S. Kroekenstoel Belief Statement Submitted October 10, 2012 I believe that as educators, we must foster the natural abilities and curiosities of our students by drawing on their strengths and developing their weaknesses. At the Junior level, we must build self efficacy for success in learning in order to ensure that we build a stable foundation for our students’ futures. In my teaching experience, I have observed students at this age who have very low self-efficacy, and as a result, little interest in learning in fear of failure. We can learn much from Bruner’s Constructivist Theory, which describes learning as an active process in which learners construct new ideas or concepts based upon their existing knowledge (Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner), n.d.). As teachers, we must acknowledge our students’ readiness to learn by ensuring that our instruction is concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn. We must plan our delivery of the Curriculum according to a spiral organization so that it continually builds upon what students already know (Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner), n.d.). Teachers should ensure that their lessons are student-centered, by encouraging students to discover principles by themselves and making students active in their learning. In order to foster students’ natural learning abilities, we can use Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1993). Differences in academic ability, experiences, motivation, values, attitude, and culture will have important influences on students’ learning (Gardner, 1993). Building self-efficacy for learning is crucial at the Junior level, and we can do so by focusing on the particular intelligences of each student. Different intelligences represent not only different content domains but also learning modalities. Therefore, we should be mindful to incorporate not only linguistic and logical-mathematical approaches to our lessons, but to also create opportunities for learning through musical, spatial, kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal styles as well. For educators, this theory implies that the assessment of learning should also be designed according to students’ multiple forms of intelligences (Gardner, 1993). In the classroom, we can provide these opportunities in the way we design our lessons and also by giving students choice on assignments, and varying types of assessment and evaluation. I have personally experienced very positive outcomes with my students through this approach. One recent tutoring experience in particular demonstrates the importance of constructivist learning and incorporating multiple intelligences. I tutor a Grade 5 girl who has struggled with Science for the past couple of years. In planning and delivering her tutoring sessions, I ensure that I a) build upon her existing knowledge by drawing connections and providing examples and analogies, b) make her active in her learning by incorporating games and computer activities and c) accommodate her learning disability and identification as a visual learner by providing extra visual representations and schematics. I noticed a significant increase in her morale and her attitude towards homework and studying, which was evident when she begged her mother to have an extra tutoring session last week. She recently received her mark from her first Science test of the year and got 87% - an increase of over 20% from last year.
Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. NY: Basic Books. Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner). (n.d.). In Instructional Design. Retrieved from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html