Welcome to the final blog in our Learning Theories series.
This one focuses on Constructivism. So, what is it and why is it relevant?
Constructivism is a learning theory based on the premise that we are actively involved in the construction of knowledge in our minds. Instead of passively receiving information, we construct meaning through the interaction of experience, knowledge and new events. According to constructivism, we are the creators of our own knowledge by exploring, reflecting and assessing what we already know.
What is Constructivism?
Principles of Constructivism
- Learning is constructed: new knowledge is built on the foundation of prior knowledge and learning.
- Learning is active: knowledge is built by active engagement with the world around us and making meaningful connections between new and old knowledge.
- Knowledge is socially constructed: learning is something we do together, through the process of sharing and negotiating information.
- Knowledge is personal: learning is individual to each person; the same activity may be interpreted differently by each learner.
- Learning is in the mind: our learning involves continually trying to update and develop mental models of what we perceive in the real world.
Constructivism is ultimately a learner-centred approach. We are not empty vessels to fill with information, we are active participants in our learning and development. In contrast to traditional teaching methods, constructivists believe authority in the classroom is shared between the learner and teacher, as is knowledge and new information.
Teachers and Trainers
The teacher’s responsibility lies not in transferring information, but in scaffolding learning; the teaching is adjusted to learners’ individual needs. Knowledge is developed by the provision of building blocks for learners to interact with and process, rather than explicit, one-way instruction. Teachers and trainers facilitate learning and create opportunities for collaborative problem solving to get learners engaged.
Given the COVID situation of late, the constructivist theory of learning is, thankfully, well suited to the digital classroom. Particularly with the development of educational software and platforms which mirror how humans operate, reflecting our ability to engage, interact and learn as individuals. Examples of this can be seen in active and blended learning styles, which enable us as learners to be proactive, combining aspects of theory and practice in accordance with our preferences. Similarly, e-learning offers more opportunities to collaborate, network and engage with various media and communities to broaden our perspectives.