Generating and testing hypotheses is the perfect strategy to relate with the constructivist/ constructionist approaches. Six ways this instructional strategy can be used in the classroom include: systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigations, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making (Pitler, Hubbell, & Kuhn, 2007). These strategies truly correlate to these approaches. In the constructivist approach, the learner actively constructs their own meaning to their learning through their experiences (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). The constructionist learning theory approach takes this one step further and suggests students learn best when they create an artifact that they share with others (Laureate Education, Inc., 2011). These learning theories are definitely evident in these learning theories and can be easily integrated in project-based learning.
One example of how these six tasks can be integrated in project-based learning and constructionist learning theory is in a science fair project. Last year, my 5th graders took part of a science fair. Students were instructed to pick a project that addressed the science inquire model. Therefore, students had to create an investigation based on a question they were interested in. They had to have one manipulated variable, one responding variable and controlled variables. Before beginning their investigation, students wrote a hypothesis and predicted what they thought would happen in their experiment. Students then kept data and scientific notes on their project for three weeks. Some investigation questions students explored included: “What type of bubble gum blows the biggest bubbles?”, “How are plants growth affected by various liquids?”, “What laundry detergent gets stains out the best?”, etc. Throughout their investigation, I worked with students individually and guided them throughout the process. Students also used Excel and Word tables to organize their data. Many students also learned how to input data into an Excel document and create amazing graphs to display the change in their responding variable in their project. In the end, students also had to analyze their results by writing a scientific conclusion and creating a science display for our science fair. Parents and other students in the school were invited to come to the science fair where students discussed their investigation and findings. This was a very intense and time consuming project, yet a highly effective way we used all of these strategies in our classroom. This was the first year we did a science fair; however, we found that this one project really gave our students a solid foundation on science-inquiry. In the end, all of the classes that participated in this science fair found the class average of passing our state science test went up over an average of 25% more students passing the test. As a school, our science scores went up from 52% to 78% of students who passed this state test. There is definitely room for improvement, especially since this was the first year we did a science fair. However, we all believe the number one reason for this increase of achievement was because of the science inquiry-based science fair. Students were invested in a problem they chose and really learned the science inquiry model first hand. In the end, they also created an artifact and had to share their findings with others in a science fair setting. Click here to link to my classroom website that has last year’s science fair project.
This is just one example of how generating and testing hypotheses can fit into the constructionist learning theory. I am curious to find creative ways to use these strategies in other subject areas. Does anyone have some clever ideas? I would love to hear them!
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=5700267&CPURL=laureate.ecollege.com&Survey=1&47=2594577&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=0&bhcp=1
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.