Constructivism


Definition

Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own “rules” and “mental models,” which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.

Discussion

There are several guiding principles of constructivism:

1. Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.
2. Meaning requires understanding wholes as well as parts. And parts must be understood in the context of wholes. Therefore, the learning process focuses on primary concepts, not isolated facts.
3. In order to teach well, we must understand the mental models that students use to perceive the world and the assumptions they make to support those models.
4. The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning.

 

How Constructivism Impacts Learning

Curriculum–Constructivism calls for the elimination of a standardized curriculum. Instead, it promotes using curricula customized to the students’ prior knowledge. Also, it emphasizes hands-on problem solving.

Instruction–Under the theory of constructivism, educators focus on making connections between facts and fostering new understanding in students. Instructors tailor their teaching strategies to student responses and encourage students to analyze, interpret, and predict information. Teachers also rely heavily on open-ended questions and promote extensive dialogue among students.

Assessment–Constructivism calls for the elimination of grades and standardized testing. Instead, assessment becomes part of the learning process so that students play a larger role in judging their own progress.

Reading

Jacqueline and Martin Brooks, The Case for Constructivist Classrooms.




About the author -

On Purpose Associates


38 Responses to Constructivism

  1. Remesh says:

    Hai

    I like your page. I’m a teacher of English. I’m quite interested in constructivism. I want to know more about how it could be implemented in the poetry class.

    If you have any article please forward the same to me

    Remesh

    remeshnk@yahoo.co.in

  2. sylvia says:

    Hi, I work in Oaxaca Mexico and I’m very interested in finding more about constructivism and english teaching in kindergarten, elementary and secondary grade levels. I’m also interested in the Significant Learning strategies for the teachers to apply in their classrooms. Please send me any information related about this issue.
    Thank you and I love your site.

  3. edison bolongaita says:

    I love your page.. it is very comprehensive, this page helped me a lot in my report about the constructivism.. keep it up guys… thanks a lot….

  4. Jennifer says:

    I loved this site. It helped me prepare for my comprehensive exam. Thanks for your help.

  5. mAry gracealba says:

    Thanks to this site because it helps me a lot in doing my thesis proposal…

  6. Keish says:

    this is a really good page, it helped me to understand the whole concept of constructivsm.

  7. Charles says:

    I like this page it has alot of information about contructivism, i would like to see more about the different theories, like Jean Piaget and Vygotsky, and how models like these can be used or best practiced in teaching a class.

  8. Matt Brown says:

    I have always found constructivism to be a very helpful philosophy for my learning process. Anytime theres ever a deffinition or a concept to be learned I always draw my own mental picture of it. I VERY seldom write down the deffinition I am given. Instead, I write down my own deffinition that best represents my take on the concept or idea. Then when its time to recall that concept or deffinition, I have something that is relevant to me, something that I understand personally, wether from past experience or a mental picture. I can then, more often than not, find the “right answer” by comparing MY take on the concept to the choices offered or relating my mental picture to the subject at hand. I deffinitely think its better to LEARN it in my own terms and be able to retain it forever, rather than memorize someone elses terms or concepts and be able to recall them for a short period of time. Even if I missed just a little bit of the concept by putting it into my own perspective, I still feel that it is a success being that I WILL retain some of the concept as opposed to completely fogetting someone elses perspective. Because thats all educators give is their perspective. I mean who REALLY knows what the author of a poem meant except for that poet. Unless the poet gave a word for word analysis of the poem, nobody REALLY knows what he/she meant. We try and analyze the poem, but in escence, there is no ‘bad interpretation’ of the poem or poetry because thats what its meant to do, provoke thought; the beauty of poetry is interpretation, not someone being right or wrong.

  9. Christina A. Whitlatch says:

    I have never seen more typos on an educational site in all my life – but what do you expect from those who spout the delusion of constructivism as something to celebrate?

    In life there are absolutes and there is no bearing on how you FEEL in regards to those things.

