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What is constructivism?

Constructivism is a philosophy of learning that "refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves---each learner individually (and socially) constructs meaning---as he or she learns (Hein, 1991, p.1). In other words, "students construct their own knowledge based on their existing schemata and beliefs"(Airasian & Walsh, 1997, p.1) Constructivists deny the existence of one "true" body of knowledge that exists independently of the learners and espouse the idea that "there is no knowledge independent of the meaning attributed to experience (constructed) by the learner, or community of learners (Hein, 1991, p.1). Knowledge is "a personal and social construction of meaning out of the bewildering array of sensations which have no order or structure besides the explanations...which we [the learners] fabricate for them (Hein, 1991, p.1). To construct a meaning to the philosophy of constructivism, the misunderstandings of constructivism, its value in the world of teaching, and its influence in instructional technology will be discussed.

Misunderstandings lead to an Understanding

Because constructivism is sometimes viewed as a new pedagogy rather than a new philosophy of learning, many incorrect assumptions are made about its implications and applications to learning and the learners. By examining some of the misunderstandings surrounding constructivism, one can gain an understanding of the nature of constructivism and how its implications can be successfully applied to teaching.

The first myth of constructivism is that "students should always be actively and reflectively constructing"(Clements, 1997, p.1). The constructivists view learning as "an active process i...

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...The fallacy of constructivism. Clio, 24(3), 4 pages. Available at: Galileo Periodical Abstracts.

Hein, George E. (1991, October). Constructivist learning theory: the museum and the needs of people. Paper presented at the CECA Conference in Jerusalem, Israel.

Kamii, Constance and Janice K. Ewing. (1996). Basic teaching on Piaget’s constructivism. Childhood Education, 72(5), 4 pages. Available at: Galileo Periodical Abstracts.

Lunenberg, Fred C. (1998, June). Constructivism and technology: instructional designs for successful education reform. Journal of Instructional Technology, 25(2), p. 75- 82.

o’Donnell, Angela M. (June, 1997). Constructivism by design and in practice: a review. Issues in Education, 3(2), p. 285-294.

Wilson, Brent G. (1997, March). Reflections on constructivism and instructional design. Instructional Development Paradigms, 18 pages.
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