Constructivism

Constructivism is a theory of knowledge that states through experiences humans construct meaning and knowledge. Jean Piaget is attributed to the formalization of the constructivist learning theory because he expressed the ways in which people learn. He suggests that people learn through assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is described as individuals adding new experiences to an existing belief system without changing that belief system. This occurs when the experience is aligned with a person’s belief system or when a person doesn’t change a faulty understanding. Either the individual doesn’t realize they misunderstand input, are not even aware of the input, or they believe the events to be a fluke and decide the new input is unimportant. Accommodation is experiences that contradict an individual's current belief system, forcing them to change their perceptions of the event or change their current perceptions of the world. Individuals apply accommodation to learn from failure. When people act on a belief of how the world operates and it violates their expectations, people often fail. When individuals take this event, change their current perceptions of how the world operates, people are learning from failure (Constructivism, 2009).

Roles:

Learner
- must have ownership of learning process
- each learner is unique with different needs and backgrounds
- is to develop his/her own version of the truth
- responsibility to learn is on the learner
- will search for meaning even without all of the necessary information
- doesn’t reflect information- constructs own understanding
- motivation to learn is dependent on confidence level
- active role (Constructivism, 2009)

Instructor
- are facilitators, not teachers
- guides the learner to find and construct knowledge
- emphasis is on learner, not instructor
- mostly continuous dialogue with learner vs. mostly monologue
- keep learners challenged by completing tasks slightly above their current level
- ask questions vs. give answers
- be able to adapt the learning experience quickly as needed
- provide collaborative learning experiences
- creates a subjective and objective learning environment
- creates interactive and ongoing assessments
- open and free learning environment to allow learners to discover and construct meaningful knowledge (Constructivism, 2009)

Constructivism focuses on the learner discovering and constructing their own knowledge. The instructor is there to guide the learner through the necessary experiences to learn the required objectives but not to force and construct the information for the learner. Meaningful learning occurs through learning exploration of their experiences (Constructivism, 2009).

Teaching Strategies

Any age group or subject can benefit from the constructivist learning theory. Instructors should expect to spend more time designing, guiding and assessing their students. Classrooms should be set up in a way to facilitate collaborative learning. Seating students at tables versus individual desks encourages students to work together and helps to put the emphasis on them rather than on the teacher. Group projects that utilize presentation software such as PowerPoint will help students not only learn the required material, but will also teach them valuable skills such as collaboration, creativity, time management, organization, and public speaking. With proper preparation, constructivism will come alive creating an increase in meaningful learning with your students.

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