Chapter 2: Theoretical Framework: Cognitive Constructivism Theory and Sociocultural Constructivism Theory
As stated in Chapter I, to create better readers, many reading specialists agree that word study is a developmentally sound approach to providing reading instruction (Bear et al, 2008; Ganske, 2000; Zutell, 1999). Word study is founded on robust evidence-based research on the developmental stages of reading and spelling; however, word study and specifically word sorts have a diminuative amount of scientific evidence as to it success in reading instruction (Boscardin et al, ND). To create an evidence-based study, it is useful to analyze word study using the lenses of cognitive constructivism and sociocultural constructivism theories. In combining these two theoretical frameworks, I will view the WtW reading instruction approach from both the internal cognitive development as well as the external social influences of learning. In Chapter 2, I will succinctly review the principles of each theory and demonstrate how the theories provide an applicable balance for this study.
Constructing meaning from an event is an important link to comprehension (Carlisle, 2000; Francis, et al., 1996; NICHD, ND; Rasinski & Oswald, 2005; Williams & Lundstrum, 2007). However, the idea of constructing meaning, or constructivism, is a broad concept with multiple connotations. Two distinct types of constructivism will be the lens for this study, cognitive constructivism and sociocultural constructivism. The two theories are essentially different in that cognitive constructivism posits the internal construction of information as the controlling influence, while sociocultural constructivism posits the external interactions with peers and adults as most influential to comprehension. Though basically distinct, together they are complementary, providing a comprehensive learning approach.
According to Powell and Kalina (2009), there are similarities between Piaget’s theory of cognitive constructivism and Vygotski’s theory of sociocultural constructivism. These include the importance of prior knowledge to assimilation of new information. Both theories believe this new information is attached to a previous concept in an organized, consequential way. Thirdly, cognitive and sociocultural constructivism feel an individual’s inquiry, problem solving, and discovery are the best means of learning. Finally, both theories believe in explicit directions – to enhance the student’s abilities to connect. Powell and Kalina write: “Both cognitive and social constructivist teaching methods must be used by teachers interactively so that students can process individually what they learned in a group or from another adult or peer” (p.247). To utilize the process of constructivism, the teacher must know the level of comprehension of each student in order to generate intimate connections. Both theories highlight the necessity of transferring information in ways that can be connected to...