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What is constructivism?
How does this theory differ from traditional ideas about teaching and learning?
What does constructivism have to do with my classroom?
Expert interview
What is the history of constructivism, and how has it changed over time?
What are some critical perspectives?
What are the benefits of constructivism?



How does this theory differ from traditional ideas about teaching and learning?

As with many of the methods addressed in this series of workshops, in the constructivist classroom, the focus tends to shift from the teacher to the students. The classroom is no longer a place where the teacher ("expert") pours knowledge into passive students, who wait like empty vessels to be filled. In the constructivist model, the students are urged to be actively involved in their own process of learning. The teacher functions more as a facilitator who coaches, mediates, prompts, and helps students develop and assess their understanding, and thereby their learning. One of the teacher's biggest jobs becomes ASKING GOOD QUESTIONS.

And, in the constructivist classroom, both teacher and students think of knowledge not as inert factoids to be memorized, but as a dynamic, ever-changing view of the world we live in and the ability to successfully stretch and explore that view.

The chart below compares the traditional classroom to the constructivist one. You can see significant differences in basic assumptions about knowledge, students, and learning. (It's important, however, to bear in mind that constructivists acknowledge that students are constructing knowledge in traditional classrooms, too. It's really a matter of the emphasis being on the student, not on the instructor.)

Curriculum begins with the parts of the whole. Emphasizes basic skills. Curriculum emphasizes big concepts, beginning with the whole and expanding to include the parts.
Strict adherence to fixed curriculum is highly valued. Pursuit of student questions and interests is valued.
Materials are primarily textbooks and workbooks. Materials include primary sources of material and manipulative materials.
Learning is based on repetition. Learning is interactive, building on what the student already knows.
Teachers disseminate information to students; students are recipients of knowledge. Teachers have a dialogue with students, helping students construct their own knowledge.
Teacher's role is directive, rooted in authority. Teacher's role is interactive, rooted in negotiation.
Assessment is through testing, correct answers. Assessment includes student works, observations, and points of view, as well as tests. Process is as important as product.
Knowledge is seen as inert. Knowledge is seen as dynamic, ever changing with our experiences.
Students work primarily alone. Students work primarily in groups.





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Workshop: Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning
Explanation | Demonstration | Exploration | Implementation | Get Credit

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