Thursday, April 24, 2008

Constructivism: Theorists


There are many constructivist theorists. In fact, the following theorists are often credited for developing their own educational theories (lending to the notion that constructivism is a pedagogical philosophy rather than a single, unified theory). Some would say that Socrates was the first constructivist, given his style of dialogues. Others would credit Rousseau (we can't give the French that much credit, though. It's simply un-American. It would be like claiming they made the Statue of Liberty)

Bruner - The first of the educational psychologists to suggest that learning occured in the mind rather than in external behaviors, Bruner helped pave the way for Multiple Intelligences, by suggesting that there were various modalities of learning, including his step theories of enactive representation (action-based), iconic representation (image-based) and symbolic representation (language-based). In addition, Bruner posited the nothion that there are two modes of congition: the narrative (linear, sequential) and paradigmatic (systemic, categorical).
Dewey - Although he was the founder of modern, progressive education, Dewey was a pragmatist who was less about the "ism" and more about practical reality. Dewey believed in holistic education, knowledge construction and a more human alternative to factory-style education. In addition, he believed that education was not "for the future," but valuable in the moment. He also suggested that knowledge should be experiential and multi-sensory.

Piaget - In many respects, he was the first to suggest that learners created their own concepts and that it occured through a process of maturation (in stages). Though many educators now discredit his rigid categories, his legacy is important to understanding constructivism.

Jonassen - His work helped popularize constructivism and helped guide teachers to understand how they could use technology within a constructivist framwork. Jonassen helped to add solid, empiracle research to the constructivist movement. In addition, he demonstrated that technology needed to be integrated holistically and used by the learner to construct knowledge, rather than simply using it passively to recieve knowledge.

Vygotsky - His contribution included the notion of scaffolding, the importance of groups and the notion that teachers should facilitate a learning environment rather than teach directly. Vygotsky helped pave the way for theories such as the social learning theory and cooperative learning.

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