As someone who doesn’t teach in a classroom, I found it necessary to reflect upon my own epistemological beliefs by looking back at my time as a student in a traditional classroom. From Elementary school all the way through my time as an undergrad, the majority of my education was comprised of conventional school-based learning activities. These activities in my opinion all upheld an idea that Jonasson and Land refer to as “Learned Helplessness and Learner Compliance” (2009). What this means is that the bulk of my past instruction revolved around being told what my required knowledge was supposed to be, only to then be directly given that information for memorization. The assessment of my acquired knowledge was by and large a percentage of correct or incorrect answers on a standardized test or quiz.
For me personally, I believe wholeheartedly that a constructivist learning environment has the power to deliver more effective and long lasting results than an objectivist one. The reason I have this strong belief comes from the fact that the learned knowledge that has had the most impact on my intellectual growth has been brought about through an evolution of my individual beliefs and experiences. Something that has proven itself and stayed with me over time is the realization that I learn best when I am able to construct my own meaning for something, rather than attempting to memorize someone else’s preconceived meaning.
Technology has the ability to empower the constructive learning process because of its ability to facilitate understanding that would have been previously considered impossible or at least very difficult to support through a traditional objectivist approach (Jonassen & Land 2000). Jonasson and Land also go on to say that, “technology allows learners to represent their thinking in concrete ways and to visualize and test the consequences of their reasoning” (2000). I believe that as long as classroom environments are restricted by the need for conventional assessments and traditional pedagogical approaches, the true potential of a constructivist, student-centered approach to learning, will be inhibited. Reflecting on my own growth as a learner, it wasn’t until I was given greater autonomy and freedom in my final years of undergrad study, and here in the Boise State EDTECH program, that I have seen my true learning potential blossom.
Jonassen, D., & Land, S. (2000). Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.