Learning by Reflection: Constructionist Technologies and Generative Pedagogy for Promoting Critical Reflection on Learning Experiences
At the core of the constructionist learning paradigm is the idea that people learn through design experiences. However, in most settings, learners rarely revisit their work to reflect on design and learning processes. The practice of critical reflection is not fully integrated into their learning experience. To better leverage benefits of constructionist learning, learners must examine and gain a deeper understanding of their learning and design process and strategies. Learners use the Pearls of Wisdom to design, edit, and share reflective artifacts, called Pearls. Pearls are concrete instantiations of a learner’s critical reflection on the design and learning process. In parallel with the Pearl activities, a generative pedagogy called the Reflective Mentor Model establishes practices and techniques to best support critical reflection within the particular learning environment. The one-year study explored how learner and mentor critical-reflection practices impacted learning and spread of ideas about learning throughout the technology center. During the study, 78 Pearls were designed and 2,764 Pearl pages were viewed. Group 1 produced 74 Pearls (95%) and viewed 2,341 Pearl pages (85%) over the course of the study. Group 2 mentors did not promote Pearl software or practices and held no mentor meetings. Group 2 produced 0 Pearls (0%) and viewed 58 Pearl pages (2%) over the course of the study. Group 3 mentors promoted Pearls of Wisdom, but did not establish a reflective-mentor team. Group 3 produced 4 Pearls (5%) and viewed 365 Pearl pages (13%). Learners reported engaging in higher-order thinking while constructing Pearls and during subsequent Pearl-related discussions. Learners reported making and using Pearls positively influenced their approach to project design and development. They also reported increased fluency with critical reflection related to their learning activities.
Keywords: Constructionism, Design-based Learning, Cognitive Flexibility, Situated Learning, Critical Reflection, Pedagogy
Dr. Robbin Chapman
Manager of Diversity Recruitment, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT