Evidence for learning by studying worked-examples, is known as the worked-example effect and has been found to be useful in many domains e. The reasoning for this grouping is because each learning theory promotes the same constructivist teaching technique—"learning by doing. Mayer states that it promotes behavioral activity too early in the learning process, when learners should be cognitively active.
In addition, Sweller and his associates describe a continuum of guidance, starting with worked examples to slowly fade guidance. This continuum of faded guidance has been tested empirically to produce a series of learning effects: the worked-example effect,  the guidance fading effect,  and the expertise-reversal effect. After a half century of advocacy associated with instruction using minimal guidance, there appears no body of research supporting the technique. In so far as there is any evidence from controlled studies, it almost uniformly supports direct, strong instructional guidance rather constructivist-based minimal guidance during the instruction of novice to intermediate learners.
Even for students with considerable prior knowledge, strong guidance while learning is most often found to be equally effective as unguided approaches. Not only is unguided instruction normally less effective; there is also evidence that it may have negative results when students acquire misconceptions or incomplete or disorganized knowledge. Mayer argues against discovery-based teaching techniques and provides an extensive review to support this argument.
Mayer's arguments are against pure discovery, and are not specifically aimed at constructivism: "Nothing in this article should be construed as arguing against the view of learning as knowledge construction or against using hands-on inquiry or group discussion that promotes the process of knowledge construction in learners. The main conclusion I draw from the three research literatures I have reviewed is that it would be a mistake to interpret the current constructivist view of learning as a rationale for reviving pure discovery as a method of instruction.
Mayer's concern is how one applies discovery-based teaching techniques. He provides empirical research as evidence that discovery-based teaching techniques are inadequate. Here he cites this literature and makes his point "For example, a recent replication is research showing that students learn to become better at solving mathematics problems when they study worked-out examples rather than when they solely engage in hands-on problem solving.
Yet a dispassionate review of the relevant research literature shows that discovery-based practice is not as effective as guided discovery. Mayer's point is that people often misuse constructivism to promote pure discovery-based teaching techniques. He proposes that the instructional design recommendations of constructivism are too often aimed at discovery-based practice. The study by Kirschner et al. See the preceding two sections of this article. This would agree with Mayer's viewpoint that even though constructivism as a theory and teaching techniques incorporating guidance are likely valid applications of this theory, nevertheless a tradition of misunderstanding has led to some question "pure discovery" techniques.
The math wars controversy in the United States is an example of the type of heated debate that sometimes follows the implementation of constructivist-inspired curricula in schools. In the s, mathematics textbooks based on new standards largely informed by constructivism were developed and promoted with government support. Although constructivist theory does not require eliminating instruction entirely, some textbooks seemed to recommend this extreme. Some parents and mathematicians protested the design of textbooks that omitted or de-emphasized instruction of standard mathematical methods.
Supporters responded that the methods were to be eventually discovered under direction by the teacher, but since this was missing or unclear, many insisted the textbooks were designed to deliberately eliminate instruction of standard methods. In one commonly adopted text, the standard formula for the area of a circle is to be derived in the classroom, but not actually printed in the student textbook as is explained by the developers of CMP : "The student role of formulating, representing, clarifying, communicating, and reflecting on ideas leads to an increase in learning.
If the format of the texts included many worked examples, the student role would then become merely reproducing these examples with small modifications. Similarly, this approach has been applied to reading with whole language and inquiry-based science that emphasizes the importance of devising rather than just performing hands-on experiments as early as the elementary grades traditionally done by research scientists , rather than studying facts.
In other areas of curriculum such as social studies and writing are relying more on "higher order thinking skills" rather than memorization of dates, grammar or spelling rules or reciting correct answers. Advocates of this approach counter that the constructivism does not require going to extremes, that in fact teachable moments should regularly infuse the experience with the more traditional teaching. The primary differentiation from the traditional approach being that the engagement of the students in their learning makes them more receptive to learning things at an appropriate time, rather than on a preset schedule.
During the s, several theorists began to study the cognitive load of novices those with little or no prior knowledge of the subject matter during problem solving. Cognitive load theory was applied in several contexts. Ill-structured learning environments rely on the learner to discover problem solutions. Jonassen also suggested that novices be taught with "well-structured" learning environments.
Jonassen also proposed well-designed, well-structured learning environments provide scaffolding for problem-solving. Finally, both Sweller and Jonassen support problem-solving scenarios for more advanced learners. Sweller and his associates even suggest well-structured learning environments, like those provided by worked examples, are not effective for those with more experience—this was later described as the " expertise reversal effect ".
