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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 6 Issue 5 (2001) pp 277-287

Moments in Constructivism: How Does Accepting Failures Allow Us To Examine Our Teaching?

Barbara J. Short, Jeffrey S. Carver, William J. F. Hunter,* and John R. Young

Department of Chemistry, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, 61790
Received February 28, 2001 Accepted June 18, 2001

Published online: 14 September 2001

Abstract. This paper examines the past teaching experiences of four chemistry instructors who would ultimately like to be considered successful in their classroom endeavors. In defining success, each of these teachers point to student learning as examples of their achievement. This was not always the case. Intermittently, each teacher taught as they were taught, focusing solely on content, using other people’s curricula, and worried exclusively about their performance as instructors in the classroom. Although each of these instructors are now self-proclaimed constructivists, they continue to struggle with what the term means empirically, how it actually manifests itself in their classrooms, and how they can adequately measure the achievement of their students. Through the course of this selfexamination, each began to recognize many of the successes and failures that occurred as they became constructivist educators. Each independently noted that the transformation from what they were to what they would like to be is an on-going process; the ultimate goal of teaching should focus exclusively on students’ learning. This paper is not a litany of rosy successes, nor is it a string of miserable failures. It is the description of their classrooms, of who they are, and who they would like to be.

Key Words:  In the Classroom; constructivism

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Issue date: October 1, 2001

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