Social Constructivism.

In a 21st century classroom, the philosophy of teaching is built around constructivism therefore it is vital that we understand all facets of the constructivist theory and how to put it into practice.

During the lecture, we were presented with the following comparison between directed and constructivist learning approaches and similarly, teacher centered versus student centered learning.

-Focus on teaching sequences of skills and knowledge
-Behavioural objectives matched to test items
-Focus on teaching sequences of skills & knowledge
-Individual work
-“Traditional” teaching


-Focus on problem -solving, exploration, presentation
-General abilities and application in context
-“Alternative” forms of assessment

However, as there are some criticisms that can be made about the constructivist theory, it is vital that the two teaching strategies are integrated into the classroom in order for successful student learning.

Directed learning provides:
-Skill remediation
-Mastery and fluency
-Systematic self-instruction

While constructivism…
-Fosters creativity
-Fosters inductive thinking and problem solving
-Fosters metacognition
-Increases transfer of knowledge to problem solving
-Fosters group cooperation
-Allows for multiple & distributed intelligences

Finally, when they are combined, the two models:
-Increase motivation
-Optimize learning resources
-Remove logistic hurdles to learning
-Foster communication skills and information & visual literacy

It is fair to say that when both models are merged, they cater for all student learning types allowing them to be motivated to learn whether they are participating in activities individually or as a team whilst being within discipline from the teacher. The development of the students’ creativity will flourish in a constructivist classroom as they will be able to apply their previous experiences and prior knowledge to their learning engagements allowing them to use their imagination to solve problems and understand concepts.

Brewer and Daane (2002) explain that children learn and build their knowledge through their own personal mental activity and interactions with the environment. This means that they are constructing and expanding on knowledge in different ways based on what they already know. It requires higher order thinking skills such as reflecting and discovering rather than objectivism, the opposite to constructivism, which uses transmission learning through memorisation, rote and factual learning. This article specifically focuses on the way that maths can be transformed through practising constructivism and the impact that this learning can have upon students. It regards the constructivist theory as one that provides teachers with frameworks for teaching maths by encouraging problem solving, reasoning and communication.

An experiment was conducted consisting of constructivist mathematics teachers who believed that constructivism was the underlying theory that drove their instruction decisions. Data was obtained through individual interviews, notes and classroom observations of their maths lessons. From the results, we were able to view that constructivist classrooms provide greater understanding and success of maths opposed to traditional classrooms. The four main results showed that:

-Learning is an active/constructive process
-Knowledge is built on prior knowledge
-Autonomy is promoted
-Social interactions are necessary for knowledge construction

These results show that students gain a sense of independence within the classroom and obtain a new approach in regards to problem solving where they are thinking first then making their judgements. Constructivism provides the opportunity for more than one way of problem solving. This form of learning enables creativity greatly as it encourages self learning.

Brewer, J., & Daane, C.J. (2002) Translating constructivist theory into practice in primary-grade mathematics. 123(2), 416-417. (See UNDA Library Electronic Catalogue)

Cameron, L. & Campbell, C. (2011) Information Technology for Teaching and Learning [Lecture Notes] Retrieved March 22, 2011 from

Fisher, K. (2005). Teacher centred versus student centred learning [Image]. Retrieved March 22, 2011 from

My Tutor (2010) Time for Student-Centred Learning [Image] Retrieved March 22, 2011, from


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