Learner Centred Learning/Adult Learning Theories, Principles and Practices/Constructivism

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Look at the term above and break it down to the main part of the word


Constructivism is about people building “their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences” (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004).

Constructivism is informed in different ways by the 4 orientations to learning that have been previously explored in this course.

It is all about learning and developing knowledge from experience.

“People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know”

(Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004).

Constructivism Defined

“Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own "rules" and "mental models," which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.” (Funderstanding, 2001)

The importance of the background and culture of the learner

Whilst Wikipedia is not considered by some in higher academic circles as a reliable reference I think the following statement is worth considering as it is drawn from writing by James Wertsch on Vygotsky.

“Social constructivism encourages the learner to arrive at his or her own version of the truth, influenced by his or her background, culture or embedded worldview. Historical developments and symbol systems, such as language, logic, and mathematical systems, are inherited by the learner as a member of a particular culture and these are learned throughout the learner's life. This also stresses the importance of the nature of the learner's social interaction with knowledgeable members of the society. Without the social interaction with other more knowledgeable people, it is impossible to acquire social meaning of important symbol systems and learn how to utilize them. Young children develop their thinking abilities by interacting with other children, adults and the physical world. From the social constructivist viewpoint, it is thus important to take into account the background and culture of the learner throughout the learning process, as this background also helps to shape the knowledge and truth that the learner creates, discovers and attains in the learning process (Wertsch 1997).” (Wikipedia, 2008)

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How would a constructivist approach encourage and support the diversity of your learners?


Educational Broadcasting Corporation.(2004). Constructivism as a paradigm for teaching and learning. Retrieved on 12 May 2008 from http://www.13.org/edonline/concept2class/constructivism/index.html

Funderstanding. (2001). Constructivism. Retrieved on 12 May 2008 from http://www.funderstanding.com/theory/constructivism/

Wikipedia, (2008). Constructivism (learning theory) Retrieved on 12 May 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(learning_theory)