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Learning how to innovate as a socio-epistemological process of co-creation. Towards a constructivist teaching strategy for innovation

Peschl, Markus F. and Bottaro, Gloria and Hartner-Tiefenthaler, Martina and Rötzer, Katharina (2014): Learning how to innovate as a socio-epistemological process of co-creation. Towards a constructivist teaching strategy for innovation. Published in: Constructivist Foundations , Vol. 3, No. 9 (2014): pp. 421-433.

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Context: Radical constructivism (RC) is seen as a fruitful way to teach innovation, as Ernst von Glasersfeld’s concepts of knowing, learning, and teaching provide an epistemological framework fostering processes of generating an autonomous conceptual understanding. Problem: Classical educational approaches do not meet the requirements for teaching and learning innovation because they mostly aim at students’ competent performance, not at students’ understanding and developing their creative capabilities. Method: Analysis of theoretical principles from the constructivist framework and how they can be used as a foundation for designing a course in the field of innovation. The empirical results are based on qualitative journal entries that were coded and categorized according to Charmaz’s grounded theory approach. Results: It is shown that there is a close relationship between learning and innovation processes. The proposed investigated course design based on RC incorporates the following concepts: the course setting is understood as a framework to guide understanding; students work in teams and are subjective constructors of their own knowledge; instructors take on the role of coaches, guiding students through an innovation process as co-creators. Such a framework facilitates dynamic processes of assimilation and accommodation, as well as perturbation through the “other,” which potentially lead to novel, and viable, conceptual structures crucial for sustainable innovation. Constructivist Content: The paper argues in favor of RC principles in the context of teaching and learning. The proposed course setting is oriented at von Glasersfeld’s understanding of knowing, learning, and teaching (vs. training. It outlines theoretical and practical aspects of these principles in the context of a course design for innovation. Furthermore, it shows the importance of von Glasersfeld’s concept of intersubjectivity for processes of accommodation and the generation of (novel) autonomous conceptual structures. The interplay between creating coherence, perturbation, and irritation through interacting with the “other” (in the form of co-students and instructors) is assumed to be vital for such processes, as it leads to the creation of not only novel but also viable conceptual structures, therefore re-establishing a relative equilibrium critical for sustainable innovation.

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