Using the Constructivist Approach in Family & Consumer Sciences

Vol. 18, No. 2
ISSN: 1546-2676

Guest Editor:
Jacquelyn W. Jensen

return to KON home page

browse other KON publications

Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM, Vol. 18, No. 2. 
1546-2676. Editor: Dorothy I. Mitstifer. Official publication of Kappa Omicron Nu National Honor Society. Member, Association of College Honor Societies. Copyright © 2009. Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM is a refereed, semi-annual publication serving the profession of family and consumer sciences. The opinions expressed by the authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the society. Further information: Kappa Omicron Nu, PO Box 798, Okemos, MI 48805-0798. Telephone: (727) 940-2658 ext. 2003

Interested in submitting an article to KON FORUM? Papers are now being accepted for review.


return to top of page


Kappa Omicron Nu


Reflections on Using Constructivist Techniques to Teach Constructivist Teaching

Gale Smith
University of British Columbia


Airasian and Walsh (1997) claim that there is no “instruction of constructivism.” Generally, however, methods and teaching strategies that emphasize active student participation in the learning process are considered to be essential to a constructivist approach. A common complain from students enrolled in teacher education programs is that university instructors do not “practice what they preach.” In other words, constructivism as an epistemology of learning is often promoted but not experienced in teacher education courses. As an instructor of home economics curriculum and instruction and principles of teaching courses, I have tried to model the use of constructivist methods in my teaching of pre-service teachers. In this paper I will elaborate the methods used, explain modifications made over the years, and identify some of the enduring challenges and concerns that arise in attempting to implement constructivism in practical, classroom settings.


Because Dr. Smith uses constructivist techniques to teach constructivist teaching, her ability to combine form and function actually occurs always. My main point is that while learning the theoretical and practical ins and outs of teaching, I am being taught these things using the technique I am being taught. It sounds complicated, but Dr. Smith makes it look easy.

(student course evaluation, 2005)

The title of this paper comes from the above a comment made by a pre-service teacher in an evaluation of Principles of Teaching course that I taught last year. I am currently a teacher educator at the University of British Columbia where my responsibilities include teaching curriculum and instruction courses1 (home economics2, health, global education), general education courses (principles of teaching, communication), and graduate level courses (introduction to research methods, action research, curriculum and instruction in home economics education). My career in education has followed a winding path. After partially completing a home economics degree I transferred to an eight-month program that would grant me a teaching certificate for elementary school. I taught elementary grades 4 to 7 for 11 and a half years before I was able to return to home economics and teach at the high school level. I taught high school home economics for 10 years while completing a masters degree and then obtained a PhD in home economics curriculum and instruction. For the past 16 years I have been back and forth between the teaching high school home economics and teaching mainly pre-service home economics teachers but also a range of other education courses. I taught 6 years at the University, returned to the classroom for 6 years and I am now in my 4 th year back at the University.

“Discovery learning” was the buzz-word during my elementary teacher training. John Dewey was frequently mentioned and his theories of experiential education and active learning promoted. We were encouraged to plan practical hands on activities, to consider alternative seating arrangements to the traditional rows, and to allow for students to progress at different rates. My elementary experience invariably affected my approach to teaching home economics so in addition to the very typical approaches of demonstrations, labs, and “theory”3 lessons, I often incorporated inquiry approaches, station lessons, experiments, group projects, consumer comparisons, field trips, and so on. I could probably say my approach was constructivist before the word became common in the educational discourse. When I began to work in teacher education, I was determined to move beyond the transmissive, lecture style that is so common at the university level. My goal was to use active and engaging teaching strategies to teach the content of curriculum and instruction in home economics and principles of teaching. My lessons had a double objective, for the student teachers to learn new information, knowledge and skills related to being a teacher and to learn ways of student centered active teaching by experiencing student centered active pedagogy. My assumption was that if I modeled what is now more frequently called constructivist pedagogy, then the student teachers in my classes would be initiated into constructivism through constructivist teaching activities and they in turn would use the knowledge and the constructivist philosophy and practices to underpin their teaching practices. While I have had some success as evidenced in the opening quotation, the path has not been as “easy” as the student makes out.

