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Constructivism is a type of learning in which the learner forms, or constructs, much of what he or she learns or comprehends. Constructivism as a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective.
Learning as experience, activity and dialogical process; Problem Based Learning (PBL); Anchored instruction; Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD); cognitive apprenticeship (scaffolding); inquiry and discovery learning.
If we were to pinpoint where constructivism came from, we could say that it had somehow evolved from Socratic thinking. There were four leading theorists of Constructivism: Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey.
Lived from 1896-1980. Profoundly influenced the Constructive movement. Observed children for many years. Piaget believed children learned differently from adults. Piaget believed that children were constructing new knowledge as they moved through different cognitive stages or schema, building on what they already knew. Furthermore, children interpret this knowledge differently as they progress through different stages.
Piaget’s developmental theory of learning and constructivism are based on discovery. According to his constructivist theory, in order to provide an ideal learning environment, children should be allowed to construct knowledge that is meaningful for them. The motivation for learning is the predisposition of the learner to adapt to his environment, hence to institute equilibrium between schemes and the environment. Continuous interactions among existing schemes, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibrium create new learning.
American Psychologist and educator Born 1915 Proposed that learning is an active process in which the learner constructs new ideas or concepts based on his current or past knowledge. Believes that the learner selects and transforms information, constructs hypotheses, and makes decisions, relying on a cognitive structure to do so. Cognitive structure (i.e., schema, mental models) provides meaning and organization to experiences and allows the individual to "go beyond the information given". Bruner initiated curriculum change based on the notion that learning is an
Discovery Learning is a method of inquiry-based instruction, discovery learning believes that it is best for learners to discover facts and relationships for themselves. Bruner suggested that teachers can nurture inductive thinking by encouraging students to make guesses based on incomplete evidence and then to confirm or disprove the guesses systematically. To apply Bruner’s ideas in the classroom, teachers would present both examples and non-examples of concepts, help students see connections among concepts with questions, pose questions and allow students to find an answer, and encourage students to make intuitive guesses.
Bruner states that a theory of instruction should address four major aspects: (1) predisposition towards learning, (2) the ways in which a body of knowledge can be structured so that it can be most readily grasped by the learner, (3) the most effective sequences in which to present material, and (4) the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments. Good methods for structuring knowledge should result in simplifying, generating new propositions, and increasing the manipulation of information
Lived 1896-1934 Russian educational psychologist Interested in children’s cognitive development Developed Social Cognition Believed learning was influenced by social development
Social Cognition Vygotsky introduced the social aspect of learning into constructivism. He defined the "zone of proximal learning," according to which students solve problems beyond their actual developmental level (but within their level of potential development) under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. Social Development Theory argues that social interaction precedes development; consciousness and cognition are the end product of socialization and social behavior.
Collaborative Learning: Vygotsky theorized that if a 9 year old child worked on a problem with an adult or another child who was gifted, the 9 year old would be able to learn the concept or ideas that were more complex than the 9 year old could understand on his own. ZPD: At the heart of Vygotsky’s theories is what he called the Zone of Proximal Development or ZDP. As a psychologist with a particular focus on early childhood development, Vygotsky theorized that children maximize learning when they enter this zone, which represents the gap between the tools they have on hand to solve problems independently and the potential they have to solve problems with the aid of an adult or more competent peer.
Lived 1859-1952 He was an educational psychologist, philosopher, and political activist. Believed that learning should engage and expand the experiences of the learners. Like Vygotsky, Dewey believed that education was a social process.
He believed students learn by doing and should be allowed to construct, create, and actively inquire.
In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure she understands the students preexisting conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and then build on them.
Constructivist teachers encourage students to constantly assess how the activity is helping them gain understanding. By questioning themselves and their strategies, students in the constructivist classroom ideally become "expert learners." This gives them ever-broadening tools to keep learning. With a well-planned classroom environment, the students learn HOW TO LEARN.
For example: Groups of students in a science class are discussing a problem in physics. Though the teacher knows the "answer" to the problem, she focuses on helping students restate their questions in useful ways. She prompts each student to reflect on and examine his or her current knowledge. When one of the students comes up with the relevant concept, the teacher seizes upon it, and indicates to the group that this might be a fruitful avenue for them to explore. They design and perform relevant experiments. Afterward, the students and teacher talk about what they have learned, and how their observations and experiments helped (or did not help) them to better understand the concept.
Sincerely, I believe this is a great learning theory. I have always been a big fan of learning through doing. I think that by actively engaging students, teachers are more effective when it comes to delivering new information. I personally learn this way. I have never been one to learn by just reading or listening to the teachers.
Work cited "Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning." Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. "Discovery Learning (Bruner)." Learning Theories RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. "The Fountain Magazine - Issue - CONSTRUCTIVISM in Piaget and Vygotsky." The Fountain Magazine - Issue - CONSTRUCTIVISM in Piaget and Vygotsky. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. "Jerome Bruner and Discovery Learning." Jerome Bruner and Discovery Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. "Social Development Theory (Vygotsky)." Learning Theories RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.