Monday, September 29, 2008


constructivism: Constructivist learning is based on students' active participation in problem-solving and critical thinking regarding a learning activity which they find relevant and engaging. They are "constructing" their own knowledge by testing ideas and approaches based on their prior knowledge and experience, applying these to a new situation, and integrating the new knowledge gained with pre-existing intellectual constructs. [excerpt from]

After reviewing a few websites that provide summaries of constructivist learning, I am left wondering if I have ever been a participant of such learning? I believe I may have experienced it in my early educational (K-3) years, but it seems rather non-existent during my secondary educational years. A few postsecondary educational experiences have provided constructivist classroom and non-classroom learning opportunities. I can reflect back and recognize that the most learning occurred in the courses in which I was an active participant, engaged in topics interesting to me, yet the courses challenged me to apply new concepts to my own interests. Unfortunately, several of these opportunities did not occur until my senior year in undergrad and later in my master's and doctoral programs.

As an educational leader, I am inclined to apply constructivist learning to organizational management, staff supervision, and even studnet advising. Bruner's principles of
1. Instruction must be concerned with the experiences and contexts that make the student willing and able to learn (readiness).
2. Instruction must be structured so that it can be easily grasped by the student (spiral organization).
3. Instruction should be designed to facilitate extrapolation and or fill in the gaps (going beyond the information given).

are extremely applicable to college student advising and staff supervision/support/development within an organization. Constructivist theory is an interdisciplinary application to all career fields and their respective constituent groups. I propose the assumption that learning occurs everywhere every day, hence the relevancy of accepting or rejecting constructivism is inevitable.

Educators who adopt constructivism as a philosophy to guide their classrooms, place more work and accountability on themselves. The intrinsic reward of student learning may not outweigh the preparation, work, and follow through needed for constructivist teachers over time. The ever declining extrinsic reward of salary does not help motivate educators to do even MORE work for less (or non-increased) pay.

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