Re: Constructivism Course

Devi Jankowicz (
Tue, 13 May 97 21:11:39 +0100

Barbara Henriques writes:
>I've used the RepGrid with fifth grade students to study their
>understandings and beliefs about how scientist acquire new knowledge and
>with an undergraduate student to access her beliefs about mathematics
>teaching. Both of these have been helpful and informative. Now, I'd like
>to thing about possible questions I could use to involve a class in doing
>some of this. Hopefully, the question would have something to do with
>learning or how learning is acquired and could be follwed up with a second
>or third grid as we progress through the course.
>Does this seem reasonable?
>Thanks for any help you can provide.

You don't say how old the current students with whom you're doing the
current grid are. Nevertheless, here's an idea: a grid-based exercise
which Laurie Thomas taught me and which I've used very productively with
my own undergraduate students. Amend as necessary for the age-group

Topic: "What counts as 'learning' "
Elements: Ask each person to write down "7 situations in which I _really_
learnt something in my life", together with "my present degree course"
(or "the current course in which I'm doing this exercise", substituting
the name of the course you're lecturing them in this slot). Examples of
the first 7 might be as follows: "the night my father died"; "the first
time I was stood up on a date"; "the day my mother really, but really,
lost her temper with me". (Clearly, each person works with whatever
elements s/he proposes, but you might like to cite 1 or 2 of these
examples to suggest the sort of thing involved. The point being to get
them off the hook of "school learning" for the first 7 elements.
Ask each person to do a conventional, individual grid; you step them
through the triadic elicitation, aiming for, say, 5 or 6 constructs.
Ask each student to work out the simple sum-of-differences for eachpair
of columns of the grid, looking to see which of the other elements'
ratings match most closely with the 8th, "present-course" element.
Get the class to exchange their elements; their constructs; and then,
based on the sum-of-differences exercise, to discuss how their experience
of their present course compares with the "real learning" situations they
cited as elements.

What attributes does their formal educational experience share with "real
learning" as they construe it; in what ways does it differ; what would
have to change in the formal educational setting to count as "real
learning" as they construe it; and so forth.

If you try it, I'd be very interested to hear how it goes.

Kindest regards,

Devi Jankowicz