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Eleanor Duckworth

Critical Exploration

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     Throughout her career Duckworth has used the insights and clinical research methods of Piaget and Inhelder as the foundation for much of her work.  The two aspects of Piaget's work that were most important to her were assimilation and his clinical method.  According to Piaget assimilation occurs when a person takes an experience into their own previous understanding and creates meaning of their own.  One can not assume that an experience will have the same meaning for different people.  Piaget's clinical interviewing was a method used to engage children in talking about their ideas.
     These two ideas come together in Critical Exploration.  In her book "Tell Me More: Listening to Learners Explain" Duckworth describes Critical Exploration.  "When teaching using Critical Exploration the educator acts as a researcher.  She will not only determine what students have learned but will also guide students to a deeper understanding of the subject.  The educator can gain insight into students' understanding by observing and talking with students as they work through complex problems and projects.  As students struggle through a problem, the teacher puts them at ease, inviting them to talk about and keep thinking about their ideas.  The teacher refrains from signaling to the students what she wants them to say.  Instead of simply providing the right answer the students reveal their own understanding through their responses." (Duckworth, E. R., 2001)