I will outline my evolving understanding of constructivism and constructivist pedagogy by characterizing it as action research. Action research, participatory research, teacher as researcher, insider-research, teacher research, action science, action learning, collaborative inquiry, self inquiry, and an assortment of other descriptors have gained much currency in the educational literature of late (see Peterat & Smith, 2001). Action research has a long history in education that often ebbs and flows depending on the scholarship of the times. I was vaguely familiar with the work of Lawrence Stenhouse and deliberative practice that was prevalent in the 1970’s in Britain (see Rudduck & Hopkins, 1985) from my masters studies but when I began working in teacher education in the 1990’s reflective practice was dominating the literature informed by the theorizing of Donald Schön (1983; 1987). According to Newman (2000), Schön “sees practice-as-inquiry conducted principally to inform and change on-going practice…the teacher/researcher is attempting to make his or her own understanding problematic to him or herself” (n.p.).

What all types and forms of action research share is a commitment to bringing the researcher of the study into the process of educational inquiry. They share an ontological position that honours lived reality, and involves participants and their actions in the creation of personal and social knowing and ways of being. They also share the epistemological position that places importance on (a) experiential knowing that emerges through participation with others; and (b) the belief that people can learn to be self reflexive about their world and their actions within it (Reason, 1994).

The epistemology which underpins action research methodology is distinctive in that it rejects the notion that knowledge can be de-contextualized from its context of practice. We live in a world of action, a world in which the nature of existence is shaped by perceptions, and this strongly suggests that knowledge constructed without the active participation of practitioners can only be partial knowledge. (Somekh, 1994, p. 367)

Additionally, all types and forms of action research are focused on change (Brooks & Watkins, 1994). To me, there is an epistemological, ontological and ethical consonance between action research and constructivism.

Cycle 1 - Active Learning (1990 – 1993)

When I began working in home economics teacher education in the early 1990’s, I was guided by the notion of active learning. The tendency at the time [and continuing to today according to Gabler & Schroder (2003)] was to set up active learning as opposite to didactic teaching and define active learning by describing what it was not (Meyers & Jones, 1993). So active learning was not lecturing, not transmitting information and knowledge to passive students, not teacher centered, not “banking” style education.

In those initial years, I used a variety of active learning strategies, some that I continue to use to today. I used a role-play to teach the history of home economics education in Canada. Students were given articles that were eventually published in An Education for Women (Peterat & deZwart, 1995) and each had to prepare a five minute “speech” as if they were the author speaking at a conference. Students learned the enduring struggles of home economics education over time, the issues faced in various decades, the changes in curriculum that were made and what influenced the changes and they learned how to use role place as a teaching approach. I used the K-W-L (Know-Want to know-Learn) as an approach to finding out what students knew about the Home Economics Curriculum and courses in British Columbia. I used a jig-saw to teach the main components of cooperative learning. I used concept attainment to teach the concept of educational objectives. Students analyzed various educational metaphors of teaching exploring them for hidden and unexamined assumptions about teaching, learning, knowledge production, and culture and presented them to the class. I used what Joyce and Weil (1986) call synectics to teach the parts of a unit plan. I used carousel brainstorming, time lines, concept mapping, stories and poetry, games, case studies, journal writing, portfolios and portfolio assessment, other forms of assessment than tests, and so on. I spent a lot of time in creating these lessons and was fairly satisfied with the results. However, I was disappointed when I visited students during the thirteen week practicum4 to see very few of these strategies in practice. Students seemed to fall into the pattern of traditional teacher centered teaching often being used by their school advisors5.

My conclusion was that somehow I had not achieved my objectives. I wondered why. I speculated that perhaps I had not made my second objective (the one related to how they experienced active learning and how this could be used in their teaching) clear. I critiqued my practice of assuming that the student teachers would gain competence and confidence in active learning teaching approaches by experiencing them and somehow (by osmosis?) adopt these practices. I needed to re-visit my practice.

Cycle 2 - Active Learning Revisited (1994 –1996)

Meyers and Jones (1993), in their book Promoting Active Learning, describe a pedagogy of active learning as involving four key elements: talking and listening; reading; writing; and reflecting. I thought I was doing all four but I decided that perhaps my weakness related to the last element, reflecting. Had I structured the reflection too much on the content of the lesson (i.e., the curriculum and instruction of home economics) and the cognitive dissonance that occurs when students’ initial understanding of home economics is cooking and sewing and not enough on active learning pedagogy? My next step then was to build debriefing time into my lessons where I explained the teaching strategy that I had just used and led a discussion exploring examples of how it might be used in their teaching.

