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Piaget - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Piaget. The father of constructivism and conceptual change theory. Is the mind really like a computer?. Quotes from college student exams & papers: (taken from Non Campus Mentis by Anders Henriksson). “Old Testament profits include Moses, Amy, and Confucius”

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The father of constructivism and conceptual change theory

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Is the mind really like a computer?

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Quotes from college student exams & papers:(taken from Non Campus Mentis by Anders Henriksson)

  • “Old Testament profits include Moses, Amy, and Confucius”

  • “Martin Luther Junior’s famous ‘If I had a hammer’ speech”

  • “Joan of Arc was famous as Noah’s wife”

  • “The airplane was invented and first flown by the Marx brothers”

  • “The Boston Tea Party was held at Pearl Harbor”

  • “Judyism had one big God named ‘Yahoo’”

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  • When ever we take in new information, we interpret, distort, elaborate, and impose meaning on it.

  • We never encode information in a pure, unaltered form.

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  • When we recall information, we often distort, elaborate, and transform it.

  • There is no pure, unaltered memory recall.

    • We can even construct memories of things that never happened - and believe they’re true!

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Piaget - The Father of Constructivism

  • Children are active and motivated learners.

  • Through their action, they construct schemas.

    • A set of perceptions, ideas, and/or actions, that we construct and use to understand and respond to the world.

    • Ex. “Fast food joint”schema.

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  • These schemas affect how we make sense of the world and learn new things.

  • Learning is not so much a process of acquiring new knowledge, but of reconstructing our existing schemas.

    • Assimilation - fitting new info into existing schemas, often by distorting, transforming, and imposing meaning on the information.

    • Accommodation - modifying, transforming, and reconstructing existing schemas.

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  • A disturbed mind is a good thing!

    • Disequilibrium - your schemas don’t match up with the world (cognitive dissonance).

    • (Hopefully!) this lead to a restructuring (accommodation) of your schemas.

    • Which then leads to equilibrium again.

    • This process is known as equilibration. And Piaget believed equilibration is what makes you smart - it leads to the development of more complex levels of thought (e.g., critical thinking, abstract thinking).

Equilibration Demo

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We cannot receive knowledge -- only construct it.

A teacher cannot give knowledge -- only foster its development.

Behaviorism gave us the scientific revolution in psychology, Information Processing gave us the cognitive revolution. Now Piaget gives us the Constructivist revolution.

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  • Peer Puzzle Activity

  • What are the implications of students having schemas different from yours?

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Metaphors for Constructivism

  • Painting with watercolors.

  • Growing a garden.

  • Change in an ecosystem.

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Duckworth Article Discussion Questions

  • What type of learning does Duckworth value? Why?

  • What type of instructional model does she seem to value? Why?

  • How does her view of learning and instruction relate to Piaget?

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Problem-based Learning

  • Instead of presenting content, present a problem that students can explore.

  • Carefully design the problem so that solving it will lead students to engage with the content you want them to learn.


  • Provide appropriate guidance and scaffolding (this is getting into social constructivism)

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Conceptual Change

  • What is a misconception?

    • What misconception do students in the article have about heat?

    • What misconceptions do students have in the video?

    • What misconceptions did the kids who visited our class have?

  • Where do misconceptions come from?

    • Where might the heat, phases of the moon, reflected light, and other misconceptions come from?

  • Why do individuals hold onto misconceptions?

    • Why do some students in the article and video hold onto their misconceptions?

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Reasons for holding on to misconceptions

  • Pride; don’t like to be wrong

    • Mistrust source of new idea.

  • Stick to what makes SENSE!

    • New idea doesn’t make sense.

  • Comfort. Change is uncomfortable.

    • Risky

  • Takes work! We’re lazy.

  • Lack of motivation. Who cares?

  • Hard-core ideas vs. protective belt ideas

  • Language

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Reasons for holding on to misconceptions

  • Uncomfortable to be in a state of not knowing.

  • Believe it’s true! Stubborn about being wrong.

  • Our beliefs are connected. Changing one belief may cause Chaos.

  • Prior belief MAKES SENSE.

  • New idea might NOT make sense.

  • Change takes work. We’re lazy.

  • Might question the source of the new idea.

  • Source of the prior idea may be powerful

  • Hard-core vs. protective belt beliefs

  • Prior idea has time on its side.

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Reasons for holding on to misconceptions

  • Richer network in brain.

    • New idea is just some abstract thing out there.


  • Habit

  • Tied to particular experience/situation.

  • Part of personality, values, identity

    • Hard core beliefs vs. protective belt beliefs

    • Discount evidence, opinions, ideas that are different

  • Reluctant to change. Change is uncomfortable.

  • Change takes time (time for change in network)

  • Pride; stubborn. We like to be right!

  • Change is hard. We’re lazy.

  • Prior belief may be socially embedded.

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Conceptual Change

  • In the video, the girl often first gives a correct explanation. But when pressed, her bizarre misconceptions come out. What is going on?

  • How do misconceptions relate to Piaget’s ideas (schemas, assimilation, accommodation, equilibration)?


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Conditions needed for conceptual change:

  • Dissatisfaction with existing idea

  • New idea must make sense

  • New idea must be plausible

  • New idea must appear fruitful

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  • Given that

    • We construct schemas based on our experience (Piaget),

    • we learn and make sense of the world according to our existing schemas (Piaget),

    • and we resist changing our existing schemas (conceptual change theory),

  • what are the implications of people having different experiences?

  • How can this knowledge help us understand what goes on in the world?

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  • Conceptual change theory states that we resist changing our existing ideas.

  • I recently saw a program about two teenage age singers who were being raised to believe in white supremacist ideas.

  • Is there anything you could do to try to change their beliefs? What could you try?

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Teaching for Conceptual Change

  • What advice do they give in the video about dealing with misconceptions?

  • How does the teacher in the article teach for conceptual change?

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Conceptual Change Instructional Model

1. Identify misconceptions.

2. Convince students that existing beliefs are inadequate.

  • Challenge beliefs

    • Direct confrontation: “The seasons are not caused by the earth getting closer to the sun!”

    • Critical questioning: “How can it be winter in New Zealand when it is summer in the United States?” (better option)

  • Engage students in inquiry experiences where they can test their ideas and receive disconfirming evidence.[note: this is problem-based learning]

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Conceptual Change Instructional Model

3. Motivate students to learn correct explanations.

  • Show them the usefulness of the correct explanations

  • In other words, help students have a meaningful, transformative experiences with the correct explanations.

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Designing an Inquiry Experience

  • Choose a topic in your subject area.

    • What problem could you present to your students that relates to this topic?

    • How will you provide students with the opportunity to put forth and test their ideas?

    • How will the students engage in the processes of assimilation and accommodation?

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Relationship between experience and learning

Prior Experience Schemes

Exploratory experience

Accommodation of schemas

cognitive development