Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.
Constructivism essentially argues that epistemic agents know nothing about the world except what they have put together as cognitive structures. Rather than knowledge being a representation of what exists, constructivists posit knowledge as a mapping of what turns out to be feasible based on human experience. Piaget considers knowledge as the set of cognitive structures that are viable given our experiences and maintain a dynamic state of equilibrium in which knowledge yields expected results for experience. Piaget elaborates a two-fold instrumentalism for knowledge: (1) a utilitarian instrumentality where action schemes at the sensory-motor level help learners achieve goals in their interactions with the world; and (2) an epistemic instrumentality where operative schemes at the level of reflective abstraction create a coherent conceptual network that reflects the paths of acting and thinking that are viable. Learning occurs when an existing scheme produces unexpected results and leads to perturbations. (von Glasersfeld, 1989)
I was fortunate to be able to attend Professor Diana Laurillard’s seminar on Learning ‘number sense’ through digital games with intrinsic feedback. The main presentation was the use of a specially designed game as an intervention method to support students with ‘dyscalculia’, however this was positioned in the broader context of bringing together the fields of neuroscience and educational research through educational technology.
Dyscalculia is a core deficit in numerosity that typically manifests through a lack of understanding of relationships between numbers and a reliance on counting to solve numerical problems. While this bears no relation to overall intelligence it persists through life and may cause issues and anxieties through schooling and present challenges to everyday tasks such as counting change or measurement. Individuals will typically develop compensatory strategies. Neuroscience identifies abnormalities in the intraparietal sulci which usually results in less grey matter and a reduced possibility for connections in the region. Cognitive testing in educational settings is used to distinguish low numeracy from dyscalculia and cognitive science theorises learning process based on self-regulation, constructionism and design research.
The intervention designed is a constructivist game that provides the learner with scaffolded progress through levels. The first level uses colour beads that can be sliced or added together to form the target number. The next level adds numbers (symbols) to the beads, the next removes colour and the final level uses the number symbols only.