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Constructing and Applying Knowledge

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Uploaded on Dec 6, 2011

From an early age through adulthood, humans naturally learn by making observations and creating mental models to fit those observations. This knowledge construction is an inductive process, moving from specific experiences to general rules. This process is our most basic and familiar way to understand and deal with the world. It's also useful.

Some curricula focus heavily on the reverse of this process: presenting rules and then asking students to recall and apply those rules to specific situations. Knowledge application is critical to deep learning. But by itself, application misses knowledge construction as a powerful learning pathway and as a critical life skill.

PLATO courses are carefully designed to balance knowledge construction and application. Guided inquiry is at the core of the instruction. In mathematics and science, experiments help students discover and develop their understanding. They rarely focus on verifying acquired knowledge. In the same way, knowledge construction in the social sciences and language arts challenges students to learn through observation and analysis.

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