Jerome Bruner’s Theory Of Learning And Cognitive Development

Saul Mcleod, PhD

Editor-in-Chief for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester

Saul Mcleod, PhD., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years of experience in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

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Olivia Guy-Evans, MSc

Associate Editor for Simply Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education

Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.

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Jerome Bruner believed that children construct knowledge and meaning through active experience with the world around them. He emphasized the role of culture and language in cognitive development, which occurs in a spiral fashion with children revisiting basic concepts at increasing levels of complexity and abstraction.

Bruner’s Ideas

  • Like  Ausubel (and other cognitive psychologists), Bruner sees the learner as an active agent; emphasizing the importance of existing schemata in guiding learning.
  • Bruner argues that students should discern for themselves the structure of subject content – discovering the links and relationships between different facts, concepts and theories (rather than the teacher simply telling them).
  • Bruner (1966) hypothesized that the usual course of intellectual development moves through three stages: enactive, iconic, and symbolic, in that order. However, unlike Piaget’s stages, Bruner did not contend that these stages were necessarily age-dependent, or invariant.
  • Piaget and, to an extent, Ausubel, contended that the child must be ready, or made ready, for the subject matter. But Bruner contends just the opposite. According to his theory, the fundamental principles of any subject can be taught at any age, provided the material is converted to a form (and stage) appropriate to the child.
  • The notion of a “spiral curriculum” embodies Bruner’s ideas by “spiraling” through similar topics at every age, but consistent with the child’s stage of thought.
  • His spiral curriculum revisits basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them into more complex, abstract concepts over time in a developmentally appropriate sequence.
  • The aim of education should be to create autonomous learners (i.e., learning to learn).
  • Cognitive growth involves an interaction between basic human capabilities and “culturally invented technologies that serve as amplifiers of these capabilities.”
  • These culturally invented technologies include not just obvious things such as computers and television, but also more abstract notions such as the way a culture categorizes phenomena, and language itself.
  • Bruner would likely agree with  Vygotsky  that language serves to mediate between environmental stimuli and the individual’s response.

Three Modes of Representation

Modes of representation are how information or knowledge is stored and encoded in memory.

Rather than neat age-related stages (like Piaget), the modes of representation are integrated and only loosely sequential as they “translate” into each other.

Bruner (1966) was concerned with how knowledge is represented and organized through different modes of thinking (or representation).

In his research on the cognitive development of children,  Jerome Bruner proposed three modes of representation:

  • Enactive representation (action-based)
  • Iconic representation (image-based)
  • Symbolic representation (language-based)

Bruner’s constructivist theory suggests it is effective when faced with new material to follow a progression from enactive to iconic to symbolic representation; this holds true even for adult learners.

Bruner’s work also suggests that a learner even of a very young age is capable of learning any material so long as the instruction is organized appropriately, in sharp contrast to the beliefs of Piaget and other stage theorists.

Enactive Mode (0-1 year)

In the  enactive mode , knowledge is stored primarily in the form of motor responses. This mode is used within the first year of life (corresponding with Piaget’s sensorimotor stage ).

Thinking is based entirely on physical actions , and infants learn by doing, rather than by internal representation (or thinking).

It involves encoding physical action-based information and storing it in our memory. For example, in the form of movement as muscle memory, a baby might remember the action of shaking a rattle.

And this is not just limited to children. Many adults can perform a variety of motor tasks (typing, sewing a shirt, operating a lawn mower) that they would find difficult to describe in iconic (picture) or symbolic (word) form.

This mode continues later in many physical activities, such as learning to ride a bike.

Iconic Mode (1-6 years)

Information is stored as sensory images (icons), usually visual ones, like pictures in the mind. For some, this is conscious; others say they don’t experience it.

This may explain why, when we are learning a new subject, it is often helpful to have diagrams or illustrations to accompany the verbal information.

Thinking is also based on using other mental images (icons), such as hearing, smell or touch.

Symbolic Mode (7 years onwards)

This develops last. In the  symbolic stage , knowledge is stored primarily as language, mathematical symbols, or in other symbol systems.

This mode is acquired around six to seven years old (corresponding to Piaget’s concrete operational stage ).

In the symbolic stage, knowledge is stored primarily as words, mathematical symbols, or other symbol systems, such as music.

Symbols are flexible in that they can be manipulated, ordered, classified, etc., so the user isn’t constrained by actions or images (which have a fixed relation to that which they represent).

According to Bruner’s taxonomy, these differ from icons in that symbols are “arbitrary.” For example, the word “beauty” is an arbitrary designation for the idea of beauty in that the word itself is no more inherently beautiful than any other word.

The Importance of Language

Language is important for the increased ability to deal with abstract concepts.

Bruner argues that language can code stimuli and free an individual from the constraints of dealing only with appearances, to provide a more complex yet flexible cognition.

The use of words can aid the development of the concepts they represent and can remove the constraints of the “here & now” concept.

Bruner views the infant as an intelligent & active problem solver from birth, with intellectual abilities basically similar to those of the mature adult.

Educational Implications

Education should aim to create autonomous learners (i.e., learning to learn).

For Bruner (1961), the purpose of education is not to impart knowledge, but instead to facilitate a child’s thinking and problem-solving skills which can then be transferred to a range of situations. Specifically, education should also develop symbolic thinking in children.

In 1960 Bruner’s text, The Process of Education was published. The main premise of Bruner’s text was that students are active learners who construct their own knowledge.

Bruner (1960) opposed Piaget’s notion of readiness . He argued that schools waste time trying to match the complexity of subject material to a child’s cognitive stage of development.

This means students are held back by teachers as certain topics are deemed too difficult to understand and must be taught when the teacher believes the child has reached the appropriate stage of cognitive maturity .

The Spiral Curriculum

Bruner (1960) adopts a different view and believes a child (of any age) is capable of understanding complex information:

“We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.” (p. 33)

Bruner (1960) explained how this was possible through the concept of the spiral curriculum. This involved information being structured so that complex ideas can be taught at a simplified level first, and then re-visited at more complex levels later on.

The underlying principle in this is that the student should review particular concepts at over and over again during their educative experience; each time building and their understanding and requiring more sophisticated cognitive strategies (and thus increase the sophistication of their understanding).

Therefore, subjects would be taught at levels of gradually increasing difficultly (hence the spiral analogy). Ideally, teaching his way should lead to children being able to solve problems by themselves.

Bruner argues that, as children age, they are capable of increasingly complex modes of representation (basically, ways of thinking) – and the spiral curriculum should be sensitive to this development;

  • Initially, children learn better using an  enactive  mode of representation (i.e. they learn better through “doing things” such as physical and manual tasks) – for instance, the concept of addition might be first taught by asking the child to combine piles of beads and counting the results.
  • As they grow older – and more familiar with subject content – pupils become more confident in using an  iconic  mode of representation; they are able to perform tasks by imagining concrete pictures in their heads. To continue the above example; as the child becomes more confident with addition, they should be able to imagine the beads in order to complete additions (without physically needing to manipulate the piles).
  • Finally, students become capable of more abstract,  symbolic  modes of representation; without the need for either physical manipulation or mental imagery. Consequently, at this point, the student should have little problem with completing a series of written calculations; of numbers which are higher than is possible by “imagining beads”.

Discovery Learning Theory

Bruner (1960) developed the concept of Discovery Learning – arguing that students should “not be presented with the subject matter in its final form, but rather are required to organize it themselves…[requiring them] to discover for themselves relationships that exist among items of information”.

