Effects of constructivist-oriented instruction on elementary school students' cognitive structures

Ying Tien Wu, Chin Chung Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study was primarily to explore the effects of constructivist-oriented instruction on fifth graders' cognitive structures about biological reproduction. Furthermore, such effects on different science achievers were also investigated. The subjects of this study were 69 eleven year olds in Taiwan, who were assigned to either a constructivist-oriented instruction group or a traditional teaching group. The research treatment was conducted for three weeks, and the interview data were gathered a week later after the instruction about biological reproduction. The interview narratives were transcribed into 'flow maps'. The information processing modes shown in the flow maps were also investigated through a series of content analysis. The results of this study revealed that students in the constructivist-oriented instruction group, in general, attained better learning outcomes about biological reproduction after instruction, both in terms of the extent of concepts and in the richness within their cognitive structures. Furthermore, the students in this group were probably better organised and stored their ideas in a higher-level mode of information processing, especially in the mode of 'inferring or explaining'. However, high achievers and low achievers in the constructivist-oriented instruction attained better usage of information processing modes in somewhat different ways; only high achievers in the constructivist-oriented instruction group attained significantly better usage of high-order information processing modes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological reproduction
  • Cognitive structure
  • Constructivist
  • Flow map
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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