WWW Site for John Lawrence Bencze, Associate Professor, Science Education, OISE/University of Toronto

S&T Education Resources
Constructivist Pedagogy
'Procedural' Education
Developing Expertise and Motivation for Student-led Projects

Welcome! This page is one of two major sections, along with 'Conceptual' Education, of my constructivism-informed pedagogical framework. In this framework, 'Procedural' Education encompasses all aspects of the STEPWISE curriculum framework other than 'Products' Education. On this page, I provide some general ideas about procedural education, including what might be taught ('Curriculum') and how it might be taught ('Pedagogy'). If you have comments, questions, suggestions, resources, ideas, etc. about anything here, please write to me about them.


The Meaning of 'Procedural' Education
"Procedural Education" is a complex term. It means different things to different people. The Assessment of Performance Unit (APU) in the UK (DfEE, 1999) tended to look at it in terms of skills, attitudes and knowledge for directing science inquiry projects (e.g., how to design a controlled experiment). I held this view for many years. However, it has become clear to me that we need a much broader conception of 'procedural' education - one that recognizes that conduct of a task (requiring a 'skill') tends to be multi-dimensional. To conduct an experiment, for example, may involve knowledge of certain variables (e.g., radiation), knowledge of techniques (e.g., variable control), awareness that products of technology often have negative side-effects (e.g., radiation from digital music players may harm cells), awareness that business-science partnerships often lead to compromises in science (e.g., resistance to tests of digital music players), and the thought that results from an investigation might provide motivation for taking action to address problems resulting from inquiries (e.g., radiation from digital music players increases yeast cell division - suggesting a link to cancer).

For these reasons, it seems clear to me that 'procedural' education may involve all aspects of STEPWISE, links to which are:
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Pedagogical Perspectives & Practices

Although there are differences in how teachers should facilitate learning in each STEPWISE element, I believe they should be based on constructivism - which is the basis of my pedagogical framework. As shown at right, it is based on integrated 3-phase cycles; that is:
  • Expressing: Students are asked to 'express' (e.g., via talking, writing, drawing, building, planning, etc.) their pre-instructional attitudes, skills &/or knowledge (ASK). These activities should be mostly SD/OE.
  • Learning: Teachers facilitate students' learning of specific ASK. Lessons should have a strong TD/CE character - to take away the 'guessing' - but also encourage students to practise ASK just taught; usually with some teacher guidance.
  • Judging: Students are encouraged to evaluate ('Judge') ASK they acquire from others against those they express. These should be SD/OE; e.g., inquiry projects.

  • Department for Education and Employment [DfEE] (1999). Science in The National Curriculum for England. London: Department for Education and Employment and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
© All Rights Reserved, J. L. Bencze, 2008
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