Challenges implementing social constructivist learning approaches

The case of Pictation


  • Adon Moskal
  • Swee-Kin Loke
  • Noelyn Hung



social constructivism, technology integration, medical education


Most medical professionals need to make meaning of clinical images collaboratively with colleagues. To develop this ability in our Health Sciences students, we designed a social constructivist learning activity where students jointly annotate clinical images via an in-house web application, Pictation. We conducted a case study with 85 third-year students using Pictation alongside lectures and tutorials. The learning activity was evaluated via a survey questionnaire, interviews, and observations. Three challenges in implementing a social constructivist learning activity were identified: student's inadequate prior knowledge; embarrassment in exposing inadequate understanding to peers; and need for certainty. These challenges pose particular dilemmas for teachers wanting to implement social constructivist learning because such learning approaches inherently imply that students: have incomplete prior knowledge; are willing to expose incomplete understanding to peers; and are comfortable with uncertainty. Our findings and recommendations can serve to guide teachers and academic developers in implementing social constructivist learning in realistic contexts.






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