In childhood education, a behaviorist approach (a mixture of praise and punishment) has been used for student target behaviors; however, the results have not been consistent. This study investigated how a constructivist approach would work in the same setting. The participant was a four-year-old student who showed target behaviors with negative attention-seeking and avoidance of self-regulation; three teachers and the author worked with him on collaborative action research. We treated him using the behaviorist approach in the first cycle of intervention. It seemed to work on the surface but was not helping him become autonomously self-regulated; his surroundings learned to remove the antecedents. We took the constructivist approach for the second cycle of intervention, wherein the student was provided opportunities to build puzzle pictures and give them to his teachers or friends. The teacher’s scaffolding helped him complete the task, perceive his competence, and aim for even bigger challenges. Through his efforts, he experienced making others happy, and as the growing-giving mindset was fostered, the target behaviors were decreased.


constructivist, growth-mindset, early childhood education, intervention, collaborative action research, trajectory equifinality approach

Author Bio(s)

Fumiko Masaki (Keio University, Education Department, Graduate School of Human Relations, Tokyo, Japan) is a principal at an international school in Tokyo, and her focus is in helping children become autonomously motivated and thrive with a sense of well-being. Please direct correspondence to fumi@growing-trees.com.


Sincere thanks to Dr. Kage, Dr. Sato, Dr. Yasuda, and Dr. Creswell, the anonymous reviewers who provided insight and expertise that greatly benefited this manuscript.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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