Bruner (1961) proposes that learners construct their own knowledge and do this by organizing and categorizing information using a coding system.

Bruner believed that the most effective way to develop a coding system is to discover it rather than being told by the teacher.

The concept of discovery learning implies that students construct their own knowledge for themselves (also known as a constructivist approach ).

The result is an extremely active form of learning, in which the students are always engaged in tasks, finding patterns or solving puzzles – and in which they constantly need to exercise their existing schemata , reorganizing and amending these concepts to address the challenges of the task.

The role of the teacher should not be to teach information by rote learning, but instead to facilitate the learning process. This means that a good teacher will design lessons that help students discover the relationship between bits of information.

To do this a teacher must give students the information they need, but without organizing for them. The use of the spiral curriculum can aid the process of discovery learning .

For example, in teaching a particular concept, the teacher should present the set of instances that will best help learners develop an appropriate model of the concept. The teacher should also model the inquiry process. Bruner would likely not contend that all learning should be through discovery.

For example, it seems pointless to have children “discover” the names of the U.S. Presidents, or important dates in history.

Bruner’s theory is probably clearest when illustrated with practical examples. The instinctive response of a teacher to the task of helping a primary-school child understand the concept of odd and even numbers, for instance, would be to explain the difference to them.

However, Bruner would argue that understanding of this concept would be much more genuine if the child discovered the difference for themselves; for instance, by playing a game in which they had to share various numbers of beads fairly between themselves and their friend.

Discovery is not just an instructional technique, but an important learning outcome in itself. Schools should help learners develop their own ability to find the “recurrent regularities” in their environment.

Bruner would likely not contend that all learning should be through discovery. For example, it seems pointless to have children “discover” the names of the U.S. Presidents, or important dates in history.

Scaffolding Theory

On the surface, Bruner’s emphasis on the learner discovering subject content for themselves seemingly absolves the teacher of a great deal of work.

In practice, however, his model requires the teacher to be actively involved in lessons; providing cognitive scaffolding which will facilitate learning on the part of the student.

On the one hand, this involves the selection and design of appropriate stimulus materials and activities which the student can understand and complete – however Bruner also advocates that the teacher should circulate the classroom and work with individual students, performing six core “functions” (Wood, Bruner and Ross: 1976):

  • Recruitment : ensuring that the student is interested in the task, and understands what is required of them.
  • Reducing degrees of freedom : helping the student make sense of the material by eliminating irrelevant directions and thus reducing the “trial and error” aspect of learning.
  • Direction Maintenance : ensuring that the learner is on-task and interest is maintained – often by breaking the ultimate aim of the task into “sub-aims” which are more readily understood and achieved.
  • Marking critical features : highlighting relevant concepts or processes and pointing out errors.
  • Frustration Control : stopping students from “giving up” on the task.
  • Demonstration : providing models for imitation or possible (partial solution).

In this context, Bruner’s model might be better described as guided discovery learning; as the teacher is vital in ensuring that the acquisition of new concepts and processes is successful.

Bruner and Vygotsky

Both Bruner and Vygotsky emphasize a child’s environment, especially the social environment, more than Piaget did. Both agree that adults should play an active role in assisting the child’s learning.

Bruner, like Vygotsky, emphasized the social nature of learning, citing that other people should help a child develop skills through the process of scaffolding.

“[Scaffolding] refers to the steps taken to reduce the degrees of freedom in carrying out some task so that the child can concentrate on the difficult skill she is in the process of acquiring” (Bruner, 1978, p. 19).

He was especially interested in the characteristics of people whom he considered to have achieved their potential as individuals.

The term scaffolding first appeared in the literature when Wood, Bruner, and Ross described how tutors” interacted with a preschooler to help them solve a block reconstruction problem (Wood et al., 1976).

The concept of scaffolding is very similar to Vygotsky’s notion of the zone of proximal development , and it’s not uncommon for the terms to be used interchangeably.

Scaffolding involves helpful, structured interaction between an adult and a child with the aim of helping the child achieve a specific goal.

The purpose of the support is to allow the child to achieve higher levels of development by:

  • Simplifying the task or idea.
  • Motivating and encouraging the child.
  • Highlighting important task elements or errors.
  • Giving models that can be imitated.

Bruner and Piaget

There are similarities between Piaget and Bruner, but a significant difference is that Bruner’s modes are not related in terms of which presuppose the one that precedes it. While sometimes one mode may dominate in usage, they coexist.

Bruner states that the level of intellectual development determines the extent to which the child has been given appropriate instruction together with practice or experience.

So – the right way of presentation and explanation will enable a child to grasp a concept usually only understood by an adult. His theory stresses the role of education and the adult.

Although Bruner proposes stages of cognitive development, he doesn’t see them as representing different separate modes of thought at different points of development (like Piaget).

Instead, he sees a gradual development of cognitive skills and techniques into more integrated “adult” cognitive techniques.

Bruner views symbolic representation as crucial for cognitive development, and since language is our primary means of symbolizing the world, he attaches great importance to language in determining cognitive development.

  • Children are innately PRE-ADAPTED to learning
  • Children have a NATURAL CURIOSITY
  • Children’s COGNITIVE STRUCTURES develop over time
  • Children are ACTIVE participants in the learning process
  • Cognitive development entails the acquisition of SYMBOLS
  • Social factors, particularly language, were important for cognitive growth. These underpin the concept of ‘scaffolding’.
  • The development of LANGUAGE is a cause not a consequence of cognitive development
  • You can SPEED-UP cognitive development. You don’t have to wait for the child to be ready
  • The involvement of ADULTS and MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE PEERS makes a big difference

Bruner, J. S. (1957). Going beyond the information given. New York: Norton.

Bruner, J. S. (1960). The Process of education. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Bruner, J. S. (1961). The act of discovery. Harvard Educational Review , 31, 21-32.

Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction , Cambridge, Mass.: Belkapp Press.

Bruner, J. S. (1973). The relevance of education . New York: Norton.

Bruner, J. S. (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition. In A. Sinclair, R., J. Jarvelle, and W. J.M. Levelt (eds.) The Child’s Concept of Language. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Wood, D. J., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology , 17(2), 89-100.

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Constructivist Learning Theory: Understanding the Building Blocks of Knowledge

The Constructivist Learning Theory fosters an active learning environment, empowering students to discover answers independently.

  • By Paul Holt
  • Sep 20, 2023

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  • The Constructivist Learning Theory emphasizes that people are active participants in their own learning process.
  • According to this theory, our understanding is built on the combination of existing knowledge and new information.
  • Constructivist teaching requires teachers to acknowledge the unique capabilities, experiences, and circumstances of each student.

Most, if not all, traditional methods of teaching place the responsibility for learning solely on the shoulders of educators. Teachers first filter and organize information before disseminating it to students who are ready to passively receive it. This means that inside the classroom, lessons are structured according to a fixed curriculum and the teacher’s preferences. In simpler terms, the teacher plans the lessons. He instructs, and the students listen.

Generally, the traditional methods of teaching have been effective – older generations are a testament to this. However, a 2019 study has shown that students learn better when they’re active participants, not passive recipients. Moreover, traditional education relies on methods of instruction that do not consider the different ways people learn and their varying levels of understanding.

Applying the Constructivist Learning Theory theory in the classroom should help solve these issues. This theory states that we construct knowledge based on our experience and perception. When we are faced with new information, we view it using the lens of our current understanding, beliefs, and even cultural background – all of which influence our interpretation of new information.

In this article, we’ll be delving deep into Constructivist learning and how it differs from traditional methods. We’ll also look at its various benefits as well as discuss the different ways it can be applied in the classroom to boost learning and help students achieve their full potential.

Table of Contents

What is the constructivist learning theory.

The main idea of the Constructivist Learning Theory is that knowledge is actively constructed by the learner using his past knowledge and experience. In layman’s terms, learning is simply fitting new information into what we already know.

Here’s an example: As children, we learned about the concept of heat through touch. Later, we learned that heat is measured by temperature and that there are degrees of heat. In science class, we gained a better understanding of heat – it is a form of energy that transfers from a substance that has a higher temperature to one that has a lower temperature. We also learn that heat can move in different ways, such as conduction and radiation. As you can see, we were able to construct our knowledge of heat over time, building on the existing knowledge to help us understand the concept better.

That’s not all. According to the Constructivist Learning Theory, each of us organizes all the information we gain into our own individualized knowledge base according to our interpretation. What does this mean? Experience, past knowledge, and even cultural background can influence our interpretation of information. Since everyone’s experience and background are different, two different people absorbing the same piece of information would have their own unique interpretation of it.

For example, two students see a red object. Both would use red to describe the object. But their experience in learning about “the color red” would be different. The representations and associations they make with this color would also vary. Moreover, how they recalled the information would depend on their experience.

Moreover, our learning experiences change as we learn. That sounds confusing, right? Each learning experience makes an impact. Aside from influencing the meaning we place on the information we absorb, it can also affect how we learn in the future. This means that teachers can influence how students view learning, helping them develop a lifelong learning mindset.

There are two processes that occur during Constructivist learning:

Assimilation : During this process, the learner takes in new information and fits it into his current pre-existing knowledge (schema) or creates new ones.

Accommodation : During this process, the learner uses his newly acquired knowledge to revise and modify his existing knowledge (schema).

constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

Principles of Constructivist Learning

The guiding principles of the Constructivist approach can help teachers to implement it in the classroom.

constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

Benefits of Constructivist Learning Theory

Promotes student autonomy.

According to the Constructivist Learning Theory, students should be active participants in the learning process. Instead of having a fixed curriculum, constructivists suggest that teachers encourage students to explore the topic and ask questions. Their role is to guide the students in developing a deeper understanding of the material instead of telling them what to learn.

Increases student engagement

Since learners are active participants, teachers need to increase the student’s engagement in class. This can be done through various activities such as classroom discussions, group projects, and real-life simulations or roleplays.

Fosters deep learning

Students actively participate in problem-solving activities, which deepens their understanding of the material while helping them practice critical thinking skills.

Applying Constructivist Learning in the classroom

So, what does Constructivist Learning theory mean for teachers? Educators cannot simply transfer knowledge to students – telling them the information they need to know and then testing them on it. Students are not blank slates or empty vessels. They are not going to passively receive information given by the teacher.

Instead, students should actively participate in the experience. They should reflect on the information, see how it fits their past knowledge and experiences, and merge the new information with their current understanding. As such, teachers should create opportunities for their students to engage in learning experiences. They should also adapt their teaching techniques according to the student’s needs and level of understanding.

Below are some Constructivist teaching methods in the classroom, especially for distance learning (e-learning) programs:

  • Problem-based learning (PBL): Allows your students to work together on solving real-world problems. They will need to analyze the problem using past knowledge, determine what information they are still lacking, and evaluate possible solutions.
  • Inquiry-based learning (IBL): Allows the students to explore the topic in-depth. Encourage them to ask questions, follow their interest, and research the topic. Guide them in finding connections between what they already know and what they are learning at the moment.
  • Cooperative learning : Let your students form small groups to work on an activity or project. Each member shares their knowledge to help the group further their own understanding. Unlike group-based learning, cooperative learning is interdependent; the students work as one to complete the task instead of dividing the labor amongst themselves. Some cooperative learning activities include jigsaw puzzle activities, concept mapping, and brainstorming.

Here are some ideas on activities and digital technologies that you can use in both face-to-face and online classes:

  • Role-playing: Let your students take on the role of a historical figure, an animal, a plant, or even a body organ. For example, students can take on the role of different plants and animals in an ecosystem to thoroughly understand how each living thing can impact their environment. They can also act as different organs in the body, explaining to the rest of the class how each one of them functions inside the body.
  • Use interactive materials: Engage your students using interactive presentations made through Canva and Prezi. Get them to create connections between ideas through mind maps .
  • Apply game-based learning: Motivate your students to explore a topic using platforms like Minecraft: Education Edition .
  • Simulations: use augmented reality to provide students with immersive learning experiences that will allow them to apply their newly constructed knowledge.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Create opportunities for engagement by asking questions that spur conversations or even a debate.

The Constructivist Learning Theory is an effective tool that educators can use to enhance student learning. When applied correctly, it promotes critical thinking, autonomy, and even a love for learning. More importantly, no student gets left behind because the learning process is individualized. Everyone gets to construct knowledge based on their level of understanding and personal experience.

Paul Holt

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Constructivist Learning Theory

The constructivist theory is based around the idea that learners are active participants in their learning journey; knowledge is constructed based on experiences. As events occur, each person reflects on their experience and incorporates the new ideas with their prior knowledge. Learners develop schemas to organize acquired knowledge. This model was entrenched in learning theories by Dewey, Piaget , Vygotsky , Gagne , and Bruner.

See also: Cognitive Apprenticeship

The theory of constructivist learning is vital to understanding how students learn. The idea that students actively construct knowledge is central to constructivism. Students add (or build) their new experiences on top of their current foundation of understanding. As stated by Woolfolk (1993) “learning is active mental work, not passive reception of teaching”.

Constructivism in Education

As an educator, it is important to understand the theory of constructivist learning. Each student that enters your classroom has a unique perspective on life that has been created by their unique experiences. This will impact their learning. If the basis of the constructivist theory states that students construct new knowledge on what they have already had, the entry point of their learning journey is of utmost importance. Learning theories are as valuable as credentials to educators; it is important to understand what will affect the learning journey of your students.

The theory of constructivism has many elements. These principles outline the theory as a whole and how they affect the learning of the students. The main points are listed below:

  • Knowledge is constructed . Every student begins the learning journey with some preexisting knowledge and then continues to build their understanding on top of that. They will select which pieces of the experience to add, making everyone’s knowledge unique.
  • Learning is a social activity . Interacting with others is vital to constructing knowledge. Group work, discussions, conversations, and interactions are all important to creating understanding. When we reflect on our past experiences, we can see how our relationship with others is directly connected to the information learned.
  • Learning is an active process . Students must actively engage in discussions and activities in order to construct knowledge. It is not possible for students to take on a passive role and retain information. In order to build meaningful ideas, there must be a sensory response.
  • Learning is contextual . Isolation is not the best way to retain information. We learn by forging connections between what we believe and the information we have already. Learning also occurs in the situation within the context of our lives, or alongside the rest of our understanding. We reflect on our lives and classify the new information as it fits into our current perspective.
  • People learn to learn, as they learn . As each student moves through the learning journey, they get better at selecting and organizing information. They are able to better classify ideas and create more meaningful systems of thought. They also begin to recognize that they are learning multiple ideas simultaneously, for example, if they are writing an essay on historical events, they are also learning elements of written grammar. If they are learning about important dates, they are also learning how to chronologically organize important information.
  • Learning exists in the mind . Hands-on activities and physical experience are not enough to retain knowledge. Active engagement and reflection are critical to the learning journey. In order to develop a thorough understanding, students must experience activities mentally as well.
  • Knowledge is personal . Because every person’s perspective is unique, so will be the knowledge gained. Every individual comes into the learning activity with their own experiences and will take away different things as well. The theory of constructivist learning is based entirely around each individual’s own perspective and experiences.
  • Motivation is key to learning . Similar to active participation, motivation is key to making connections and creating understanding. Students cannot learn if they are unwilling to reflect on preexisting knowledge and activate their thought process. It is crucial that educators work to motivate their students to engage in the learning journey.

See also: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

Constructivism in Education

It is not enough to simply know the theory of constructivist learning. Educators must also know how to implement it in their classrooms. Their goal is to create a welcoming environment that promotes active engagement in learning. In the theory of constructivist learning, instructors act as facilitators. They must promote collaboration and adjust their lessons based on the prior level of understanding of the class. Once they identify students’ existing knowledge, instructors must work to grow the understanding in those areas.

There are four key areas that are crucial to the success of a constructivist classroom:

  • The instructor takes on the role of a facilitator instead of a director.
  • There are equal authority and responsibility between the students and the instructor.
  • Learning occurs in small groups.
  • Knowledge is shared between both the students and the instructor.

These four areas must be addressed in order for the constructivist classroom to be successful. As you can see, it differs greatly from the traditional classroom. Constructivist classrooms are more student-centered and the learning revolves around their interests and questions. Teachers guide learning by implementing group activities, creating collaborative dialogue, and facilitating interactive experiences. Students build on their prior knowledge and construct new understanding based on the lessons taught. Dialogue and negotiation are also key components to successful learning.

In the table below, you can see how the constructivist classroom compares to the traditional classroom. Each style has its own benefits and consequences.

Pursues student interests and questions Follows a strict curriculum
Uses manipulative and primary materials Textbooks and workbooks are primary materials
Learning is based Learning emphasizes skills and curriculum is taught in parts to achieve the whole idea
Instructor is responsible for guided and interacting with students; negotiator role Instructor is responsible for directing learning; authoritative role
Instructors assist students in creating knowledge with dialogue Instructors communicate information and students receive knowledge
Students build knowledge on prior understanding through interactions Students acquire knowledge through repetitive practice
Knowledge is continuously evolving with student understanding Knowledge is acquired, then remains stagnant
Process is important, therefore evaluations may include observation, discussion, and student work demonstrate student understanding
Learning activities occur mostly in groups Learning activities are mostly independent

When implementing the constructivist theory in the classroom, lessons must include the following components:

  • Eliciting prior knowledge . As new understanding is constructed on preexisting knowledge, the instructor must first activate prior knowledge. This can be done with collaborative activities, relaxed discussions, or pre-tests.
  • Creating cognitive dissonance . Knowledge is built when new ideas are presented and activities are just challenging enough for students. “Just right problems” force students to reevaluate the schemas in their mind and organize new solutions.
  • Applying knowledge with feedback . The instructor’s role is to encourage students and provide feedback. This may be seen in the form of quizzes, presentations, or discussions in the classroom. The goal of applying feedback should be to encourage even more growth and challenge knowledge of the new situation.
  • Reflecting on learning . Students should be offered the opportunity to reflect on their understanding and demonstrate their learning. This could be in the form of an essay, a presentation, or even the responsibility of sharing their knowledge with another student.

Examples of constructivist classroom activities

  • Reciprocal teaching/learning : a group of 2 or more students work together and teach one another.
  • Inquiry-based learning : students create their own questions and seek to solve them through research and observations. After underlining the arguments for their response, they make connections between their prior knowledge and the information discovered through their research. Students conclude by identifying possible gaps and developing further questions for the next project.
  • Problem-based learning : similar to inquiry-based learning, except focuses on problems in the real world. Students work in groups to research possible solutions and gain valuable skills by working together. Seeking evidence, making connections, and drawing conclusions as a team help students develop communication and collaborative skills while solving real-world issues.
  • Cooperative learning : small group activity with one key difference – interdependence. While most constructivist activities rely on group learning, cooperative activities are where group members are dependent on others to achieve solutions. There is no division of tasks in cooperative learning; instead, group members rely on the knowledge of others to further their own understanding.

See also: How Can We Align Learning Objectives, Instructional Strategies, and Assessments?

References:

Woolfolk, A. E. (1993). Educational psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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I am a professor of Educational Technology. I have worked at several elite universities. I hold a PhD degree from the University of Illinois and a master's degree from Purdue University.

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Constructivist Learning Theory

constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

Our understanding of how people learn is ever-growing and changing. Likewise, the way that we process what we learn is an ongoing process—a constant update to our view of the world.

Few learning theories better embody this concept than constructivism. One of the most influential learning theories today, it has been used in classrooms and other learning environments around the world for decades, and it continues to be a powerful tool for teachers and learners alike.

Constructivism in education is an approach that focuses on allowing students to construct their own understanding of a subject by actively engaging with the material presented to them.

This theory emphasizes learner-centric approaches where the student takes ownership of their knowledge and experiences as they progress through a course or program. It encourages exploration, experimentation, collaboration, critical thinking, and reflection—all essential components of effective education systems today. 

This article will leave you with a better understanding of constructivism as well as a handful of methods you can use to implement this learning theory in your learning management system.

  • What is constructivist learning theory?

The constructivist learning theory refers to the method of learning that allows learners to “construct” their knowledge and skills through meaningful interactions and empowers them through their own self-directed learning.

This educational theory leans in to the idea that each individual learner develops their own understanding through experience and reflection. Rather than memorizing facts from a teacher or external source, learners actively construct meaning for themselves.

At the core of constructivism is discovery—a crucial aspect of the learning process.

Learners take new information and internalize it, integrating it with their prior knowledge and experiences. The constructivist theory of learning emphasizes the importance of social interaction in the learning process, as learners absorb information in two ways:

Assimilation: Learners take in information from their environment and integrate it into what they already know.

Accommodation: Learners adjust their existing understanding to incorporate new knowledge or experiences. 

These two methods of learning are used either interchangeably or simultaneously by all learners to better comprehend their environment and those in it. 

  • Principles of constructivism

The principles of constructivist learning theory revolve around facilitating meaningful learning. They are:

1. Learners construct meaning. Learning is an active process where students build upon their existing knowledge to make sense of new information. Through constructivism, learners formulate and modify their opinions regularly.

2. Learning is inherently social. Social interaction plays an essential role in helping learners understand, evaluate, and internalize ideas and concepts. Learners are far more likely to encounter new information when they interact with others and their environment.

3. Knowledge is situated. Meaningful learning takes place when knowledge can be applied to real-world or relevant contexts. You don’t just learn for the sake of learning—your education is meant to assist you.

4. Reflection plays a key role. Constructivism also stresses the importance of reflecting on one’s learning process and understanding. Through reflection, learners can assess their current level of knowledge and identify areas where they need to improve or gain further insight. 

5. Mistakes are part of the process. Making mistakes is an important aspect of learning, as it allows for opportunities for growth and development. Experimentation with different strategies often leads to successful outcomes later on down the line.

These aspects make up a learning theory that leaves learners with their own evolving paradigm with which to process future information.

3 main types of constructivism

There are three main types of constructivism that have been identified, each having a significant (and slightly altered) impact on the way learners interact with their environment. 

  • 1. Social constructivism

This type of constructivism emphasizes the importance of social interaction in learning. It suggests that learners understand and internalize new concepts and ideas through collaboration, dialogue, and discourse with other people. 

  • 2. Cognitive constructivism

This type of constructivism focuses on the individual learner’s ability to form meaning from their experiences. It views learning as an active process where knowledge is constructed by each individual through reflection, exploration, experimentation, problem-solving, and critical thinking. 

Note: Constructivism vs. Cognitivism

Cognitive constructivism should not be confused with cognitivism—another important learning theory. While similar, the difference in cognitivism vs constructivism has to do with the theory’s approach.

Cognitivism explains the internal, psychological processes that occur when information is absorbed. By contrast, constructivism explores the social and collaborative aspects of learning.

  • 3. Radical constructivism

This type of constructivism stresses the idea that knowledge is subjective and personal. Knowledge cannot be shared or transferred between individuals because their unique perspective will cause them to interpret information differently.

  • Using constructivist learning theory in your employee training programs

Constructivist learning theory has been used in a variety of educational settings, such as classrooms, museums, libraries, and online environments. However, it can also be used to improve employee training programs in a number of ways. Here are some constructivism examples being used in the workplace:

1. Break down traditional learning models. Traditional learning models rely heavily on lectures and memorization. However, constructivism encourages experiential learning, which encourages learners to actively engage with the material presented to them. Provide learners with opportunities to experiment and explore the material through projects, simulations, or other activities .

2. Provide feedback. Constructivism emphasizes the importance of reflection and feedback. Make sure to create a learning environment where learners feel comfortable providing feedback on their own experiences as well as offering constructive criticism or suggestions to their peers.

3. Encourage collaboration. As mentioned earlier, constructivist learning theory emphasizes the importance of social interaction in the learning process. Encourage learners to work together and share their experiences in order to better comprehend the material.

4. Facilitate meaningful conversations. Constructivism is all about making meaningful connections between ideas. Encourage conversations between learners and instructors that go beyond memorization and focus on discussing and exploring the material.

As you create your employee training program, remember that mistakes are part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches in order to create the most effective learning environment for your employees.

Criticisms of constructivism

While constructivism has its merits, it is not without its criticisms.

  • 1. Subjective truth

One major criticism of this learning theory is that it can be difficult to assess learner comprehension since there aren’t inherently right or wrong answers in a constructivist approach. Incorporating incorrect information into your understanding of a topic is more than a puzzle missing a piece—you’re more likely to miss future pieces, too.

  • 2. Constant attention

Additionally, constructivism is often a self-directed method of learning but demands a great deal from mentors. Constructivism requires educators to remain attentive and provide learners with guidance complementary to their individual needs. However, this can be especially difficult (and time-consuming) if there are multiple learners involved.

  • 3. Culturally biased

Some have also argued that constructivism does not take into account cultural or social differences between learners, and it can often be biased towards one group or another. The theory doesn’t offer an efficient way of teaching large groups at once, which increases the likelihood of unequal outcomes.

Constructivism’s Role in Shaping Future Training

Constructivism is an essential component of modern training, providing a framework within which learners can explore new concepts in a meaningful way.

Through exploration, experimentation, problem-solving and collaboration, learners are able to construct their own understanding of a subject, and find solutions that work best for them. 

Although it has its critics, constructivism remains a powerful tool for teachers and learners alike—one that is ever-evolving as our understanding of learning grows.

By understanding how this learning theory works and how it can be applied effectively in your organization’s training program, you can create an environment that fosters growth and development among your employees.

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The Learning Process

Constructivism in the Classroom

Behaviorist models of learning may be helpful in understanding and influencing what students do, but teachers usually also want to know what students are  thinking , and how to enrich what students are thinking. For this goal of teaching, some of the best help comes from  constructivism , which is a perspective on learning focused on how students actively create (or “construct”) knowledge out of experiences. As discussed in the previous chapter, constructivist models of learning differ in how much a learner constructs knowledge independently, psychological constructivism, compared to how much he or she takes cues from people who may be more of an expert and who help the learner’s efforts, social constructivism.

For many educators, the social context of learning is critical. Ideas are tested not just on the teacher, but by fellow students, friends, and colleagues. Furthermore, knowledge is mainly acquired through social processes or institutions that are socially constructed: schools, universities, and increasingly these days, online communities. Thus what is taken to be ‘valued’ knowledge is also socially constructed.

Constructivists believe that learning is a constantly dynamic process. Understanding of concepts or principles develops and becomes deeper over time. For instance, as very young children, we understand the concept of heat through touch. As we get older we realize that it can be quantified, such as minus 20 centigrade being very cold (unless you live in Manitoba, where -20C would be considered normal). As we study science, we begin to understand heat differently, for instance, as a form of energy transfer, then as a form of energy associated with the motion of atoms or molecules. Each ‘new’ component needs to be integrated with prior understandings and also integrated with other related concepts, including other components of molecular physics and chemistry.

Thus ‘constructivist’ teachers place a strong emphasis on learners developing personal meaning through reflection, analysis, and the gradual building of layers or depths of knowledge through conscious and ongoing mental processing. Reflection, seminars, discussion forums, small group work, and projects are key methods used to support constructivist learning.

Although problem-solving can be approached in an objectivist way, by pre-determining a set of steps or processes to go through pre-determined by ‘experts’, it can also be approached in a constructivist manner. The level of teacher guidance can vary in a constructivist approach to problem-solving, from none at all, to providing some guidelines on how to solve the problem, to directing students to possible sources of information that may be relevant to solving that problem, to getting students to brainstorm particular solutions. Students will probably work in groups, help each other and compare solutions to the problem. There may not be considered one ‘correct’ solution to the problem, but the group may consider some solutions better than others, depending on the agreed criteria of success for solving the problem.

It can be seen that there can be ‘degrees’ of constructivism, since in practice the teacher may well act as first among equals, and help direct the process so that ‘suitable’ outcomes are achieved. The fundamental difference is that students have to work towards constructing their own meaning, testing it against ‘reality’, and further constructing meaning as a result.

Video 4.6.1.  Constructivist Teaching Strategies  discusses the practice of constructivism in the classroom.

Both types of constructivism focus on individuals’ thinking rather than their behavior, but they have distinctly different implications for teaching related to three ideas in particular: the relationship between learning and long-term development, the role or meaning of generalizations and abstractions during development, and the mechanism by which development occurs.

The Relationship Between Learning and Long-Term Development of the Learner

In general psychological constructivism such as Piaget emphasize the ways that long-term development determines a child’s ability to learn, rather than the other way around. The earliest stages of a child’s life are thought to be rather self-centered and to be dependent on the child’s sensory and motor interactions with the environment. When acting or reacting to his or her surroundings, the child has relatively few language skills initially. This circumstance limits the child’s ability to learn in the usual, school-like sense of the term. As development proceeds, of course, language skills improve, and hence the child becomes progressively more “teachable” and in this sense more able to learn. But whatever the child’s age, the ability to learn waits or depends upon the child’s stage of development. From this point of view, therefore, a primary responsibility of teachers is to provide a very rich classroom environment, so that children can interact with it independently and gradually make themselves ready for verbal learning that is increasingly sophisticated.

Social constructivists such as Vygotsky, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of social interaction in stimulating the development of the child. Language and dialogue, therefore, are primary, and development is seen as happening as a result—the converse of the sequence pictured by Piaget. Obviously, a child does not begin life with a lot of initial language skills, but this fact is why interactions need to be scaffolded with more experienced experts— people capable of creating a zone of proximal development in their conversations and other interactions. In the preschool years, the experts are usually parents; after the school years begin, the experts broaden to include teachers. A teacher’s primary responsibility is therefore to provide very rich opportunities for dialogue, both among children and between individual children and the teacher.

The Role of Generalizations and Abstractions During Development

Consistent with the ideas above, psychological constructivism tends to see a relatively limited role for abstract or hypothetical reasoning in the life of children—and even in the reasoning of youth and many adults. Such reasoning is regarded as an outgrowth of years of interacting with the environment very concretely. As explained more fully in the next chapter (“Student development”), elementary-age students can reason, but they are thought to reason only about immediate, concrete objects and events. Even older youth are thought to reason in this way much, or even all of the time. From this perspective, a teacher should limit the amount of thinking about abstract ideas that she expects from students. The idea of “democracy,” for example, may be experienced simply as an empty concept. At most it might be misconstrued as an oversimplified, overly concrete idea—as “just” about taking votes in class, for instance. Abstract thinking  is  possible, according to psychological constructivism, but it emerges relatively slowly and relatively late in development after a person accumulates considerable concrete experience.

Social constructivism sees abstract thinking emerging from a dialogue between a relative novice (a child or youth) and a more experienced expert (a parent or teacher). From this point of view, the more such dialogue occurs, then the more the child can acquire facility with it. The dialogue must, of course, honor a child’s need for intellectual scaffolding or a zone of proximal development. A teacher’s responsibility can, therefore, include engaging the child in dialogue that uses potentially abstract reasoning but without expecting the child to understand the abstractions fully at first. Young children, for example, can not only engage in science experiments like creating a “volcano” out of baking soda and water but also discuss and speculate about their observations of the experiment. They may not understand the experiment as an adult would, but the discussion can begin moving them toward adult-like understandings.

How Development Occurs

In psychological constructivism, as explained earlier, development is thought to happen because of the interplay between  assimilation  and  accommodation —between when a child or youth can already understand or conceive of, and the change required of that understanding by new experiences. Acting together, assimilation and accommodation continually create new states of cognitive  equilibrium . A teacher can, therefore, stimulate development by provoking cognitive dissonance deliberately: by confronting a student with sights, actions, or ideas that do not fit with the student’s existing experiences and ideas. In practice, the dissonance is often communicated verbally, by posing questions or ideas that are new or that students may have misunderstood in the past. But it can also be provoked through pictures or activities that are unfamiliar to students—by engaging students in a community service project, for example, that brings them in contact with people who they had previously considered “strange” or different from themselves.

In social constructivism, as also explained earlier, development is thought to happen largely because of scaffolded dialogue in a zone of proximal development. Such dialogue is by implication less like “disturbing” students’ thinking than “stretching” it beyond its former limits. The image of the teacher, therefore, is more one of collaborating with students’ ideas rather than challenging their ideas or experiences. In practice, however, the actual behavior of teachers and students may be quite similar in both forms of constructivism. Any significant new learning requires setting aside, giving up, or revising former learning, and this step inevitably, therefore “disturbs” thinking, if only in the short term and only in a relatively minor way.

Implications of Constructivism for Teaching

Whether you think of yourself as a psychological constructivist or a social constructivist, there are strategies for helping students help in develop their thinking—in fact, the strategies constitute a major portion of this book, and are a major theme throughout the entire preservice teacher education programs. For now, look briefly at just two. One strategy that teachers often find helpful is to organize the content to be learned as systematically as possible because doing this allows the teacher to select and devise learning activities that are better tailored to students’ cognitive abilities, that promote better dialogue, or both. The second strategy is self-assessment and self-direction of learning.

Bloom’s Taxonomy

One of the most widely used frameworks for organizing content is a classification scheme proposed by the educator Benjamin Bloom, published under the somewhat imposing title of Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook #1: Cognitive Domain  (Bloom, et al., 1956; Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).  Bloom’s taxonomy , as it is usually called, describes six kinds of learning goals that teachers can in principle expect from students, ranging from simple recall of knowledge to complex evaluation of knowledge. (The levels are defined briefly in Error: Reference source not found with examples from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.)

Bloom’s taxonomy makes useful distinctions among possible kinds of knowledge needed by students, and therefore potentially helps in selecting activities that truly target students’  zones of proximal development  in the sense meant by Vygotsky. A student who knows few terms for the species studied in a biology unit (a problem at Bloom’s  knowledge  and  comprehension levels), for example, may initially need support in remembering and defining the terms before he or she can make useful comparisons among species (Bloom’s  analysis  level). Pinpointing the most appropriate learning activities to accomplish this objective remains the job of the teacher-expert (that’s you), but the learning itself has to be accomplished by the student. Put in more social constructivist terms, the teacher arranges a zone of proximal development that allows the student to compare species successfully, but the student still has to construct or appropriate the comparisons for him or herself.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
Category or type of thinking Definition Example
Knowledge Remembering or recalling facts, information, or procedures List three things Goldilocks did in the three bears’ house.
Comprehension Understanding facts, interpreting information Explain why Goldilocks liked the little bear’s chair the best.
Application Using concepts in new situations, solving particular problems Predict some of the things that Goldilocks might have used if she had entered your house.
Analysis Distinguish parts of information, a concept, or a procedure Select the part of the story where Goldilocks seemed most comfortable.
Synthesis Combining elements or parts into a new object, idea, or procedure Tell how the story would have been different if it had been about three fishes.
Evaluation Assessing and judging the value or ideas, objects, or materials in a particular situation Decide whether Goldilocks was a bad girl, and justify your position.

Video 4.6.2. Bloom’s Taxonomy: Structuring the Learning Journey explains the various levels and applications of this model.

Metacognition

A second strategy may be coupled with the first. As students gain experience as students, they become able to think about how they  themselves  learn best, and you (as the teacher) can encourage such self-reflection as one of your goals for their learning. These changes allow you to transfer some of your responsibilities for  arranging  learning to the students themselves. For the biology student mentioned above, for example, you may be able not only to plan activities that support comparing species but also to devise ways for the student to think about how he or she might learn the same information independently. The resulting self-assessment and self-direction of learning often go by the name of  metacognition —an ability to think about and regulate one’s own thinking (Israel, 2005). Metacognition can sometimes be difficult for students to achieve, but it is an important goal for social constructivist learning because it gradually frees learners from dependence on expert teachers to guide their learning. Reflective learners, you might say, become their own expert guides. Like with using Bloom’s taxonomy, though, promoting metacognition and self-directed learning is important enough that I will come back to it later in more detail (in the chapter on “Facilitating complex thinking”).

Video 4.6.3. What is Metacognition? explains the process of metacognition.

