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Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching



Evidence for the superiority of guided instruction is explained in the context of our knowledge of human cognitive architecture, expert–novice differences, and cognitive load. Although unguided or minimally guided instructional approaches are very popular and intuitively appealing, the point is made that these approaches ignore both the structures that constitute human cognitive architecture and evidence from empirical studies over the past half-century that consistently indicate that minimally guided instruction is less effective and less efficient than instructional approaches that place a strong emphasis on guidance of the student learning process. The advantage of guidance begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide “internal” guidance. Recent developments in instructional research and instructional designmodels that support guidance during instruction are briefly described.
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... Empirical evidence suggests discovery learning is less efficient compared to direct instruction (Kirschner et al., 2006). The constructivists provide a rebuttal by saying critics have wrongly equated constructivism which is a theory of learning to a theory of pedagogy. ...
... The constructivists provide a rebuttal by saying critics have wrongly equated constructivism which is a theory of learning to a theory of pedagogy. In one of the most cited criticisms by Kirschner et al (2006), they admit that "the constructivist description of learning is accurate, but the instructional consequences suggested by constructivists do not necessarily follow."(pg. 78) Kirschner et al (2006) also concluded that "The advantage of guidance [i.e.. direct instruction over discovery learning] begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide "internal" guidance" (pg.75). ...
... In one of the most cited criticisms by Kirschner et al (2006), they admit that "the constructivist description of learning is accurate, but the instructional consequences suggested by constructivists do not necessarily follow."(pg. 78) Kirschner et al (2006) also concluded that "The advantage of guidance [i.e.. direct instruction over discovery learning] begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide "internal" guidance" (pg.75). ...
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The need for software developers continues to grow, while students’ engagement, attrition, achievements, and diversity in novice students’ first programming classes (CS1) remain active global research concerns. It appears that conventional programming pedagogy involving mainly lectures and labs does not meet the learning needs of some CS1 students. Meanwhile, because of the ease of initiating novices from diverse backgrounds and interests, Scratch, a constructionist block-based programming environment, has become a popular staple in K-12 programming classes. Seymour Papert’s constructionism theory posits that students learn not just by spoon-feeding them with knowledge but especially as they are given the freedom to develop and share artefacts of interest with their peers. Scratch is now used in higher education, with limited and mixed impacts on CS1 students. In this PhD research project, conducted in two phases, the pilot and main studies, lasting two academic sessions, we employed a pretest-posttest non-equivalent control group design. The research aimed to compare CS1 students’ achievement between those in the conventional and constructionist programming classes. We also sought to investigate whether backgrounds such as academic level, programming, visual arts, age, and gender moderate CS1 achievements. In both studies, purposive sampling was employed to select polytechnics from two central Nigerian states, and selected schools were randomly assigned to the experimental and control groups. We then employed Coarsened Exact Matching algorithm to generate adequate treatment cases from both studies used in the analysis, two samples from each study. The results from the t-test and ANCOVA analysis of research data from both studies revealed a consistent pattern: CS1 students in the constructionist Scratch class outperformed their counterparts in the conventional class, although the impact was moderate. This implies that employing Scratch following constructionist pedagogy may be more engaging, leading to learning gains for college students, especially for those from disadvantaged backgrounds with no programming experience.
... Then, based on their meta-review, they revealed findings that suggest unassisted discovery does not benefit learners, whereas feedback, worked examples, scaffolding, and elicited explanations do. Similarly, Kirschner et al. [12] analyzed why minimal guidance during instruction does not work, and described the advantage of guidance begins to recede only when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide "internal" guidance. ...
... That is, the situation pointed out by Kirschner et al. [12], where instruction to oneself works when learners have sufficiently high prior knowledge to provide "internal" guidance, but does not work otherwise. Compared not to the passive learning method but the active learning method of constructing concept maps while referring to texts, which has been reported to be useful in various ways, the fact that discovery learning in a virtual space is comparable in terms of learning effectiveness is significant evidence that the adaptive scaffolding realized in this study has the great potential to be useful. ...
Self-directed learning in an appropriately designed environment can help learners retain knowledge tied to experience and motivate them to learn more. For teachers, however, it is difficult to design an environment to give to learners and to give feedback that reflects respect for their independent efforts, while for learners, it is difficult to set learning objectives on their own and to construct knowledge correctly based on their own efforts. In this research, we developed a learning support system that provides a mechanism for constructing an observational learning environment using virtual space and that encourages self-directed knowledge discovery. We confirmed that this system contributes to a learner's structural understanding and its retention and to a greater desire to learn at a level comparable to that of concept map creation, another active learning method.
... The watershed moment, for me, came at a Heads of Department meeting when the principal announced that a teacher who had taught at our school under the previous regime had shared a journal article titled "Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching" (Kirschner et al., 2006). The article was set as a reading for the next meeting with the subtext that this would prove that the failure of the previous regime to produce the required HSC Band 6s was primarily due to poor pedagogy. ...
By the 1900s, the battle of “Old education” vs “New education” was underway. Dewey’s New education decried students’ “passive and inert recipiency” in the Old, favouring a student-centred “active work” approach. The launch of Sputnik impelled a swing towards an even more technicist, rationalist curriculum. As music education approaches of the last 60 years have swung towards the New, pressures to standardise and test have been pervasive. The latest swing to New, in the late 20th century, is already being quashed by pressure for schools to compete for students. This study explores the tensions experienced by one music educator as they attempt to navigate the swings in an Australian secondary school. Through a series of narrative vignettes, we consider what creative music education looks like in this new model, and whether it can survive a return to “passive and inert recipiency”.
... Currently, some scholars have been critical of this principle. (Kirschner et al., 2006;Wen, 2015 Learning-using integrated principle holds that learning and using should be combined. This principle calls for an integration of learning and using in classroom instruction. ...
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Production-oriented approach may provide us with a brand new perspective to our current college English reading instruction. Under this approach, teaching reforms need to be initiated in respects of teaching objectives, teaching materials, teaching methods and assessment. Instructors are required to design appropriate output tasks to stimulate learners’ motivation in reading. In addition, a wide variety of teaching activities need to be designed to fully involve students in classroom activities and ensure the completion of output tasks. The teaching materials should not only be aimed at improving students’ language knowledge, but also is conducive to students’ cross-cultural competence. Finally, immediate assessing and delayed assessing should be employed to guarantee the best possible learning results.
... PST 6 rejected what he/she described as "traditional didactic manner". In this regard PST 6 manifests the view that principles of learning, potentially emphasising facilitation and co-construction (alignment with "teaching pedagogy evidence"), are preferable to a more didactic approach favoured by the author and East Asian educators (e.g., Huang & Leung, 2004;Lai & Murray, 2012;Leung et al., 2015;Li, 2004), meta-data analysts (e.g., Hattie, 2009;Hattie & Donoghue, 2016), and cognitive load theorists (e.g., Chen et al., 2016;Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006;Sweller, 2016;Tricot & Sweller, 2014). It needs to be noted, however, that while the views of PST 6 provide a reasonably coherent justification for existing generic mathematics teacher education programs and curriculum courses/subjects, they are counter to those expressed by the majority of the pre-service teachers enrolled in the mathematics course informing this study. ...
... Aufgrund des Charakters von Art A, der eher dem darbietenden Unterricht zuzuordnen ist, sind die Arten B und C in der Praxis vorzuziehen. Im Vergleich zum selbstständigen entdeckenden Lernen sind Formen gelenkt entdeckenden Lernens bezüglich des Wissenserwerbs und -transfers erfolgreicher (Kirschner, Sweller, und Clark 2006;Mayer 2004). Dieser Umstand spricht eher für die Explorationsart B statt C, da in dieser Variante durch die sichtbaren Schaltflächen eine höhere Unterstützung vorliegt. ...
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This study compares three types of exploratory learning with interactive 3D 360° applications. Simulated on-site appointments of craftsmen at the customer‘s site are used as scenarios for the application. In the «Painter», «Electrician» and «Plumber» craft scenarios, common craft work tasks are to be performed in preparation for real on-site appointments using different exploration types. In Type A, work tasks are performed by a skilled person on video and observed by the user. In Type B, work task relevant locations in the shown environment are marked by «!» symbols. In Type C, no markers are used and relevant locations must be discovered by the user. The study with 30 participants in within-subject design tests, among other things, the hypotheses whether the exploration type affects the usability (SUS), the user experience (UEQ) and the assumed role of the user (active/passive). A comparably high usability is present for all exploration types. The user experience is significantly higher in both Type B and Type C than in Type A. In Type C, the user‘s own role is assessed to be more active than in Types A and B. The user‘s own role is assessed as more active in Type C than in Type A. Type B is again more active than Type A. The better user experience and the more active role of the user, while maintaining a high usability, make Exploration Types B (marked areas) and C (unmarked surrounding) interesting for knowledge transfer of practical content.
... Therefore, scaffolding, which is a process that a teacher enables the learner to complete a task or achieve goals through "'controlling' those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner's capacity" (Wood et al., 1976, p. 90) is crucial for SRL development. Previous studies on supporting SRL have highlighted the impact of guided scaffoldings and direct strategy instruction on learning processes in contrast to providing minimal guidance during instruction (Kirschner et al., 2006). Carter et al. (2020) have also emphasized the moderating effect of guided scaffolding in online environments on decreasing the cognitive load of the working memory, considering the metacognitive needs of SRL processes. ...