Finally Mayer states: "Thus, the contribution of psychology is to help move educational reform efforts from the fuzzy and unproductive world of educational ideology—which sometimes hides under the banner of various versions of constructivism—to the sharp and productive world of theory-based research on how people learn. Many people confuse constructivist with maturationist views.
The constructivist or cognitive-developmental stream "is based on the idea that the dialectic or interactionist process of development and learning through the student's active construction should be facilitated and promoted by adults". Ernst von Glasersfeld developed radical constructivism by coupling Piaget's theory of learning and philosophical viewpoint about the nature of knowledge with Kant's rejection of an objective reality independent of human perception or reason. Radical constructivism does not view knowledge as an attempt to generate ideas that match an independent, objective reality.
In contrast to social constructivism, it picks up the epistemological threads and maintains the radical constructivist idea that humans cannot overcome their limited conditions of reception. Despite the subjectivity of human constructions of reality, relational constructivism focuses on the relational conditions that apply to human perceptional processes. In recent decades, constructivist theorists have extended the traditional focus on individual learning to address collaborative and social dimensions of learning.
It is possible to see social constructivism as a bringing together of aspects of the work of Piaget with that of Bruner and Vygotsky. The concept Communal constructivism was developed by Leask and Younie  in through their research on the European SchoolNet  which demonstrated the value of experts collaborating to push the boundaries of knowledge i. In the seminal European SchoolNet research where for the first time academics were testing out how the internet could support classroom practice and pedagogy, experts from a number of countries set up test situations to generate and understand new possibilities for educational practice.
Bryn Holmes in applied this to student learning as described in an early paper, "in this model , students will not simply pass through a course like water through a sieve but instead leave their own imprint in the learning process. Constructivism has influenced the course of programming and computer science.
Some famous programming languages have been created, wholly or in part, for educational use, to support the constructionist theory of Seymour Papert. These languages have been dynamically typed , and reflective. Logo is the best known of them. Constructivism has also informed the design of interactive machine learning systems  , whereas Radical Constructivism has been explored as a paradigm to design experiments in rehabilitation robotics , more precisely in prosthetics . From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Philosophical viewpoint about the nature of knowledge; theory of knowledge.
Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology
This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Further information: constructivist epistemology.
Main article: Learning by teaching. Main article: Constructivist teaching methods. Main article: Math Wars. Educational Psychology: Second Edition. Global Text Project, , pp. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge University Press. Educational Researcher. Apprenticeship in thinking: cognitive development in social context.
Oxford University Press. A Belated review of the "Constructivist Bible " ". British Journal for the History of Science. Educational Psychologist. Constructivist instruction: Success or failure? Vygotsky and the social formation of mind. Cambridge, Mass. Constructivism in Science Education.
Springer, Dordrecht. Harvard University Press. In Hallinan, M. Handbook of the Sociology of Education. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Springer, Boston, MA. Thomas 1 January Journal of Teacher Education. Historical Foundations of Educational Psychology. Perspectives on Individual Differences. Boston: Springer. Cognitive Psychology and Instruction 3rd ed. Prentice-Hall, Inc. The Journal of Experimental Education. Handbook of Educational Psychology.
Computer Assisted Language Learning. Phi Delta Kappan. AUUG, Inc.
Philosophical and Pedagogical Problems with Constructivism in Science Education
Constructivism and the Technology of Instruction: A Conversation. Journal of Educational Psychology. Asia Pacific Education Review. Applications and misapplications of cognitive psychology in mathematics education. November Scott Armstrong Archived from the original PDF on Cognitive development. Demetriou, W. Doise, K. New Releases. Description Constructivism is one of the most influential theories in contemporary education and learning theory.
It has had great influence in science education. The papers in this collection represent, arguably, the most sustained examination of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of constructivism yet published. Topics covered include: orthodox epistemology and the philosophical traditions of constructivism; the relationship of epistemology to learning theory; the connection between philosophy and pedagogy in constructivist practice; the difference between radical and social constructivism, and an appraisal of their epistemology; the strengths and weaknesses of the Strong Programme in the sociology of science and implications for science education.
The book contains an extensive bibliography. Contributors include philosophers of science, philosophers of education, science educators, and cognitive scientists.