This seemed to make some difference as I did notice student teachers making more effort to use student-centered approaches in teaching and assessment. The other action I took was to meet with school advisors to discuss with them what the student teachers were learning on campus and to encourage them to allow the student teachers to try some of these strategies during their practicum. I still wasn’t satisfied but I thought I had made some progress. At this time I decided to return to the classroom. I had always felt that some of currency I had with student teachers came from my experience and since I had been out of the classroom for six years it was time to go back. I took a home economics position in a large suburban high school.

Cycle 3 - Constructivism (2002 - 2004)

When I returned to teacher education at the University of British Columbia, constructivism was being promoted. One of the compulsory courses for pre-service students, called Principles of Teaching used the text Constructivist Methods for the Secondary Classroom (Gabler & Schroeder, 2003). The authors of this text describe constructivist methods as “ instructional templates for lessons and units that encourage students to be critical thinkers and independent learners, with the teacher acting as a mentor and facilitator” (p. xvii). They state “a constructivist classroom must be an ACTIVE environment that features the following dimensions:

  • Assessment through performance, using a wide range of assessment methods.
  • Curricula that emphasize big ideas, depth over breadth, and interdisciplinarity.
  • Teacher as a guide/facilitator/coach and student as worker/independent thinker.
  • Interaction, with value placed on teacher- and student- generated questions, and consistent use of methods that promote student-student interaction.
  • Variety in teaching methods, even within a single class period.
  • Engagement of students in the subject matter, with students becoming historians, writers, scientists, mathematicians, etc. (p. 17).

The Instructor’s Manual (Schroeder, 2003) for this text claims “our own experiences and qualitative research that we have conducted has shown us the instructor modeling of constructivist methods and techniques is essential” (p. 3, emphasis in the original). I didn’t see too much different between this and what I was doing in my previous years of working with student teachers under the guise of active learning. So I proceeded much as I had done before with some modifications.

I developed my courses around the theme Becoming Students of Teaching (BeST), taking my title from a book by Bullough and Gitlin (1995) and using some of the activities they suggest, such as writing a home economics related educational life history, continuing to explore educational metaphors, identifying significant people who have shaped their approach to teaching, interviewing a teacher, conducting a shadow study of a student, doing an ethnography of a classroom or school. I also included recalling and analyzing critical incidents (Newman, 1998). I organized my course around the “big ideas” or questions related to curriculum and instruction in home economics:


What meaning does history and philosophy of home economics have for present home economic practice?

How is home economics education articulated in home economics curricular documents and conceptual writings?

What meaning do current movements/trends/issues have for home economics education?


What are our assumptions, values, beliefs about teacher, learner, education, subject matter, and context?


What should be our objectives? In what ways can they be written?

How can we plan so that our objectives are met?

What are the essential parts of a lesson plan? In what ways can they be implemented?


What are the strengths, weaknesses, potential uses of various models of teaching and teaching strategies?

What can we learn from micro-teaching? from our pre-practicum experience? from class presentations?


How can we make our assessment and evaluation more authentic?

Should students be involved in assessment?


What strategies for reflection work best for you?

What can we learn about ourselves from our professional portfolio?

In what ways can we become students of teaching?

My message was that instead of being a student teacher and then a teacher, they were beginning a life-long inquiry into teaching. I also increased my use of different instructional strategies and tactics using examples from Beyond Monet ( Bennett & Rolheiser, 2001) such as the three-step interview, the T chart, the Fishbone, the Place Mat, and structured controversy.

Again in my role as a faculty advisor6, I observed more teacher centered, direct instruction lessons than student centered, engaged learning. I decided I needed to revisit constructivism.