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As students’ achievement is correlated with self-regulation, finding interventions promoting self-regulated learning (SRL) in online courses is a current focus of research. However, few studies have explored the potential of contract learning in scaffolding and developing SRL in non-traditional learners who have work and family and are at risk of dropout. Here, we investigate the utility of contract learning using a qualitative approach. Using a qualitative approach, we collected data from the experience of one teacher and seven non-traditional learners in an online English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course. The data were collected from teacher logs over eight months and semi-structured interviews with the students. The results of deductive thematic analysis of the data indicate that contract learning positively affected the forethought, performance, and self-reflection phases. Further, despite the cognitive, emotional, external, motivational, and behavioral challenges aggravated by the pandemic, the teacher’s efforts to implement contract learning affected the persistence and effort, goal setting, strategic planning, and time management of most learners (N = 4). Possible reasons for the learners’ success and failure and the implications for developing SRL skills in students at risk of dropout in online English courses are discussed.
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Instructional research is reviewed where teaching failures have produced students who are less able to use learning skills or had less access to knowledge than before they were taught. Three general types of "mathemathantic" (i.e. where instruction "kills" learning) effects are hypothesized, theoretical explanations for each effect are examined and representative studies in each area are described. The three types of effects described are where instruction serves to: 1) Substitute learning procedures (e.g. Novel learning strategies are hypothesized to interfere with the learning of higher general ability learners and inadequate learning strategies are provided to those with lower general ability); 2) Impose less desirable motivational goals on learners (e.g. when teaching methods lead constructively motivated learners to believe that failure avoidance has replaced achievement directed goals and, conversely, when defensively motivated students believe that achievement directed goals have replaced the opportunity to avoid failure); and 3) Substitute student control for system control over instructional method (e.g. by allowing lower cognitive load instructional methods to be chosen by high general ability, constructive students and/or by allowing higher cognitive load methods to be chosen by defensive students who have low general ability)
This volume presents the most comprehensive, balanced, and up-to-date coverage of theory and research on cognitive, thinking, and learning styles, in a way that: * represents diverse theoretical perspectives; * includes solid empirical evidence testing the validity of these perspectives; and * shows the application of these perspectives to school situations, as well as situations involving other kinds of organizations. International representation is emphasized, with chapters from almost every major leader in the field of styles. Each chapter author has contributed serious theory and/or published empirical data--work that is primarily commercial or that implements the theories of others. The book's central premise is that cognitive, learning, and thinking styles are not abilities but rather preferences in the use of abilities. Traditionally, many psychologists and educators have believed that people's successes and failures are attributable mainly to individual differences in abilities. However, for the past few decades research on the roles of thinking, learning, and cognitive styles in performance within both academic and nonacademic settings has indicated that they account for individual differences in performance that go well beyond abilities. New theories better differentiate styles from abilities and make more contact with other psychological literatures; recent research, in many cases, is more careful and conclusive than are some of the older studies. Cognitive, learning, and thinking styles are of interest to educators because they predict academic performance in ways that go beyond abilities, and because taking styles into account can help teachers to improve both instruction and assessment and to show sensitivity to cultural and individual diversity among learners. They are also of interest in business, where instruments to assess styles are valuable in selecting and placing personnel. The state-of-the-art research and theory in this volume will be of particular interest to scholars and graduate students in cognitive and educational psychology, managers, and others concerned with intellectual styles as applied in educational, industrial, and corporate settings. © 2001 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
How do academic activities and discourse work together in classrooms to shape learning and instruction? This complex question was answered in a case study of underachieving students in a Grade 8 history class. Data were collected through class observation and interviews with experienced teachers and students in 2 classrooms. Teachers taught history content and learning strategies. Theories of social constructivism predict that the discourse arising before, during, and after activities can explain variability in students' social and academic participation in curriculum events, as can the nature of the instructional approach students experience when teachers hold similar goals. Patterns of co-occurring forms of discourse and activities across sequences of lesson events provided a useful window into interactions between learning and instruction.
This article reports experimental work comparing exploration and worked-examples practice in learning to use a database program. Exploration practice is based on discovery learning principles, whereas worked-examples practice arose from the development of cognitive load theory. Exploration practice was expected to place a considerable load on working memory, whereas a heavy use of worked examples was hypothesized to lead to more effective processing by reducing extraneous mental load. Students with no previous domain familiarity with databases were found to substantially benefit from worked examples in comparison to exploration. However, if students had previous familiarity with the database domain, the type of practice made no significant difference to their learning because the exploration students were able to draw on existing, well-developed domain schemas to guide their exploration.