Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Shaw, K. L., & Etchberger, M. L. (1993). Transitioning into constructivism: A vignette of a fifth grade teacher. In K. Tobin (Ed.), The practice of constructivism in science education (pp. 259-266). Washington, DC: AAAS Press.

This book chapter examines change from the perspective of a teacher. The teacher realized that good grades did not mean that a child was understanding the concepts. She knew that she needed to change her instruction, but was unsure how to proceed. She returned to school to pursue an advanced degree, and learned a new way of viewing the learning process which had clear implications for instruction. Her commitment to change led her to seek out an alternative. She learned about constructivism, and this became the alternative enabling her to create a vision of what she wanted her classroom to be like. The authors describe the teacher's struggle to enact her vision. The transition from a teacher-dominated classroom to a student-centered one was not smooth. They tell of the ups and downs, and of the learning that took place in the classroom on the part of the students and the teacher. The authors then examine the process of the change as the teacher experienced it. First was the perturbation, the need to change. Next was the development of commitment to make the change. Next was the construction of a personal vision of what teaching and learning should be like in the classroom, and a plan to implement the change. The cultural environment plays a significant role in change (i.e., is it supportive?). Finally, reflection is an integral part of the change process. The authors conclude that collaboration with others provides teachers with the help and support they need to move through the process of change.

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