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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Constructivism and instructional design : an exploration using an asynchronous online nominal group technique Janes, Diane P.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify the principal tenets/presuppositions of constructivism as a theory of learning, and to suggest processes or instructional approaches that flow from this theory for the development of online learning. Using a consensus building methodology, the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) wholly online, the intention was to seek the consensus of experts/practitioners in the field in order to identify an agreed-upon theory of constructivism. Possible approaches to instruction and delineation of the role of the instructor that flow from the theory were explored. In all, two idea statements generated by the participant/experts garnered a 100% consensus within the study. An additional 33 idea statements were deemed to have reached a consensus of between 80-99%. The following description, emerging from the study, uses the language and concepts employed by the participant-experts in the study: Constructivism encourages and values the personal understanding/knowledge construction by the learner and the design of learning is student-centred. Understanding that there are multiple ways that knowledge is absorbed and constructed, there are a number of conditions that should be encouraged that were felt to be essential to constructivism. Learning is iterative and lifelong; it fosters active, higher-level thinking and reflection; it is social in nature. It builds upon shared negotiated meaning and upon the learner's interests. It is situated within realistic authentic tasks and complex problem solving, based on and found in the world outside of the 'classroom'. Instructors share the authority and assist students in adopting intellectual responsibility for their own learning. Instructors are flexible in their support of student expressions of varying levels of knowledge while critically merging the learner's knowledge with disciplinary insights and personal experiences. Assessment should include learner reflection on their goals and accomplishments and avoid overly narrow measurement of skills or knowledge without a complete context of interpretation. In addition, recommendations are included for further research and suggestions are made for the use of the NGT as a research methodology.

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