Constructivist Learning Theory

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The very first thing one must know about the constructivist theory of learning is the premise that learners arrive at learning situations with prior knowledge and proceed to take and active part in building new knowledge upon that prior knowledge as they experience new things and reflect on those collected experiences (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2012). This theory directly contradicts the behaviorist learning theory in which learners are believed to arrive at learning situations with “clean slates” of understanding. From a behaviorist’s perspective, people learn because as they respond to negative and positive stimuli in their environment (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2012). While that may change observable behavior temporarily, it doesn’t always translate into significant and lasting changes in attitudes toward learning in general, nor produce deeper understanding of concepts and skill competency. The behaviorist teacher must constantly pull and push students toward desired behavior with rewards and punishments. Unfortunately, this puts the burden of motivation and external results far too much on educators’ shoulders. Simultaneously, it downplays a students’ capacity to organize information into meaningful systems by themselves—whether we can see external changes or not, while also ignoring the responsibility required for and credit that should be afforded to engaged, active learners who are motivated to build deep and meaningful knowledge themselves (Culatta, 2012). Constructivists believe that as we experience new things we actively construct a new, subjective, and personal understanding and knowledge of our environment (Lang & Evans, 2006, p. 220). Each person has a different interpretation of what he or sh... ... middle of paper ... Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2012). Retrieved June 3rd, 2012 from McClurg, S. (2009). Increasing middle school student achievement in reading and language arts with project-based learning methods of instruction. Walden University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Mussman, B. A. (2012). At-risk student experiences with project-based learning: A phenomenological study. Capella University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Puntambekar, S. (2012). Scaffolding. Retrieved from Smith, M. K. (2002). 'Jerome S. Bruner and the process of education', the encyclopedia of informal education
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