High Scope: A Constructivist Approach

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization that sponsors and supports the High/Scope educational approach. The program is based on Piaget’s intellectual development theory. High/Scope provides broad, realistic educational experiences geared to children’s current stages of development, to promote the constructive processes of learning necessary to broaden emerging intellectual and social skills (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 1989).

High/Scope is based on three fundamental principles:

  • Active participation of children in choosing, organizing, and evaluating learning activities, which are undertaken with careful teacher observation and guidance in a learning environment replete with a rich variety of materials located in various classroom learning centers
  • Regular daily planning by the teaching staff in accord with a developmentally based curriculum model and careful child observations
  • Developmentally sequenced goals and materials for children based on the High/Scope “key experiences” (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 1989)

Basic Principles and Goals of the High/Scope Approach

The High/Scope program strives to

develop in children a broad range of skills, including the problem solving, interpersonal, and communication skills that are essential for successful living in a rapidly changing society. The curriculum encourages student initiative by providing children with materials, equipment, and time to pursue activities they choose. At the same time, it provides teachers with a framework for guiding children’s independent activities toward sequenced learning goals.

The teacher plays a key role in instructional activities by selecting appropriate, developmentally sequenced material and by encouraging children to adopt an active problem-solving approach to learning....This teacher-student interaction—teachers helping students achieve developmentally sequenced goals while also encouraging them to set many of their own goals—uniquely distinguishes the High/Scope Curriculum from direct-instruction and child-centered curricula (High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 1989).

The High/Scope approach influences the arrangement of the classroom, the manner in which teachers interact with children, and the methods employed to assess children.

The Five Elements of the High/Scope Approach

Teachers create the context for learning in the High/Scope approach by implementing and supporting five essential elements: active learning, classroom arrangement, the daily schedule, assessment, and the curriculum (content).

Active Learning

The idea that children are the source of their own learning forms the center of the High/Scope curriculum. Teachers support children’s active learning by providing a variety of materials, making plans and reviewing activities with children, interacting with and carefully observing individual children, and leading small- and large-group active learning activities.

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