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An Investigation into the Dewian Model of Learning by Doing and its Effectiveness in the

An Investigation into the Dewian Model of Learning by Doing and its Effectiveness in the Construction Studies Classroom

Sean Graham

G00298994

Submitted for the B.Sc. (Hons) in Design and Technology Education to Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterfrack

Research Supervisor:

Dr. Pauline Logue Collins

Readers:

Mr. Anthony Clare and Dr. Susan Rogers

Programme:

B.Sc. (Hons) in Education (Design Graphics and Construction)

Module Title:

Dissertation

Date Submitted:

07- April 2017

PLAGIARISM DISCLAIMER

STUDENT NAME: SEAN GRAHAM STUDENT NUMBER: G00298994

PROGRAMME: B.SC. (HONS) IN EDUCATION (DESIGN GRAPHICS AND

CONSTRUCTION

YEAR: FOURTH YEAR

MODULE: DISSERTATION

ASSIGNMENT TITLE: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE DEWIAN MODEL OF LEARNING BY DOING AND ITS EFFECTIVENESS IN THE CONSTRUCTION STUDIES CLASSROOM

DUE DATE: 07-APRIL-2017

DATE SUBMITTED: 07-APRIL-2017

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An Investigation into the Dewian Model of Learning by Doing and its Effectiveness in the Construction Studies Classroom

Abstract

The Dewian model of ‘Learning by Doing’ and its effectiveness in the Construction Studies

classroom is the focus of analysis in this dissertation. The methodology used for the purpose

of this dissertation is secondary research. The objectives of this dissertation are to, establish

a concise and accurate definition of ‘Learning by Doing’ , critically explore the Dewian model

of ‘Learning by Doing’ and investigate the application of this model in the Construction Studies

classroom which is also the original contribution of this dissertation. The research conducted

throughout this dissertation gives the researcher the confidence to say that the ‘Learning by

Doing’ model can be applied to the Construction Studies classroom effectively. Based on this

the researcher established the following recommendations for applying this model to the

Construction Studies classroom: Incorporate multiple practical situations and demonstrations

into the classroom, Allow opportunities for students to have first-hand experiences of

completing various construction actions inside the controlled environment of the classroom,

Allow students to take more control of their learning, Allow sufficient time for students to

reflect on their experiences and encourage them to document these reflections for future

learning. It is hoped that the production of this dissertation will inform educators of the

characteristics of the ‘Learning by Doing’ model as well as giving them an insight into

incorporating this model into the Construction Studies classroom.

Key Words

Dewian Model of Learning Learning by Doing Construction Studies

Figures

of Learning Learning by Doing Construction Studies Figures Figure 1: Dewey's Model of Experiential Learning (Kolb

Figure 1: Dewey's Model of Experiential Learning (Kolb D. A., 1984, p. 23)

Model of Experiential Learning (Kolb D. A., 1984, p. 23) Figure 2: The Lewinian Experiential Learning

Figure 2: The Lewinian Experiential Learning Model (Kolb D. , 2014, p. 32)

Figure 3: Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle (McLoed, 2010)

Figure 3: Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle (McLoed, 2010)

Introduction

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature

as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

(Dewey, 1916, p. 154)

The inspiration for this dissertation originated throughout the researchers first stage of

teaching practice. During an informal discussion with a co-operating teacher after a Materials

Technology

(Wood)

lesson

the researcher was

made aware that the

methods being

implemented in that lesson were similar to that of John Dewey’s model of Learning by Doing’.

This sparked an interest in this learning model for the remainder of the researchers teaching

practice and has remained and educational interest ever since.

The Dewian model of ‘Learning by Doing’ is a model that incorporates ‘‘experiences and

reflects on these experiences’’ (Kolb D. A., 1984, p. 6). It is through exposure to the experience

and the reflection on that experience that the student will learn something. The student can

then take knowledge from this process and use this to aid them in future experiences,

‘‘reflection is a way of processing experience in order to learn from it and improve future

action’’ (Pring, 2007, p. 27).

The aim of this dissertation is to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the Dewian

model of ‘Learning by Doing’ and its effectiveness in the Construction Studies classroom.

The objectives of this dissertation are to:

Establish a concise and accurate definition of ‘Learning by Doing’

Critically explore the Dewian model of Learning by Doing

Investigate the application of this model in the Construction Studies classroom.

