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Social Constructivism Theory

Social Constructivism Theory is an educational theory that combines elements of


cognitive constructivism and socio-cultural theory; and has links to social
constructionism. The foundation for Social Constructivism is the concept that
people do not absorb information from their environment. All knowledge and
reality are situated in social context. Knowledge is built upon by the individual to
construct personal understanding, however the process of gaining knowledge
and understandings is a group activity that occurs as people engage with one
another (Madrid & Kantor, 2007).
Our project is underpinned by Social Constructivism as the lessons have been
designed to build upon students prior knowledge and increase this knowledge
incrementally. We aim to have effective methods in place for assessing students
grasp of the material before moving to the next step to ensure that the
foundations upon which their knowledge is built are solid.
There are five elements to Social Constructivism Theory which are that learning
should be Active, Constructive, Authentic, Cooperative and Intentional.
In all of our lessons students have the opportunity to work actively with the
information. They can manipulate the information by actively engaging in the
many ICT activities created. Further, by conducting an experiment students are
able to observe the results of the test, and the physical interaction allows the
students to have a greater understanding of the topic.
In constructive learning students take their knowledge and build upon it, to
address this our first activity is to use a diagnostic tool (in the Mind Mapping
activity) to determine our students prior knowledge. From this we have
developed our lesson plans to continuously build on the students understanding
of the topic. Students are given the opportunity to reflect upon their knowledge
to enable them to build new mental models and develop their own
understanding (Watson, 2001)
Authentic learning experiences that are based in the real world will be more
meaningful to students and can be better applied by students to other areas.
Physical science is a learning area that is part of everyday life, our lessons give
deeper meaning and understanding to the forces that students are affected by
every day. By conducting the experiment students are able to see for themselves
the effect that gravity has on the objects (Shapiro, 2006).
Students work cooperatively with their peers to meet their learning outcomes.
Through interaction with others, knowledge is given greater meaning and depth.
Our activities are designed with the use of group work so that students need to
work collaboratively to complete the experiment. Students also share results and
contribute as a group to activities such as Mind Mapping and the Word Cloud.

All of our lessons are designed with a concrete learning outcome in mind. We are
constantly assessing the students knowledge of the subject and filling in any
gaps in understanding as we go to ensure that they are achieving their learning
outcomes. This also allows us as teachers to assess how effective the methods
we have chosen in our lesson plan are in developing the students understanding
of the information. In continually assessing the students in open ways (such as
Mind Map and Word Cloud) we are allowing the students to tell us where they are
having difficulty to give them more control over their learning.

By following the principles of Social Constructivism Theory we aim to create


lessons that are engaging and create opportunities for students to build on their
knowledge and engage with other students to deepen their understanding. Our
lessons aim to be student focussed allowing students more control over their
learning.

References
Madrid, S. and Kantor, R. (2007). Social constructivism. In Early childhood
education: An international encyclopedia. Retrieved from
http://ipacez.nd.edu.au/login?
url=http://search.credoreference.com.ipacez.nd.edu.au/content/entry/abceceduc/
social_constructivism/0
Shapiro, A. (2006). Constructivism, social. In Encyclopedia of educational
leadership and administration. Retrieved from http://ipacez.nd.edu.au/login?
url=http://search.credoreference.com.ipacez.nd.edu.au/content/entry/sageela/co
nstructivism_social/0
Watson, J. (2001), Social constructivism in the classroom. Support for Learning,
16: 140147. doi: 10.1111/1467-9604.00206