Opposing to behaviorism and cognitivism, learning paradigms which begin from a point of view that world external to the learner is objective and real and the learner needs to map it's principles and facts, constructivism as a learning paradigm1) suggests that2):
Teaching of a discipline should therefore:
Although constructivist ideas can be tracked back to 18th century and authors like Giambattista Vico3) it mostly emerged in the 1970s4) and has been recognized as a paradigm, but also as a theory5). Today constructivism usually appears in the literature in a number of variants6) with two dominant variants7):
Constructivist instructional design models have been subjected to much criticisms lately9)10), mostly for promoting pure discovery-learning and minimally guided instruction. Richard Mayer11) has reviewed results of pure discovery-based learning experiments from 1950s to 1980s and concluded that every decade a new similar approach was invented under different name not making any significant difference. In his own words,
Critics claim discovery-learning and minimally guided instruction, although more enjoyable to students13),
Although constructivism also includes learning methods with a certain degree of guidance and not just discovery learning and minimally guided instruction, critics claim that those methods still ignore proven benefits guidance, worked examples, and induce a higher cognitive load resulting in lower resources available for learning due to orientation on finding a solution to a problem.
It is important to notice that these findings do not indicate that the initial assumptions of constructivism of a learner constructing his own representation of knowledge are wrong. The indicate that suggested instructional design consequences described in discovery learning models with minimal guidance do not necessarily follow. Today it is generally considered that advantages of guidance during instructional process begin to fade only when learners possess sufficient amount of prior knowledge to provide guidance by themselves24).
Ertmer, P. A., Newby T. J. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4):50–72. 1993.
Liu, C. H, and R. Matthews. Vygotsky’s philosophy: Constructivism and its criticisms examined. International Education Journal 6, no. 3: 386–399. 2005.
Husen, T., and T. N. Postlethwaite. Constructivism in Education. In The International Encyclopedia of Education, 1:162-163. Oxford/New York: Pergamon Press, 1989.
Constructivism at Learning Theories. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
Sjoberg, S. Constructivism and learning. In Sjoberg, S., E. Baker, B. McGaw, and P. Peterson. International Encyclopedia of Education 3rd Edition, Oxford: Elsevier, 2007.
Press, Teachers College. Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. Teachers College Press, 1996.
L. P. Steffe & J. Gale (Eds.). Constructivism in education. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 1995.
K. Tobin (Ed.). The practice of constructivism in science education. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 1993.
Marie Larochelle, Nadine Bednarz, and James W. Garrison, Constructivism and education. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Phillips, D. C. The good, the bad, and the ugly: The many faces of constructivism. Educational researcher 24, no. 7: 5–12. 1995.
Keith Taber. Beyond Constructivism: the Progressive Research Programme into Learning Science. Studies in Science Education 42, no. 1: 125-184, 2006.