The methodology used for the purpose of this dissertation is secondary research. The

researcher will utilise and build upon a range of Dewey’s publications such as, Democracy and

Education, Experience of Education, Art as Experience and The Nature of Experience. The

researcher will also incorporate the works of David Kolb and other authors within the field of

experiential learning.

The Dewian model of ‘Learning by Doing’ and its effectiveness in the Construction Studies

classroom is the focus of analysis in this dissertation. The original contribution of this

dissertation is investigating the effectiveness of this model in the Construction Studies

classroom.

The first section of this dissertation is the introduction where the researcher outlines the

aims, background, and limitations under which this dissertation was produced. The outline

for the remainder of this dissertation is as follows.

Section two clarifies the definition of ‘Learning by Doing’ with respect to multiple published

literature documents. Section three carries out an exploration into the Dewian model of

‘Learning by Doing’ from his original writings. Section four provides a critique of the Dewian

model of ‘Leaning by Doing’ and looks at related models also. Section five involves

investigating how this model can be applied to a Construction Studies classroom. Section six

provides the researchers conclusions and recommendations based on the production of this

dissertation

Clarification of Terminology: Learning by Doing

Learning by Doingis defined by Alan Pritchard in his book Ways of Learning as ‘‘gaining

knowledge of, or skill in, something through experience or practice’’ (Pritchard, 2005, pp. 2,3).

In this statement, Pritchard is illustrating that knowledge gained through the practice or

experience of an activity. Similarly, Jordan et. al describe Learning by Doing’ as ‘’learning that

occurs as a result of experience’’ and argue that ‘‘experience and learning are inseparable’’

(Jordan et.al, 2008, p. 200). Despite learning and experience being directly linked a student

‘‘may or may not learn anything from the experience’’ (Jordan et.al, 2008, p. 208). Colin Beard

and John Wilson, in their book The Power of Experiential Learning, define ‘Learning by Doing’

as ‘’insight gained through the conscious or unconscious internalization of our own or

observed experiences, which build upon our past experiences or knowledge’’. (Beard, 2002,

p. 39). Beard and Wilson outline here that the experience from which the knowledge is gained

does not have to be that of the individual but can be an experience the individual observers.

‘‘The process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.

Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience’’ (Kolb D.

A., 1984, p. 41) is how David Kolb defines ‘Learning by Doing’ in his book Experiential Learning.

Here Kolb outlines that transformation plays a crucial role in the development of knowledge

from an experience. I order for the transformation to occur the student must undergo what

David Walker calls ‘‘reflection activity’’ (Walker, 1985, p. 12). It is in this reflection process

that the student evaluates the experience in order to learn something from it.

With respect to the four definitions above it is clear to the researcher that experience is at

the forefront of the ‘Learning by Doing’ model. Be it past experience or current experience

the learner must engage and evaluate an experience in order to gain some knowledge from

it. Following this the researcher can construct his own definition for ‘Learning by Doing’

whereby he believes ‘Learning by Doing’ is: ‘’a process where knowledge is gained through

the undertaking and evaluation of an experience’’.

Exploration of the Dewian Model of ‘Learning by Doing’

John Dewey was born in Vermont in the United states of America in the year 1859. He is

regarded by David Kolb as one of the ‘’Foundation Scholars of Experiential Learning’’ (Kolb D.

, 2014, p. xvii). Dewey received a ‘‘Ph.D. from The John Hopkins University and taught at

several major universities’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 7). Upon his death in the year 1952, Dewey left

behind

him

an

‘’international

reputation

for

his

pragmatic

approach

to

philosophy,

psychology, and liberal politics’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 7). He is also renowned for his work in the

education field and his belief in the ‘‘unity of theory and practice’’ is his most ‘‘enduring

influence in the field of education’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 7). He is described by David Walker as

being ‘‘the most influential figure’’ to the ‘‘notion of reflection and learning in modern times’’

(Walker, 1985, p. 11). David Kolb also highlights that ‘‘in recent years many of Dewey’s ideas

have made their way into ‘traditional’ education programmes’’ despite these same ideas

being classed as ‘‘progressive approaches to education’’ in the nineteen thirties. (Kolb D. A.,

1984, p. 5)

Dewey was a ‘‘naturalistic philosopher

- he sought explanations in terms of natural

phenomena, of objects and events accessible to our senses’’ (Noddings, 2007, p. 24). One

example of this would-be Dewey’s use of ‘‘biological metaphors’’ and how he ‘‘spoke of

education as synonymous with growth’’. Following on from this Dewey ‘‘insisted that

experience is educative only if it produces growth’’ (Noddings, 2007, p. 26). For growth to

occur and for the experience to be ‘‘worthwhile’’ it is ‘‘essential for observation and judgment

to intervene’’ (Kolb D. A., 1984, p. 22) . This is evident in the Figure 1.

