Foundations of Constructivism/Contributors/Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky

CHAPTER 2: Major Contributors to Constructivist Theory: Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky

Overview edit

Constructivism is a theory espousing, humans gain knowledge from their experiences, and learn in a manner influenced by these experiences. That individuals learn by their own experiences, this experiential level contributes to the subject matter to be learned. Each individual is his/her own teacher and gains more knowledge from their own life experiences. This also states an individual learns from his own set of values and mores. Constructivism is not a specific way of learning but an educational theory. Constructivism has been around as a teaching methodology for centuries. Constructivism has been popular recently through the efforts of "Project Construct" started in Missouri.

Jean Piaget (1896–1980) believed that children's play had an important role in constructivism and learning. His theory expounds that we learn through assimilation and accommodation. Piaget’s theory of constructivism is one of “Cognitive Constructivism”. An example was his belief that children could not reach maturation, they cannot take on certain tasks until they mature psychologically.

Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) believed that knowledge is first constructed in a social context and collaborated with other individuals or groups. This is known as “Social Constructivism”.

Publications Pertinent to Constructivism: Piaget & Vygotsky edit

DONALDSON, M (1984) Children’s minds London Fontana

SATTERLY, D (1987) “Piaget and Education” in R. L. Gregory (ed.) The Oxford Companion to the mind, Oxford University Press

WOOD, D (1998) How children think and learn (2nd Edition), Blackwell Publishing

University of California, San Diego "Teaching Tips and Techniques, Alternative Participation Formats"

Constructivism (learning theory)

Constructivism: Pre-historical to Post-modern William R. Warrick George Mason University

Constructivism from the website funderstanding

Key Concepts Contributed to Constructivist Theory: Piaget edit

Piaget believed that intelligence was a single capacity that developed the same way in all individuals. Piaget also believed that at certain levels of understanding (age), that we became capable of expanding our learning by maturing and taking responsibilities due to being psychologically prepared. This occurs through the growing process by experiences. Piaget did not agree with traditional views of learning. He saw play as an important part of learning and this was from infancy to adulthood.Two of the key components which create the construction of an individual's new knowledge are accommodation and assimilation. Assimilating causes an individual to incorporate new experiences into the old experiences. This causes the individual to develop new outlooks, rethink what were once misunderstandings, and evaluate what is important, ultimately altering their perceptions. Accommodation, on the other hand, is reframing the world and new experiences into the mental capacity already present. Individuals conceive a particular fashion in which the world operates.

Key Concepts Contributed to Constructivist Theory: Vygotsky edit

The type of learning that Vygotsky viewed was one where the learners should discover their own truths about the world. He believed that instructors and learners are equally involved in the learning process. Vygotsky also believed that there is significant implications for peer collaborations. This also stressed the ideas of thought and speech being used to increase the learners ability to communicate with peers or collaborators.

Evidence of Piaget's & Vygotsky's Ideas in Today's Constructivist Practice edit

We consistently see throughout the educational arena, pieces and parts of both Piaget and Vygosky and their theories. Though many of the terminology have changed, the basic premise is still the same. We learn through our experiences. Whether in childhood as part of a continuous learning cycle from birth, or from collaborating with our peers, learning continues.

Conclusion edit

Constructivism is a way in which we are able to learn through our own internal learning mechanism. Each person learns through his own experiences and values and all learning is based upon that schema. This is an already existing framework within the individual. What occurs is learning is based on perception and that perception is what our mind allows us to learn. Jean Piaget (1896–1980) who along with Dewey and Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) were among the first during the early part of the 1900's to espouse constructivist learning. This was also seen as "Marxist learning". Other than Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) the majority of constructivist theorists were in the early part of the 20Th Century. Here in the 21st Century the idea of Constructivist Teaching is still alive.

