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UBC Theses and Dissertations

In search of a constructivist paradigm to guide the practice of adult information technology education Hsu, Peter Wingping

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to develop and assess the suitability of a set of constructivist principles to guide practitioners of adult IT education and training. For the purpose of this study, constructivism was defined as an active learning process in which the learner develops meaning by continually interpreting and responding to his or her experiences. Consistent with this view of knowledge, learning must be situated in a real world context so that reality can be experienced by the learner, rather than explained by the teacher. This qualitative study involved six distinct tasks: (1) review of literature to understand the basic arguments of pedagogical constructivism, (2) examination of dominant practices in adult IT education by analyzing two representative models in depth, (3) reflection on my own journey as a learner and IT professional to see how my own experience confirms or challenges constructivist theories, (4) synthesis of literature and experience into the Principles for Authentic IT Education, (5) assessment through a focus group process with 18 IT educators and professionals to gather their response to the constructivist approach, and (6) formulation of recommendations for IT program planning, curriculum development, and instructional development. Three principles of authentic IT education were proposed. The first principle concerns authentic environment and context for IT education. It advocates using the environmental pressure inherent in the real world of IT practice to energize the learner's natural cognitive adaptation capability. This principle will lead educators to situate learning around real world work functions rather than bodies of IT knowledge. The second principle concerns authentic mediation. This principle posits that effective professional IT education is mediated by using real world tools, delivering useful and realistic products, and socializing in a community of practitioners. The third principle is authentic mission or purpose. This principle emphasizes the need to align IT educational goals with institutional missions and moral actions to change society.

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