By: Jessica H.
Constructivists believe that learning is an
active, constructive process and that the learner
constructs information based upon prior knowledge.
Here knowledge is built upon personal experiences and
hypotheses gained from the surrounding environment.
Learners have the opportunity to test these hypotheses
with social negotiation, where each person interprets and
constructs knowledge differently.
The learner is not considered to be a blank slate because
they bring past experiences and cultural factors to the
“NOTE: A common misunderstanding regarding constructivism is
that instructors should never tell students anything directly
but, instead, should always allow them to construct knowledge for
themselves. This is actually confusing a theory of pedagogy
(teaching) with a theory of knowing. Constructivism assumes that all
knowledge is constructed from the learner’s previous
knowledge, regardless of how one is taught. Thus, even listening to
a lecture involves active attempts to construct new knowledge.”
JEAN PIAGET (1896 - 1980)
Piaget was a psychologist who, after observing his own children
for many years, developed the cognitive learning theory (note
He believed that children were actively constructing new
knowledge as they moved through different cognitive stages by
building on what they already knew. Also, the interpretation of
this knowledge differs as children progress through the different
Piaget determined that children assimilate new knowledge as
they experience new things and adapt and accommodate with
this new knowledge to change their knowledge base and make
sense of the world around them.
Characteristics of Learning
Birth to 2 years
Imitation, learn through senses and motor activities, do not
understand the world around them, and egocentric
2 to 6/7 years
Egocentric, pretend play, drawing ability, speech and
communication development, concrete thinking, and intuitive
6/7 to 11/12 years
Classification, logical reasoning, problem solving, and
beginnings of abstract thinking
11/12 years through
Comparative reasoning, abstract thinking, deductive logic,
and test hypotheses
JEROME BRUNER (1915 - )
“Brunner proposed that learning is an active process in
which the learner constructs new ideas or concepts
based on his current or past knowledge.”
He believes that learners need to participate to learn and
that they need to be actively engaged in the learning
It is Brunner’s belief that teachers should encourage their
students to explore, inquire, and discover for themselves.
He came up with the idea of the spiral curriculum, where
the learning curriculum is organized spirally so that
students can continually build upon what they have
LEV VYGOTSKY (1896 – 1934)
Vygotsky believed that social development greatly influenced
He was under the belief that a child’s social environment could
either positively or negatively affect the child’s cognitive
“Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory:
1. Social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive
development. In contrast to Jean Piaget’s understanding of child
development (in which development necessarily precedes learning),
Vygotsky felt social learning precedes development. He states: “Every
function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the
social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people
(interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological).”
2. The More Knowledgeable Other (MKO). The MKO refers to anyone who
has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with
respect to a particular task, process, or concept. The MKO is normally
thought of as being a teacher, coach, or older adult, but the MKO could
also be peers, a younger person, or even computers.
3. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). The ZPD is the distance
between a student’s ability to perform a task under adult guidance and/or
with peer collaboration and the student’s ability solving the problem
independently. According to Vygotsky, learning occurred in this zone.”
JOHN DEWEY (1859 – 1952)
Dewey is sometimes called the Father of Progressivism,
another learning theory.
He was an educational psychologist, philosopher, and
political activist that advocated student- centered
Dewey believed that educators should combine
concrete and practical activities that would be relevant
to their students’ lives.
He felt that school should be an extension of society and
students should be active participants in it.
He was under the belief that students learn by doing and
should be allowed to construct , create, and actively
What the teacher does under this theory (with and without
Teachers can create student- centered activities that actively
engage students in the learning process.
With technology: Web Quests, scavenger and treasure hunts,
and curriculum resource pages.
Without technology: collaborative learning (using group work),
using hands- on activities
What the students do under this theory (with and without
Students complete a variety of activities while learning about
With technology: Web Quests, scavenger and treasure hunts,
and interactive learning games.
Without technology: playing an instrument, building something
with Legos, drawing what they see, and reading books.
WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE THEORY
FOR YOUR OWN TEACHING? :
I think that constructive learning is a very good way of
obtaining knowledge. It’s informative while being fun and
motivational as well. I agree with many of the ideals of
constructivism and would definitely integrate it into my
classroom in the future.
Since I learn best by doing most of the time, myself, I can
see where constructivist are coming from. I do however,
understand that not all students learn the same way so I
know that I will have to integrate other means of
Textbook (MLA Citation):
Shelly, Gary B., Glenda A. Gunter, and
Randolph E. Gunter. Teachers
Discovering Computers: Integrating
Technology in a Connected World.
N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.