Constructivism is a teaching technique that is based on constructivist learning theory. In this theory, it is believed that learning always builds upon knowledge that a student already knows. Learning is more effective when the student actively engaged in the learning process rather than receiving the knowledge passively. Most of teaching methods under constructivism emphasizes some form of guided discovery when teaching is done by leading student through questions and activities to discover new knowledge.
The pioneer of constructivism theory is Jean Piaget. Along with John Dewey, Piaget researched childhood education and development. It is said that idea of constructivism originated from Piaget’s cognitive development theory.
Beside Piaget, another figure in this concept is Ernst Von Glaserfeld who states that this concept is based on the following assumptions: - Knowledge can be formed by individuals who take their own initiatives - The aim to form knowledge is to adapt oneself in the environment - The process of knowledge formation is the result of the individual experience
One of the goals of constructivist teaching is student learn how to learn by giving them training to take initiative for their own learning experience. The characteristics of a constructivist classroom are as follows: - the learners are actively involved - the environment is democratic - the activities are interactive and student-centered - the teacher facilitates a process of learning in which students are encouraged to be responsible and autonomous Teacher plays important roles in constructivism. The teacher’s role is to prompt and facilitate discussion. The focus should be on guiding the student by asking questions that will lead them to develop their own conclusions on the subject. Three major roles for teacher to support students in constructivist learning environments are modeling, coaching and scaffolding.
David Jonassen proposed a model for developing constructivists learning environments (CLE) around a specific learning goal. This goal may take one of the several forms ; question or issue, case study, long-term project or problem. Learning is driven in CLE by the problem to be solved; students learn content and theory in order to solve the problem. This is different from traditional objectivist teaching where the theory would be presented first and problems would be used afterwards to practice theory.
The assessment in constructivism is based not only on test, but also on observation of the students, the student’s work, and the student’s point of view. Some assessment strategies include: - Oral discussions where the teacher presented students with a focus question and allows an open discussion on the topic. - Mind mapping where the students list and categorize the concepts and ideas relating to a topic. - Hands-on activities where students are encouraged to manipulate their environments or a particular learning tool. - Pre-testing where the teacher determine what knowledge students bring to a new topic and thus will be helpful in directing the course of study.
To summarize, an individual should actively involves himself in the learning in constructivism instead of learning from others passively. The process of acquiring knowledge in constructivism contains the characteristics of development and evaluation. It is not fixed but often variable. Under this theory, knowledge is not used to clarify reality. On the contrary, it is used as a means to rationalize the action and experience which an individual undergoes. Thus, in a similar situation, according to constructivism, knowledge acquired may not be the same for every individual.