Constructivism and Learning

When I first started reading about learning theories, I was so excited to learn about constructivism.  Constructivism’s learner-centric approach to relevant, collaborative, authentic learning was completely in-line with my beliefs.  However, as I delved further into the topic, I came to believe that while the theory has its merits, it also has its limitations.

Constructivism and its focus on learners are best applied to knowledge that the learner has the luxury of choosing to learn.  In other words, I can utilize a constructivist approach to grad school because I chose to study instructional design. However, even undergraduates only have so much control over what they chose to learn–they can select a major but each major has core requirements, some of which may not hold a learner’s interest.

Constructivism may best be used in higher educational settings, where in-depth knowledge is the focus, not in on-the-job training situations where there is limited time to teach and learn key concepts and tasks.

One concept from this week’s reading that really hit home was the idea that constructivism is more of a philosophy or a theory of knowledge than an instructional design or teaching theory. And yet, despite its limitations, I will work to apply some constructivist approaches to learning I create.


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