What is Constructivism?
Constructivism is a theory that states that people construct their own understanding of the world through experiences and reflection. When you encounter a new experience, you must reconcile that experience with your past experiences. Sometimes, this will lead to a reconstruction of what you previously believed! All in all, we are active agents in our own learning.
Constructing in the Classroom
A constructivist’s classroom would look incredibly dissimilar to the ones that most people are familiar with. Most of you are probably used to the traditional classroom, where the teacher lectures and the students barely pay attention out of boredom. Not anymore! In a constructivist’s classroom, the students are engaged and active in their learning. The lessons are student-centered and often student-lead, making the lessons all the more attention-grabbing for the students. As the students actively learn, they build upon their prior knowledge and learn for depth, rather then for breadth.
Here is a video that goes more in-depth about what to expect out of Constructivism
Science Education as a Field of Scholarship: A Review
There is this excellent journal that is called Science Education as a Field of Scholarship. This journal is a science education journal that goes into great detail about different ways to teach your students, and one of the theories that it covers is the Constructivism theory.
- Learning is an ACTIVE process
- Learners come to the classroom with pre-existing ideas about many natural phenomena
- These have an affect on a student’s subsequent learning
- It is possible to meaningfully model students’ knowledge as conceptual structures
The journal goes into the history of the constructivist movement, citing Piaget as the founder of the concept. As Piaget built his theories on assimilation and accommodation, Vygotsky was building his theories on zones of proximal development. These two major components come together to make the constructivist theory as we know it today, centered on students and how they learn.
A Constructivist Lesson
Lessons under the constructivism umbrella are closely aligned with the 5 E’s of the Learning Cycle. For our lesson, let’s choose the topic of density
In the engage portion of the cycle, I would do a demo on the affect that salt has on water and the change that it has on its density. This would be portrayed by floating an egg in the water before and after salt has been added.
In the explore portion of the cycle, I would invite students to attempt to recreate the demo using different solutes and solvents. This would be hands-on and in groups, allowing students to bounce ideas back and forth.
In the explain portion of the cycle, the students would lead a discussion on what they believe density is referring to, building their own definition in the process.
In the elaborate portion of the cycle, students would research how density affects them in their daily life, whether it be how solid ice floats or whatever they decide
In the evaluate portion of the cycle, students would be presenting the research that they had gathered in any way that they decided. This could be a presentation, skit, or something along those lines.
In conclusion, constructivism is one of the most popular theories on how children learn, and personally it’s the one that makes the most sense to me. Children aren’t just blank slates, they have so much to offer not only you, but their peers as well. Each child is a font of knowledge, and its our job to help them reach their full potential!
Student's aren't slates to be written on, nor are they glasses to be filled with knowledge. Instead, they are fonts of wisdom and information, and it is our job as educators to access that information and help them grow from it! @AnnMacKenzie #EDT431 #NSTA #scienceteaching
— Mr. Thomas (@BryceSBThomas) October 10, 2018
Taber, K. S., & Akpan, B. (2017). Science education. [electronic resource] : an international course companion. Rotterdam : Sense Publishers, . Retrieved from https://proxy.lib.miamioh.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,url,uid&db=cat00344a&AN=mucat.b4513827&site=eds-live&scope=site
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