Glossary edit

Cognitive Constructivism - Cognitive constructivism is based on the work of Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Piaget's theory has two major parts: an "ages and stages" ('s_stages.html) component that predicts what children can and cannot understand at different ages, and a theory of development that describes how children develop cognitive abilities. It is the theory of development that will be the focus here because it is the major foundation for cognitive constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. Piaget's theory of cognitive development proposes that humans cannot be "given" information which they immediately understand and use. Instead, humans must "construct" their own knowledge. They build their knowledge through experience. Experiences enable them to create schemas ( - mental models in their heads. These schemas are changed, enlarged, and made more sophisticated through two complimentary processes: assimilation and accommodation ( Wikipedia

Social Constructivism - Social constructivism is closely related to social constructionism in the sense that people are working together to construct artifacts. However, there is an important difference: social constructionism focuses on the artifacts that are created through the social interactions of a group, while social constructivism focuses on an individual's learning that takes place because of their interactions in a group.

A very simple example is an object like a cup. The object can be used for many things, but its shape does suggest some 'knowledge' about carrying liquids. A more complex example is an online course - not only do the 'shapes' of the software tools indicate certain things about the way online courses should work, but the activities and texts produced within the group as a whole will help shape how each person behaves within that group. For a philosophical account of one possible social constructionist ontology, see the 'Criticism' section of Representative realism.[1] Wikipedia

Constructionism - Constructionist learning is inspired by the constructivist theory that individual learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. However, constructionism holds that learning can happen most effectively when people are also active in making tangible objects in the real world. In this sense, constructionism is connected with experiential learning and builds on some of the ideas of Jean Piaget. Seymour Papert defined constructionism in a proposal to the National Science Foundation entitled Constructionism: A New Opportunity for Elementary Science Education as follows: "The word constructionism is a mnemonic for two aspects of the theory of science education underlying this project. From constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. Then we extend the idea of manipulative materials to the idea that learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product." Wikipedia Instructionism - Instructionism refers to all of the educational theories based on the idea of the teacher teaching, usually according to a predetermined schedule, rather than on students learning from their own experiences at their own pace. This includes any form of rote learning, and most forms of book learning in actual use, as well as drill and practice. The scientific laboratory is a place for exploration and discovery, where the principal topic of investigation is human ignorance in whatever form it currently takes, using the sharpest tools and brightest lights that human ingenuity can bring to bear. The school laboratory is almost always a place for regimented repetition of "experiments" whose outcome is known in advance. Similarly, a research library is a different sort of place to explore human ignorance about other kinds of questions. Here we look for interpretations of what has previously been recorded, often by comparing differing source accounts, often by finding questions that we can attempt to answer by other means. The school library is more often a place for looking up the "right" answer. A textbook can be an account of the frontiers of knowledge and understanding, presenting conflicting theories and attempts to find evidence to distinguish among them, or it can be a compendium of socially approved "facts". Retrieved from "" Wikipedia

Pragmatism - is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected. Pragmatism, in William James' eyes, was that the truth of an idea needed to be tested to prove its validity. Pragmatism began in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce and his pragmatic maxim. Through the early twentieth-century it was developed further in the works of William James, John Dewey and—in a more unorthodox manner—by George Santayana. Other important aspects of pragmatism include anti-Cartesianism, radical empiricism, instrumentalism, anti-realism, verificationism, conceptual relativity, a denial of the fact-value distinction, a high regard for science, and fallibilism. Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention from the 1960s on when a new analytic school of philosophy (W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars) put forth a revised pragmatism criticizing the logical positivism dominant in the United States and Britain since the 1930s. Richard Rorty further developed and widely publicized the concept of naturalized epistemology; his later work grew closer to continental philosophy and is considered relativistic by its critics. Contemporary pragmatism is divided into a strict analytic tradition, a more relativistic strand (in the wake of Rorty), and "neo-classical" pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey. Essentialism - is an educational philosophy whose adherents believe that children should learn the traditional basic subjects and that these should be learned thoroughly and rigorously. An essentialist program normally teaches children progressively, from less complex skills to more complex. An Essentialist will usually teach some set subjects similar to Reading, Writing, Literature, Foreign Languages, History, Mathematics, Science, Art, and Music. The teacher's role is to instill respect for authority, perseverance, duty, consideration, and practicality. Essentialism strives to teach students the accumulated knowledge of our civilization through core courses in the traditional academic disciplines. Essentialists aim to instill students with the "essentials" of academic knowledge, patriotism, and character development. This traditional approach is meant to train the mind, promote reasoning, and ensure a common culture. William Bagley (1874–1946) was an important historical Essentialist. Essentialism is related to the cultural literacy movement, which advocates the teaching of a core set of knowledge common to (and assumed to be possessed by) members of a culture or society. See also E.D. Hirsch.