Growth in education is not only related to gaining knowledge. Education should be ‘‘holistic

and develop the child in the context of family, home and community’’ (NCCA, 2007, p. 12).

The Code of Professional Conduct or Teachers states that ‘‘teachers should facilitate

pupils’/students’ holistic development’’ (Council T. T., 2016, p. 7). The researcher believes

that the learning model and theory of ‘Learning by Doing’ contributes greatly to a student’s

holistic development and therefore is in keeping with the current guidelines of teachers. Mimi

Benjamin strengthens this statement when she writes ‘‘John Dewey valued students’ holistic

development and critiqued the Germanic model of higher education as not fully engaging

students with their learning’’ (Benjamin, 2015, p. 105). Dewey also claimed that ‘‘student

learning ideally should be experiential, applied and connected to societal problems’’

(Benjamin, 2015, p. 105)

Experience and learning through the use of experience, ‘’experiential learning’’ (Jarves, 2003,

p. 7) is a major element in Dewey’s Educational Philosophy.

Despite experience been such

an influencing factor on a human being’s education, Dewey highlights that both experience

and education are not equal when he states ‘‘the central role of experience in education does

not imply experience and education can be directly equated one to the other’’ (McDermott,

1981, p. 506). To strengthen this statement, he highlights in his writing that ‘‘it is not enough

to insist upon the necessity of experience, nor even the activity of experience. Everything

depends on the quality of the experience which is had.’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 14) Humans can

encounter experiences that are of no benefit to their education, Dewey labels these as ‘‘mis-

educative experiences’’ (McDermott, 1981, p. 506). Any experience is mis-educative if it ‘‘has

the effect of arresting or distorting growth of future experience.’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 12) John

J. McDermott simplifies this in his book The Philosophy of John Dewey when he writes

‘‘educative experiences are those that do not arrest or distort the growth of further

experience- that is, they open the person to relationships and possibilities of enhanced

human living.’’ (McDermott, 1981, pp. 506,507). Here McDermott highlights that Dewey had

divided potential experiences into two categories, mis-educative experiences, and educative

experiences.

Dewey goes further by bisecting the experiences into two elements, an active and a passive

element, ‘‘the nature of experience can be understood only by noting that it includes an active

and a passive element peculiarly combined’’ (Dewey, 1916, p. 52). The active element is the

actual ‘‘doing’’ of the experience. The passive is then the ‘‘return gained or consequences

suffered’’ of completing this experience (Dewey, 1916, p. 53). Simply ‘‘we do something to

the thing and it does something to us in return: such is the peculiar combination.’’ (Dewey,

1916, p. 53) The connection of these two elements measures the value of the experience and

then the experience can be divided into a ‘‘mis-educative experience’’ or an ‘‘educative

experience’’ (McDermott, 1981, pp. 506,507).

Dewey follows on from this point however to highlight that an individual will only learn

something from an experience if they reflect on it and undergo the consequences that come

from the experience. ‘‘When an activity is continued into the undergoing of consequences,

when the change made by action is reflected back into a change made in us, the mere flux is

loaded with significance. We learn something’’ (Dewey, 1916, p. 34). In order to learn from

an experience a student must reflect on that experience. Richard Pring supports this in his

book John Dewey when he states that ‘‘reflection is a way of processing experience in order

to learn from it and improve future action’’ (Pring, 2007, p. 27). Reflection must be ‘‘treated

as a tool for transforming experience into learning’’ (Jordan et.al, 2008, p. 65). David Walker

also strengthens this theme of reflection and experience when he states that Dewey

‘‘explained reflection and experience as if it were a kind of learning loop, continually feeding

back and forth between the experience and the relationship being inferred’’ (Walker, 1985,

p. 12). The researcher can deduct from this that in order for the learning to be effective

students must first engage in an experience and then reflect on that experience.

