WHAT IS THE CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY?• This theory states that learning is an active process of creating meaning from different experiences. In other words, students will learn best by trying to make sense of something on their own with the teacher as a guide to help them along the way.
KEY POINTS OF THE CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY• Based on observation• An innovative way people create meaning out of the something from chaos to order• Pushes for students to engage in activities like experiments• First-handed self-directed learning experience• Uses surrounding to influence viewpoints and decision making• Learner is actively involved• Engages students to participate• Goes hand-in-hand with Cooperative Learning. For example, students getting in to groups for problem solving or experiments. Constructivism ties in this teaching method for effective learning and understanding.• Motivation for learning is dependent on one’s personal confidence and ability• Subjects should not be split up separately, but instead everything should go together and be learned that way. • I.E. Classical education system• Constructivism encourages reflection on evidence• Learn by gathering information from surroundings and environment• Instead of telling students “what to think,” Constructivism teaches students “how to think.”
KEY PEOPLE ASSOCIATED WITH THEORY• Jean Piaget was a psychologist influenced heavily by the constructivism movement who defined the four stages of cognitive development. He believed it was important to provide a rich learning environment for children because they assimilated new knowledge as through experiences and accommodated this information into their lives. • Jerome Bruner was a psychologist and educator who believed that learning was an active process and that children construct new ideas or concepts based upon existing knowledge.
KEY PEOPLE ASSOCIATED (CONTINUED)• Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who believed that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the process of cognitive development. He believed that children have a Zone of Proximal Development which is the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can do with help. He also believed that teachers should build on students past learning experiences. • John Dewey was an education psychologist, philosopher, and political activist who believed that learning should be engaging and expand the experiences of the individual learner. He believed in progressive education which focused on teaching students as a whole and not just teaching them to regurgitate facts.
WHAT TEACHERS CAN DO UNDER THIS THEORY• Encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative.• Try to use raw data and primary sources, in addition to manipulative, interactive, and physical materials.• When assigning tasks to the students, use cognitive terminology such as "classify," "analyze," "predict," and "create."• Build off and use student responses when making "on-the- spot" decisions about teacher behaviors, instructional strategies, activities, and content to be taught.• Search out students understanding and prior experiences about a concept before teaching it to them.• Encourage communication between the teacher and the students and also between the students.
WHAT TEACHERS CAN DO UNDER THIS THEORY• Encourage student critical thinking and inquiry by asking them thoughtful, open-ended questions, and encourage them to ask questions to each other.• Ask follow up questions and seek elaboration after a students initial response.• Put students in situations that might challenge their previous conceptions and that will create contradictions that will encourage discussion.• Make sure to wait long enough after posing a question so that the students have time to think about their answers and be able to respond thoughtfully.• Provide enough time for students to construct their own meaning when learning something new.
WHAT STUDENTS CAN DO UNDER THE CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY• Experimentation: students individually perform an experiment and then come together as a class to discuss the results.• Research projects: students research a topic and can present their findings to the class.• Field trips. This allows students to put the concepts and ideas discussed in class in a real-world context. Field trips would often be followed by class discussions
USING THIS THEORY IN OUR CLASSROOMS• We agree with using the constructivism theory in our own teaching methods. Many students today are lacking deep processing levels, which means they do not spend the necessary time reflecting on and properly processing the information that they are learning. The constructivism theory focuses on actively engaging students, whether it’s by getting them to collaborate on work to get them to share their knowledge with each other or by getting students to think upon their past knowledge to learn new information from a different perspective.
SOURCES CITED• Bruner, J. (1960). The Process of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Harley, 1995 . http://tip.psychology.org/bruner.html . LeFrancois, 1972.• "Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning." THIRTEEN. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html>.• "Constructivism." Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://viking.coe.uh.edu/~ichen/ebook/et-it/constr.htm>.• "Education Update - Dr. Jerome Bruner Speaks at Columbia Teachers College." Education Update. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://educationupdate.com/archives/2005/Nov/html/col-jeromebutler.html>.• Gary, Shelly B. Teachers Discovering Computers; Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom. Boston: Course Technology, 2011. Print.• "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Dewey, John. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://www.iep.utm.edu/dewey/>.• "Jean Piaget." Changes in Child Psychology. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://childpsych.umwblogs.org/developmental- theories/jean-piaget/>.• "Vygotsky." The Vygotsky Project. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <http://webpages.charter.net/schmolze1/vygotsky/>.