Social Constructivism: Games, Simulations, Cases, and Problem Solving

All four of the instructional approaches covered in this section involve students in interesting, "real" activities. We say "real" even though many games are clearly not realistic. Rescuing a downed spaceship on the planet Zork is not a REAL activity. We use the term real in another sense. All of these approaches involve students in learning about, playing in, or solving problems in an environment that has rules or patterns. Games have rules, simulations respond in certain ways when you do this or that, cases tell a story about some situation or event and students try to understand why certain things happened as they did, and problems presented to students can be solved by thinking through ways of tackling it. We are not saying that there is only one way to solve a particular problem, or only one strategy that can win a particular game. Life, and the instructional approaches discussed here, are much too complex for that. What we are saying is that all these approaches involve students making decisions in situations where the results are not simply random events. There are patterns to figure out, associations and links between this strategy and that result, and so on.

Why are these approaches all placed under social constructivist? Because most of the time, when they are used in classrooms they involve groups of students working and playing together. Let's look at each approach in more detail.
 
 
Games and Simulations
Case-based Instruction
Problem Solving
 


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