When I was in freshman year of my undergraduate degree, we had an introductory humanities course. Where we read content before class but spent most of the classes having discussions with our professor and debates between us, usually with carefully placed questions by the professor when the discussion died down. For our final project, we were put into groups to investigate the current presidential candidates and what they stood for. We, as a group, were to choose one of the presidential candidates to embody for a presidential debate in class and a presentation of our campaign stance as part of this.
Our actual development levels would have varied between us, but the guidance and distance as per the zone of proximal development would have been our ability to navigate and distinguish the complicated arguments of the early political candidates. Our professor would explain or point us towards the next level of information or questions to explore to make sure we understood. As we were in the zone of proximal development, our teacher would be providing the push to achieve our learning and overall task (McLeod, 2010).
This movement within the zone of proximal development could also double as an example of scaffolding. We would be exploring the arguments of the political candidates and growing on the prior knowledge we would have gained out with the project. The professor was providing the support through setting up complicated questions and then asking us to explore the answers, these questions would then continue getting more difficult. Throughout the course, our teacher began discussions with us in the similar format to this final assignment, whereas this final assignment his questions became less frequent. He essentially was gradually dismantling his support, for our final project to be our own (Wheeler, 2017).
The social constructivist strategy that was employed was based on our learning being built within the social nature of the project. We had to establish the political candidate’s stance that we would present, together. We had to come up with our own way of presenting this to rest of the group and we had to come up with enough information on the stance to defend via debate. All together in a social environment, each in turn pushing each other’s own ability to understand and make sense of what was learned individually. We acted as tutors and peers to each other to change or stretch our ways of thinking.
Education Theory: Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved October 07, 2017, from http://www.ucdoer.ie/index.php/Education_Theory/Constructivism_and_Social_Constructivism_in_the_Classroom
McLeod, S. (2010). Zone of Proximal Development. Retrieved October 06, 2017, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-Proximal-Development.html
Wheeler, S. (2017, August 14). Jerome Bruner On The Scaffolding Of Learning. Retrieved October 06, 2017, from https://www.teachthought.com/learning/learning-theories-jerome-bruner-scaffolding-learning/