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ABSTRACT: Social Constructivist Teaching Strategies in the Small Group Classroom

The purpose of this article is to describe a series of techniques for teaching students about groups. Vygotsky’s social constructivism is used as a theoretical framework to understand the ways that students acquire knowledge about groups. After a brief discussion of this framework, we turn to a discussion of five specific pedagogical techniques for teaching small group and teamwork principles. These techniques include (a) carefully assigning group membership, (b) using a grading structure that incorporates individual, group, and peer evaluation assessment, (c) testing students individually and in groups, (d) asking students to write two papers that require an analysis and synthesis of both readings and observations, and (e) requiring a comprehensive service learning project from students that requires their collaboration for successful completion. The last portion of the article describes the challenges of using each of these techniques and the typical results of their application

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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