In conclusion, the researcher can deduct from the above information and research, that the

Dewian model of Learning by Doingis a learning model that requires both experience and

reflection to be productive. Dewey believed experience played a major role in an individual’s

education. “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such

a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” (Dewey, 1916, p. 160) He did also

appreciate that some experiences can be of no benefit to an individual’s education. ‘‘The

belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all

experiences are genuinely or equally educative’’ (Dewey, 1938, p. 14). To highlight this Dewey

divided potential experiences into two categories, mis-educative and educative experiences.

A Critical Evaluation of the Dewian Model of ‘Learning by Doing’

David Kolb in his book Experiential Learning highlights that ‘‘John Dewey’s model of the

learning process is remarkably similar to the Lewinian model’’ (Kolb D. , 2014, p. 33). Similarly,

Colin Beard suggests that both Kurt Lewin and John Dewey believed that ‘‘experiencing

something is the linking process between practice and thought’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 18). He

follows on to quote Lewin’s well known quotation, ‘‘there is nothing so practical as a good

theory’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 19) which draws upon the relationship between theory and

experience. See Figure 2.

Kolb does however follow on to state that Dewey ‘‘makes more explicit the developmental

nature of learning’’ and examines how ‘‘learning transforms the impulses, feelings, and

desires of concrete experience into higher-order purposeful action’’ (Kolb D. , 2014, p. 33).

This is closely linked to David Kolb’s own Experiential Learning Cycle and is evident that ‘‘Kolb

draws upon both Dewey and Lewin when building up his theory of experiential learning.

(Jarves, 2003, p. 57). This four-stage cycle of ‘‘Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract

Conceptualisation and Active Experimentation’’ allows the learning to become more effective

for the students (McLoed, 2010). See Figure three.

In this cycle, a student has a learning experience, reflects on that experience, takes learning

from that experience and then uses that learning for future experience. The two main

elements in learning, experience and reflection are again evident in this cycle. Beard and

Wilson describe this approach to learning as ‘‘probably the most encompassing, clarifying and

relevant approach to learning that we have come across’’ (Beard, 2002, p. 38). Developing on

this David Kolb stresses that ‘‘the experiential learning model pursues a framework for

examining and strengthening the critical linkages among education, work, and personal

development’’ (Kolb D. A., 1984, p. 3). This again relates back to Dewey’s idea of holistic

development where he similarly states that ‘‘student learning ideally should be experiential,

applied and connected to societal problems’’ (Benjamin, 2015, p. 105).

Despite the many strengths of the Learning by Doingmodel and the theory of experiential

learning there are still arguments and criticisms against it. Some critics ‘‘argue that there is

too great an emphasis on experience to the detriment of the classical curriculum where

subjects are taught in traditional and formal classrooms’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 39). The process of

allowing students to determine the direction of their learning might lead to the neutering of

the curriculum’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 39). Here Colin Beard highlights that the curriculum is of high

importance and must be maintained in that stature. Following on from this he argues the

point

that

the

Learning

by

Doing

model

and

the

‘‘concept

of

self-direction

may

simultaneously lead to isolation, individualism and poor learning’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 39). ‘‘Poor

Learning’’ is an aspect that all educators aim to avoid in their classroom and is the rationale

behind educators being ‘‘cautious to try experiential learning techniques’’ in their classroom

(Hughes, 2017, p. 392).

Developing on these critiques of the Learning by Doingmodel Beard opens up the argument

of ‘‘experiential learning and technology’’. Experiential learning is described as being ‘‘difficult

to link with technology’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 39). Similarly, Danny Wildermeersch suggested that

‘‘the incorporation of experience and technology was puzzling’’ (Wildemeersch, 1989, p. 68).

This is a major downfall of the Learning by Doingmodel as technology is a key figure in

society around the world. Neil Selwyn states that ‘‘technology does not determine society: it

is society’’ (Selwyn, 2013, p. 3). Following this Selwyn highlights that ‘‘education is an integral

component of the changing contemporary world’’ and that it is ‘‘difficult to overlook the links

between education, economy and society’’ (Selwyn, 2013, p. 6). With both ‘technology’ and

‘education’ being so instrumental to society then it is important that both are combined so

that the ‘‘use of technology can help students and teachers develop the competencies needed

for the twenty-first century’’ (Council N. R., 2001, p. 207). The use of experiential learning and

the Learning by Doingmodel in the classroom struggle to achieve this.