Cycle 4 - Constructivism Revisited (2004-2005)

There is an “enormous, and rapidly growing” (Phillips, 1995) body of educational literature on constructivism. But there is very little literature on the pedagogy of constructivism. Thus, Airasian and Walsh (1997) claimed that there is no “instruction of constructivism” (p. 45). In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk. However that last descriptor “reflect on and talk” seemed to be in the process of being replaced with “metacognition” in the more recent literature. For example Fogerty (1999) identified seven elements of constructivist philosophy: learner and life-centered curriculum; enriched environments; interactive settings; differentiated instruction; inquiry, experimentation, and investigation; mediation and facilitation; and metacognitive reflection (p. 78, my emphasis). Richardson (2003) who acknowledged the lack of scholarship relating to teaching constructivism or constructivist pedagogy, outlined imperatives or approaches.

constructivist pedagogy… involve(s) the following characteristics:

1. attention to the individual and respect for students’ background and developing understandings of and beliefs about elements of the domain (this could also be described as student-centered);

2. facilitation of group dialogue that explores an element of the domain with the purpose of leading to the creation and shared understanding of a topic;

3. planned and often unplanned introduction of formal domain knowledge into the conversation through direct instruction, reference to text, exploration of a Web site, or some other means;

4. provision of opportunities for students to determine, challenge, change or add to existing beliefs and understandings through engagement in tasks that are structured for this purpose; and

5. development of students’ metawareness of their own understandings and learning processes. (Richardson, 2003, p. 1626, emphasis mine)

I began to wonder just how metawareness or metacognition was being interpreted and how it was different from the debriefing and reflecting I was already doing with students and whether this might provide some guidance that would encourage student teachers to use more student centered, active learning strategies during their student teaching practicum. Unfortunately it seemed that metacognition, like constructivist pedagogy, is a relatively new field in education. McBrien and Brant (1997) refer to it as thinking and explaining one’s reasoning. Windschilt (2002) talks about teachers and students making their thinking processes explicit. Rodriguez (1999) describes it as reflection on how one learns. Generally it is claimed that metacognition, or awareness of the process of learning, is a critical ingredient to successful learning.

I wasn’t sure what this would “look” like in a teacher education classroom but I decided to approach this in two ways. To the debriefing segment of the lesson that came after I used a particular teaching approach and strategy, I would model my thinking process (i.e., why I chose this approach to teach this content, why I thought it would engage learners and what I hoped they would learn, my reflection and critique of the process) and I would encourage the student teachers to think about what they learned, how they learned it, and the pros and cons of this method of teaching, in addition to how they might use this in their own teaching.

It was after this that the student evaluation included the comment at the opening of this paper. My reaction was to celebrate that at least one of the student teachers “got it!” However in my observation of student teachers on practicum, I was again disappointed, with some student centered teaching but not as much as I expected. What was wrong? I decided that perhaps I was naïve in thinking that student teachers who are products of a fairly traditional education system, and who are doing their student teaching in that system, could change the system.

Enduring Challenges and Concerns

Windschilt, (2002) claims that constructivism in practice amounts to a negotiation of dilemmas. I will use his framework to highlight some examples from my own practice.

Conceptual dilemmas are those rooted in teachers’ attempts to understand the philosophical, psychological, and epistemological underpinnings of constructivism (p. 132). This is especially difficult when constructivism like many education concepts is essentially contested (Gallie, 1964). Green and Ackerman (1995), questioning the way constructivism is used ubiquitously but not sufficiently elaborated, contend that constructivism is more metaphor than theory. Is constructivism a theory or a philosophy? Is it a theory of knowledge? An epistemology? Or a theory of learning? Is it a single unified theory or are there variations?

Many claim it is a philosophy. For example, Forgerty (1999) says it is a philosophy that is linked to the work of such theorists as John Dewey and those who advocate progressive schooling, where learning is embedded in experience and inquiry; Jean Piaget and discovery learning; Lev Vygotsky and his theories on the social processes of meaning making; Reuven Feuerstein’s theory of mediated learning; Howard Gardner’s conceptualization of multiple intelligences; and the brain research of Marian Diamond.

Others claim it is an epistemology, a theory of knowledge, a philosophical explanation about the nature of knowledge. Based on the assumption that meaning or knowledge is actively constructed in the human mind and that the world is knowable through the interaction of knower and experienced phenomena, knowledge is deemed to be both individually constructed activity and a communal social practice. The cognitive processes camp tends to focus on the individual’s mental processes and knowledge construction; the social constructivist camp suggests that knowledge is socially constructed and mediated by context (social, cultural, historical, institutional, etc.)

