Constructivist Learning


Most of us teach our lessons just as planned, without adopting it to fit the needs of our students. When the inevitable confusion and inattention occurs, they tend to focus only on students who fulfil their expectations and try to ignore the students who don’t understand or are not paying attention. But now the emphasis is the learning needs of the students. With this shift in emphasis, constructivism has been buzz (common) words among teacher educators all over the world. Constructivism holds that learning process is active and interactive. Information may be imposed but understanding cannot be, for it must come from within. Constructivist learning has emerged as a prominent approach to teaching during this past decade. Constructivism represents a paradigm shift from education based on behaviourism to education based on cognitive theory. Fosnot (1996) has provided a recent summary of these theories and describes constructivist teaching practice. Behaviorist epistemology focuses on intelligence, domains of objectives, levels of knowledge, and reinforcement. Constructivist epistemology assumes that learner’s construct is their own knowledge on the basis of interaction with their environment for epistemological assumptions are at the heart of what we refer to as “constructivist learning.”

According to Pre School Teacher Training knowledge is symbolically constructed by learners who are making their own representations of action and are socially constructed by learners who convey their meaning making to others. Knowledge is theoretically constructed by learners who try to explain things they don’t completely understand. Knowledge is physically constructed by learners who are involved in active learning.

With these common assumptions, teacher planning according to the Tyler or Hunter models is no longer adequate. Research indicates that few classroom teachers plan using these models anyway (Morine-Dershimer, 1979; Zahorik, 1975) and usually because of administrative pressure if they do (McCutcheon, 1982) However, few approaches are available for working with prospective teachers or new teachers to organize for learning. Simon (1995) and Steffe & Ambrosio (1995) describe their processes of planning for constructivist learning and constructivist teaching respectively, but these methods are complex and represent the thinking of experienced teachers.

We have proposed a new approach for planning using a “Constructivist Learning Design” that honours the common assumptions of constructivism and focuses on the development of situations as a way of thinking about the constructive activities of the learner rather than the demonstrative behavior of the teacher. Most conventional teacher planning models are based on verbal explanations or visual demonstrations of a procedure or skill- by the teacher which are then combined with practice of this method or skill by the student. Much of this approach seems consistent   with the description of classroom activities reported in a major research study titled A place called school conducted ten years ago by Goodland(1984). He found that most of the time, most of the teachers talk to the kids. Students explained that Physical education, fine arts, or industrial arts were their most interesting classes because they actually got to do something. They were active participants in learning rather than passive recipients of information. According to Early Childhood Program this is the primary message of constructivism; students who are engaged in active learning are making their own meaning and constructing their own knowledge in the process.