    The number three will always be the number three no matter how you feel about it! And your misspellings are WRONG even if it makes you sad that you are WRONG.

    This country is full of meaningless PCisms and it’s from the likes of people like you – yes, you – who hold the blame.

    It’s nice to relate a lesson to your life. But your life experience does not alter reality.

    Sadly, too many Progressives (from the White House down) run things. But you know, I bet Barak Obama’s daughters aren’t learning Constructivism in school . . . you want to know why? Because even Obama can recognize truth – he’ll open the eyes of his children while blinding the country . . . .

  10. Paul D. Gutiérrez Covey says:

    Very good information. Too bad it’s not implemented so much in education in many countries.

  11. THall says:

    This theory is fine if you subscribe to the idea that education is solely about learning. Unfortunately, this liberal mindset does not translate into the real world. In order to provide our students with what they need to progress in life, proof of their achievements in a concrete form, otherwise known as qualifications is required, and yes, this DOES lead to comparison with others and judgement – that’s life.

  12. retrogrouch says:

    Comment #1:

    The origins of contructivism lie in the Socratic Method and Kantian analysis; both good, sound pillars of “conservative” thought. It is naive and foolish to think that constructivism posits that g = 9.8 m./s/s only in some cases. The issue lies in how this knowledge is acquired and refined and internalised. I remember as a high school student 50 years ago eagerly doing science experiments with my peers and LEARNING THROUGH DOING, TALKING, REFLECTING and BUILDING ON EARLIER EXPERIENCES. This is the essence of constructivism. The crime against learning occurs when this is presented as the ONLY model of learning. As a student or practitioner or musician we, of course, take to our learning skills and knowledge acquired during intense periods of quiet reverie. But this knowlege can only be effectively acquired through practice; thus, we have a cyclic learning process.

    I assume that Obama, being a good parent, would be happy that his daughters be taught in a structured, planned, effective constructivist environment. The alternative being the uncritical rote learning that paralyses the learner and renders them incapable of applying their learning to novel situations.

  13. kirsty says:

    The comment below is just rediculous! sounds like you have some personal issues to deal with, constructivism is not just about children relating what they learn to their life experience it is about them discovering what they can learn for themselves instead of force feeding them endless information that has no meaning!! Constructivism is also about teaching the child what is involved with a process e.g rather than the old fashioned way of shoving times tables down a child’s throat with rote repition- yes they can recite 8×7 but they do not really understand what 8×7 really is, how you get there! Constructivism is a positive step in education, providing stimulating classrooms for children to learn grow and develop!

  14. NDELLE WANG says:

    I WAS VERY PLEASED STUMBLING ON THIS SITE . IT OFFERED ME REMARKEABLE ASSISTANCE IN REALIZING MY PROJECT.THANKS

  15. chesca says:

    I feel that the quote “a child must be taught HOW to think, not what to think,” sums up most of these messages quite clearly. Why would anyone want to argue with that? Constructivism is that quote in action, regardless of how you happen to feel about.

  16. brady says:

    I enjoyed this site and these comments. I think it is a simple to read site and very quickly gives good information. The posts are very interesting and I agree that constructivism is a useful tool. But as Paul Covey humorously stated, students just sometimes need to learn that what it is is the way it is no matter how they feel or can’t relate to it. Sometimes they just need to suck it up and realize the world doesn’t revolve around them. It is their job to fit into it, not the other way around. And Ndelle, the only ridiculous item is your spelling and your comment.

  17. Dr Gopang says:

    I enjoyed this web site. I think it is a simple to understand concept of constructivism.This theory is helpful in teaching learning process if you apply in classroom situation

  18. Kate says:

    These concepts are best practice. If more teachers would consider attempts to focus their instruction on student needs rather than their own teaching style preference, students would benefit.

