The modern era is characterized by a sharp increase in the volume of scientific information and a rapid expansion of the knowledge base used by the human community to solve practical problems. In this regard, the traditional educational and methodological model, which has been successfully used for centuries in schools and universities, no longer allows solving the problems facing the education system. Broad erudition and well-developed skills in solving standard problems are no longer a sufficient criterion for a person’s education. Half a century ago, five years of university education gave a person knowledge, which, in principle, was enough for all subsequent labor activity. However, now the situation on labor market is changing so rapidly that a specialist needs to study all his or her life. To do this, they need not only well-developed skills of self-education, but, above all, the skills of research work, the prompt selection of the necessary information from its rapidly expanding array.
The traditional system of authoritarian style of teaching, based on the transmission and reproduction of information, is not only unable to form above-mentioned skills in the learner, but even in a certain sense prevents their formation, asserting and reinforcing stereotyped thinking and blocking creative search. This is one of the main reasons for the sharp drop in curiosity among today’s youth, their lack of interest in science, which is widely observed already in secondary school (Germain, 2019). To implement the professional development model for students in higher education, allow shaping their professional competence, it seems expedient to introduce personality-oriented learning. In turn, it implies variability, nonlinearity, and understanding of the student as a subject, recognition of him or her as the main value of the educational process interested in self-development. This condition determines the formation of a professional, capable of building his or her own activities, changing and developing it (Germain, 2019). In such conditions, the design and implementation of an individual educational route, through which the student takes responsibility for own future, learns to make a choice, comprehends responsibility for it, track his/her progress and stages of his/her professional development on this way, acquire special significance.
In this regard, educators-researchers consider a new culture of learning, appropriate to the knowledge society and aimed at active, constructive, independent, motivated and holistic learning. In turn, this is possible provided that individual counseling is widely used in teaching practice. Students need an individualized academic counseling program approach including retention, mentoring, coaching, and one-on-one sessions. This will allow students’ motivation, success and high academic performance.
Potential Variables and Constructs
The counseling process can be aimed at creating conditions for the student to independently manage his or her own activities and to realize responsibility for the result obtained through the analysis of learning experience, as well as the educational strategies used. In this process, the strengths and limitations of the learning style are discussed and the resources provided by the educational institution to achieve the intended results are sought (Klakurka & Irwin, 2015). Accordingly, the principles and features of the new learning culture can be identified as building educational material and principles of counseling based on constructivist learning theories. It implies creating a new active learning environment, changing the role of the student teacher, and using teaching methods that correspond to new tasks and goals. In this context, the main research construct is the principles of pedagogical constructivism, which can be defined as follows (Kanvaria, 2013):
- Goal-setting based on the key position of constructivism: knowledge cannot be transferred to the student in a finished form. It is only possible to create pedagogical conditions for the successful self-construction and self-growth of students’ knowledge.
- Motivation of learning through the inclusion of students in the search, research, and solving of significant problems, primarily the problems of the reality surrounding them, the solution of which is directly related to the real -ecological, economic, industrial, and so on – situation in life.
- Designing learning content based on generalized concepts, system knowledge, and integrative skills.
- Creation of conditions (choice of methods, forms of teaching, means of assessment) that emphasize the intellectual dignity of each student, the special value of his or her point of view, a personal approach to solving a problem, a unique vision of the situation, an individual style of thinking.
As the proposed research implies mixed methods, potential dependent variable can be formulated as a growth of students’ motivation to life-long learning and application of creative approaches in working with educational tasks. In turn, independent variable is increase in the proportion of students’ independent work in frames of special consulting curricula, as educational counseling is one of the forms of teaching, which involves deep, meaningful joint work of a teacher and a student on educational assignments.
Interviews and surveys will be used for the research to enable deeper understanding of the issue under consideration and potential effective outcomes of proposed actions and measures. In the process of surveys results analysis, quantitative statistical methods will be applied, using methods of multivariate and parametric statistics. The choice of processing methods is due to the fact that the results of the primary processing of surveys are, as a rule, large databases that require further analysis and interpretation of the results, deeper study and search for relationships between aggregated variables (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). The proposed method for processing the results of the surveys is based on the use of the methods of factor analysis and the chi-square test. It makes it possible to single out general aggregated variables from the entire volume of questions and establish relationships between these variables and additional characteristics of the respondent.
Justification of Instruments
In turn, the processing of interview results, within the framework of a qualitative research method, involves the application of the grounded theory of Corbin and Strauss. Grounded theory represents a method of hermeneutics — the doctrine of understanding, interpreting, and treating texts and symbols (Flick, 2018). On the basis of experimental data from everyday life, in frames of the grounded theory, various theoretical constructs and models are developed, which are immediately reflected in the practice of research.
This theory of explanation of some part of the world is tied to the subject studied by the researcher, that is, “substantiates” the studied reality. The authors of this method rely on the idea that when the researcher approaches the subject from different positions and examines it from various angles of view, a deeper look at the studied phenomena is possible (Flick, 2018). The purpose of “grounded theory” is to identify, through study, the observed phenomena of underlying structures or “influencing relationships” (Flick, 2018). In contrast to the “scientistic model” of understanding science, hypotheses are not put forward at the beginning of the study, but appear in the process of its completion. They arise as a result of the analysis of the empirical data available to the researcher, which corresponds to the chosen constructivist research paradigm.
In turn, according to constructivist pedagogy, knowledge and learning represent the result of studying the real world that the teacher and student face. This world depends on the characteristics of perception of both the teacher and the student. From the standpoint of constructivism, human experience consists of perception, but is not limited to it. It forces a person to construct the world in such a way that it would be, as it were, consistent with experience, reflecting it. Researchers define constructivism as a “science of reality,” since its initial postulate is the recognition of reality as a construction of the one who observes it, i.e., the construct of the observer himself (Kanvaria, 2013). In this case, the subject can mean any participant in the interaction process. With regard to the pedagogy of constructivism, these subjects or observers are both the teacher and the student, who are active sides of the communicative dialogue in the learning process.
Aligning with Research Approach. Overall Conclusion
Important components of the learning process in constructivism are the formation of student motivation, as well as a creative approach to the learning process on the part of the teacher. Acceptance of constructivist attitudes means switching from the goals of understanding, which define the specifics of the phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches, to the goals of development and formation (Denicolo et al., 2016). The constructivist approach presupposes that the teacher discovers the internal structures of the student’s consciousness and makes a direct point influence on them. In this case, the material with which the teacher works is not cultural content, but internal narratives and personal constructs of students.
Thus, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, or, in other words, mixed methods, is best able to provide a competent application of the constructivist paradigm in the study of the need for large-scale implementation of the individual counseling practice in education. The use of mixed methods will overcome the limitations of each approach and ensure synergy between the methods. Moreover, it will contribute to systemic integrated study of the individual counseling role in students’ independence of thought, a creative approach to addressing educational problems, as well as motivation for life-long learning.
Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. (5th ed). SAGE.
Denicolo, P., Long, T., & Bradley-Cole, K. (2016). Constructivist approaches and research methods: A practical guide to exploring personal meanings. SAGE Publications.
Flick, U. (2018). Doing grounded theory. SAGE Publications.
Germain, M. L. (2019). Integrating service-learning and consulting in distance education. Emerald Publishing.
Kanvaria, V. (2013). Constructivism and constructivist pedagogy of mathematics in 21st century. Vinod Kumar Kanvaria.
Klakurka, J., & Irwin, B. (2015). Consulting by academics: Many forms, many opinions. Systems, Cybernetics, and Informatics, 13(6), 134-140.