re: constructivist approaches in education

Bonnie L. Shapiro (
Sun, 28 May 95 17:19:17 MDT

I've read the wide ranging discussion on constructivist
approaches in education with great interest. The query has come
up as to who might be writing in this area. Recently I published
a book that may be of interest to some colleagues working in the
area. It is entitled, What Children Bring to Light: A
Constructivist Perspective on Children's Learning in Science.
The book is designed to introduce teachers and researchers in
science education and other fields to constructivism in
educational practice and how it has developed. I attempt to link
the historical development of constructivism with the
"alternative frameworks" literature--work in science education
which focusses on learners' ideas about phenomena and which
suggests how teachers might better use the learner's ideas and
own efforts to make meaning as a basis for curriculum development
and classroom activities. The heart of the book is a set of six
case studies of children learning about the topic light in their
grade five classroom. Each child's constructs regarding ideas
about what it means to learn science in the classroom setting is

In the latter chapters I propose use of the construct, 'personal
orientation to science learning' as a basis for organizing
learning--At the center of this construct is 'the learning
person' whose own efforts to make connections among ideas is
given high status. The remaining sections suggest approaches
that might be used by a teacher interested in providing
opportunities for learners to construct meaning--opportunities to
use small group interaction, graphic organizers such as concept
mapping, tools such as the classroom profile as a devise for
sensitive listening. 'The learning person' is at the center of
this model, rather than the curriculum which is more typically
placed at the center. The term 'learning person' is used to
allow us to consider the teacher as learner in addition to the

The book is published by Teachers College Press (New York, 1994).

I have written several other articles applying a personal
construct theory approach to research in education.

I apologize for this message being so lengthy, but I would like
to suggest that other educators or those interested in
educational applications send me references --articles that have
been particularly useful in considering educational issues from a
constructivist perspective--particularly those using personal
construct theory. I will collect them and put them together and
send them out to anyone interested. So as to not clutter the
listserv, perhaps send these to my personal e-mail address below.

Does this sound worthwhile?

Bonnie Shapiro                        Telephone (403) 220-3844
726 EDT                               Fax (403) 282-8479 
The University of Calgary             Internet:
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4