Friday, October 12, 2007

Immersion -- Week 7

Domesticated Constructivism and Grounded Design

In my Advanced Instructional Design class, we recently explored the criteria of grounded design - that the practice of instructional design should be grounded by mapping design to a theoretical framework, being consistent with research related to the chosen theory, generalizing methods to allow for adaptation or adoption by others, and demonstrating empirical validation. Looking at this from the constructivist perspective, designers are warned that straying from this grounded approach could lead to what Petraglia calls "domesticated constructivism", which refers to the adaptation of constructivist approaches within the context of a traditional, non-constructivist learning environment. Such an adaptation creates a mismatch between the theoretical approach and the appropriate implementation of instructional strategies.

Now my question is -- especially after participating in an online class discussion debating the characteristics of various constructivist theories -- how can design truly be "grounded" when everyone's perspectives and interpretation of theories can be so diverse? And what about the issues that Jonassen brings up in his Merrill debate about the lack of empirically verified instructional design theories? And why is there this need to "look down our noses" at this idea of domesticated constructivism? If, at the end of the day, instructional objectives are met and the learner truly "gets it" based on a "domesticated" approach to constructivist theories, then why is this such a bad thing?

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