use their knowledge if they are just using a textbook all of the time.

Ms. Baveja applies a variety of different teaching techniques, whereas the first teacher really only uses one or two. Students who are being encouraged to activate prior knowledge and apply it will almost always do better in the end and remember what they did in the process since they are using a variety of means of remembering information.

Woolfolk, A. (2010). Educational psychology. (12 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.