Constructivism is a theory of learning (link opens in new tab/window) that revolves around the idea that learners construct their own knowledge based on personal experiences and within their sociocultural contexts. In other words, knowledge cannot be separated from the context in which it occurs. Constructivists also believe that the motivation to learn is inherent within the learner, personal, and a prerequisite to successful learning.
Why it matters for education
Constructivism posits that many people learn best when they are allowed to discover essential information for themselves after working through a partially guided segment or lesson. (In the SMARTS curriculum, students engage in a metacognitive activator, guided instruction, independent practice, and reflection).
Constructivism also has clear connections to real-world learning across the subjects. For example, one study found(link opens in new tab/window) that students were more motivated to learn science topics when they had more opportunities to relate their learning to real-world issues.
- Combine hands-on and mental learning experiences to engage students and help them retain what they are learning.
- Provide worked examples (partially- or fully-solved example problems) to support students’ working memory when approaching new topics.
- Learning is a deeply social activity. Encourage peer mentoring and collaboration as much as possible.
- Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org