Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Access to Constructivist and Didactic Teaching: Who Gets It? Where Is It Practiced?

by Becky A. Smerdon, David T. Burkham & Valerie E. Lee - 1999

Calls for the reform of instruction in U.S. classrooms, particularly those in secondary schools, are growing and often strident. Many reformers advocate a move away from traditional, teacher-centered, (didactic) direct instruction, where students are passive receptors of knowledge, toward more student-centered understanding-based (constructivist) teaching that focuses on exploration and experimentation. In this study we investigate the issue of access to these two types of instruction in U.S. high-school science classrooms. We use a nationally representative sample of 3,660 students and their science teachers drawn from the first two waves of the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS:88). Although didactic instruction is more common among higher-SES and female students, constructivist instruction is practiced more often among students of lower ability. Constructivist teaching is also more common in both higher-level science courses (i.e., chemistry) and lower-level courses (i.e., basic biology and physical science). The students of average social and academic status appear to be the forgotten majority with respect to constructivist instruction. We offer explanations for the findings and discuss implications for educational policy and social equity in high-school science.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Access to Constructivist and Didactic Teaching: Who Gets It? Where Is It Practiced?
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 101 Number 1, 1999, p. 5-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10423, Date Accessed: 6/4/2020 10:11:49 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Becky Smerdon
    American Institutes for Research
    E-mail Author
    Becky A. Smerdon is a Senior Research Analyst at the Pelavin Research Center of the American Institutes of Research. Her research focuses on educational equity, teacher quality, and school organization and policy.
  • David Burkham
    University of Michigan
    David T. Burkham is a faculty member in the School of Education and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. He teaches research methods, and his ongoing interests include practices and policies relating to math and science equity.
  • Valerie Lee
    University of Michigan
    Valerie E. Lee teaches courses in research methods (including Hierarchical Linear Modeling) and Sociology of Education. Her research focuses on how the characteristics and contexts of schools influence how students develop. Her current work uses field-based methods to identify how high schools’ structure and organization might generate and sustain school-based social capital.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue