Friday, April 07, 2006
Bruner’s Views on Learning and Constructivism
Bruner’s Views on Learning
A major theme in the theoretical framework of Bruner is that learning is an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their current and past knowledge. The learner chooses and permutes the knowledge, constructs hypotheses, makes decisions, and while performing these he relies on his cognitive structuring. His cognitive structure caters for grasping the meaning and organization of the experiences, and enables him to “go beyond the given information”
When the instruction is considered, the instructor should try and encourage the student to discover the principles themselves. This should be achieved through engagement of learners and teacher in an active conversation. Teachers should be able to transform the materials to be learned in such a way that it suits the learners’ cognitive level. The way of presenting the materials should be spiral not linear so that it allows both learners to contemplate and construct gradually upon what they have learned.
Bruner (1966) states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information. In his more recent work, Bruner (1986, 1990, 1996) has expanded his theoretical framework to encompass the social and cultural aspects of learning as well as the practice of law.
Bruner notes that “language is the most important tool for cognitive growth”. He investigated how adults use language to mediate the world for children and help them to solve problems. Talk that supports a child in carrying out an activity, as a kind of verbal version of fine tuned help has been labeled as “scaffolding”. Children need space for language growth. Routines and scaffolding are to types of language-using strategies that seem to be especially helpful in making space for children. Mothers who used scaffolded talk made the children interested in the task, simplified the task by breaking it into smaller steps, kept the child on track onwards completing the task by reminding the child what the goal was, pointed out what was important to do or showed the child other ways of doing the parts of the tasks, controlled the child’s frustration during the tasks, demonstrated an idealized version of the task. Moreover, good scaffolding was tuned to the needs of the child and adjusted as the child became more competent. (Cameron, 2002:8-10)
For the classroom settings ,Wood (1998) suggested that teachers can scaffold children’s learning in various ways: to attend what is relevant, adopt useful strategies, remember the whole task and goals teachers can suggest, praise the significant, provide focusing activities, encourage rehearsal, be explicit about organization, remind, model, provide part-whole activities. Also classroom language and routines occurring everyday can provide opportunities for language development. They would allow the child to actively make sense of new language from experience and provide space for language growth. Routines will open up many possibilities for developing language skills.(Cameron, 2002:8-11)