Still others describe it as theory of learning. For example, Brooks and Grennon Brooks (1999) describe it as “a theory of learning that describes the central role that learners’ ever-transforming mental schemes play in their cognitive growth” (p. 18). Richardson (2003) confirms this in stating

The general sense of constructivism is that it is a theory of learning or meaning making, that individuals create their own new understandings on the basis of an interaction between what they already know and believe and ideas and knowledge with which they come into contact. (pp. 1623-1624)

However, Richardson’s (2003) most salient point is that constructivism as a theory of learning, is not a theory of teaching or teaching practice or pedagogy and it has only been in the last decade that some attention has actually been given to constructivist pedagogy. For her,

constructivist pedagogy is thought of as the creation of classroom environments, activities, and methods that are grounded in a constructivist theory of learning, with goals that focus on individual students developing deep understandings in the subject matter of interest and habits of mind that aid in future learning. (p. 1627)

When there is conceptual confusion, translating constructivism into classroom practices so that it becomes more than a “toolbox for problems of learning” (Perkins, 1999), and doesn’t become a quasi-religious ideology (Phillips, 1995), is a concern. In the beginning when I focused on the content of the lesson and didn’t include reflection on the teaching process or metacognition, my approach to constructivism could be described as just using active learning teaching strategies. What was lacking was a deeper exploration of constructivism as a theory of teaching. There was a disconnect between theory and practice. Now I can understand student evaluation comments like “too much group work”. Although I didn’t totally denigrate direct instruction, I did mention that at times it is the best method to cover basic information, I didn’t demonstrate it much in practice. Teaching is not an either or issue and I realize that I must be careful not to balkanize to one end of a continuum.

Windschilt, (2002), doesn’t mention time as a factor under conceptual dilemmas but I think what contributed to my dissatisfaction with student teachers performance during practicum was that my expectations were unrealistic. It takes time to adjust to the changing role of teacher. It takes time to change epistemological beliefs about the nature of home economics knowledge or they way it should be taught. When we encounter something new, it takes time to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience. Wells (1995), indicates that constructivist learning is “the gradual construction of systematic knowledge that can and should inform both present and future actions (p. 238, emphasis mine).

Even Richardson (2003) in articulating the imperatives for constructivist pedagogy begins with “toward which one initially aspires and which then become fundamental aspects of the teacher’s praxis” (p. 1624) indicating that this is not something that happens quickly.

Windschilt (2002) describes pedagogical dilemmas as those that arise in preparing and using constructivism in the classroom. Designing constructivist curriculum and learning experiences are much more complex and time consuming than preparing for direct instruction. They involve assessing students’ prior knowledge, understanding content and developing supporting materials, managing classroom interaction and discourse, encouraging critical thinking, and facilitating reflection and metacognition. It can be overwhelming for a student teacher to constantly be preparing constructivist lesson plans. Student teachers may also resist for other reasons. Rodriguez and Berryman (2002) identify resistance to pedagogical change and resistance to ideological change. Resistance to pedagogical change could occur when student teachers deem constructivist approaches are too risky in practicum situations when school advisors do not use or support these approaches. The role of the cooperating teacher is not well researched or understood ( Wideen, Mayer-Smith & Moon, 1998).

Resistance to ideological change is evident when student teachers think they just teach the curriculum, just transmit knowledge and skills and are not prepared to engage students in critical thinking and problem solving. I have heard student teachers describe their lessons as “a lecture on …” or have had student teachers say “I’m not really teaching that day (I’m giving a test…The students are doing a lab…They are just working on projects.).” These comments indicate to me that they are still using teacher as controller, teacher at the head of the class, teaching as telling as their dominant way of being in the classroom. This type of resistance could even be supported by ideological contractions in the ways they are taught to plan, for example lesson, unit, and year planning are often done in advance of knowing the context of teaching, ignoring the constructivist value of building on students previous experience.

According to Windschilt (2002), cultural dilemmas occur when trying to re-orientation of classroom roles and expectations to accommodate the constructivist ethos. Student teachers are in a sense borrowing classes from their school advisors who have already established certain patterns of instruction and behaviour. Students who have been socialized into a particular view of schooling can cause problems, for example when asked to work cooperatively or to participate in a Socratic seminar, if they are used to taking notes and doing worksheets. Is it too much to ask student teachers going into these conditions to challenge or change the classroom and school culture?

