From Constructivism to Realism: A New Approach to See Teaching and Learning in Natural Sciences

By Heli Irmeli Koskinen.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the transition from mechanistic input-output learning model typical for behaviorism to cognitive information processing theory, and the constructivist revolution there has been a belief of one educational theory suitable for all disciplines and learning situations. Constructivist concept with its emphasis of activity of individuals, and individual knowledge constructions has dominated the discussion. However, epistemology about knowledge can vary between disciplines. Belief about restricted, unchanged basic knowledge is more common in natural science (e.g. laws of physics), whereas in some areas (arts and other humanities) knowledge is more flexible, interpretational and situational without a common general nature. In constructivism, the latter perspective is well represented. In this theory each student’s own knowledge constructs – not knowledge in general - is focused. This has been criticized by researchers come from realist camp. In this article the critical standpoint is included. Some possibilities as well as limits of each educational theory (constructivism and realism) are brought into question from the perspective of teaching and learning natural sciences.

Keywords: Teaching and Learning, Constructivism, Realism, Knowledge

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp.51-59. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 662.900KB).

Dr. Heli Irmeli Koskinen

Professional Postgraduate Student, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Heli I. Koskinen graduated from Veterinary Faculty of University of Helsinki in Finland in 2006. Simultaneously, she studied behavioral and pedagogical sciences at Helsinki University and made her doctoral studies (2005) there on veterinary education evaluation. Her publications’ material consists mainly of the teaching evaluation and student-teacher interaction processes in animal reproduction and diagnostic imaging. She is working as an inspector veterinarian in the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira.