What is Constructivism in education?

What is Constructivism in education?

The constructivism It is a position shared by different trends in psychological and educational research. Among them are the theories ofPiaget, Vygotsky, Ausubel, Bruner. Although none of them was named as constructivist, their ideas and proposals illustrate this current.


  • 1 Main features of constructivism
  • 2 Authors and representative researchers
  • 3 The objectives of the constructionist theory

Main features of constructivism

Constructivism It is a theory that aims to explain what is the nature of human knowledge. Learning is essentially active. A person who learns something new incorporates it into his previous experiences and his own mental structures. Each new information is assimilated and deposited in a network of knowledge and experiences that previously exist. The process is subjective, since each person changes according to their experiences. The experience leads to the creation of mental schemes that we store in our minds and that are growing and becoming more complex through two complementary processes:assimilation and accommodation (Piaget, 1955). Constructivism also has a strong social component, cultural development appears doubly, first on a social level and then on an individual level (Vygotsky, 1978).

Constructivist learning has 8 differential characteristics:

  1. The constructivist learning environment provides people with contact with multiple representations of reality.
  2. The multiple representations of reality evade simplifications and represent the complexity of the real world.
  3. Constructivist learning emphasizes building knowledge within its reproduction.
  4. Constructivist learning highlights authentic tasks in a meaningful way in context, rather than abstract instructions out of context.
  5. It provides learning environments such as daily living environments instead of a predetermined sequence of instructions.
  6. Constructivist learning environments encourage reflection on experience.
  7. They allow context and content depending on the construction of knowledge.
  8. They support the collaborative construction of learning through social negotiation.

Authors and representative researchers

Jean Piaget (Neuchâtel, 1896-Geneva, 1980)

Graduate in biology obtained the doctorate in 1918 from the study of mollusks. He was interested in the way organisms adapt to their environment began in psychology in Zurich and Paris. From the growth of his three children, he developed a theory of sensorimotor intelligence that he later complemented, with different studies explaining the development of intelligence. In 1955 he founded and chaired the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva. From there elaborate yourTheory of Developmental Psychology.

Lev S. Vigotsky (Orsha, Belarus, 1896 - Moscow, 1934)

Humanistic training accesses the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Moscow in 1913, but changes the university studies of Law and finishes them in 1917. He studies philosophy, psychology and literature at Shayavsky University. He began working on literature and art issues and publishes his works under the title "art psychology". In 1924 he made his way in the world of psychology with a communication entitled "The method of reflexological and psychological research". Vigotsky from the Moscow Institute of Psychology opened new perspectives in the field of developmental psychology, psycholinguistics and education. In this last field he made great contributions with hisTheory of social constructivism.

Jerome Bruner (New York, 1919 - 2016)

He graduated from Duke University in 1937 and in 1941 he did a Doctorate in Psychology at Harvard University. In 1960 he founded the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard University and was one of the drivers of cognitive psychology. His cognitive theory ofLearning by discovery, which develops, among others, the idea of ​​"scaffolding"catch of Vigotsky's theory of social constructivism.

David Paul Ausubel (New York, 1918 - 2008)

Son of an immigrant Jewish family from Europe, he worried about the way he was educated in his time and especially in his culture. He studied at the University of New York and created and disseminated theTheory of significant learning. Share many ideas of Vigotsky (the construction of knowledge according to the reality of the apprentice) and Novak (the most important is to know the previous ideas of the students. Instead Bruner's disagree on the validity of learning by discovery as valid for science.

Joyce Setzinger

In 2006 he published the work "Be constructive: blogs, podcasts and wikis as constructivist learning tools. In this way, with yourOnline learning theory It contributes to constructivism from a new perspective, given the collaborative tools offered by information and communication technologies as fundamental and basic tools in a constructivist learning.

The objectives of the constructionist theory

  • Learning is an internal, self-structuring constructive process.
  • The degree of learning depends on the level of cognitive development.
  • Prior knowledge is the starting point of all learning.
  • Learning is a process of re-construction of cultural knowledge.
  • Learning is facilitated by mediation or interaction with others.
  • Learning implies a process of internal reorganization of schemes.
  • Learning occurs when the student already conflicts with what he should know.

The constructivist conception is characterized by having a hierarchical structure in which the explanatory principles that make up the backbone of this conception are inscribed.

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