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Asking counselor educators to consider what their students are learning is the goal of a newly completed trilogy of books co-authored by Garrett McAuliffe, associate professor of counselor education.

McAuliffe's latest book, "Classroom Strategies for Constructivist and Developmental Counselor Education" (Bergin
and Garvey, 2002), completes a three-part exploration of infusing constructivist thinking into counselor education.

He and his co-authors previously published "Preparing Counselors and Therapists: Creating Constructivist and Developmental Program" (2000) and "Teaching Counselors and Therapists: Constructivist and Developmental Course Design" (2001). McAuliffe's co-author is Karen Eriksen of Radford University. Christopher Lovell, graduate program director in the counseling program at Old Dominion, contributed to the first book.

The most recent book is highly practical in that "instructional activities are laid out by fellow teachers," McAuliffe said. He wrote two chapters on the current understanding about how adults learn and can be taught, discussing the multiple methods of teaching.

The idea for the trilogy was formed in 1996 among a national group of counselor educators at their convention in Portland, Ore., McAuliffe said. The theme of the series reminds college teachers that their students are always trying to make meaning of what they hear in class. Therefore, he said, teachers must account for what is going on in the minds of learners.

"Assess it, inquire about it in and out of class, and use multiple methods to trigger learning and meaning-making," he advises. Constructivism "keeps teachers on their toes" for omissions and limitations in their own perspectives, McAuliffe

The books also remind teachers to be attuned to their own cultural and individual standpoints. Constructivism, said McAuliffe, requires a kind of humility, as faculty must account for their power in their relationships with students.

"From a constructivist perspective, all of us are knowledge creators in a grand, ongoing conversation," he noted. "Too often, college teaching has ignored the 'teaching and learning process.' And yet it is in the classroom and assignment process that students conclude much about themselves as contributors" to knowledge.

The books also point out that learning requires participation. Thus, experimentation and discussion are key elements in teaching. While all methods can lead to knowledge, lecturing has been shown to be the most limited for adults and children. Constructivist teachers include the learning process as well as content in their planning.

Key questions in this regard are "What am I really teaching today?" and "Am I communicating that I am the only authority and that they are mere receivers of knowledge, or am I helping them to put their voice in the world?" McAuliffe said.

This article was posted on: March 1, 2002

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