Exploring Constructivist Perspectives in the College Classroom
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The study used Explanatory Sequential Design (ESD) of Mixed-Methods to investigate college students’ and instructors’ perspectives of constructivist learning environment (CLE). Students, including graduates and undergraduates from a Midwestern university, rated their preference for personal relevance, collaboration, negotiation, and autonomy as key learning experiences embodied in CLE. Results indicated that undergraduates were more likely than graduate students to prefer collaboration and negotiation experiences. Expanding on the results of students’ quantitative ratings, students’ and instructors’ perspectives of collaboration were explored. Eight participants (four students and four instructors) participated in one-on-one interview sessions. Themes that emerged from the qualitative analysis showed that the differences in students’ preference for collaboration related to students’ perceptions of unequal opportunities to collaborate, perceived benefits, and diverse backgrounds and orientations. In addition, conditions necessary for effective collaboration in the college environment were explored. Thematic analysis produced three themes: understanding collaboration process; monitoring, assessment, and evaluation system; and group composition. Implications for practice in the college classroom have been discussed.