  19. luis says:

    is it correct to say? “constructivism is just a process of adjusting our mental models to accomodate new experiences where we construct our own understanding by generating our own rules and mental models”

  20. stefanus says:

    estas conceptos son las mejores pari por que estoi estudiando español. yo soy de indonesia pero estoi aprendiendo en mexico. gracias

  21. Hazel says:

    Hi,I enjoyed reading the different views and comments from the the others contributing on their take on constructivism.It helped me give me a general overview of what it entails. I have just started a program in Early Childhood Development Education and requesting for more information on constructivism and its implications in teaching children in “preschools”.

  22. Vivian P. Demegillo says:

    There are varied types of learning because each individual learns in distinct ways.Actually, I have undergone some research on the different learning theories because I wanted to find out which among the various learning styles is best to use where an individual easily and immediately learns. As I’ve reflected everything about the learning theories which came out on my research, I could now make a two broad views of learning styles on the part of the learners. One is teacher-dependent style and the other one is the learner-dependent style. The first one is a type of learning technique or style by which the learning of the students are all originated from the teacher. It may be spoon fed. The learner will not be undergoing any activity in order to learn something but rather he will only depend on the teacher alone for his learning. On the other hand, learner dependent style of learning is the one in which the individual itself is actively operating on the important factors for him to learn.
    This constructivist learning theory is one good example for the learner-dependent learning style because the learner will learn with the use of his previous experiences and previous learning. He will construct new information or new association of the previous and the present experiences and the outcome is the new constructed learning, hence the term constructivist.
    Thank you for the important articles I’ve read from here. It enhanced my knowledge on the nature and the essence of learning. I pretty sure that someday, I will be making use of these learning that I gained from my various research in helping the young grow up into valuable and competitive citizens worldwide.
    As an educator, I am very much thankful with all these precious information you posted in your site.
    Thanks and more power.

    By: Vivian P. Demegillo

  23. Constructivism Constructionism Theory of Learning | Teaching in the 21st Century says:

    [...] in the text Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works each uniquely correlate to constructivist and/or constructionist learning theory because they actively involve the learner in creating [...]

  24. AGNES says:

    I really appreciate this article, it’s been of help to me. Thank you very much.

    Pls, one more thing: How can this theory be applied with students in Distance Learning Programmes?

    In an attempt to apply Constructivist theory, will it be correct to use e-mail service as one of the media to improve academic performance among students of National Teachers’ Institute?

  25. Constructivism/ Corporate Learning « Romasurti's Blog says:

    [...] the handwork and presentation is just amazing.  Great attempt done by Kyle, Tolis & Ericka on Constructivism/ Corporate Learning. All products were so amazing. To be a virtual I thought I might going to loose [...]

  26. Gaitani F. Romwald says:

    I agree with your programm on education and teaching in learning process.

  27. Learning Theories says:

    [...] they weren’t interested in some of the material and decided to learn another area.  “Eliminating a standardized curriculum” is not the best idea in many situations.  In almost all subjects – fundamentals [...]

  28. john b says:

    I do not see why the elimination or grades and standardized tests should be essential to constructivism. Learning is learning and can be demonstrated in a variety of ways and applications. Any rigorous conceptual framework should be able to be accessed for a particular application query.

  29. Professor Subbarayan Peri says:

    There are many learning theories so far to understand the process of learning. Of course, every theory has its merits and demerits, and it is up to the teacher or the learner to opt for the best-fit.

