1 Hong Kong Community College (HONG KONG)
2 The University of Hong Kong (HONG KONG)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5248-5256
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
A constructivist learning environment refers to a learner-centered environment where the teacher has to be sensitive to learners’ prior knowledge, beliefs, needs and expectation when teaching novel concepts and ideas. Furthermore, it is believed that knowledge is constructed by the learner but not simply passed on by the authority (teacher). Therefore a constructivist learning environment is usual predominated with interaction among peers, teachers as well as course content instead of didactic lecturing (Brooks & Brooks, 1999). In this light, a constructivist learning environment is found to associate with the understanding of scientific underpinnings and beliefs (Tsai, 2000; Ozkal, Tekkaya, Cakiroglu & Sungur, 2009).

Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES; Fraser, Taylor and Fisher, 1997) was first developed to tap students’ perception of the use of constructivist learning environment, of which pertains to five dimensions, namely Uncertainty about science, Critical Voice, Student Negotiation, Personal Relevance and Shared Control. Psychometric properties of the CLES were demonstrated adequate (Taylor, Fraser & Fisher, 1997; Aldridge, Fraser & Taylor, 2000; Tsai, 2000; Nix, Fraser & Ledbetter, 2005) however analysis with the use of Confimatory Factor Analysis (CFA) to validate its factorial structure was lacking from the literature.

The purpose of the current study is twofold. First, it is to validate the selected three dimensions of the CLES by using CFA. Second, it is to test the instrument’s sensitivity to discriminate the use of constructivist learning environment from traditional didactic one in Hong Kong Chinese culture. It is hypothesized that the factorial structure will be supported and the instrument is able to discriminate the use of constructivist learning environment from traditional pedagogies.

Three hundred and eighty-seven students from a community college in Hong Kong studying a course, Introduction to Psychology, during the academic year of 2008/2009 were invited to participate in the study. Students, according to their major of studies, were allotted into four classes taught by four different lecturers. One of the class was taught by the author with the use of a constructivist learning environment; while the rest three classes was conducted in a traditional, didactic approach. The fifteen items that associated with the corresponding three dimensions in CLES, namely Uncertainty about Science, Student Negotiation and Personal Relevance, were administered at the end of the semester.

Reliability of the three dimensions is satisfactory. Fit indices and residual indices generated from CFA suggest the hypothesized three-factorial structure provides an adequate fit to the data. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) shows that the scores of the three dimensions were significantly different among classes; and post-hoc tests suggest that the class of which a constructivist learning environment was employed indeed yielded higher scores in all three dimensions than the other three classes.

It is concluded that CLES is both theoretically sound and empirically adequate in tapping students’ perception of the use of a constructivist learning environment in Hong Kong context. It can be used as a “diagnostic tools” to effectively guide teachers who are new to the use of a constructivist learning environment to refine their pedagogies with specific emphasis .

learning environment, constructivist approach to teaching, cles.