The Role Reversal
By: Hayley Johnson
Think back to your experiences with high school or maybe college classes and relate your experience with one of the following teaching scenarios:
Scenario 1: The teacher is the “expert” of the class. The teacher stands in front of the students and pours their knowledge into the minds of the passive students. The students sit and listen and are expected to receive all of the information being told to them for the next test.
Scenario 2: The teacher makes a very brief introduction of a concept in class and allows students to describe knowledge they already have that may relate, as well as make some connections to any prior experiences with the concept. The students are divided into smaller collaborative groups and work together to learn, question, solve, explore, or research the concept or problem and then present their findings or solutions to the class.
Unfortunately, the first scenario is one that I am personally all too familiar with, as I assume most of my readers are as well. The latter scenario is actually rooted with constructivist views of learning. There is a shift in the teacher-student role that allows the students to take charge of their personal, ever-changing knowledge and view of the world with the help of their prior knowledge, peers, and teacher when necessary.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” -Socrates
Constructivism: A theory that the way people learn is through constructing their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experience and reflection.
Constructivism in the classroom has to do with the initial “role reversal” phrase that the blog mentions. This simply means that the teacher understands that the students are not passive, unidirectional receivers of information, but rather an active member of the learning process in the classroom. This allows the teacher to step back from the “expert” perception and release the students to foster more of their own learning and understanding.
^The teacher, being a minor character, acts more as a support or a base for the students to lean on or utilize to help achieve higher levels of knowledge, but the students are the only main characters in the “story” of their learning.
Access your Students Knowlege:
In the article, The Relation between Prior Knowledge and Students’ Collaborative Discovery Learning Processes from the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, the connections between collaboration and discovery are explored through actual student interactions.
The effect of prior knowledge on the students’ new understanding of concepts in the physics world and the results of the observation showed a positive correlation between a high prior knowledge of term definitions and the amount of communication when interpreting results in the classroom. This shows how students may use their prior knowledge and understanding to explain and reflect on their current experiences and use them to build on their knowledge. This shows how the constructivist theory can play a role in your students learning in the classroom when you take the time to access their prior knowledge.
Gijlers, Hannie, and Ton De Jong. “The Relation between Prior Knowledge and Students’ Collaborative Discovery Learning Processes.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 42, no. 3, 20 July 2005, pp. 264–282., doi:10.1002/tea.20056.
Construct, collaborate, share, inquiry, role, ever-changing, question, grow, prior knowledge, build
* Reminder- Students with a higher level of knowledge should be encouraged to teach the students around them in order to help all students grow and learn during the exploration of the world around them.
A second grade science lesson plan for the students to explore the concept of evaporation is dissected to integrate key components of a constructivist-style lesson that includes:
- Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate
— Dr. Michael Lozano (@DrLozano) October 22, 2017
These students are seen teaching and presenting their subject knowledge to the class and taking on the role of the teacher.