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Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 418–431 | Cite as

Do Junior High School Students Perceive Their Learning Environment as Constructivist?

  • Asely Moustafa
  • Orit Ben-Zvi-Assaraf
  • Haim Eshach
Article

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the manner in which the features of a constructivist learning environment, and the mechanisms at its base, are expressed in junior high school students’ conceptions. Our research is based on an integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches, deigned to provide a wider ranging and deeper understanding. Eight hundred and forty eighth- and ninth-grade students from over 15 schools participated in the study. Of the 840 students who completed the questionnaire, the explanations of 200 well-written questionnaires were further analyzed qualitatively. The findings of the study are presented in terms of the four scales employed in the CLES, namely the autonomy scale, the prior knowledge scale, the negotiation scale, and the student-centeredness scale. The quantitative results achieved here concur with parallel studies conducted around the world. The findings indicate that a considerable portion of the students perceive their learning environment as a constructivist one and report positive attitudes toward the way they are being taught. In terms of the qualitative results, however, it appears that in some cases, the students’ explanations reveal that in fact, and contrary to the bare quantitative results, some students do not perceive their learning environment as being constructivist. This raises the question of whether the fact that students recognize the factors associated with constructivist teaching is indeed an indication that such teaching exists in practice. This finding emphasizes the importance of combining qualitative and quantitative methods for arriving at a balanced view of classroom occurrences.

Keywords

Constructivist learning environment Junior high school Qualitative and quantitative methods 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asely Moustafa
    • 1
  • Orit Ben-Zvi-Assaraf
    • 1
  • Haim Eshach
    • 1
  1. 1.Science and Technology Education DepartmentBen-Gurion University of the NegevBe’er ShevaIsrael

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