constructivism (philosophy of education)


  • In fact, constructivism is a theory describing how learning happens, regardless of whether learners are using their experiences to understand a lecture or following the instructions
    for building a model airplane.

  • [35] One social constructivist notion is that of authentic or situated learning, where the student takes part in activities directly relevant to the application of learning
    and that take place within a culture similar to the applied setting.

  • [9] Cognitive apprenticeship has been proposed as an effective constructivist model of learning that attempts to “enculturate students into authentic practices through activity
    and social interaction in a way similar to that evident, and evidently successful, in craft apprenticeship”.

  • [26] Vygotsky (1978) also highlighted the convergence of the social and practical elements in learning by saying that the most significant moment in the course of intellectual
    development occurs when speech and practical activity, two previously completely independent lines of development, converge.

  • Constructivism is a theory in education which posits that individuals or learners do not acquire knowledge and understanding by passively perceiving it within a direct process
    of knowledge transmission, rather they construct new understandings and knowledge through experience and social discourse, integrating new information with what they already know (prior knowledge).

  • [29] According to social constructivists, the process of sharing individual perspectives — called collaborative elaboration — results in learners constructing understanding
    together that wouldn’t be possible alone.

  • Expanding upon Vygotsky’s theory Jerome Bruner and other educational psychologists developed the important concept of instructional scaffolding, whereby the social or informational
    environment offers supports (or scaffolds) for learning that are gradually withdrawn as they become internalized.

  • Learning is an active process[edit] Social constructivism, strongly influenced by Vygotsky’s (1978) work, suggests that knowledge is first constructed in a social context
    and is then appropriated by individuals.

  • [25] This means that the learning experience is both subjective and objective and requires that the instructor’s culture, values and background become an essential part of
    the interplay between students and tasks in the shaping of meaning.

  • While adult learning often stresses the importance of personal relevance of the content, involvement of the learner in the process, and deeper understanding of underlying
    concepts, all of these are principles that may benefit learners of all ages as even children connect their every day experiences to what they learn.

  • From the social constructivist viewpoint, it is thus important to take into account the background and culture of the learner throughout the learning process, as this background
    also helps to shape the knowledge and truth that the learner creates, discovers and attains in the learning process.

  • [30][31] Social constructivist scholars view learning as an active process where students should learn to discover principles, concepts and facts for themselves, hence the
    importance of encouraging guesswork and intuitive thinking in students.

  • [27] Teaching Techniques[edit] Main article: Constructivist teaching methods A few strategies for cooperative learning include: • Reciprocal Questioning: students work together
    to ask and answer questions • Jigsaw Classroom: students become “experts” on one part of a group project and teach it to the others in their group • Structured Controversies: Students work together to research a particular controversy[37]
    The Harkness discussion method[edit] It is called the “Harkness” discussion method because it was developed at Phillips Exeter Academy with funds donated in the 1930s by Edward Harkness.

  • The emotions and life contexts of those involved in the learning process must therefore be considered as an integral part of learning.

  • [46] In the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development it is maintained that learning at any age depends upon the processing and representational resources available
    at this particular age.

  • [35] Some social constructivist models also stress the need for collaboration among learners, in direct contradiction to traditional competitive approaches.

  • [24]: 208  Decontextualised knowledge does not give us the skills to apply our understandings to authentic tasks because we are not working with the concept in the complex
    environment and experiencing the complex interrelationships in that environment that determine how and when the concept is used.

  • Social constructivism thus emphasizes the importance of the student being actively involved in the learning process, unlike previous educational viewpoints where the responsibility
    rested with the instructor to teach and where the learner played a passive, receptive role.

  • [citation needed] Jean Piaget did not agree with these traditional views; he saw play as an important and necessary part of the student’s cognitive development and provided
    scientific evidence for his views.

  • [47] Therefore, no matter how active a child is during learning, to learn the child must operate in a learning environment that meets the developmental and individual learning
    constraints that are characteristic for the child’s age and this child’s possible deviations from her age’s norm.

  • [14][15] While there is much enthusiasm for constructivism as a design strategy, according to Tobias and Duffy “… to us it would appear that constructivism remains more
    of a philosophical framework than a theory that either allows us to precisely describe instruction or prescribe design strategies.

  • [35] This means that instructors should first introduce the basic ideas that form topics or subject areas, and then revisit and build upon these repeatedly.

  • A facilitator should structure the learning experience just enough to make sure that the students get clear guidance and parameters within which to achieve the learning objectives,
    yet the learning experience should be open and free enough to allow for the learners to discover, enjoy, interact and arrive at their own, socially verified version of truth.

  • In constructivism, hence, it is recognized that the learner has prior knowledge and experiences, which are often determined by their social and cultural environment.

  • One good example of constructivist learning in a non-formal setting is the Investigate Centre at The Natural History Museum, London.

  • group a number of learning theories together (Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based learning) and stated that highly scaffolded constructivist methods
    like problem-based learning and inquiry learning are ineffective.

