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Constructionism and Microwords

Noss, R; Hoyles, C; (2017) Constructionism and Microwords. In: Duval, E and Sutherland, R and Sharples, M, (eds.) The Technology Enhanced Learning: Research Themes. Springer

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Seymour Papert launched the notion of constructionism in the mid-nineteen eighties. The central idea is that a powerful way for learners to build knowledge structures in their mind, is to build with external representations, to construct physical or virtual entities that can be reflected on, edited and shared. In this chapter, we outline research that has addressed the ways that the constructionist approach seeks to develop knowledge structures in the mind alongside physical or virtual structures external to the mind, and as such is as much a theory of epistemology as of pedagogy. We show how constructionism involves choosing or designing representations, engaging artefacts and suitably oriented pedagogies that together can bring about fundamental change in how to learn and, if successful, will ultimately change what is learned. This brings us to the second theme of the chapter. One of the persistent challenges of realising the constructionist vision, is the tension between aiming to teach specific content of, say, mathematics or music, and at the same time affording the learner the experience of constructing, making, doing and problem solving. These two aims are, of course, not antithetical, but neither is it obvious how to align them for pedagogical purposes. We illustrate one solution that has evolved in the research literature: to design “microworlds”, insulated and accessible islands of activity in which nuggets of relevant knowledge are encountered in a natural way – or at least, in which the chance of meeting the nuggets is designed to be as high as possible.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Constructionism and Microwords
ISBN: 3319025996
ISBN-13: 9783319025995
Publisher version: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319025995
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Constructionism, microworld, knowledge, representations, learning.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475899
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