Building A Constructivist Practice: A longitudinal Study of Beginning History Teachers

May, 2014

Source: The Teacher Educator, 49:97–115, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This longitudinal study investigated four secondary social studies teachers, who identified as being constructivist teachers, during their student teaching practicum through their first year of teaching in the classroom. Specifically, this study focused on the relationship between the teachers’ constructivist-oriented beliefs and their use of related practices in their history classrooms.

The participants were four preservice teachers, who enrolled to secondary social studies methods course at City University, a large private urban university in the northeast United States.
The author interviewed each participant six times: near the beginning and end of her or his student teaching practicum, in the summer before her or his first year, and in September or October, January/February, and May/June of her or his first year using uniform interview protocols, digital recording, and transcription.
He also observed each participant teaching in her or his classroom four times: at the beginning and end of her or his student teaching practicum, and in September or October, and January or February of her or his first year teaching.

The findings showed that issues of classroom control were major barriers for the implementation of constructivist-oriented practices.

Furthermore, the analysis showed that the participants had a limited development of practical tools. The author argues that although their teacher preparation program exposed them to many different types of instructional techniques and their methods course included the teaching of a model lesson to the class, the participants desired more practical tools as they entered their first year.
He argues that the need for more developed practical tools was a common theme that emerged during the teachers’ first year across all of the cases.
The author suggests that teachers must also develop a conceptual understanding of constructivist-oriented methods, such as inquiry, so they can use these practical tools successfully.

The author found that participants desired more sharing of lesson and unit plans with their peers, lists of generic instructional techniques that could be employed in different situations, and increased demonstrations from their professors and teaching assistants in using these instructional techniques.
The author argues that the university program helped these teachers challenge the perspectives of how students learn and develop conceptual tools that would guide their future teaching, but with limited practical tools the teachers struggled to implement practices aligned with their beliefs as they transitioned into the classroom.  

Updated: Nov. 06, 2018