The book is noteworthy for bringing this diverse range of disciplines together in the examination of a central educational topic. Young children and scientists have much in common. Both are interested in a wide variety of objects and events in the world around them. Both are interested in, and attempt to make sense of, how and why things behave as they do. This idea — that science is about making sense of the world, rather than finding out about the world — has been much debated in the history of philosophy.
But the book does not elaborate the debate or defend its position.
Radical constructivism: Between realism and solipsism
The book concludes with a statement of the sine qua non of constructivism — the non-transferability of knowledge thesis:. Knowledge is acquired not by the internalisation of some outside given but is constructed from within. Again there is no elaboration or defense of this, to put it mildly, contentious position. The alternative position in learning theory, for which there is a great deal of evidence, is one that maintains:.
Geary , p. These casual, almost throw-away epistemological positions have cast a long shadow in New Zealand. This list has everything except knowing the subject matter to be taught, and being able to teach it in a clear, engaging and understandable manner. The former has no epistemological or referential bite; the latter has both. Things can make perfect sense without being true; and making still more sense does not imply any increase in truth content. It is notorious that people have for centuries thought that the grossest injustices, and the greatest evils, have all made sense.
The subjection of women to men has, and still does, make perfectly good sense to millions of people and to scores of societies; explaining illness in terms of possession by evil spirits makes perfectly good sense to countless millions; the intellectual inferiority of particular races is perfectly sensible to millions of people including some of the most advanced thinkers. The list of atrocities and stupidities that made perfect sense at some time or other, or in some place or other, goes on and on.
It seems clear that the appeal to sense is not going to be sufficient to refute such views, the appeal to truth which is independent of human desires or power, may be able, perhaps, to overturn such opinions. Certainly the interests of the less powerful and marginalised are not advanced by championing the view that power is truth; minority rights have always been better advanced by holding on to the view that truth is power.
One response to criticism of constructivist theory is to say that constructivist pedagogy is valuable and should be encouraged, even if the theory is debatable. This position is understandable, but it rests on a moot point: namely, How efficacious is constructivist pedagogy in teaching science? Given the necessity for any science programme to teach the content of science this is a serious failure.
The difficulty for constructivism posed by teaching the content of science is not just a practical one, it is a difficulty that exposes a fundamental theoretical problem for constructivism — if knowledge cannot be imparted, and if knowledge must be a matter of personal construction, then how can children come to knowledge of complex conceptual schemes that have taken the best minds hundreds of years to build up?
Many science educators are interested in finding out how, on constructivist principles, one teaches a body of scientific knowledge that is in large part abstract depending on notions such as velocity, acceleration, force, gene , that is removed from experience propositions about atomic structure, cellular processes, astronomic events , that has no connection with prior conceptions ideas of viruses, antibodies, molten core, evolution, electromagnetic radiation , and that is alien to common-sense, and in conflict with everyday experience, expectations and concepts?
Teaching a body of knowledge involves not just teaching the concepts, but also the method, and something of the methodology or theory of method. How all of this is to be taught, without teachers actually conveying something to pupils, is a moot point. Joan Solomon, a prominent British science educator, well articulates the problem:.
Constructivism has always skirted round the actual learning of an established body of knowledge For a time all pupils may feel that they are on foreign land and no amount of recollection of their own remembered territory with shut eyes will help them to acclimatise. Solomon, , p. In a recent book the Leeds group reasonably enough maintain that:. If learners are to be given access to the knowledge systems of science, the process of knowledge construction must go beyond personal empirical enquiry. Learners need to be given access not only to physical experiences but also to the concepts and models of conventional science.
Driver et al. There is near unanimity on this claim — conservatives and progressivists all agree, with perhaps just discovery-learners dissenting. But having made the above claim, the Leeds group go on to say that:. The challenge for teachers lies in helping learners to construct these models for themselves, to appreciate their domains of applicability and, within such domains, to use them. One might reasonably ask whether, at this point, learning theory, or ideology, is simply getting in the way of good teaching.
Why must learners construct for themselves the ideas of potential energy, mutation, linear inertia, photosynthesis, valency, and so on? Why not explain these ideas to students, and do it in such a way that they understand them? This process may or may not be didactic: it all depends on the classroom circumstance. There are many ways to explain science: didacticism is just one of them.
Certainly a challenge for constructivist teachers lies in helping learners construct these ideas without violating constructivist learning principles. The Leeds group recognise this, and go on to say:. Constructivists addressed the problem of the teaching of the content of science at an international seminar held at Monash University in They had children put nails in different places and observe the rate at which they rusted. They remarked that:.