By assigning a more active role to expert helpers—which by implication includes teachers—than does the psychological constructivism, social constructivism may be more complete as a description of what teachers usually do when actually busy in classrooms, and of what they usually hope students will experience there. As we will see in the next chapter, however, there are more uses for a theory than its description of moment-to-moment interactions between teachers and students. As explained there, some theories can be helpful for planning instruction rather than for doing it. It turns out that this is the case for psychological constructivism, which offers important ideas about the appropriate sequencing of learning and development. This fact makes psychological constructivism valuable in its own way, even though it (and a few other learning theories as well) may seem to omit to mention teachers, parents, or experts in detail. So do not make up your mind about the relative merits of different learning theories yet!

Five “E” Model

A popular model for implementing constructivism in the classroom has been defined by the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS). This model suggests that constructivist lessons should engage students, allow them to explore, aid them in explaining their experience, learning is elaborated, and the lesson includes evaluation.

In the Engage stage, students have their first encounter with the lesson topic. Through questions, thinking, and discussion, students begin to make connections between previous knowledge and the present learning experiences. This process of engagement helps assess current understanding, establishes the organizational groundwork for the lesson ahead, and stimulates student involvement in the anticipation of learning. This is the opportunity to grab the students’ attention and get them excited about what they will be learning. Teachers might ask questions, present a problem, or facilitate some discussion to engage and motivate students.

In the Exploration stage, the students directly explore the topic of the lesson and related materials. These activities are experiences that ground students in the lesson. Students can work independently, but working in groups allows students to learn from others and build a common understanding of the topic of the lesson. Group work also encourages communication about the topic, which may assist them with sharing what they are learning in subsequent stages. During this stage, the teacher is a facilitator. They provide materials and guidance but allow the students to guide their inquiry. The teacher may ask questions to stimulate students’ thinking or give support, but exploration is about students’ discovery. Direct instruction should be minimal, if at all.

The third stage, Explain, is the point at which the learner begins to put the experience of the activity into a communicable form. Students may need to articulate the process they used, the sequence of events, their thought processes, and results. Communication may occur within the learner, with peers, or with the teacher. Sometimes even all three. Again, working in groups, learners support each other’s understanding as they articulate their observations, ideas, questions, and hypotheses. Explanations from the teacher, an expert, can aid novices with acquiring and using language to articulate their learning. For example, a student, through exploration, may report that magnets “stick” to metallic objects. The teacher, in their discussion with the student, can introduce terminology to replace the novice term “stick” by referring to “an attracting force”. Introducing terminology after the student has had the experience is more meaningful because the learner now has context to which to attach that term. Establishing a common language for concepts enhances the communication between teachers and students and aids the teacher in determining the students’ understanding and possible misconceptions.

In the fourth stage, Elaborate, students expand on the concepts learned, make connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to their world. For example, while exploring light phenomena, a learner constructs an understanding of the path light travels through space. Examining a lamppost, she may notice that the shadow of the post changes its location as the day grows later. This observation can lead to further inquiry as to possible connections between the shadow’s changing location and the changes in direction of the light source, the Sun. Applications to real-world events, such as where to plant flowers so that they receive sunlight most of the day, or how to prop up a beach umbrella for shade from the Sun, are both extensions and applications of the concept that light travels in a straight path. These connections often lead to further inquiry and new understandings.

Evaluate, the final stage, is actually an ongoing process of assessing students’ understanding and knowledge of concepts. Assessment can occur at all stages instructional process, but a more formal assessment is typically done to determine whether learning objectives have been met. Evaluation and assessment might be informal, like posing questions for students to answer in class or listening in on conversations that groups are having during the activity. Evaluation can also be formal, such as a test, report, or prepared presentation. Tools such as rubrics and checklists can be helpful in evaluating outcomes. Concrete evidence of the learning process is most valuable in communications between students, teachers, parents, and administrators.

Evaluation does not need to be the end. The results of the evaluation might guide the development of future lessons and activities. The evaluation might reveal gaps in learning that need further enrichment. They also provide useful feedback so the teacher can make modifications and improvements to the lesson for next time. The evaluation process is a continuous one that gives the constructivist philosophy a cyclical structure where questions lead to answers that lead to more questions and instruction is driven by both the planned lesson and the inquiry process.

The Five “E” Model Demonstrated

Video 4.6.4.  Constructivism  demonstrates the Five “E” model.

Candela Citations

  • Constructivism in the Classroom. Authored by : Nicole Arduini-Van Hoose. Provided by : Hudson Valley Community College. Retrieved from : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/edpsy/chapter/constructivism-in-the-clasroom/. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Teaching in a Digital Age. Authored by : A.W. Bates. Provided by : BC Campus. Retrieved from : https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/section-3-4-constructivism/. License : CC BY-NC: Attribution-NonCommercial
  • Bloom's Taxonomy: Structuring The Learning Journey. Provided by : Sprout. Retrieved from : https://youtu.be/ayefSTAnCR8. License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright
  • Constructivist Teaching Strategies. Provided by : Education Global Action Program. Retrieved from : https://youtu.be/7Zhv9ELy3hU. License : All Rights Reserved
  • Constructivism. Authored by : John Wilkinson. Retrieved from : https://youtu.be/yoTdojKImb4. License : All Rights Reserved
  • What is Metacognition?. Authored by : John Spencer. Retrieved from : https://youtu.be/HZrUWvfU6VU. License : All Rights Reserved

Educational Psychology Copyright © 2020 by Nicole Arduini-Van Hoose is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Theoretical and Designing Framework of Constructivist Learning Environment Model that Promotes Ill-Structured Problem Solving and Competence in Psychomotor Skills for Industry Students

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constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

  • Onnapang Savaengkan 11 &
  • Sumalee Chaijaroen 11  

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science ((LNCS,volume 13449))

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Workers graduating from vocational institutions are of great importance for the development of the domestic industry and to promote the domestic industry to drive efficiently. Vocational institutions must produce knowledgeable workers. Analytical ability and able to solve problems with complex structures and competence in practical skills. Therefore, this research aims to synthesize the theoretical framework and design of a constructivist theory-based learning environment to promote poorly structured problem solving and cognitive skills. This research is used model research (Richey and Klein 2007 ) that focuses on the design processes and the development of learning models consisting of 3 steps. The steps include 1) Document analysis and learning context 2) Analysis of principles of learning theory and learning design theory 3) Synthesis and creation of theoretical framework and design framework. The research results showed that There are five elements of theory that support research to achieve its objectives: (1) learning theory (2) teaching style (3) contextual basis (4) poorly structured problem solving and skill proficiency. (5) Media Theory The design framework has five main goals: (1) stimulating cognitive structuring (2) promoting cognitive balance (3) promoting problem solving with poor structure (4) to promote the ability of mental skills; (5) the promotion and helps to create intellectual balance The framework design consisted of seven elements: (1) Problem situation, (2) Learning Resources, (3) Promoting ill-structured problem solving Center, (4) Promoting competence in psychomotor skills Center, (5) Collaboration Center, (6) Scaffolding Center, (7) Development center learning.

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This research was supported by Ph.D. Program in Educational Technology, Faculty of Education, Research Group for Innovation and Cognitive Technology, Khon Kaen, University, and Research and Technology Transfer Affairs Division, Khon Kaen University which hereby giving the thankfulness all through this.