The final criticism of the Learning by Doingmodel is that it is very ‘subjective’. The rationale

behind this model being classified as subjective is due to the fact ‘‘that is based on what the

learner has undergone and thus does not have any wider applicability’’ (Beard, 2002, p. 41).

David Walker agrees with this when he states ‘‘only learners themselves can learn and only

they can reflect on their own experiences.’’ He follows on to highlight that teachers can do

very little to alter this as ‘‘they only have access to individuals’’ thoughts and feeling through

what individuals choose to reveal about themselves’’ (Walker, 1985, p. 10) Jenifer Moon also

strengthens this argument when she states that ‘‘experiential learning should explicitly

recognise the subjective nature of experience’’ (Moon, 2013, p. 125). The learner’s individual

feelings and opinions can affect what they learn from an experience.

The researcher can deduct from the above information and research that despite the

Learning by Doingmodel being classed as ‘‘probably the most encompassing, clarifying and

relevant approach to learning that we have come across’’ (Beard, 2002, p. 38) it is still not

without its flaws. There are questions regarding this model such as:

Is it suitability in a

modern society that is majorly influenced by technology? Does ‘‘the process of allowing

students to determine the direction of their learning’’ (Beard, 2006, p. 39) effect the

curriculum? Other weaknesses such as the ‘‘subjective nature’’ of this model also add to the

challenges and criticism this model faces.

Application of a ‘Learning by Doing’ model to the Construction Studies

Classroom

The Construction Studies subject is ‘‘one of the oldest syllabuses in the current senior cycle

curriculum’’ (Hickey, 2015). ‘‘The syllabus was introduced in 1983; first examined in 1985 and

remains unchanged since. Despite its vintage, it has proven to be a resilient program that

demonstrates the considerable foresight of its authors’’ (Hickey, 2015). The subject is

‘‘intended to provide a structured learning guide to modern construction theory and practice

in an Irish context’’ while also make students aware of ‘‘the impart that buildings and building

technologies have on the environment, landscape, and human comfort’’ (King & Nolan, 2013,

p. vi). Similarly, to this the Techno Teachers Association state that ‘‘Construction Studies

introduces students to the knowledge and skills associated with construction technology and

construction

materials

and

practices.

This

is

achieved

through

theoretical

study

and

integrated practical projects which provide a basis for the thorough exploration of materials

and processes’’ (Association, 2015). Trevor Hickey simplifies this in his book, Construction

Technology, when he breaks the subject down into three main elements: ‘‘Theory, Project

and Skills’’. He goes on to state that the theoryis primarily about the design and

construction of domestic dwellings. The projectallows the student to engage in a variety

of learning activities in a surprisingly broad range of areas from craft practices to architectural

modelling. While the skillselement relates to woodworking skills and builds on the

knowledge and skills usually acquired during the junior cycle study of Materials Technology

Wood. (Hickey, 2014, p. vii). The subject is assessed under these three elements also with a

‘‘theory paper a skills test and a project’’ (Hickey, 2015).

The link between the ‘Learning by Doing’ model and the Construction Studies classroom is

very prominent and this subject lends itself invitingly towards the use of learning by doing

strategies. The Learning by Doingmodel is more suited to students with a ‘‘practical mindset

and those who enjoy practical based lessons’’ (Rather, 2004, p. 67). In order for students to

be better ‘‘equipped for the learning process’’ they should be able to understand the ways in

which they learn best. This falls under the heading of ‘‘Metacognition’’ where an ‘‘individual

gains insight into their own thought process and come to better understand the ways in which

they learn’’ (Pritchard, 2005, pp. 5,6). It is through this process that some students might

realise they learn more effectively through ‘‘visual stimuli or verbal stimuli to name but two’’

(Pritchard, 2005, p. 5). These are known as learning styles and every ‘‘learner has a learning

style’’ (Hellmut R. Lang, 2006, p. 61) and every learner is a certain learning type also. ‘Learning

by Doing’ is a broader learning model that ‘‘encapsulates learning types such as physical and

visual learners’’ (Pritchard, 2005, p. 5). If a student comes to the realisation that they learn

more effectively by using their hands or watching a demonstration, then they can deduct that

there would benefit from a classroom based on the Learning by Doingmodel.

