Article Review: Building an Understanding of Constructivism
Constructivism is a theory; it is a supposition in which learning is observed and studied scientifically. This theory states that people make and formulate their personal perception and awareness of the world. This can be achieved through experience and the subsequent reflection on these experiences (EBC, 2004). The knowledge founded therein possibly will “not be an accurate representation of external reality” (Pearson Education, Inc., 2008). Constructivism is based on cognition, and every person has a “cognitive bias” (Shawver, n.
d.). Whenever we come to experience something new, we merge it with our current beliefs and experiences. This might lead to us changing our current beliefs, or it might make the new received information as not relevant. Whatever it may be, we are the ones that choose what to make of the details of the new information and experiences we have.
John Dewey is the proponent of the Constructivist Theory (Clark, 1999). His work is highly influenced by the approach Charles Darwin has used in studying human beings (Scheepers, 2000).
Dewey’s theory has made teaching to be beached in actual experience. In his book, he wrote, “If you have doubts about how learning happens, engage in sustained inquiry: study, ponder, consider alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence” (EBC, 2004). To be able to learn, one must be inquisitive and enthusiastic in finding new ways of learning. Another point in his theory is that learning is commenced by a “sense of disequilibrium.” Meaning, the situation per se calls for the immediate partake of knowledge that is highly accessibly with the current environment.
For example, Sabrina, a student sits in a class. Whether she listens or not to the teacher is her choice, but the effect it has to learning will be influential. The professor then calls out to her and asks her a question or two. If she listened, then it would not be hard for her to understand the question. In her mind, thoughts are racing; selection of relevant and the removal of the irrelevant information and situations are done. It then becomes a practice for her, and learning takes place. If she did not listen, however, the result will not be good. It might be observed that her answer will be sloppy and shallow, since the selection and removal of information is skipped, or trudged on less. The same thing happens when the student keeps on asking questions. The answers that the source could give her will give way to learning; she can rule out her former thoughts and convince herself that the newly-acquired information is relevant. Asking too many questions with no particular relevance to the topic being discussed is another story though. On personal experience, it might even create confusion and disparity instead of clarity and learning.
In a typical setting, the students are the one in need of learning; the professor, on the other hand is the one that guides them through this learning. The subject matters like Math and Science help the student cope up with its application in real life, and the classroom is a social hub where they interact with people of the same situation as they are.
The next proponent of the theory is Jean Piaget. The theory was influenced by Piaget’s curiosity in knowledge and how it has unfolded for children. In the theory, the learning of something is categorically based on its discovery by the person. He has imparted the Cognitive Constructivism, where he emphasizes the need for a third party intervention. The third party is what we call computers or books; objects that facilitate learning and knowledge. This is could Instructional Technology (Ginn, n.d.).
Let’s go back to our example student in Dewey’s case. Sabrina is taking a particularly challenging subject in the sciences, and is not the only one having problems. The professor realizes this through an assessment of their previous knowledge, and therefore makes plans of how to fully get the information across the students.
The professor could make use of hand-outs. The students will be able to follow the flow of the discussion and they can take the readings home for review. This is feasible especially if there is no available formal text for the students.
Another option is making a PowerPoint presentation, or any form of audio-visual presentation. The graphics, images, and colors will help attract the attention of the students; therefore, the idea is easily grasped.
There are many other things that could make students like Sabrina understand the topic by the way the information is packaged.
Lev Vygotsky is the proponent of the social constructivist theory. In his theory, the emphasis is mainly on the cultural and social contexts influenced by knowledge and teaching (Clark, 1999). It has ideas that are very much in line with Piaget’s Cognitive Constructivist Theory; although, Vygotsky’s theory is focused more not on the student but on the teacher.
Sabrina, our model student, starts to follow on with her professor with the use of the hand-outs provided by for them. She knows that reading the hand-outs alone will not be enough, as the teacher may leave out some points that will later make them pick at their brains. She listens to the professor, and notes down the ideas that are new to her, or might even be vague to her.
She might not be able to instantaneously associate what she has written to the information the teacher has prior given, but a review of what has transpired later will promote an interweaving of concepts and ideas in her mind. This will in time lead to the accomplishment of the learning process.
In the situation, Sabrina depends on her professor to supply her with enough terms she could later associate with her previous knowledge.
Clark, D. (1999). Constructivism. Online, Skagit Watershed Council. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.skagitwatershed.org/~donclark/hrd/history/constructivism.html
Educational Broadcasting Corporation (2004). Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning. “Concept to Classroom.” Online, Thirteen Ed. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html
Ginn, W.Y. (n.d.). Jean Piaget Intellectual Development. Online. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.sk.com.br/sk-piage.html
Pearson Education, Inc. (2008). Constructivism. “Glossary.” Online, Pearson Prentice Hall. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://wps.prenhall.com/chet_ormrod_edpsych_5/27/6933/1774872.cw/content/index.html
Powell, M.J. [assoc. ed.] (1995). Building An Understanding of Constructivism. “Classroom Compass.” Online, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.sedl.org/scimath/compass/v01n03/understand.html
Scheepers, D. (3 April 2000). Theorist Contributing to Constructivism. “Learning Theories: Constructivism.” Online. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://hagar.up.ac.za/catts/learner/2000/scheepers_md/projects/loo/theory/dewey.html
Shawver, L. (n.d.). Constructivism. “Provisional Definitions of Common Postmodern Terms from A to D.” Online. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://users.sfo.com/~rathbone/local2.htm
Atherton J.S. (2005). Learning and Teaching: Constructivism in Learning. Online. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/constructivism.htm
Hein, G.E. (1991). Constructivist Learning Theory. “Institute for Inquiry.” Online, Exploratorium. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/constructivistlearning.html
John Dewey: Constructivist (2005). Online. Retrieved on July 24, 2008 from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/keeneya/edtech580/john_dewey.htm
Cite this Article Review: Building an Understanding of Constructivism
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