Constructivism Founders

Please watch the following video on the contributors to the development of constructivism including Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky and the lesser known Ausubel.

Piaget:

  • Accommodation- when presented with a new learning situation,  learners search current schema for how to proceed.  Learners will use current schema or modify current schema to fit the new situation.  Constructivists conclude that learners will test their current mental structures and when conflicting experiences occur, learners will seek/construct new structures that can account for the new information.
  • Social knowledge- a type of knowledge that can only be learned through interaction with others, such as, parents, teachers, or peers.  Social knowledge identifies such things as proper behaviours or social customs.  Constructivists attend to the ability of learners to collaborate with others as a critical feature of learning to see other perspectives, learn more effective problem-solving strategies, or share cultural knowledge.  See Social Negotiation.

Bruner:

  • Three modes of representing understanding- enactive, iconic, and symbolic.  These are three ways that learners structure their understanding.  Constructivists advocate for multiple modes of representation.  It is important that learners are exposed to information in more that one way in order for them to see different perspectives and aspects.
  • Discovery learning- an approach focussing on the learner experiencing the exercise of problem solving.  Discovery learning promotes higher intellectual development as learners are encouraged to go beyond the evidence and obtain new insights.  Discovery tries to create an autonomous and self-propelled learner and thinker.  Constructivists contend that it is necessary for the learner to develop and construct their own knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them.  The use of various methods of instruction that promote exploration allow learners to devleop problem-solving and coping skills for future learning and use in real-life contexts.
Vygotsky:

    • Zone of proximal development- with the help of a more knowledgeable person, the learner has the potential to reach a higher level of development that may not be reached on their own.  Constructivists realize the need for ensuring that learners need an adequate set of prerequisite skills in order to tackle complex problems.  When these skills are lacking, it is important that the learner be provided with adequate help and encouragement, but not too much.
  • Emphasis on culture- knowledge can be acquired and altered by interactions with people within one’s culture.  Knowledge and learning can also be shaped and determined by the culture that one lives in.  Constructivists attend to the ability of learners to collaborate with others as a critical feature of learning to see other perspectives, learn more effective problem-solving strategies, or share cultural knowledge.  See Social Negotiation.

Ausubel:

  • David-Asubel-photoMeaningful Verbal Learning – meaning is created through some form of representational equivalence between language (symbols) and mental context. Two processes are involved: a) Reception which is used in meaningful verbal learning, and b) Discovery which is involved in concept formation and problem solving.
  • Subsumption Theory – subsume is to incorporate new material into one’s cognitive structures. From Ausubel’s perspective, this is the meaning of learning. When information is subsumed into the learner’s cognitive structure it is organized hierarchically. The two types of subsumptions are: a) Correlative subsumption- new material is an extension or elaboration of what is already known, and b) Derivative subsumption- new material or relationships can be derived from the existing structure.


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