Many classrooms in the United States have designated spaces for small group work, as well as arrangements for whole class discussions. Elementary classrooms often include small group reading areas, mathematics centers, and science stations. Middle and high schools have moved away from unmovable desks to seating arrangements that are flexible and allow for small group work. The impact of constructivism has extended into national reform documents that are produced by professional education groups such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Research Council.
For example, the National Science Education Standards state:. An important stage of inquiry and of student science learning is the oral and written discourse that focuses the attention of students on how they know what they know and how their knowledge connects to larger ideas, other domains, and the word beyond the classroom. Using a collaborative group structure, teachers encourage interdependency among group members, assisting students to work together in small groups so that all participate in sharing data and in developing group reports.
National Research Council, , p. This statement reflects the constructivist values of small group work, cooperative development of ideas, and the role of written and spoken language in learning. This standard focuses on key dimensions of a learning environment in which serious mathematical thinking can take place: a genuine respect for others' ideas, a valuing of reason and sense-making, pacing and timing that allow students to puzzle and to think, and the forging of a social and intellectual community.
NCTM, Embedded within this mathematics standard are beliefs in the value of the ideas of others, as well as the importance of the larger social community in learning mathematics. Constructivism in education emerged after the behaviorist movement as a welcome and refreshing view of learning that centers on the active learner within the teaching-learning process. This emphasis on the individual within the greater social context during instruction has drawn attention to the prior beliefs, knowledge, and skills that individuals bring with them.
Prior knowledge has been shown to significantly influence the ways individuals make meaning out of instruction. The constructivist focus on the social context and larger community of learners has resulted in a major shift away from individually-based instruction to instruction that incorporates and embeds teaching within the larger community of peers, younger students, as well as those who are older. Finally, contructivism's greatest contribution to education may be through the shift in emphasis from knowledge as a product to knowing as a process.
This legacy of constructivism will likely prove to be a lasting and meaningful shift in the structure of schooling.
What are the principles of constructivism?
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Education Theory/Constructivism and Social Constructivism - UCD - CTAG
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Social Constructivism in Education
A conceptual change view of learning and understanding. Hamilton Eds. A revisionist theory of conceptual change. Duschl and R.
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Suchting, W. Constructivism deconstructed. Instead of giving a lecture the teachers in this theory function as facilitators whose role is to aid the student when it comes to their own understanding. This takes away focus from the teacher and lecture and puts it upon the student and their learning.