CONSTRUCTIVISM

            ImageConstructivism is a theory about how people learn. In fact, people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, by experience using things and reflect it on those experiences itself. When people find something new, we have to combine it with our earlier ideas and experience, maybe to change what people believe, or to reject the new information as irrelevant. In any case, people active to create and build their knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore it, and review what people know.

            In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning. It can point on different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means support students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge. Then, to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changed. The teacher makes sure she understands the students’ preexisting conceptions, and guides the activity to build and gain understanding. Students in the constructivist classroom become expert learners.

 

HISTORICAL

            The concept of constructivism has roots in classical antiquity, Socrates’s dialogues with his followers, in which he asked directed questions that led his students to realize for themselves the weaknesses in their thinking. He assessed their students’ learning and plan new learning experiences. In this century, Jean Piagetand John Dewey developed theories of childhood development and education, it called Progressive Education now that led to the evolution of constructivism. Piaget believed that humans learn through the construction of one logical structure after another. He also concluded that the logic of children and their modes of thinking are different from adults. The implications of this theory have shaped in the foundation for constructivist education. In another hand, Dewey called for education to be grounded in real experience. He stated that wrote if people have worried about how learning happens, so engage in continued investigation of think over about study to believe alternative possibilities and arrive at your belief grounded in evidence. Investigation is a key part of constructivist learning.

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Another philosopher, Vygotsky, he introduced the social aspect of learning into constructivism. He defined the Zone of Proximal Learning which according to solve problems beyond the students actual developmental level and they still under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. And, Bruner (1966) stated that a theory of instruction should talk to four major aspects:

Ä      predisposition towards learning

Ä      the body of knowledge can be structured and it can be most readily grasped by the learner

Ä      the most effective progression in which to present material

Ä      the nature and pacing of rewards and punishments.

                Bruner initiated curriculum change. It based on the notion that learning is an active, social process which students construct new ideas or concepts based on their current knowledge.

           

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CONSTRUCTIVIST CLASSROOM AND TRADITIONAL CLASSROOM

            Many methods deal with constructivist classroom, that the focus is attended to shift from the teacher to the students. The classroom is no longer a place where the teacher transfers knowledge into passive students, who wait like empty vessels to be filled. In the constructivist model, the students are recommended to be active in their learning process. The teacher as a facilitator, who coaches, mediates, prompts, and helps students develop and assess their understanding, and their learning too.

            And, in the constructivist classroom, both teacher and students think of knowledge not as slow memorizing, but active, ever-changing view of the world they live in and the ability to successfully explore that view.

            Here are the differences of constructivist classroom and traditional classroom:

Constructivist classroom

Traditional classroom

Big concepts of curriculum, whole and parts as the beginner

Part of the whole unit as the beginner of the curriculum

Source and manipulative material as the primary material

Textbook and workbook are the primary material

Learning based on interactive and building knowledge

Learning based on repetition

Teacher as facilitator,, interactive role

Teacher as the tutorial, directive role

Active students

Passive students

Assessment includes student works, observations, and points of view, as well as tests. Process is as important as product.

Assessment is through testing, correct answers

Knowledge is seen as dynamic, ever changing with our experiences.

Knowledge is seen as inert

Students work primarily in groups.

Students work primarily alone.

            Constructivism has been criticized on various grounds. Some of the charges that critics level against it are:

            It’s elitist. Critics say that constructivism and other “progressive” educational theories have been most successful with children from privileged backgrounds who are fortunate in having outstanding teachers, committed parents, and rich home environments. They argue that disadvantaged children, lacking such resources, benefit more from more explicit instruction.

            Social constructivism leads to “group think.” Critics say the collaborative aspects of constructivist classrooms tend to produce a “tyranny of the majority,” in which a few students’ voices or interpretations dominate the group’s conclusions, and dissenting students are forced to conform to the emerging consensus.

            There is little hard evidence that constructivist methods work. Critics say that constructivists, by rejecting evaluation through testing and other external criteria, have made themselves unaccountable for their students’ progress. Critics also say that studies of various kinds of instruction — in particular Project Follow Through 1, a long-term government initiative — have found that students in constructivist classrooms lag behind those in more traditional classrooms in basic skills.

            Constructivists counter that in studies where children were compared on higher-order thinking skills, constructivist students seemed to outperform their peers. Here the benefits of constructivism:

Ä      Children learn more, and enjoy learning more when they are actively involved, rather than passive listeners.

Ä      Education works best when it concentrates on thinking and understanding, rather than on rote memorization. Constructivism concentrates on learning how to think and understand.

Ä      Constructivist learning is transferable. In constructivist classrooms, students create organizing principles that they can take with them to other learning settings.

Ä      Constructivism gives students ownership of what they learn, since learning is based on students’ questions and explorations, and often the students have a hand in designing the assessments as well.

Ä      Constructivist assessment engages the students’ initiatives and personal investments in their journals, research reports, physical models, and artistic representations.

Ä      Engaging the creative instincts develops students’ abilities to express knowledge through a variety of ways. The students are also more likely to retain and transfer the new knowledge to real life.

Ä      By grounding learning activities in an authentic, real-world context, constructivism stimulates and engages students. Students in constructivist classrooms learn to question things and to apply their natural curiousity to the world.

Ä      Constructivism promotes social and communication skills by creating a classroom environment that emphasizes collaboration and exchange of ideas.

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Bibliography

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Ozer, O. 2004. CONSTRUCTIVISM in Piaget and Vygotsky. Available at http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/CONSTRUCTIVISM-in-Piaget-and-Vygotsky [online at 28/10/2012]

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