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Constructivism in the

Jennifer Andersen
Marc Cardinale
Natalina Marti
What is Constructivism ?
Constructivism is not a new concept, it has been around since the
turn of the century and was supported by:

• John Dewey, who was an American psychologist, philosopher,

educator, social critic and political activist.

• Jean Piaget, who based his view of psychological development

of children such that a child contructs understanding through
many channels: such as reading, listening, exploring and
experiencing his or her environment.

• Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist and philosopher and is

associated with the social constructivist theory. He believed that
the influences of cultural and social contexts played an
important part in learning and supports a discovery model of
Constructivism is:

• Constructivism is child-centered, rather than

curriculum based,
• Constructivism focuses on knowledge construction,
not knowledge reproduction,
• It is a belief that one constructs knowledge from one's
• Everyone's view of the external world differs from
others because of their unique set of experiences,
• The ideas and interests of children drive the learning
• Teachers are flexible- they are the facilitator,
Constructivism is con't:

• Students construct new understandings using what

they already know, and prior knowledge influences
what new or modified knowledge they will construct
from new learning experiences,
• Learning is active rather than passive,
• Children may need different experiences to advance to
different levels of understanding.
• "a focus on student-centered learning may well be the
most important contribution of constructivism." (1)
(1)  The Practice Implications of Constructivism by Wesley A. Hoover Published in SEDL Letter Volume IX, 
Number 3, August 1996, Constructivism 
Jean Piaget - The learner is advanced through
three mechanisms

According to Jean Piaget the three mechanisms used are:

1. Assimilation - fitting a new experience into an exisiting

mental structure(schema).

2. Accomodation - revising an exisiting schema because of

new experience.

3. Equilibrium - seeking cognitive stability through

assimilation and accomodation. (p. 95)

 Santrock, John W.; 2010; Adolescence; McGraw-Hill Company, New York
Lev Vygotsky - associated with the
social constructivist theory
1. Making meaning - the community places a central role, and 
the people around the student greatly affect the way he or she 
sees the world.
2. Tools for cognitive development - the type and quality of 
these tools (culture, language, important adults to the student) 
determine the pattern and rate of development.
3. The Zone of Proximal Development - problem solving 
skills of tasks can be placed into three categories: Those 
performed independently by the learner. Those that cannot
be performed even with help. Those that fall between the two 
extremes, the tasks that can be performed with help from 
Santrock, John W.; 2010; Adolescence; McGraw-Hill Company, New York
traditional vs constructivist classroom

Traditional Classroom Constructivist Classroom 
• Students primarily work in groups
•  Student primarily work alone • Curriculum is presented whole to part with 
• Curriculum is presented part to whole,  emphasis on the big concept
with emphasis on basic skills • Pursuit of student questions is highly 
• Strict adherence to a fixed curriculum  valued.
• Curricular activities rely heavily on  • Students are viewed as thinkers with 
textbooks of data and manipulative  emerging theories about the world
materials • Teachers generally behave as facilitators
• Students are viewed as "blank slates"  • Teachers seek the student's point of view 
• Teachers generally behave in a didactic  in order to understand student learning for 
manner,  use later on
• Teachers seek the correct answers to  • Assessment of student learning is 
validate student lessons. interwoven with teaching and occurs 
• Assessment of student learning is  through teacher observation of students at 
viewed as separate from teaching and  work and through exhibitions and 
occurs almost entirely through testing. protfolios.
Principles of Constructivism
10 basic guiding principles of constructivist thinking that educators 
must keep in mind:
– It takes time to learn
– Learning is an active process in which the student constructs 
meaning out of
– People learn to learn 
– Learning involves language
– Learning is a social activity
– Learning is contextual
– The act of constructing meaning is mental
– Every one needs knowledge to learn
– Learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge it takes work
10. Motivation is a major aspect of learning 
Constructivism and Technology

• instruction goes from whole class to groups
•  facilitating rather than lecturing
•  stronger students may work independantly while weaker 
or   struggling students get the extra help that they need
•  students are engaged more and learn to work with others
• students are more cooperative and less competative
With the every changing classroom and technology it only 
makes sense to use some of the constructivisms' ideas to help 
students learn.
Pros & Cons of Constructivism

Pros Cons
• students often like when  • belief that learning is 
they are part of the  based on the students 
decision making process ability to discover new 
•  a higher level of thinking  knowledge 
occures • teachers may not take 
• students like hands-on  responsibility for poor 
activities learning
•  students feel a sense of  • may lead students to take 
ownership when hand-on  a majority rules attitude 
learning occures rather  rather then an individual 
then just being told  approach to decision 
something making 
Constructivism Graphic Organizer
5 E Model English Lesson

• Indicator: Introduce yourself to a classmate and learn new

information about them.
• Objective: The student will write a paragraph about
themselves to share with a classmate. After the students
read their paragraphs to a partner, the student will ask their
partner questions to get to know them even better. Then
they will present their findings to the class by telling them
about their partner.
5 E Model English Lesson
•  Outcomes: The students will be able to use their new
knowledge of interviewing to share information about
themselves to a classmate and then present to the class.
They will have learned about each classmate.
• Grade: 4th
• Materials: Paper, pencils, list of questions about themselves.

• Have the students line up in order of birthdays (from
youngest to oldest). The students will pair up in two’s based
upon who they are next to.
• The students will write a paragraph about themselves, using
the list of questions as a guide to tell them what to include.
The students will write their paragraphs and then come up
with questions to ask their partner about other aspects of
their lives.

• The students will read their paragraphs to their partners and

ask questions that they would like to know.
• The students will take notes on their classmates responses

• When the students are done sharing then they will share
their findings with the class by introducing their partner to
them. They students will tell the class what they found out
about them.
• Each group will have to participate but the teacher will call
on volunteers first if any exist.

• After each group introduces each other, the class will ask
additional questions that they come up with about their

• The teacher will ask each student to say one thing that they
learned about at least one student in the class.