Constructivism: Building Knowledge Through Experience Tarali Spong

Building Knowledge
Through Experience
Tarali Spong
Michelle Penrod
Nicole Sirbu
Summary of the Theory
• Learning is a search for meaning
• Meaning requires understanding
wholes as well as parts
• The purpose of learning is for an
individual to construct his or her own
meaning, not just memorize the "right"
answers and regurgitate someone else's
Summary of the Theory
• Learners construct their own understanding and
knowledge of the world, through experiencing
things and reflecting on those experiences
• Active creators of our own knowledge (adding
to or modifying existing schema)
• Constructivist Buzzwords:
– cooperative learning settings
– student-centered classrooms
– problem solving
– inquiry-based
Reflecting on our experiences,
we construct our own
understanding of the world we
live in.
The History of
The Main Men
• Socrates 469-399 BC: asked directed
questions that led students to realize for
themselves the weaknesses in their thinking,
encouraged dialogue
• Jean Piaget 1896-1980: knowledge is build on
experiences that creates schemas, ages and
stages of development (Cognitive
• Lev Vygotsky 1896-1934: knowledge comes
from cultural and social influences and
experiences with peers, teachers, parents,
etc. (Social Constructivism)
• Jerome Bruner 1915-present: learning is an
active process, new ideas based on current
or previous knowledge
Other Noteworthy Theorists
David Ausubel
Seymour Papert
John D. Bransford
Ernst von Glasersfeld
Eleanor Duckworth
George Forman
Roger Schank
Jacqueline Grennon Brooks
Martin G. Brooks
How Constructivism
Impacts Learning
• Curriculum—
– calls for the elimination of a standardized
– promotes using curricula customized to
the students' prior knowledge
– emphasizes hands-on problem solving
How Constructivism
Impacts Learning cont.
• Instruction—
– focus on making connections between
facts and fostering new understanding
in students
– tailor teaching strategies to student
responses and encourage students to
analyze, interpret, and predict
– rely heavily on open-ended questions
and promote extensive dialogue among
How Constructivism
Impacts Learning cont.
• Assessment—
– calls for the elimination of grades and
standardized testing
– becomes part of the learning process
so that students play a larger role in
judging their own progress (selfassessment)
Comparison to Traditional
Classroom Learning
There are significant differences in
basic assumptions about knowledge,
students, and learning that exist
between traditional and
constructivist-based classrooms.
A Classroom Comparison
Basic skills
Big concepts
Fixed curriculum
Student driven curriculum
Textbooks, workbooks
Manipulatives, etc.
Interactive, build on schema
Teacher directed
Student directed
Knowledge is inert
Knowledge is dynamic
Individual work
Cooperative learning
Traditional testing
Authentic, ongoing
The Downfalls of
• Time Consuming for teacher and learner
• Higher demands on learners
• Difficult to create detailed lesson plan
because so much variation is possible
• Not the only orientation to learning you
will ever need
Investigations Math
The goal of the Investigations
program is to have children
thrive in their exploration of
math and enjoy mathematics in
the process.
Montessori Schools
It is necessary for the teacher to guide the
child without letting him feel her presence
too much, so that she may always be
ready to supply the desired help, but may
never be the obstacle between the child
and his experience.