Constructivist Approach for Creating a Non-Violent School Climate

Constructivist Approach for Creating a Non-Violent School Climate

Polona Jančič (University of Maribor, Slovenia) and Vlasta Hus (University of Maribor, Slovenia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7476-7.ch009
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In this chapter, the authors present the use of a constructivist approach in the teaching process that encourages effective teaching processes and, as such, works as a preventive disciplinary measure for ensuring a non-violent school climate. The constructivist approach emphasizes students' active role in the education process as well as their capability of developing their own knowledge by themselves based on experience and previous knowledge. Teaching processes and tasks should be individualized for each student; therefore, all students have a chance to succeed since the tasks are adapted to their capacities. The constructivist approach is designed in such a way that, by the rational use of its principles, elements, and provided forms of work, the possibility of violent behavior is reduced to a minimum.
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As children grow and develop, the concept of how to acquire and organize information in their minds becomes more complex (Martin, 2001; Maxim, 2010; Naude, Bergh, & Kruger, 2014). Not all students have the same mental capacity, so teaching should take into account each student’s stage of development. The constructivist approach emphasises students’ ability to develop their own knowledge by themselves based on experience and previous knowledge. Teaching according to the principles of constructivism is conducted in such a way that learning has its purpose, and that purpose should be known to students (Fitzgerald & Smith, 2016). The teacher must create favourable conditions for the learning process, including an encouraging environment and social atmosphere so that the processes of active and independent knowledge acquisition can begin (Gojkov, 2004; Marentič Požarnik, 2008; Maxim, 2010; Špoljar, 2004). A teacher has to create conditions for the most effective learning as possible and an encouraging social atmosphere, which can be done by a properly established and maintained system that allows undisturbed pedagogical work. Teaching, that motivates students and involves them in work rarely leads to problems in the classroom. It can be said that effective teaching is actually a preventative disciplinary measure that keeps students so involved and interested that they are not inclined to cause problems (Glasser, 1990; Pšunder, 2004; Tauber, 2007).

There is a question of whether a certain teaching approach, in this case, the constructivist approach, can help teachers teach more effectively and consequently serve as a preventative disciplinary measure. Often the usefulness of constructivist theories of learning and teaching operate primarily on a theoretical level. A few rare studies did attempt to measure the usefulness of the constructivist approach. Authors such as Boddy, Watson, and Aubusson (2003), Buh (2015), Dolenc Obranić (2014), Lah and Kostanjevec (2015), Mogonea (2014), and Vegelj (2012) researched the effects of constructivist teaching on different areas and levels of education. Results cannot be generalised, but they offer guidelines for further research. Authors also highlight the need for new and additional studies, as the principle of implementation is not universal, but depends on the learning content. In this chapter, the authors present a theoretical outline of constructivist theory in the teaching and learning process. Furthermore, they present the meaning of the student’s active role in the classroom and its effect on the prevention of any form of violence. Later, an excerpt of results obtained in an empirical research study about the representation of the constructivist approach in an elementary school is presented. The research study was focused on the teachers’ opinion about the discipline maintenance during the students’ activities and collaboration in the classroom. Lastly, the guidelines for the teachers that are in accordance with the constructivist approach are presented. In order to understand how constructivism works authors are first presenting what constructivism is.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teaching Method: The method that a teacher uses in lessons. For example: explanation, didactic game, discussion, etc.

Teaching Approach: An approach that a teacher uses for teaching.

Constructivist Approach: A teaching approach that emphasizes the active role of the students in the educational process and his/her ability to construct new knowledge based on experience and previously acquired knowledge.

Teaching Form: A form of teaching. Forms of teaching include frontal/instructional teaching, group work, and individual learning.

Constructivism: A dominant paradigm, model, or approach in the field of education.

Teaching Strategy: A set of teaching forms and teaching methods used in a lesson in accordance with a lesson goal.

Learning Goal: A goal that a teacher predicts for students to achieve in school lessons.

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