Returning to the application of the Learning by Doingmodel in the Construction Studies

classroom the link between both is clear to be seen. Learning by Doingand experiential

learning is based on the belief that ‘’optimal learning occurs through experience where

students learn best when participating actively in hands-on opportunities that connect

content to application in the real world’’ (Ishiyama, 2015, p. 351). The Construction Studies

syllabus provides multiple ‘‘hands-on opportunities’’ for students to learn and states that the

course is designed to ‘‘introduce pupils to the knowledge and skills involved in construction

technology

and

construction

materials

and

practices;

through

theoretical

study

and

integrated practical projects’’ (D.E.S, 1983, p. 2). The ‘practical projects’ provide ideal ‘hands-

on opportunities’ for the students to learn through experience.

The subject of Construction Studies also provides opportunities for hands-on experiential

learning on a day to day basis as well as the practical projects. The syllabus states that this

subject is designed to ‘‘encourage students to apply accurate observation and scientific

investigation through the exploration of materials and processes involved in the construction

industry’’ (D.E.S, 1983, p. 2). The majority of the ‘processes’ involved in the construction

industry can be facilitated and demonstrated in a classroom. The students would get hands-

on experience of these processes and get to see first-hand how these processes would be

completed on a construction site. ‘‘Educators’ desire to enhance student learning through

high-impact teaching practices is bringing experiential learning into (physical and virtual)

classrooms’’ (Ishiyama, 2015, p. 351). By bringing these processes into the classroom

educators would be exposing students to high-impact teaching practices that would majorly

benefit them.

The question that now arises is how to apply a Learning by Doingmodel to a Construction

Studies classroom. Jay W. Roberts informs us that some examples of Learning by Doingare

‘‘field trips, project work, group work and lab experiments’’ (Roberts, 2012, p. 4). All of these

examples can be woven into the Construction Studies classroom. The manufacturing of

projects is the most basic method of applying this model to the Construction Studies

classroom. Take for example if a teacher was covering the theory topic of timber frame

construction with a senior cycle construction class. If the teacher facilitated a class project or

multiple group projects whereby the students physically constructed a section of a timber

frame wall then this would be an example of Learning by Doingin the classroom. The

students would get to physically construct the section of the wall and from this they would

in turn gain knowledge of the regulations regarding timber frame walls, the different parts of

the wall, the materials used and the methods of joining all of these pieces. The students

would benefit from this hands-on approach as ‘‘students learn best when participating

actively in hands-on opportunities that connect content to application in the real world’’

(Ishiyama, 2015, p. 351). A quote from Dewey to strengthen this would be “Give the pupils

something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand

thinking; learning naturally results(Dewey, 1916, p. 160).

Similarly, if the topic of electricity and wiring was being covered as part of the theory in class

the teacher could oversee the manufacturing of a simple electrical circuit. By completing this

process, the students, would gain experience and knowledge of the correct method of wiring

a plug, the difference between each individual wire, the wiring of a switch and the correct

safety precautions that have to be taken when working with electricity. The students will gain

deeper knowledge of this topic when exposed to this method of teaching. Wendy Conklin

agrees with this and states that delivering a topic with this method ‘‘may spark creativity and

depth of understanding’’ she also follows on to state that ‘‘students will gain deeper

understanding of a topic when completing simple tasks related to that topic’’ (Conklin, 2004,

p. 220). This example would also relate back to Dewey’s theory of the importance of student’s

holistic development ‘‘John Dewey valued students’ holistic development’’ (Benjamin, 2015,

p. 105). Students would not only gain the theoretical knowledge of electricity but would also

gain invaluable life skills and experience by completing the process.

An essential stage of the ‘Learning by Doing’ model is the ‘‘reflection activity, which involves

the perception of relationships, and connection between parts of an experience’’ (Walker,

1985, p. 12). As Dewey states ‘‘intelligence was not necessarily an innate quality, but one that

could be developed and honed as individuals responded to experience through the process

of reflective thought’’ (Dewey, 1933, p. 101). The subject of Construction studies also lends

itself naturally towards this reflective activity through the structure of how it is examined. As

stated earlier the subject is examined under three elements with a ‘‘theory paper a skills test

and a project’’ (Hickey, 2015). With the theory paper been the last of these three

examinations students are given the opportunity to reflect on their practical experiences of

the skills test and the project. They then can take what they have learned from reflecting on

these experiences and use it to benefit them in the final theory paper.

