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See, it really works! The constructivist theory and the project based approach

11 August 1994


··tl~~! it r~al Y wQrkf?i H if? a atmiY of atudent driven learning. This qua itative researohlo~ks at the implementation of a projeot based learning environment to see if this approaoh to learning would be conducive to ohildren oonstructing their own knowledge and if it would allow them to use their preferred intelligences. I explored the elements that needed to be present in the classroom that would motivate ohildren to learn, foster student autonomy, and raise self esteem. This study was conduoted in my classroom during the school year of September, 1993 to June, 1994. The class was a split of 2nd and ~rd graders comprised of 7-9 year olds in a multi-age setting. There were 25 children randomly selected to be in this olass. The research focused on the following questions: 1. When there are two grades in a classroom, how does the project approach allow each child to construct knowledge at their own rate and level and still meet the grade requirements of skills? 2. What are the elements that need to be present to create a learning environment that is conducive to children constructing their own knowledge, allow them to use their preferred intelligences, motivate them to learn, foster student autonomy, and raise self esteem? 3. How does the teacher's role change when the constructivist and multiple intelligences theories are incorporated into the project approach? The methods of data collecting that I used were "naturalistic" observations, videotaping, anecdotal records, portfolio assessments, student interviews, reflections, and evaluations, and artifacts. I found that the following elements motivated children to learn: student selected topics of study; a framework that encourages children to use their preferred intelligences and explore their "not so" preferred intelligences; open-ended activitiesj freedom of choice within a structure, student interactions, and unlimited time restraints. I found that the following fostered student autonomy and raised self esteem; students were enabled to take control of their learning; students were responsible for their learning; students were encouraged to depend upon themselves and their peers. I found that the teacher's role was greatly changed by becoming the "guide on the side" instead of being the "sage on the stage" and had to have extensive record keeping and monitoring of skills.


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