Creating a constuctivist learning environment in a university mathematics classroom: a case study
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The general goal of this study was to investigate the feasibility of creating a constructivist learning environment in a university mathematics course as an alternative to the dominant transmissionist learning environments currently in place in most such courses. In order to accomplish this goal the researcher, a university professor, attempted to create this environment and document it in a case study.The study sought to ascertain which dimensions of a constructivist learning environment - autonomy, prior knowledge, negotiation, student-centeredness - university students preferred and how these preferences changed after being in such an environment. It also sought to find out how students' preferred environments matched the environment they perceived to be in place. In addition, the study sought to determine what changes the instructor had to make in his teaching practice to implement each of the dimensions.The results of the study suggest most students very strongly preferred the prior-knowledge and negotiation dimensions, strongly preferred the autonomy dimension, and weakly to moderately preferred the student-centeredness dimension. The data indicate that during the study student preferences for prior knowledge and negotiation increased slightly, preferences for student centeredness increased moderately, and preferences for autonomy increased significantly.In addition, the researcher found that the four dimensions were not implemented equally. While the first three dimensions were strongly implemented, the student-centeredness dimension was only moderately implemented. Interestingly, the learning environment the students perceived to be in place closely matched their preferences.
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