One aspect of being the Director of Research is to assure that there is a clear understanding of the underlying epistemological theory base that informs not only the research that the Center is focusing on, but that will inform the way in which that research will be translated. That constructivist epistemology is one developed primarily by Jean Piaget over his 60-year career and that over that time was always a work in progress. Since his death in 1980 many have continued his work and others, such as Ernst von Glasersfeld, have worked to interpret and elaborate his epistemology.
At the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education, we have formed a team to work at understanding deeply the various components of the constructivist theory. Along with understanding a constructivist epistemology, we believe it is important to understand where such an epistemology stands in relationship with other epistemologies. For example, we know that constructivism stands somewhere between innatism and empiricism, and of course there are others such as pragmatism and objectivism. We would like as a Center to be able to speak intelligently about at least some of the more prominent of these “isms” and be able to make an argument as to why the choice of constructivism. In addition, we are delving into the literature connecting neuroscience and learning, to consider the impact of neuroscience on our work here at the Center.
The goal of this team will ultimately be to prepare documents that not only articulate the constructivist theory, but that will provide an abundance of examples to illustrate and describe in less technical language an understanding of the theory.