Thursday, April 24, 2008

Constructivism: Introduction


Constructivism is an elusive philosophy. In many respects, like post-modernism, a definition would defy its own definition. Instead, a true constructivist would say, "You define it and see how the concepts are interconnected."

In general, constructivism is the educational philosophy (some would argue theory) that knowledge is internalized and constructed by the learner; that it must be developmentally appropriate; that it should be authentic in its task and that it should meet the needs of all learners. In addition, most constructivists believe that motivation is intrinsic, so they deny the system of rewards and punishments. Moreover, constructivists believe that students should be mentally active in the learning process rather than recieving instruction via transmission.

In many respects, constructivism can seem like an assortment of loose theories pulled into one. However, the single unifying thought is that, in constructivism, the student is the one who creates meaning and constructs conceptual knowledge.


The following paradigm shifts involve moving away from traditional pedagogy and toward constructivism:

  • From extrinsic to intrinsic motivation
  • From grading to assessing
  • From standardized assessments to authentic assessments
  • From direct instruction to inquiry and independent projects
  • From isolated skills to interconnected concepts
  • From the teachers as instructor to the teacher as facilitator
  • From passive learning to active engagement (here the issues is not "active" in a sense of having fun, but of being mentally "active" through meaningful, challenging learning)
  • From rote memorization to higher level thinking
  • From one modality to multiple intelligences
  • From one-size-fits-all to differentiated instruction
  • From transmission of knowledge to construction of knowledge
  • From individual to cooperative learning

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