Lastly, Windschilt (2002) identifies political dilemmas as resistance from various stakeholders in the school communities. What if the school culture is very conservative, teacher centered and the parents have particular traditional views about what is good teaching? Some parents do not want their children to think critically and to question the status quo. These dilemmas often centre on issues of power. In elective subjects, like home economics, the students and parents, hold the power of choice. If students do not like the course or how it is taught, they simply chose another elective. So there is pressure for home economics teachers in general, and student teachers in particular, to teach in certain ways that will maintain the enrolment (and thus the jobs of teachers). There is also political pressure in the form of exams and the type of learning that is demanded to pass exams that are fact based. Back to basic movements or those stressing academics tend to push the practical arts/applied skills to the margins as they are seen as lacking relevance in a student’s education. These situations can impact the student teacher during the practicum setting and may influence how and what they teach.

This briefly highlights some of the enduring challenges and concerns that have influence student teachers’ use of constructivist pedagogy and have assisted me in understanding the perhaps my expectations were unrealistic. A follow up study with former student teachers could provide valuable insights regarding the long term impact of curriculum and instruction courses and practicum experiences.


Wells (1995) describes constructivist classrooms as ones where “learners are assisted by teachers who, through education and experience, have developed their own understanding of how to create the situations in which this sort of learning for understanding can occur” (p. 238-239). Throughout my career as a teacher educator I have tried to provide opportunities for student teachers to experience and be educated in constructivism. My hope was that they would be able to create situations in their own practice where this sort of learning would occur. Although I have been disappointed in not witnessing constructivist pedagogy as frequently as I expected during the student teaching practicum, I have not given up. Constructivism is like many educational ideas that we accept, all the while knowing that it is difficult to untangle ourselves from our cultural frameworks and reference points and to leave behind the discourses that have shaped us.

I have shared some of my struggles, doubts, and concerns about using constructivist approaches to teach constructivist teaching to home economics and other pre-service teachers. By characterizing this as action research I am casting the gaze upon myself and laying out my personal understanding and my sense of the realities that support or constrain my work with student teachers. In doing so I come out with a stronger sense of the external realities that affect what I do and how I do it and an expanded appreciation of the complexity of learning and teaching.


Airasian, P. & Walsh, M. (1997). Constructivist cautions. Phi Delta Kappan, (February) 444-449.

Bennett, B. & Rolheiser, C. (2001) Beyond Monet, Toronto, Bookation Inc

Bullough, R. & Gitlin, A. (1995). Becoming a Student of Teaching: Methodologies for Exploring Self and School Context. New York: Garland.

Brooks, M. & Grennon Brooks, J. (1999). The courage to be constructivist. Educational Leadership 57(3), 18-24.

Brooks, A., & Watkins, K. (1994). The emerging power of action inquiry technologies. San Franscico, CA: Jossey Bass.

Fogarty, R. (1999). Architects of intellect. Educational Leadership 57(3), 76-78.

Gallie, W. (1964). Philosophy and historical understanding. New York: Schocken.

Green, S. & Ackerman, J. (1995), Expanding the Constructivist Metaphor: A rhetorical perspective on literacy research and practice. Review of Educational Research, 65(4), 383-420)

Grennon Brooke, J & Brooks. (1993). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Gabler, I. & Schroeder, M. (2003). Constructivist methods for the secondary classroom: engaged minds. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Joyce, B. & Weil, M. (1986). Models of teaching (3 rd Edition). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Printice-Hall.

McBrien, J. & Brandt, R. (1997). The language of learning: A guide to education terms. Alexandria VA: ASCD.

Meyers, C. & Jones, T. (2003). Promoting active learning: Strategies for the college classroom. New York: Jossey-Bass.

Newman, J. (1998). Tensions of teaching: Beyond tips to critical reflection. Toronto, ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Newman, J. (2000). Action research: A brief overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(1), np. [WWW document: http://qualitative-research.nte/fqs]

Perkins, D. (1999). The many faces of constructivism. Educational Leadership 57(3), 6-11.

Peterat, L. & deZwart, M. (1995). An education for women: The founding of Home Economics education in Canadian public schools. Charlottetown, PEI: Home Economics Publishing Collective.

