Amy Potthast | Instructional Coach & Designer | Learning Design Studios

In Annual proceeedings of selected research and development [and] practice papers Presented at the National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. Vol. 1-2. p. 259-264

This morning I read a paper from 2001 examining the implementation of a mandatory elementary school mathematics reform in Taiwan that took place in 1996-ish. Apparently, it’s come under a lot of criticism, but not related to student outcomes (at least that is not addressed in this paper). The criticism comes more from issues related to how the reform was implemented — not enough stakeholder buy-in, even from among the teachers expected to change their teaching methods.

Some useful information here relates to conducive environments:

1) Instructors must buy-in to implementing constructivist courses and programs. In the Taiwan example, teachers weren’t part of the impetus for reform; apparently many teachers opted to retire early rather than change their methods and others kept teaching using objectivist approaches. I don’t know what the impact on student outcomes the lack of buy-in has had, but surely the students of these teachers did not succeed within constructivism which is my research question.

2) Schools should apply constructivist ISD approaches widely, not related to a single academic subject area. In the Taiwan example, the author argues that educational leaders did not view the mathematics reform as related to the need for systemic transformation, but was part of a piecemeal “attempt to improve fragmented and outdated educational reforms.”

One source the author cites is Chung (1997) — Chung reviewed student outcomes after the constructivist reform — but his/her study comes from an in-service training for Taiwanese teachers, and is in Chinese. Although I read Chinese (better at simplified Chinese that’s common on the Mainland), I don’t know that I’d be able to locate the article though I would love to see what Chung found.

The final useful thing I learned about was the “Major Guidelines for the Redesign Process” developed by Reigeluth, Norris and Ryan which the author applies (in retrospect) to review the Taiwan reform. If I can find it, it might be useful to learn what are good practices in general, not related specifically to constructivism. It was published in a report from the Indiana University School of Education so may not be easily available.

Wu, Y.S. (2001). Systems design: An analysis of the implementation process of Taiwan’s constructivist approach elementary mathematics curriculum. In Annual proceeedings of selected research and development [and] practice papers (1-2), (259-264).

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