Constructivism is a view of learning based on the belief that knowledge isn't a thing that can be simply given by the teacher at the front of the room to students in their desks. Rather, knowledge is constructed by learners through an active, mental process of development; learners are the builders and creators of meaning and knowledge. Constructivism draws on the develomental work of Piaget (1977) and Kelly (1991). Twomey Fosnot (1989) defines constructivism by reference to four principles: learning, in an important way, depends on what we already know; new ideas occur as we adapt and change our old ideas; learning involves inventing ideas rather than mechanically accumulating facts; meaningful learning occurs through rethinking old ideas and coming to new conclusions about new ideas which conflict with our old ideas. A productive, constructivist classroom, then, consists of learner-centered, active instruction. In such a classroom, the teacher provides students with experiences that allow them to hypothesize, predict, manipulate objects, pose questions, research, investigate, imagine, and invent. The teacher's role is to facilitate this process. Piaget (1977) asserts that learning occurs by an active construction of meaning, rather than by passive recipience. He explains that when we, as learners, encounter an experience or a situation that conflicts with our current way of thinking, a state of disequilibrium or imbalance is created. We must then alter our thinking to restore equilibrium or balance. To do this, we make sense of the new information by associating it with what we already know, that is, by attempting to assimilate it into our existing knowledge. When we are unable to do this, we accommodate the new information to our old way of thinking by restructuring our present knowledge to a higher level of thinking. We develop ways of construing or understanding the world based on our experiences. When we encounter a new experience, we...
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