The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Assumptions in Education and Education in Assumptions: Narrative Co-construction and Constructivist Teaching Practices

Margarida McMurry, Language Services Direct, FCDO, former UCL Assistant Lecturer (United Kingdom)


While some teaching practices are more aware of the role of assumptions in the classroom than others, the fact remains that we, teachers and students, all start with the nervous expectations of each other, anticipating according to prior assumptions of what teaching and learning is going to be like on that very first day we meet in the classroom. That is just the start, from which often student engagement and successful dynamics develops. Constructive/ist theories (Biggs (2011) Fox (2001) and Elliott et al. (2000)) emphasize the contribution that students make to their knowledge acquisition, relying on their participation to further student engagement for a more effective learning and teaching process. Kolb’s Experiential Learning is one such approach, as it perceives learning as a cyclical, continuous process where students actively engage in the learning experience, reflecting on it and then theorize about it. (Kolb, 1984). Such a method unavoidably relies on assumptions about students and require the teacher to be aware of such assumptions, constantly being able to adapt to the new perceptions of what the students may be thinking and experiencing. Conversely, it is not often that teachers become aware of how pivotal they are in the teaching and redefining of their students’ assumptions. No matter the approach one uses, the perception students have of the teacher’s political, philosophical and socio-cultural position in relation to what they teach is an important teaching tool from the point of view of the learner, whether the teacher consciously employs it or not. This paper seeks to underline the role of assumptions in teaching and learning practices and proposes that one can go beyond considering a constructive approach to a co-constructive approach, in which the teacher is aware of their own assumptions, the assumptions they are encouraging and teaching students to make and how these interact and should consider the assumptions students bring with them to their learning experience. Starting from a perspective of narrative co-construction (McMurry, Effron and Pignagnoli, 2019) which describes how authors and readers co-build a storyworld, this paper proposes that, considering the classroom as a social space, teaching works in a similar way, particularly when attending to the exchange and formation of assumptions within the classroom and this awareness may engage students and teachers in a more holistic teaching method. The paper will focus in particular on second language teaching, but only as an example from which to start to discuss the development of a curriculum within a teaching practice that is more inclusive and diverse within language teaching.



Teaching practices, co-construction, assumptions, language learning, student engagement, curriculum development



[1] Biggs, J and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for Quality Learning at University, McGraw-Hill and Open University Press, Maidenhead.

[2] Fox, R. (2001). Constructivism examined. Oxford review of education, 27(1), 23-35.

[3] Elliott, S.N., Kratochwill, T.R., Littlefield Cook, J. & Travers, J. (2000). Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill College.

[4] Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

[5] Effron, Malcah, Margarida McMurry, and Virginia Pignagnoli. 2019. “Narrative Co-Construction: A Rhetorical Approach.” Narrative 27 (3): 332–52.


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