Constructivism Applied to Remedial Education

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The primary theories that support this case study are constructivism and andragogy. A constructivist paradigm is built on the premise of the social construction of reality (Searle, 1995). The diverse educators, within the targeted district that are participating in the Professional Development plan, can provide insight based on their perceptions of the current model. An advantage to this approach is the close collaboration between the investigator and the study participants.

The theories that further frame this research are relevant to instruction, acceptance, and implementation of higher cognitive thinking strategies. Multiple Intelligence Theory (Gardner, 1999), Adult Learning Theory (Merriam, 2009b), and the Four Lens Model of Adult Learning (Jackson, 2007) are fundamental in understanding classroom instructional modification. For teacher buy-in and acceptance, change theories will be outlined (Fullan, 2008; Hall and Hord, 2006; Lewin, 2008). For the implementation of new information, Andragogy Theory (Knowles et al., 2011; McGarth, 2009) will be used and motivational theories (Maslow, 1954; Blasé and Kirby, 2009; Magnuson and Mota, 2011) will be referred to as well. These theories will support a more effective Professional Development model that may yield the results stakeholders seek.

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Five teaching methodologies will also be the focus of this study. These consist of Lecture, Differentiated Instruction (DI), Scaffolding, Socratic Instruction, and Modeling. The components of CTTS that will be presented are resource/time management, analysis, problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making.

Constructivism is a descriptive theory of learning that promotes interaction between prior knowledge and new knowledge to be learned through the more involved participation, especially between students, but also between educators and students (Richardson, 1997). Textbook progression and standardized test scores have long been used as measures of how effective educators are at achieving desired learning outcomes. However, constructivism stresses and focuses on the interactions that occur in the classroom, both as an internal measure of progress that the instructor can use to gauge what to teach next and as an external measure of progress, such as grades (Richardson, 1997). Although constructivism is only descriptive and does not, in itself, grant specific methodologies for instructors to use, this may be viewed as an advantage of constructivism because it enables the comparison of two or more methodologies through constructivism ideas. Twomey (2006) discussed how constructivism applies to special-needs and remedial educations. For remedial education, constructivism encourages meaningful and active interactions between instructors and students to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the students in particular areas of study (Twomey, 2006). This enables remedial education instructors to better guide future lesson plans and target the weakest areas of individual students. Additionally, constructivism, as applied to remedial education, emphasizes the importance of individual attention to each student (Twomeny, 2006). The individual attention paid to each student is, thus, a measure of quality instruction methodology under constructivism.

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