Education and learning

Education and learning

Experiencing new teaching methods is one of the primary goals of school, in order to improve the effectiveness of learning. A psychological theory, the so-called constructivism, claims that people gain knowledge of the world by experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. The American psychologist Jerome Bruner was one of the first experts who spread this idea. He thought that the aim of education had to be to create autonomous learners. Thus, teachers should help students to actively construct knowledge rather than presenting a series of facts as it would usually happen in a traditional classroom, where students receive information only in a passive way; the students work individually, they listen to and memorise lessons, and use textbooks and teachers to learn, they all do the same thing and their desks are organised in rows. This is a teacher-centred method in which teachers play the most important role; indeed, they are experts who produce facts. On the contrary, the constructivist method focuses on students, who collaborate and do practical experiments using previous knowledge to formulate hypotheses and draw conclusions. In addition, they do different tasks and work together in groups or circles. In this case the traditional teacher turns into a coach who guides the students to discover facts and listens to their discussions. Nowadays there are different techniques based on constructivism. Flipped classrooms and the Jigsaw method are two of the most popular examples which put this theory into practice.

Flipped classrooms

The flipped classroom methodology completely reverses traditional teaching ideas. Students learn at home via on-line videos which can be paused and studied as often as necessary. On the other hand, school becomes the place where they can do homework and other group activities such as project work or laboratory experiments. In this way teachers spend more time interacting directly with students, improving outcomes.

Jigsaw method

This cooperative learning technique allows students to work in small groups which depend on each other. At the beginning, groups are divided and every single member studies and researches a particular aspect of the task. Therefore, all the students become experts on a certain aspect of the project and when they return to their original group, they are able to report their findings to the other members. Finally, they can put the information together in order to show a complete work to the other groups, which have to judge and define the best project.