What Is Constructivism Essay

3216 words - 13 pages

What Is Constructivism

Watching a young child grow from infancy to toddler hood, we marvel at the amount of learning that has allowed her to understand her expanding environment. Those early years provide the basis for language, physical dexterity, social understanding, and emotional development that she will use for the rest of her life. All of this knowledge is acquired before she even sets foot in school! This child has taught herself by gathering information and experiencing the world around her. This is an example of constructivism. Constructivism emphasizes the importance of the knowledge, beliefs, and skills an individual brings to the experience of learning. It recognizes the construction of new understanding as a combination of prior learning, new information, and readiness to learn. Individuals make choices about what new ideas to accept and how to fit then into their established views of the world (Brooks & Brooks, 1995).

If you are a parent or plan to be a parent, Do you want your child to sit in a desk all day while the teacher lectures them on information that they need to know for life or would you rather have your child learn constructively? Constructivism has been labeled as the philosophy of learning that proposes learners need to build their own understanding of new ideas (Constructivism and the Five E?s,2001). Learning something new, or attempting to understand something familiar in greater depth, is not a linear process. The purpose of this research paper is to explain the theoretical foundations of the constructivist approach to teaching and learning, and to provide concrete examples to show the effectiveness of the constructivist approach with respect to student learning.

The latest catchword in educational circles is ?constructivism?. The first major contemporaries to develop a clear idea of constructivism as applied to classrooms and childhood development were John Dewey and Jean Piaget .(Brooks & Brooks, 1995). Many others worked with these ideas as well. Constructivism is a theory about knowledge and learning; it describes what ?knowing? is and how one ?comes to know? (fosnot, 1996, p.ix). ?A basic assumption is that children learn when they are in control of their learning and know that they are in control? (Green & Gredler, 2002, p7).

Principles of Learning

Constructivism is a theory about learning, not a description of teaching. Learners construct knowledge for themselves. Each learner individually constructs meaning as he or she learns. There are nine general principles of learning that are derived from constructivism. These nine principles are: (1) learning is an active process in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it, (2) people learn to learn as they learn. Learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning. (3) Physical actions and hands on experience may be necessary for learning, especially for...

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