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Critically Evaluate Assessment, Planning And Teaching Processes With Particular Reference To Children’s Learning And Development.

981 words - 4 pages

Social constructivism was developed by Vygotsky. His theory of learning highlights the role which social and cultural interactions play in the learning process. Vygotsky states that learning is co-constructed and that individuals learn from each other. He rejected the assumption made by Piaget that it was possible to separate learning from its social context. He believed that constructivists such as Piaget had overlooked the essentially social nature of language and consequently failed to understand that learning is a collaborative process. Piaget’s theory specifies that development precedes learning, whilst Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development, stating “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).” Vygotsky (1978). Gergen simplifies this by saying that social constuctionism is about social relationships, being centrally concerned with “negotiation, co-operation, conflict, rhetoric, ritual, social scenarios and the like.”.

A fundamental aspect of Vygotsky’s theory is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), this is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help. Vygotsky, (1962) describes this as a “range of tasks that are too difficult for an individual to master alone, but can be mastered with the assistance or guidance of adults or more-skilled peers.” This can be applied to a classroom environment where students can be grouped such that the students who understand the content of the work with the students who do not (mixed ability groupings). For example, in a science lesson I have taught, I organised the children into mixed ability groups of around 4-6, the task was to plan and conduct an experiment to test the question ‘Do people with a bigger hand span grab more?’ (see appendices 2). Within the groups, there were children who understood the concept and those who did not (SEN, EAL, some low ability), I found that without having to deliver an extra input to these children, other members of the group explained the concept. The more knowledgeable peer might use different language then I did as a teacher. The students phrasing might make more sense to the other student. The more knowledgeable student also learnt something, a deeper understanding of the concept, a new way to explain the concept which they had not previously considered and also possible extensions to the concept, for example, some of these more knowledgeable students did not only test the impact of hand size on number of cubes they could grab but also how the range of techniques used impacted the number of blocks grabbed, essentially using social constructivism to extend and challenge their own learning.

Vygotsky has also developed the theory behind the role of the teacher in the learning environment, unlike in behaviourism, where a teacher was...

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