  • It is important for instructors to realize that although a curriculum may be set down for them, it inevitably becomes shaped by them into something personal that reflects
    their own belief systems, their thoughts and feelings about both the content of their instruction and their students.

  • Learning is therefore done by students’ “constructing” knowledge out of their experiences.

  • [48][49] Several educators have also questioned the effectiveness of this approach toward instructional design, especially as it applies to the development of instruction
    for novices.

  • [51] Indeed, Mayer (2004) reviewed the literature and found that fifty years of empirical data do not support using the constructivist teaching technique of pure discovery;
    in those situations requiring discovery, he argues for the use of guided discovery instead.

  • [19] Collaboration among learners[edit] Main article: Learning by teaching Learners with different skills and backgrounds should collaborate in tasks and discussions to arrive
    at a shared understanding of the truth in a specific field.

  • [19] To fully engage and challenge the student, the task and learning environment should reflect the complexity of the environment that the student should be able to function
    in at the end of learning.

  • [25] According to this viewpoint, instructors should see assessment as a continuous and interactive process that measures the achievement of the learner, the quality of the
    learning experience and courseware.

  • Without the social interaction with other more knowledgeable people, it is impossible to acquire social meaning of important symbol systems and learn how to utilize them.

  • described several research studies that were favorable to problem-based learning given learners were provided some level of guidance and support.

  • They suggest more structured learning activities for learners with little to no prior knowledge.

  • He further stated that learning is not a process that only takes place inside our minds, nor is it a passive development of our behaviors that is shaped by external forces.

  • [32]: 25  Holt and Willard-Holt (2000) emphasize the concept of dynamic assessment, which is a way of assessing the true potential of learners that differs significantly from
    conventional tests.

  • However, in the follow-up assessment 15 days later, students who learned through constructivist methods showed better retention of knowledge than those who learned through
    traditional methods.

  • Defined as the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem-solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving
    under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers, it differs from the fixed biological nature of Piaget’s stages of development.

  • They usually suggest that learning is accomplished best using a hands-on approach.

  • [9] The world, in which the learner needs to operate, does not approach one in the form of different subjects, but as a complex myriad of facts, problems, dimensions, and

  • Accommodation can be understood as the mechanism by which failure leads to learning: when we act on the expectation that the world operates in one way and it violates our
    expectations, we often fail, but by accommodating this new experience and reframing our model of the way the world works, we learn from the experience of failure, or others’ failure.

  • Constructivism does not refer to a specific pedagogy, although it is often confused with constructionism, an educational theory developed by Seymour Papert, inspired by constructivist
    and experiential learning ideas of Piaget.

  • [21] This dramatic change of role implies that a facilitator needs to display a totally different set of skills than that of a teacher.

  • Current trends in higher education push for more “active learning” teaching approaches which are often based on constructivist views.

  • [32] Engaging and challenging the student[edit] Learners should constantly be challenged with tasks that refer to skills and knowledge just beyond their current level of mastery.

  • [9][32] The structuredness of the learning process[edit] It is important to achieve the right balance between the degree of structure and flexibility that is built into the
    learning process.

  • He identified processes of assimilation and accommodation that are key in this interaction as individuals construct new knowledge from their experiences.

  • [citation needed] Approaches based on constructivism stress the importance of mechanisms for mutual planning, diagnosis of learner needs and interests, cooperative learning
    climate, sequential activities for achieving the objectives, formulation of learning objectives based on the diagnosed needs and interests.

  • Evidence for learning by studying worked-examples, is known as the worked-example effect and has been found to be useful in many domains (e.g.

  • [36] Where the sequencing of subject matter is concerned, it is the constructivist viewpoint that the foundations of any subject may be taught to anybody at any stage in some

  • The role of the assessor becomes one of entering into dialogue with the persons being assessed to find out their current level of performance on any task and sharing with
    them possible ways in which that performance might be improved on a subsequent occasion.

  • The learning environment should also be designed to support and challenge the student’s thinking.

  • Just as in any sport, a number of skills are necessary to work on and use at appropriate times.

  • [23] A facilitator should also be able to adapt the learning experience ‘in mid-air’ by taking the initiative to steer the learning experience to where the learners want to
    create value.

  • This study also found that students preferred constructivist methods over traditional ones.

  • Background Constructivism in education has roots in epistemology, a theory of knowledge concerned with the logical categories of knowledge and its justification.

  • Piaget’s theory of constructivist learning has had wide-ranging impact on learning theories and teaching methods in education, and is an underlying theme of education reform
    movements in cognitive science and neuroscience.

  • Here, the essentially interactive nature of learning is extended to the process of assessment.

  • [22] This is in line with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, which can be described as the distance between the actual developmental level (as determined by independent
    problem-solving) and the level of potential development (as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers).

  • This entails that students and instructors should develop an awareness of each other’s viewpoints and then look to their own beliefs, standards and values, thus being both
    subjective and objective at the same time.

  • However, constructivism is often associated with pedagogic approaches that promote active learning, or learning by doing.

  • However, Kim did not find any difference in student self-concept or learning strategies between those taught by constructivist or traditional methods.


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