Article Review #1

I hope you all had a very merry and blessed Christmas. I certainly did! Our family focuses more on building relationships with each other and our relatives than on getting material things from each other. I really appreciate that.  Really, in 20 years, we’re going to remember the bonding time we had together much more than any trinket or gadget. What makes Christmas meaningful for your and your family?

But, I meant the focus of this post to be on more than just Christmas…. I wanted to share another school writing assignment with you all! I know you’re all just dying to read it! 😉 It is my hope that in choosing to write only that which is interesting to me personally, some of my personal passion will transfer to my articles themselves, making them interesting to my readers.

This is the first of three articles. For this assignment, my teacher wanted us to review three different articles about three different learning theories we studied in class. For this first article review, I chose an article about Constructivism, which I had, at that point, just discovered. I found the theories extremely intriguing, and, while the “article” I reviewed was rather short and dry, it did present a good summary of the theory… but you can read all that for yourself in Article Review #1. I received a grade of 100% for this review.

Constructivist Article Review

Steiner’s (2014) article is a brief overview of the constructivist theories of education. He/She began his/her article by explaining the presuppositions held by supporters of such educational theories. One such foundational belief is that individuals form their own knowledge based on the way they cognitively process and react to educational inputs. Stemming from this is the idea that learners should take an active part in their education. Steiner then went on to organize the many various and diverse branches of constructivism into two main categories. The first type contains the constructivist theories, including Piaget’s philosophies, which emphasize the individual process of learning. The other category of constructivist theories includes those which focus on the necessity of community in learning. Steiner highlighted Vygotsky as a prominent philosopher in this category. In essence, Steiner’s article is a short, extremely factual encyclopedic entry.

There are a couple strengths as well as weaknesses in Steiner’s article. One favorable aspect is that this article is short and to the point. Taking into account the vastness of the constructivist theories, it is commendable that the author was able to write such a succinct, all-inclusive summary. Another strength is in the fact that Steiner uses layman’s terms in his/her article. The average reader can gain an understanding of the basics of the constructivist theories without needing a dictionary to understand the terminology. One weakness is the fact that Steiner spoke only of the positive aspects of the constructivist theory, without highlighting any valid arguments in opposition to the theory. Another downside to Steiner’s article is that, as an encyclopedic entry, it sticks to the bare facts only, without giving the author’s personal consideration on the subject. Still, despite its weaknesses, this article serves its purpose well.

Overall, Steiner’s article fills its role as an encyclopedic entry very effectively. Not only does it provide a short, highly inclusive summary of constructivism, but it also writes in clear, common language. Steiner’s article is contains many of the same facts as Schunk (2012), though Schunk goes into much more detail. One difference is that Steiner breaks the constructivist theories into two categories, while Schunk speaks of the theory as a whole. Steiner’s article touched on the constructivist educational practices of active education and hands-on learning. After researching more in Schunk, I found the constructivist methods to be very similar to the educational ideas I formed before I had any knowledge of the formal theory. Like constructivism, my personal educational theories also focus on pursuit of interests, equipment for self-education, and active engagement in the learning process. Steiner’s article was effective at piquing my interest in the practical side of constructivism but did not provide any of the details found in Schunk. Thus, I would rate Steiner’s article as very effective, but limited in capacity.

Personally, I had mixed reactions to Steiner’s article. After poring over long, intellectual dissertations on the subject, it was refreshing to read an article that summed up the constructivist theory in just two pages. At first, Steiner’s description of the theory caused me to view constructivism in a positive light and even to question if I was a constructivist. However, when my further research revealed that this theory is based on relativist ideas (see Derby, 2002) and Marxist thinking (see Schunk, 2012), I realized that, as a Christian, I cannot call myself a constructivist. I highly resonate with most of the educational practices that stem from the theory, but prefer to retain my independent theories and biblical foundation. Steiner’s article is well-structured, but not broad enough in scope to expose some of these negative aspects of the constructivist theory.

References

Derby, S. J. (2002). Naïve teacher education + naïve assessment = naïve teacher epistemologies: A response to Schraw and Olafson. Issues In Education, 8(2), 159. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective [6th ed.]. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Steiner, D. M. (2014). Learning, constructivist theories of:. Value Inquiry Book Series, 276, 319-320. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

 

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