Reflection can also be incorporated into the day to day teaching of the subject through the

use of practical experiences and reflecting on these experiences. David Walker states that

‘‘reflection is needed at various points: at the start in anticipation of the experience, during

the experience and following the experience’’ (Walker, 1985, p. 10). This reflective activity

could be carried out in conjunction with a Damp Proof Course experiment as part of the topic

of foundations in the subject of Construction Studies. This experiment is carried out to show

the effects and importance of Damp Proof Course. The students would firstly reflect in

anticipation of what they expect to happen. They would then engage in the experience by

conducting the experiment themselves and reflecting on the process throughout. Finally,

they would then reflect on the experience and experiment as a whole after it was completed.

By combining these ‘‘reflection activities’’ (Walker, 1985, p. 12) together students ‘‘think

about events that happened in order to make sense of them’’ (Beard, Experiential Learning,

2006, p. 245). It is through this reflection activity on the experience that learning occurs.

Dewey strengthens this when he states ‘‘when action is reflected back into a change made in

us, the mere flux is loaded with significance. We learn something’’ (Dewey, The Nature of

Experience, 1916, p. 34).

Conclusion

From the commencement of this dissertation the aim of the researcher was to conduct a

comprehensive

investigation

into

the

Dewian

model

of

‘Learning

by

Doing’

and

its

effectiveness in the Construction Studies classroom. The researcher achieved this by adhering

to the three objectives of this dissertation which were: to establish a concise and accurate

definition of ‘Learning by Doing’, to critically explore the Dewian model of ‘Learning by Doing’

and to investigate the application of this model in the Construction Studies classroom.

From the investigation above, and in an effort to establish an accurate definition, it became

clear that experience is at the forefront of the ‘Learning by Doing’ model. Be it past experience

or current experience the learner must engage and reflect on an experience in order to gain

some knowledge from it. Carrying on from this the researcher constructed his own working

definition for ‘Learning by Doing’ whereby he believes ‘Learning by Doing’ is: ‘’a process

where knowledge is gained through the undertaking and evaluation of an experience’’.

The exploration of the Dewian model of ‘Learning by Doing’ revealed that John Dewey

considered there to be two types of experiences that one could be exposed to. He labelled

these mis-educative and educative experiences. ‘‘The belief that all genuine education comes

about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally

experience a student must reflect on that experience and believed that reflection must be

treated as a tool for transforming experience into learning.

The critical evaluation of the ‘Learning by Doing’ model revealed that despite this model being

classed as ‘‘probably the most encompassing, clarifying and relevant approach to learning

that we have come across’’ (Beard, 2002, p. 38) it is still not without its flaws. There are

questions regarding this model and its suitability in a modern society that is majorly

influenced by technology. Other issues such as the process of allowing students to determine

the direction of their learning along with the subjective nature of this model also add to the

challenges and criticism it faces.

The researcher can conclude that he believes the ‘Learning and Doing’ model goes hand in

hand with the Construction Studies syllabus. The subject lends itself naturally towards the use

of experiential learning, project work and experimentation. All of these teaching strategies

relate to the model of ‘Learning by Doing’ and also offer students a chance to get hands on

experience as well as exposing them to an educative experience. When reflection activity is

incorporated into these experiences the student then is open to the opportunity to gain

knowledge and learn something from the experience. Take for instance a student undergoes

the process of cutting the members for a traditional cut roof in the construction studies

classroom. The student will first partake in the physical activity of cutting the members. Then

for a later exercise or for homework the student will write a short reflection of the experience

as a whole. By engaging in the experience and reflecting

place.

on it learning will naturally take

It is with the above research that the researcher can confidently say that the ‘Learning by

Doing’ model can be applied to the Construction Studies classroom effectively. Based on this

the researcher established the following recommendations for applying this model to the

Construction Studies classroom:

Incorporate multiple practical situations and demonstrations into the classroom.

Allow opportunities for students to have first-hand experiences of completing various

construction actions inside the controlled environment of the classroom.

Allow students to take more control of their learning.

Allow sufficient time for students to reflect on their experiences and encourage them

to document these reflections for future learning.

The researcher believes that if these recommendations are taken into account and followed

in the Construction studies classroom that the model of ‘Learning by Doing’ will naturally exist

inside that classroom. The researcher also believes that this model should not have to be

forced into application as the syllabus allows for these techniques to be implemented. The

Learning by Doing model is one that will benefit both students and teachers of the subject of

Construction Studies.

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature

as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

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