The theory that rusting is a chemical reaction between iron, oxygen and water, resulting in the formation of a new substance, is not one that students are likely to generate for themselves. Scott et al. Quite so. But where does this leave constructivism as a putatively useful theory for science teachers? Most science teachers realise this difficulty. They try their best to explain things clearly, to make use of metaphors, to use demonstrations and practical work to flesh out abstractions, to utilise projects and discussions for involving students in the subject matter, and so on.
They realise that many, if not most, things in science are beyond the experience of students and the capabilities of school laboratories to demonstrate. The cellular, molecular and atomic realms are out of reach of school laboratories, as is most of the astronomical realm. Most of the time even things that are within reach do not work. It is a rare school experiment that is successful.
For children, a great deal of science has to be taken on faith. Good teachers do their best in the situation, and try to point out why faith in science is warranted. They may refer to texts or studies that have better controlled for experimental conditions than is possible in school settings. They may get students to appreciate the general directions in which school laboratory results are heading. They may do various other things to get pupils to see that their particular experience of a situation falls short of the experience that scientific investigation requires. Certainly translations can be made from constructivist discourse to traditional discourse.
Provided both groups of teachers are doing the same thing, and judging the outcome by the degree to which the pupil understands the current scientific concept, then the argument could be seen as merely a verbal one over the name of a label. But it is not just a verbal matter. A theoretical consideration is the very justification of science in the curriculum. Constructivism has done a service to science and mathematics education: by alerting teachers to the function of prior learning and extant concepts in the process of learning new material, by stressing the importance of understanding as a goal of science instruction, by fostering pupil engagement in lessons, and other such progressive matters.
But liberal educationalists can rightly say that these are pedagogical commonplaces, the recognition of which goes back at least to Socrates. It is clear that the best of constructivist pedagogy can be had without constructivist epistemology — Socrates, Montaigne, Locke, Mill, and Russell are just some who have conjoined engaging, constructivist-like, pedagogy with non-constructivist epistemology. Constructivism has also done a service by making educators aware of the human dimension of science: its fallibility, its connection to culture and interests, the place of convention in scientific theory, the historicity of concepts, the complex procedures of theory appraisal, and much else.
But again realist philosophers can rightly maintain that constructivism does not have a monopoly on these insights. Constructivism, in all its varieties, has been the subject of heated debate. The debate is not simply about the adequacy of a particular learning theory, or the cogency of a epistemological position.
Something more is at stake. Karl Popper recognised it when he wrote:. The belief of a liberal — the belief in the possibility of a rule of law, of equal justice, of fundamental rights, and a free society — can easily survive the recognition that judges are not omniscient and may make mistakes about facts But the belief in the possibility of a rule of law, of justice, and of freedom, can hardly survive the acceptance of an epistemology which teaches that there are no objective facts; not merely in this particular case, but in any other case.
Popper, , p. I have a candidate for the most dangerous contemporary intellectual tendency, it is Constructivism is a combination of two Kantian ideas with twentieth-century relativism. The two Kantian ideas are, first, that we make the known world by imposing concepts, and, second, that the independent world is at most a mere 'thing-in-itself' forever beyond our ken. Constructivism attacks the immune system that saves us from silliness. Devitt , p. Given the influence of constructivism on education reform, teacher education, curriculum development and pedagogy, it is important to be clear about just what are, and are not, the epistemological commitments of constructivism.
And what relationship these commitments have, if any, to classroom practice. Constructivism has all the earmarks of being such an idea. On this, see Matthews , chap. The psychological theory behind all of these reforms is constructivism. Gerald Holton has documented efforts made to counteract constructivist interpretations of the history and philosophy of science in the Standards Holton On the relationship between constructivism and classic empiricism, see Matthews and Suchting See my discussion of the parallels between certain modern constructivisms and classical 17 th century empiricism in Matthews For criticism of the strong programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge, and especially of its educational implications, see Slezak a, b , Nola and Kraghe Suchting provides a most informed discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the strong programme.
See for instance Good et al.
Constructivism in Science Education : A Philosophical Examination
See especially von Glasersfeld , , , , These problems are elaborated in Matthews , pp. The example is elaborated in Matthews Bell, B. Bentley, M. Larochelle, N. Garrision Eds. Bettencourt, A. Tobin ed. Bodner, G. Brass, K. Fensham, R. White Eds. Brink, J. Carmichael, P. Cheung, K. Confrey, J. Davis, C. Noddings eds.