Maturationism - is an early childhood educational philosophy that sees the child as a growing organism and believes that the role of education is to passively support this growth rather than actively fill the child with information. The idea is that genetic factors play a larger role in development than environmental ones, particularly in regard to language acquisition.

Maturationism is associated with the concept of developmental stages.

Major names in maturationism:G. E. Ames

Progressivism - Progressivists believe that individuality, progress, and change are fundamental to one's education. Believing that people learn best from what they consider most relevant to their lives, progressivists center their curricula on the needs, experiences, interests, and abilities of students. Progressivist teachers try making school interesting and useful by planning lessons that provoke curiosity. In a progressivist school, students are actively learning. The students interact with one another and develop social qualities such as cooperation and tolerance for different points of view. In addition, students solve problems in the classroom similar to those they will encounter in their everyday lives. Progressivists believe that education should be a process of ongoing growth, not just a preparation for becoming an adult. An obvious example of progressivism would be our class. We are in groups a lot and we actively learn through discussion. We talk about how what we read can be incorporated into our future teaching careers. Dr. Theodore takes into account the suggestions from the previous semester's students and modifies his class accordingly. After reading John Dewey’s book and discussing his thoughts and ideas in class, one can see John Dewey's relationship to progressivism. He wanted students to learn through action and being involved in the processes that will get to the end product. He wanted the students to work on hands-on projects so learning would take place, rather than memorization. In a regular classroom students just memorize what they need to know and it goes away after the test. In Dewey’s mind, the students would have to exercise their brain by problem solving and thinking critically, resulting in learning (even though the students may not even know it!). This allows the individual's brain to develop, so as the individual grows learning becomes easier! After attending a school Dewey would have set up, a child would be ready for the real world and a lot of the everyday setbacks that an individual would experience, such as losing a button, changing a tire, making lunch, or balancing a checkbook. School would be a lot of hands-on learning, and the progression of education would not end! Foundations of Education Web home page Genetic Epistemology - Epistemmology is a branch of philosophy concerned with how we know thinks. In other words, knowing about knowing. Epistemological approaches in general - what can be known? broadly materialistic categories Nihilism (hard Scepticism) is the denial that reality can be known. Scientism asserts that 20th century scientific method is the only way to understand reality Rationalism (including soft Scepticism) says that reason or logic, assisted by the discoveries of science, is the only way to understand reality. logical and introspective empiricism rationalism (dualistic or platonic) asserts that understanding come through pre-existing knowledge - - see also How the Rationalists Construe "Clear and Distinct Ideas" - by Ron Bombardi - Quite technical but probably worth the effort phenomenology reducto-ad-absurdum (as proof that Reality cannot be definied) - Shunyavada is a buddhist teaching that says that Reality cannot be known by conceptual means; it differs from Hard Scepticism is that it does assert that there is a Reality that can be attained. Wikipedia

References edit

DONALDSON, M (1984) Children’s minds London Fontana

SATTERLY, D (1987) “Piaget and Education” in R. L. Gregory (ed.) The Oxford Companion to the mind, Oxford University Press

WOOD, D (1998) How children think and learn (2nd Edition), Blackwell Publishing

University of California, San Diego "Teaching Tips and Techniques, Alternative Participation Formats"

Constructivism (learning theory)

Constructivism: Pre-historical to Post-modern William R. Warrick George Mason University

Constructivism from the website funderstanding

Chapter Quiz edit

1. What type of constructivist theory does Lev Vygotsky influence?

           A. Social Constructivism
           B. Experimental Constructivism
           C. Cognitive Constructivism

2. How do Social Constructivist scholars view learning?

           A. An individual process
           B. As an active process
           C. Self reflection Process

3. Peer collaboration is not a part of social constructivism.

           T or F 

4. Briefly explain how Piaget’s theory involved children.