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

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  • Driver, R., & Bell, B. (1986). Students' thinking and the learning of science: A constructivist view. School Science Review, 67, 443-456.

What is our view of science? What is our view of the learning process? How can understanding of these issues help address problems of science education in schools? These are the questions that Driver and Bell address in this classic article. Science, they say, is about the ideas, concepts, and theories used to interpret the world. They then elaborate on six key aspects of the constructivist view of learning, using examples from science classrooms to illustrate the principles. The principles state that learning outcomes depend on what the learner already knows; learning involves constructing meanings; learning is a continuous and active process; meanings are evaluated and accepted or rejected; learners have responsibility for their learning; and some meanings are shared. Adopting a constructivist view of learning has implications for science education, including the importance of understanding students' prior assumptions; of providing opportunities for students to reflect, have new experiences, and construct meaning; of revising the curriculum to be more developmentally appropriate; and of examining the conceptions which are most useful for students.

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