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Savaengkan, O., Chaijaroen, S. (2022). Theoretical and Designing Framework of Constructivist Learning Environment Model that Promotes Ill-Structured Problem Solving and Competence in Psychomotor Skills for Industry Students. In: Huang, YM., Cheng, SC., Barroso, J., Sandnes, F.E. (eds) Innovative Technologies and Learning. ICITL 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13449. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-15273-3_21

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IMAGES

  1. Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer

    constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

  2. 4 Stages Of The Constructivist Learning Model

    constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

  3. Chapter 9 Constructivist Learning Theory Problem Solving and

    constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

  4. Ch. 10, Constructivist Theories, Problem Solving, Teaching For Transfer

    constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

  5. Chapter 9 Constructivist Learning Theory Problem Solving and

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  6. Chapter Ten Constructivist Learning Theory Problem Solving and

    constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

VIDEO

  1. Constructivist the constructivist theory

  2. Constructivist Learning Theory

  3. CONSTRUCTIVIST LEARNING THEORY

  4. Constructivist Learning Theory

  5. CONSTRUCTIVIST LEARNING THEORY VIDEO

  6. What is Constructivism?

COMMENTS

  1. Constructivism Learning Theory & Philosophy of Education

    Constructivism is a learning theory that emphasizes the active role of learners in building their own understanding. Rather than passively receiving information, learners reflect on their experiences, create mental representations, and incorporate new knowledge into their schemas. This promotes deeper learning and understanding.

  2. Constructivist Learning Theory and Creating Effective Learning

    This chapter analyses constructivism and the use of constructivist learning theory in schools, in order to create effective learning environments for all students. It discusses various conceptual approaches to constructivist pedagogy. The key idea of constructivism...

  3. PDF Transfer of Learning and Teaching: A Review of Transfer Theories and

    Theory of Identical Elements Learning transfer has become a significant research topic in educational psychology since Thorndike and Woodworth developed the theory of identical elements in 1901 (Schunk, 2004; Singley & Anderson, 1989). According to this theory, learning can be transferred from one activity to another (e.g., training to performance) if the two activities are highly similar and ...

  4. Jerome Bruner Theory of Cognitive Development & Constructivism

    Jerome Bruner proposed that learning is an active process where learners construct new ideas based on current and past knowledge assisted by instructional scaffolds.

  5. Constructivist Learning Theory: Understanding the Building Blocks of

    The Constructivist Learning Theory emphasizes that people are active participants in their own learning process. According to this theory, our understanding is built on the combination of existing knowledge and new information. Constructivist teaching requires teachers to acknowledge the unique capabilities, experiences, and circumstances of ...

  6. Constructivist Learning Theory

    The constructivist theory is based around the idea that learners are active participants in their learning journey; knowledge is constructed based on experiences. As events occur, each person reflects on their experience and incorporates the new ideas with their prior knowledge. Learners develop schemas to organize acquired knowledge.

  7. Chapter 3 Constructivist Learning Theory and Creating Effective

    Chapter 3 Constructivist Learning Theory and Creating Effective Learning Environments. Chapter 3. ning Theory and Creating Effective Learning EnvironmentsConstructivism in LearningCompared with traditional methods of teaching, constructivist pedagogy, due to its significant role in creating effective and engaging learn.

  8. Transfer of Learning from a Constructivist Perspective

    Abstract. According to Resnick (1989, p. 8) transfer of learning is the holy grail of educators — everyone is in search of it, but researchers hoping to find it have been dissappointed after every new experiment or reform program to date. In her research survey, Resnick (Resnick, 1991) is obviously sceptical of the idea that traditional ...

  9. Constructivism—Constructivist learning theory.

    Constructivism is a learning theory that posits that learners actively construct knowledge and make meaning, based on their experiences, individually or socially. Confrey describes constructivism as a belief that all knowledge is necessarily a product of our own cognitive acts.

  10. Constructivist Learning Theory

    The constructivist learning theory refers to the method of learning that allows learners to "construct" their knowledge and skills through meaningful interactions and empowers them through their own self-directed learning.

  11. Constructivism in the Classroom

    Constructivism in the Classroom. Behaviorist models of learning may be helpful in understanding and influencing what students do, but teachers usually also want to know what students are thinking, and how to enrich what students are thinking. For this goal of teaching, some of the best help comes from constructivism, which is a perspective on ...

  12. Constructivism learning theory: A paradigm for students' critical

    Critical thinking, problem-solving, and academic success all been crucial to humanity's existence from the beginning of time to the present. Interpersonal, learning motivation and engagement skills, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving talents, always been prized by humans.

  13. PDF Constructivism Learning Theory: A Paradigm for Teaching and Learning

    To date, a focus on student-centered learning may well be the most important contribution of constructivism. This article, therefore, discusses constructivism learning theory as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Constructivism is a learning theory found in psychology which explains how people might acquire knowledge and learn.

  14. PDF The Role of the Constructivist Learning Theory and Collaborative

    Introduction There are many psychologists such as Vygotsky, Piaget and John Dewey who have worked to develop Social Constructivist Learning Theory (CLT). This theory seeks to answer the question how people know what they know? (Gordon, Habley, and Grites, 2008). This theory focuses on the belief that solving problems helps individuals in thinking, learning, and development. Problem solving ...

  15. Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer

    Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer advertisement Chapter 9 Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer Viewing recommendations for Windows: Use the Arial TrueType font and set your screen area to at least 800 by 600 pixels with Colors

  16. Learning Theories and Problem-Based Learning

    Abstract In this chapter, we describe different theoretical perspectives - information processing, social constructivism, and sociocultural perspectives - that underlie and provide a useful lens for exploring learning in problem-based contexts. First, an examination of information processing focuses on the role and structure of prior knowledge, with a special emphasis on how expert ...

  17. C913 Chapter 10 Notes

    Lecture notes for chapter 10. chapter ten: constructivist learning theory, problem solving, and transfer read section (pages focusing on discovery learning

  18. 6 Principles of Constructivist Learning

    In the Walden University course Designing Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, MS in Education candidates study constructivist learning theory, a student-centered learning approach. In constructivist learning, P-12 teachers coach and guide students who gain knowledge using experiences, resources, and learning tools.

  19. Ch. 10, Constructivist Theories, Problem Solving, Teaching For Transfer

    It emphasizes that meaningful learning occurs when students actively construct knowledge through discovery and interactions with others who provide different perspectives. Constructivist teaching focuses on guiding students rather than telling them, and encouraging discussion and problem solving using multiple perspectives.

  20. Ch. 10, Constructivist Theories, Problem Solving, Teaching For Transfer

    Ch. 10, Constructivist Theories, Problem Solving, Teaching for Transfer.ppt - Free download as Powerpoint Presentation (.ppt), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or view presentation slides online. Constructivism is a cognitive learning theory where students create personal interpretations of ideas and experiences based on what they already know. It emphasizes that meaningful learning occurs ...

  21. Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer

    Constructivist Learning Theory, Problem Solving, and Transfer The view that meaningful learning is the active creation of knowledge rather than the mere transfer of objective knowledge from one person to another. The active creation of knowledge structures from personal

  22. Constructivist learning theory problem solving and transfer

    Specific approaches to learning that are based on constructivism include: Promoters of the use of computers in education see an increasing theory for students to develop skills solving Multimedia literacy in order to use these tools in constructivist learning. Cognitive Flexibility Sprio et al.

  23. Theoretical and Designing Framework of Constructivist Learning

    The research results showed that There are five elements of theory that support research to achieve its objectives: (1) learning theory (2) teaching style (3) contextual basis (4) poorly structured problem solving and skill proficiency.