    Coming to the constructivist theory its merit is it is from with in the individual, and hence effective. But, every individual is capable of constructing knowledge for him self from his own experiences and thinking?
    According to the normal distribution what percentage of pupil could do?
    I remember my mathemtics teacher in class ix who used to say: In this class leave the students who pass on thier own, and I see some require a just a jakee to get them pass, some others require a ‘lift’ i.e., say just 4-5 marks to make-up for their pass, while a majority of them require a ‘CRANE’ to lift them from fail to pass. This is to demonstrate ‘individual differences’.
    I quote Jerome Bruner who while defining individual differences, he said, ‘what one person can learn in this world could be learnt by one and all, but with a difference of time’.
    This time reference is very important. The middle 68% pupil require a considerable time, while the above normal pupil require less time, and the below normal can take 10 years what the normal could do in one year, and the ab-average in one month. So, the first two categories require a back-up or push in learning. Vygostky call the pusher as ‘More Knowledgeble other’, Maslow called the person as ‘Helper’, Bruner called him as ‘Culturally Matrured’ and so on.

    But, learning for him self is an utopian thinking. Ideally, every country is expected to be ‘independent’ by constructinging its own resources, but is it possible? An ideal dochotomy of dependency and independency never exist. So also, constructing their knowledge by the learner. A push by a matured one saves the unnessary trial-and-error learning as Bandura shows model to do the job in his obseravtion and imitation learning.
    If every learner has to learn from scrap by his own where would have been the science to day? We build the science on the foot-prints.

    In the Classical Indian Philosophy there is a learning theory viz. ‘Learning by Verbal Testimony’ developed some centuries back. They did a lot of research and developed it. Though much work has been done in the Western Philosophy,on TESTIMONY, no attempt is made in the Western Psychology and Education till 1992. Professor Subbarayan Peri, the author of this comment published a book by name, “Learning by Verbal Testimony” as the poineering attempt. It is at the conceptual level. The Andhra University, India awrded higher doctorate (D.Litt) degree for this work. Professor Harris from Harvard has been working empirically on this learning and published “Trust in Testimony” in 2004. Since then he has been working on Learning by Listening with Testimony. Prof. Peri has been doing longitudinal studies since 20 years. According to Prof. Peri:

    Statement of LVT: Words of trust-worthy person inculcate learning among individuals.

    Process: The assertative sentences cause learning. Especially, the sentences with injnctive mood verbs by the principle of ‘Psycho-linguistic conditioning’is responsible for such learning.

    Applications: In all walks of life;Education, Psycho-therapy, Industry, Child rareering practices et. hoc.

    Specialized fields: In the learning of the affective domain like interests, attitudes, emotions etc.

    Advantages: The learning which are impossible by other theories the LVT works. Example- we learn our father by the testimony of the mother alone, not by trail-and-error, conditioning, drive, insight, imitation, intuition and so on.

    The trust-worthy person is one whome Vygotsky calls as MKO and Maslow calls as Helper.

    The LVT is highly humanistic in nature with in-built sympothy and empathy between the teacher and the taught.
    Had LVT not there been the science would not have developed as on date. Every intelligent learner start from scrap to invent him self like Newton.
    As a matter of how many Newtons are there in the history of Man-kind?

    So all learning theories have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the learner to decide the strategy of learning, if he couldn’t by the TWP/MKO/HELPER.

    An integration of the availble learning theories is the task before the Educationists, and Psychologists. They fail to prescribe a learning strategy for a given individual, for a given learning task, and conditions. The pitiable thing is: entire sciences of Edication and Psychology are based on a single concept,’Individual Differences’, but they forget this concept and propose hundreds of learning theories and claim so and so learning theory is the best.

    Let us hope that the Educationists and Psychologists come to the level of prediction and control of learning theories and prescibe a suitable learning strategy for a given individual, for a given learning task, under a given set of conditions. Let them work more on ‘Computational Models of Learning Theories’.

    Thaniking you,
    Prof. PERI.

  30. Ihab Hassan: “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism” | The Pakistan Forum says:

    [...] of”  twentieth century: Pataphysics, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Supermatism, Constructivism [and] de Stiji” (5). Hassan asserts that these movements have “all but vanished [...]

  31. msee says:

    It’s a nice presentation,i enjoyed to it.It is true that the students are not Tabula rasasa means not empty headed.These theory improve students cognitions and skills and motivate students to extract materials from different sources

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