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  • 1

    The Use of Constructivist Teaching

    Model in the Environmental Science

    of Beijing Normal University

    Ye ZhaoBeijing Normal UniversityThe University of Sydney

    10th June, 2003

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  • 2

    1. Intruduction The traditional teaching and learning is the

    process of the transmission of knowledge From teacher To studenti.e. the students have empty mugs to be filled up with knowledge from the professorial jugs.

    This teaching method baffles the development of students active and creative abilities, and the students from the mug and jug education are no longer sufficient for an educated citizenry.

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  • 3Fig. 1 The mug & jug education Model

    jug with knowledge

    mug wants some knowledge

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    The constructivism is a theory about how students

    learn. It believes that the students learn by fitting

    new information together with what they

    already know. It has been one of the catchwords

    in modern high education.

    The constructivist teaching (CT ) emphasizes:

    active & collaborative learning

    S-T discover and construct knowledge together

    Students confront real-world problems

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  • 5

    students observe or formulate his own questions

    multiple interpretations and expressions of learning

    group work and the use of peers as resources.

    Everyone lives in the environment, and so everyone has some knowledge about his environment, based on the constructivism theory, everyone has the potential ability to learn the knowledge about environmental science (ES).

    The CT models are very useful in teaching ES.

    This paper shows how to use the CT models in teaching ES at university.

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    2. The development of environmental science

    The concept of ES was first used at the meeting (1948)

    of IUCN in Paris.

    1968 UNESCO Conference called for the development

    of curriculum materials of ES.

    In 1970s the studies of the University of Southern

    Illinois had significant impact upon European,

    Australian and Asian environmental education.

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    BNU is one of the forefront Chineseuniversities that developed ES.

    In 1960s Prof. Liu Peitong beganto study the environment-pollution in China. But he was limited and was sent to farmland.

    In 1978 UNESCO Supported BNU to train some researchers and teachers for environmental study in China, and then Prof. Liu formulated the definition of ESand published some textbooks of ES in Chinese.

    I teach the ES for the third-year students at BNU.

    Prof. Liu Peitong

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    Most Chinese students passively receive and absorb the environmental knowledge and theories recorded in the textbooks and in the thematic plan of teacher. Therefore, it is impossible for the traditional teaching methods to teach ES that is young, dynamic, complex.

    CT model has emerged as a prominent method toteach sciences during the past decade, it includes concept map, mind map, PBL(case study).

    CT model may be very effective & useful in teachingES in universities.

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    3. The use of constructivist teaching models in environmental science

    3.1 Concept mapping for teaching and learning environmental science

    The concept map is a technique for representing knowledge in graphs, which may help students to integrate the new knowledge with their old knowledge, to design a complex structure and to communicate complex ideas.

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  • 10Fig.2 The concept map of new-concepts formation

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    Cpt-map method can improve the teaching of ES,

    which makes the students learning to be a process

    of sense-making, of adding and synthesizing new

    information within existing knowledge structures,

    adjusting prior understandings to new experiences.

    How to construct some concept maps of ES ?

    The teachers should get acquainted with the old

    knowledge of the students based on constructivist

    theory and principles.

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    Because old knowledge and experience are very important and effective for students to construct new ideas or concepts of ES.

    For example, when teachers instruct the concept of environment (environment is the total of the factors in which human lives, the factors come from the techno-, atmo-, bio-, hydro-, lithosphere and sun).

    CptMap of environment includes five nodes, there is so complex interaction between human and the nodes, so much close links among the nodes for students to understand, as shown in Fig.1.

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    Fig.1. T

    he CptM

    apof the environm

    ent

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    How to use concept maps teaching ES ?

    Teachers should use the knowledge of geology, meteorology and climatology, hydrology and ecology that the students have learned during the first and second year improving them to understand the factors and their links;

    Teachers should encourage the students using their experience from their living to observe the factors (of technosphere, biosphere) and their links.

    This method not only mobilizes the studentsinteresting in learning ES, but also educates their creative and observes abilities.

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    3.2 Mind mapping for teaching and learning

    environmental science The mind map is the tool that helps students think

    and learn new knowledge, it consists of a central

    idea, around the central concept you draw the 5 to

    10 main second concepts that relate to it. You then

    take each of those child concepts and again draw

    the 5 to 10 main third concepts that relate to each

    of the child concepts.

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    The difference between a CptMap and a MdMap is

    that a MdMap has only one main idea in it and

    a CptMap can have several linked concepts.

    The knowledge base of ES is very difficult for students

    to comprehend. First the content of ES often address

    an wide-ranging&bewildering array of the knowledge;

    Second, the content is dynamic and ever-changing;

    Third, it has complex inter-relationships, problem

    causes, impacts and solutions.

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    During Teaching ES, MdMap can help teachers

    to train their students creative writing abilities

    to explain why we are focusing on the particular

    aspect of a topic.

    Example: the students of my ES classes have been

    living in Beijing for 2 years, they have some sensibility

    of the air quality of Beijing. And so they are

    encouraged to make some MdMaps of the air pollution

    in Beijing City, as shown in Fig.2.

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    Fig.2

    The m

    ind map of the air pollution

    in Beijing C

    ity

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    During making the MdMaps; some students believe that winds import much particle in the air, but others think that winds often purify the polluted air, and than they make more observation, analysis and discussion for this question, the students understand that one persons solution may be anothers catastrophe in learning ES, and the students should have active learning abilities.

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    The photo of BNU campus

    In 12H, 7th April 2000

    SPI=500

    The photo of BNU campus

    In 12H,

    16th April 2000

    SPI=112

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    From the mind map that student made, the teacher

    may know whether the student understand the

    topic and whether the student is able to organize a

    suitable structure of knowledge that he has learned;

    The teacher may know w