Friday, May 24, 2024

Exploring Constructivism as effective Pedagogy in Inclusive Education


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By Duggirala Sesi

The National Curriculum Framework-2005 emphasized that there is a ‘need to recognize the child as a natural learner, and knowledge as the outcome of the child’s own activity.’ Learning for construction of knowledge is the basic presumption of constructivism which is a paradigm contrary to traditional objectivist approach. Even Noam Chomsky in his Structural Learning Theory, has emphasized the existence of innate capacity for knowledge and language learning . This emphasis is on such learning environment where children can construct their own knowledge, develop their capacities and remain an active learner. Using this understanding as pedagogy, given the increasing diversity of the student body, teachers are called to appropriately address students’ various learning needs by means of differentiated instruction (DI) with the diverse group of learners in an inclusive education set up.
The NEP 2020, in its Para‘s, namely, Para 4.4, Para 9.3 (d), Para 11.6, Para 12.1, Para 12.2 and Para 12.6, envisions innovative pedagogical approaches and their role in higher education. The policy emphasizes the holistic development of the learners, which requires using innovative pedagogical approaches such as experiential learning, cutting edge pedagogy, art integrated learning, flipped classroom etc. The NEP 2020 is learner centric in its approach, and teachers play a pivotal role in its implementation. The policy gives teachers more autonomy in choosing aspects of pedagogy so that they may plan teaching-learning in the manner they find most effective for the students in their classrooms. However, the meaningful exercise of this autonomy and flexibility depends on the teacher’s understanding of the different pedagogical approaches.
This concept of using constructivism as Instructional strategy in an Inclusive learning Environment can bridge the gap between theoretical and practical implementation of learning outcomes in addressing diversity in the classrooms. A meaning combination of different practices, methods, techniques and strategies can then help in the mastery of learning , assessment and monitoring . But the effective implementation will depend on the learner’s characteristics, their specific learning pre-requisites and /or teacher’s characteristics, instructional mindset and constructivist beliefs. Constructivist models of learning are ones where children are seen as active participants in the processes of seeking out knowledge, making sense of their experiences and gaining intrinsic satisfaction from learning and solving problems. This is seen to be a transformative experience which opens up opportunities for further learning as children gain greater depth of understanding and increasingly flexible ways of representing their knowledge and dealing with new information. Related to this approach is social constructivism or socio-cultural theory. Here children’s active role in learning is set in the context of their membership of social groups and communities (such as classrooms and schools) which jointly create knowledge through their engagement in purposeful and valued activities.
The inclusive pedagogical approach, then, favours classroom practices which encourage collaboration between children in learning activities which builds a sense of an inclusive community learning together. However, it is also important to be mindful what each individual brings to and gains from the complex interaction of the classroom . Hence it is not a slavish adherence to group work at all costs, but instead asks that teachers draw on their professional judgement to choose the most appropriate approach to teaching and learning in any particular context, being ever mindful about how those choices will impact on the opportunities for all children in the class . By refusing to categorize children according to perceptions of ‘ability’, inclusive pedagogy also calls for a reconceptualisation of professional partnership in the field of learning support. Classroom teachers and other specialists are urged to view children’s difficulties in learning as professional dilemmas, and to constantly work together to seek new approaches to support children, to avoid stigmatising. By placing responsibility for all learners on classroom teachers, specialists are now seen as partners with whom to explore new ways of working with children (rather than parallel workers to whom problems can be referred). In replacing older notions of consultation and advice, this model provides opportunities for professionals to co-construct knowledge by working with others.
A careful and discerning perusal of these innovative paradigms postulated by the NEP 2020 , would redefine the already existing Constructivist approaches in the teaching – learning process .Then concept of self –learning also becomes the essence of teaching –learning strategies for all diverse group of learners who may currently be seen as promising in certain contexts include: developing thinking skills, responding to learning styles and multiple intelligences, using ICT to support learning, listening and responding to pupils’ views, developing peer tutoring and group work, enhancing motivation and self-esteem, enhancing the role of the creative arts, incorporating so-called ‘authentic’ learning experiences, linking learning in school with learning outside school and the re-establishing the role of extra-curricular activities such as sport, clubs and outdoor activities. While innovative strategies for certain groups of pupils with SEN might include: specific planning and teaching for pupils with special needs , and more specific uses of ICT .
Hence in our new approach to using Constructivism for Diverse group of learners , we would infuse the methods of Heutagogy , Andragogy alongside Pedagogy depending on the purpose and roles , but fulfil the learning outcomes . Where – Pedagogy: The institution and teacher decide what the student will learn and how they will learn it. Heutagogy: The student decides what to learn and how and is supported by outside resources, including the teacher and Andragogy: The teaching of adults (which can be pedagogical, heutagogical, or a blend of both).
The incorporation of technology into educational contexts has catalyzed a proliferation of research initiatives and benchmarks. These endeavors have not only facilitated the structuring of academic endeavors but have also provided frameworks for the effective deployment of technological innovations in the domain of education. Through this iterative process, it has become apparent that both pedagogical strategies and instructional resources exert substantial impact on student learning outcomes. This realization highlights the criticality of adopting a holistic vantage point encompassing teaching and learning models, while recognizing the intrinsic interdependencies among concepts and methodologies. In certain instances, the guidance of formative behaviors necessitates the provision of contextual support, which can be effectively facilitated through the adoption of a conceptual framework that encompasses multiple dimensions of mobile learning.
Integrating constructivism with universal design and culturally sustaining pedagogy provides a coherent lens for viewing students holistically as social, cultural, emotional learners and creating space in the educational setting to attend to students’ social, cultural, and emotional needs. Intentionally creating spaces where students can bring their whole selves to learning across disciplines. We agree that sustaining pedagogy can broaden and deepen conversations about inclusion and access within constructivist design. Moreover, constructivist approaches to teaching and learning provide educators with a broad avenue for integrating theory and practice in the classroom. Integrating theory and practice, strategies for co-creating and sharing the space with students, facilitating authentic dialogue, and engaging in assessment. Highlighting the importance of the emotional landscape of learning and assessing classroom dynamics, we can also discuss strategies for attending to silence and voice in the multi diverse classroom. For us, access and inclusion are about developing classroom environments and curricula that welcome and validate students across a range of diverse identities including race, class, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion, and sexual orientation, and we hope that our work inspires others toward advancing a more inclusive pedagogy. The curriculum must take into consideration the various needs of the pupils to ensure “access for all”. Together with flexible curricula, flexible teaching – learning methodology should be introduced. Making this a reality involves other changes in policy including shifting away from long , theoretical, general teaching and training aspects to assisted, modified, improved and improvised subject-matters and working methods linked to appropriate teaching and training .
The contributor can be contacted at – [email protected]


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