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Constructivism

Charl Fregona Advanced, FOLC, Learning Series

Above: John Abbott discusses the theory of constructivism in learning
Constructivism as a learning theory

Constructivism is a learning theory that involves creating meaning from experiences and from reflections on those experiences. It is based on the learner being active in constructing their own understanding, not being a passive recipient of information. Group-work and project based investigative learning can be seen as examples of a constructivist approach to education.Constructivism is a large area in learning theory so this article only provides a starting point for further research.

Theorists commonly associated with constructivism are Bruner and Dewey, as well as Piaget and Vygotsky who are considered to be the originators of cognitive-constructivism and social constructivism.  These two strands, and the differences between them,  are key to understanding a constructivist approach to teaching and learning.

Constructivism and teaching practice

The table below is from WNetEducation from their excellent workshop on understanding how contructivism relates to teaching practice:

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Constructivist teaching approaches

An interesting video from Hoston University by Susie Gronset explores constructivist teaching approaches:

Now, explore the resources below which will help you examine using constructivism in your teaching.

Martha Schwer and Jennifer Lewis define the role of cognition and learning to help you determine the most appropriate design strategies for your online learners.

This link by Alex Gonzalez explores the impact of a social networking technology, Edmodo, on social constructivist approaches to teaching.

It is important to understand and use the term ‘zone of proximal development’, or ZPD as it is known, correctly:

Taken from Smith, M.K. (2002) Jerome S. Bruner and the process of education, the encyclopedia of informal education. http://infed.org/mobi/jerome-bruner-and-the-process-of-education/ Retrieved: 05/03/2016

Click for the full article…

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This resource by Craig Rusbult is ‘a links-page that combines executive summaries of essential ideas (for busy people with lots to do and not enough time) and links to pages exploring the ideas in more depth’.
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/teach/active.htm

Sydney University have a wealth of interesting constructivist resources and links:

Constructivist theory

Berkley University provides an excellent definition of cognitive-constructivism:

Learning Theory Research: Cognitive-Constructivism

University College Dublin looks at contructivism in action, assessment and the roles of the teacher and learner:

Constructivism and Social Constructivism in the Classroom

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