Evidence for social constructivist pedagogy

Steven Cooke @SteveTeachPhys and I started a discussion after he tweeted 

“Some interesting blogs from Alex here, a constructivist antidote to the CLT that normally fills my timeline!”

Extracts of our discussion

“Hi Steven what do you mean by CLT. Piaget and Vygotsky got a lot of bad rap by being falsely appropriated by wishy washy stuff. Concluding that teacher led is bad because nonsense etc etc. Let’s Think (CASE and CAME as teacher led interventions have about the soundest evidence base as anything in education and they are through and through Piaget Vygotsky)”

“The failure of Let’s Think Science’s EEF trial rather dented CASE’s credentials don’t you think?”

“No but that this is a very long story of bad EEF design. Far and long transfer ignored as outcomes, control of Treatment compared to control lack of training etc etc”

“This needs to be an open discussion about whether RCT is the only way anyway”

“Yeah but the pre existing evidence was mostly generated by the original authors, failure to replicate – Popper would have us walk away”

“I think that there is a huge amount of evidence compared to EEF. As a follower of Philosophy of Science I would tip Kuhn over Popper lets get discussing.”


Is this replication or not? Original Authors or not?

Mary Oliver in Thinking Science Australia http://www.education.uwa.edu.au/tsa/research

In Chinese primary schools Philip  Adey and Weiping Hu developed a Learn to think curriculum they found far and long transfer in Maths and Chinese. https://www.abceducation.ch/blog/2017/02/22/learn-to-think-curriculum/

In Finland  Hautamäki, Kuusela and  Wikström (2002)  in one of the first Randomised Controlled Trials  ever done in Education, found large gains in Maths and Science.

Then there is all the CAME data especially in primary schools in Hammersmith, Fulham and Bournemouth U.K. Shayer and Adhami (20110), Ireland McCormack (2009),  Pakistan Iqbal and Shayer (2000) , Israel and in Tonga Finau et al (2016)  also replicated.


Finau, Teukava & Treagust, David & Won, Mihye & L. Chandrasegaran, A. (2016). Effects of a Mathematics Cognitive Acceleration Program on Student Achievement and Motivation. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education. . 10.1007/s10763-016-9763-5. 

Hautamäki, J., Kuusela, J., & Wikström, J. (2002). CASE and CAME in Finland: “The second wave”. Paper presented at 10th International Conference on thinking. Harrogate.

Hu, W., Adey, P., Jia, X., Liu, J., Zhang, L., Li, J., Dong, X., (2011)  Effects of a “Learn to Think” intervention programme on primary school students: Effects of “Learn to Think” intervention programme. British Journal of Educational Psychology 81, 531–557. doi:10.1348/2044-8279.002007

Iqbal,H and  Shayer, M (2000) Accelerating the Development of Formal Thinking in Pakistan Secondary School Students: Achievement Effects and Professional Development Issues

McCormack, Lorraine (2009) Cognitive acceleration across the primary-second level transition. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

Shayer,M and Adhami,M (2010)Realising the cognitive potential of Children 5 to 7 with a mathematics focus:Effects of a two-year intervention, Piaget is dead, Vygotsky is still alive, or? Finnish Educational Research Associaition, Helsinki

3 thoughts on “Evidence for social constructivist pedagogy

  1. You asked about Kuhn on the dialogic nature of knowledge This is from Structures postscript

    This book, however, was intended also
    to make another sort of point,
    one that has been less clearly visibl
    e to many of its readers. Though
    scientific development may resemble
    that in other fields more closely
    than has often been supposed, it is also strikingly different. To say, for
    example, that the sciences, at leas
    t after a certain point in their
    development, progress in a way that other fields do not, cannot have
    been all wrong, whatever progress itself may be. One of the objects of
    the book was to examine such differences and begin accounting for
    Consider, for example, the reiterated emphasis, above, on the absence
    or, as I should now say, on the relati
    ve scarcity of competing schools in
    the developed sciences. Or remember
    my remarks about the extent to
    which the members of a given scientific community provide the only
    audience and the only judges of that community’s work. Or think again
    about the special nature of scientifi
    c education, about puzzle-solving as
    a goal, and about the value system wh
    ich the scientific group deploys in
    periods of crisis and decision. The
    book isolates other features of the
    same sort, none necessarily unique to
    science but in conjunction setting
    the activity apart.
    About all these features of science
    there is a great deal more to be
    learned. Having opened this postscript by emphasizing the need to
    study the community structure of science, I shall close by underscoring
    the need for similar and, above all, for comparative study of the
    corresponding communities in other fields. How does one elect and how
    is one elected to membership in a
    particular community, scientific or
    not? What is the process and what ar
    e the stages of socialization to the
    group? What does the group collectively see as its goals; what
    deviations, individual or collective
    , will it tolerate; and how does it
    control the impermissible aberration
    ? A fuller understanding of science
    will de-
    For this point as well as a more extended
    discussion of what is special about the
    sciences, see T. S. Kuhn, “Comment [on the Relations of Science and Art],”
    Comparative Studies in Philosophy and History,
    (1969), 403-12.
    pend on answers to other sorts of ques
    tions as well, but there is no area
    in which more work is so badly needed. Scientific knowledge, like
    language, is intrinsically the commo
    n property of a group or else
    nothing at all. To understand it we shall need to know the special
    characteristics of the groups that crea

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