Essay Example on The constructivist learning theory has been around for around 50 years









It basically describes how students construct their own explanation of the world that they live in through different experiences where they build off of their own previous knowledge in a manner where students are presented with a problem or a big idea and they use prior knowledge combined with the experience of solving the problem or reflecting on the big idea in order to build new understanding and deeper levels of understanding when it comes to content Ultimately all of the learning theories have the same goal to promote learning In 1991 Thomas Shuell provided a definition of learning that stated Learning is an enduring change in behavior or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion which results from practice or other forms of experience Ertmer Newby 1993 The way that constructivist learning takes place is primarily through engaging in experiences that build upon previous knowledge Constructivist theorist describe knowledge about the world as our own interpretations of our experiences and that humans create meaning as opposed to acquiring it and that learners do not transfer knowledge from the external world into their memories rather they build personal interpretations of the world based on individual experiences and interactions Ertmer Newby 1993 This means that students learn or as Shuell described change behavior by changing their own interpretations of the world through engaging in experiences that create new meaning This idea of creating meaning is what separates the constructivist learning theory from behaviorism or cognitivism learning theories 

Under behaviorism and the cognitivism learning theories the learner acquires the information and adds it to their repertoire This disconnect between learner and the real world is what separates behaviorists and cognitive theories from constructivist Ertmer Newby 1993 Constructivism unlike behaviorism and cognitivism does not separate the world from the learner instead knowledge is a function of how the individual creates meaning from their own experiences Ertmer Newby 1993 Under behaviorists learning model the focus lies in students demonstrate changes in observable performance when presented with a specific environmental stimulus Ertmer Newby 1993 Under the cognitive learning models the learning is equated with changes in knowledge rather than with changes in likelihood of correct response like the behaviorists learning model Ertmer Newby 1993 Under the constructivist learning theory an educator has to create meaningful experiences which draw upon the students previous knowledge in a manner that creates meaning from their own experiences Problem based learning would fall under the constructivist learning model Under the problem based learning model students are presented with a problem and asked to come up with possible solutions Students come up with solutions based off of their own previous knowledge and are provided with an array of information they test ideas until they find methods that fit and ultimately help them solve a problem In a classroom setting it is very important that the educator has a good understanding of students background knowledge and anticipates students misconceptions Once an educator has considered a students level of understanding or created a form of formative assessment for the learner and educator to gauge understanding or thought it is up to the educator to create an experience that the learner can undergo that will draw upon the students previous knowledge in order to build a better understanding of the world that they live in 

This can be very challenging because previous experience is extremely diverse and true achievement of a sound constructivist learning experience is one that meets each students needs by challenging students previous knowledge in a manner where all students create meaning that demonstrates mastery of the desired learning target The constructivist learning theory easily accepts technology into the learning situations It is important however to be mindful so that the technology is not used to deliver content and set up an experience that would better model a behaviorism learning Where students are presented with information via technology think Kahn Academy and asked to demonstrate their acquisition of the knowledge by answering comprehension questions Instead under the constructivist learning model technology can be used to promote learning Technology under the constructivist model is used to support interactive collaborative and student centered classrooms Juniu 2006 Technology is supposed to be used to foster critical thinking by facilitating cognitive processing and engaging students in critical higher order thinking about the content Juniu 2006 One technology tool that I have used in my high school chemistry classroom are PHET simulations PHET simulations enable students to virtually test variables within a controlled simulation that facilitates deep conceptual understanding by enabling students to make predictions about the outcome of laboratory experiments and then actually go into a safe virtual environment and test their predictions These sims do a great job of creating visual models that help students better visualize the abstract discipline of chemistry in a manner that supports student understanding and enables students to reflect on their experience Through this process students create meaning of content based off of their previous knowledge

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