Peterat, L. & Smith, M. G. (2001) (Eds.). Informing practice through action research. Peoria, IL: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

Phillips, D. (1995). The good, the bad and the ugly: The many faces of constructivism. Educaional Researcher, 24(7), 5-12.

Reason, P. (1994). Three approaches to participative inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of qualitative research. (pp. 324-339). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Richardson, V. (2003). Constructivist pedagogy. Teachers College Record, 105(9), 1623–1640

Rodriguez, A. & Berryman, C. (2002). Using a socialtransformative constructivism to teach for understanding in diverse classrooms: A Beginning teacher’s journey. American Educational Research Journal, 39(4), 1017-1045.

Rudduck, J., & Hopkins, D. (Eds.) (1985). Research as a basis for teaching: Readings from the work of Lawrence Stenhouse. London: Heinemann Educational Books.

Schön, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Schroeder, M. (2003). Instructor’s Manual for Gabler and Schroeder Constructist Methods for the Secondary Classroom Engaged Minds. Boston, MA: Pearson Education

Smith, M. G. (1996). Theorizing Practice/Practicing Theorizing: Inquiries in Global Home Economics Education. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia.

Smith, M. G. (2001). Researching power relations in student teaching. In L. Peterat & M.G. Smith (Eds.), Informing practice through action research (Chapter 13, pp. 162-174). Peoria, IL: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

Somekh, B. (1994). Inhabiting each other's castles: Towards knowledge and mutual growth through collaboration. Educational Action Research, 2(3), 257-381.

Wells, G. (1995). Language and the inquiry-oriented curriculum. Curriculum Inquiry, 25(3), 233-269.

Wideen, M., Mayer-Smith, J. & Moon, B. (1998). A Critical analysis of the research on Learning to Teach: Making the Case for an Ecological perspective on Inquiry. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 130-178.

Windschilt, M. (2002). Framing constructivism in practice as the negotiation of dilemmas: An analysis of the conceptual, pedagogical, cultural and political challenges facing teachers. Review of Educational Research, 72(2), 131-175.


1I hold to the term curriculum and instruction in describing these courses as that is the current description in the university calendar. Some still refer to these courses as “methods” course and I characterize this as evidence of a traditional discourse of education based in technical/instrumental rationality. ^ back

2 Home economics is the descriptor used in British Columbia. In other jurisdictions the subject area is known as human ecology, family studies, family and consumer sciences. ^ back

3 I put quotation marks here as in reality when home economics teachers talk of “theory” lessons they are really talking about information transmission. This is a very traditional view of theory that assumes knowledge is absolute and exits apart from the knower. It also overlooks the speculative nature of theory and creates a dualism where theory and practice are separated. I prefer to use theorizing rather than theory as it has more possibility to bring theory and practice together. "To act is to theorize" (Pagano, 1991. p. 194) thus our practice is a type of theorizing. ^ back

4 The teacher education program at UBC is a post degree 12-month program. Students complete course work from September to January then are in the schools for a 13 week student teaching practicum from February to May and then they return to campus for additional course work from June to August. ^ back

5 This is the language used at my institution. In other jurisdictions they are known as sponsor teachers or cooperating teachers. ^ back

6 UBC uses the term “advisor” rather than supervisor. I have written elsewhere about my experiences researching my practice as a faculty advisor (Smith, 2001). ^ back


Kappa Omicron Nu Forum Volume 18 No. 2

Student Teaching: A Constructivist Context

Cheryl Mimbs-Johnson, University of Kentucky

Laying the Foundation for Professional Competence in Family and Consumer Sciences: A Contructivist Approach

Barbara A. Clauss, Indiana State University

An Example of Constructivism in FCS Teacher Education

Jacquelyn W. Jensen, Eastern Kentucky University
Maxine L. Rowley, Brigham Young University

Constructivist Learning Theory in an Interior Design Program

Candace Fox
Mount Vernon Nazarene University

Application of Constructivism by Students Majoring in Early Childhood Education

Jaesook L. Gilbert
Northern Kentucky University

Reflections on Using Constructivist Techniques to Teach Constructivist Teaching

Gale Smith
University of British Columbia

Last Word

Dorothy I. Mitstifer, Kappa Omicron Nu