SEM Model to Explain Influences of Constructivist Learning Environments on Learning

By Paul Lam, Jack Lee, Mavis Chan and Carmel McNaught.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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The paper reports a study on the various benefits there are in preparing a good learning environment for students, making reference to the constructivist paradigm of learning designs in which learning activities play a crucial role. A survey was compiled and validated, with scales to solicit students’ opinions on factors such as constructivist learning environment, learning motivation, learning engagement, and overall learning satisfaction. Over 1500 student responses were collected in our main study, and the SEM analyses of the data confirmed our hypotheses that good learning designs are of key importance to learning. Learning activities relate to students’ engagement in learning. The amount of time and effort students pay to study leads to achievement of many learning outcomes. The data in the study, however, indicated that the practical and extrinsic motivation is of far less importance in facilitating learning than the intrinsic motivation to learn. The empirical data provides insights of how we can refine our current practices in teaching and learning. One of the major difficulties of adapting constructivist learning theory is how to reform the theoretical concept into practical strategies. Learning activities thus seem to be a possible linkage between theory and practice. Students are found to be more motivated to learn and are more engaged in learning through participating in learning activities.

Keywords: Learning Activities, Learning Motivation, Learning Engagement, SEM, Constructivist Learning

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp.55-73. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 510.416KB).

Prof. Paul Lam

Associate Professor, Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Paul Lam joined the Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in January 2003. He has extensive interest and experience in teaching and learning principles, case-based teaching and learning, web-assisted teaching and learning, and English language teaching. Formerly he was the Language Programme Design and Materials Development Officer in the Neuro-Cognitive Science for Language Education Project, CUHK, where he wrote the English teaching materials for several English enhancement courses with a focus on a cognitive approach. He was the senior research assistant in the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at the City University of Hong Kong from 2000 to 2002. In this post, he helped teaching staff to support their students' learning strategies, and use the Web to assist teaching and learning. Before working in the universities, he was a secondary school teacher for nine years in a number of schools.

Jack Lee

Project Executive, Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Mavis Chan

Research Assistant, Centre for Learning Enhancement and Research, Chinese University fo Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Prof. Carmel McNaught

Professor of Learning Enhancement, Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong

Carmel McNaught is the director and a professor of learning enhancement in the Centre for Learning Enhancement And Research (CLEAR) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Carmel has had over 30 years experience in teaching and research in higher education, and has had appointments in eight universities in Australasia and southern Africa working in the discipline areas of chemistry, science education, second language learning, e-learning, and higher education curriculum and policy matters. Carmel's current research interests include evaluation of innovation in higher education, strategies for embedding learning support into the curriculum, and understanding the broader implementation of the use of technology in higher education.