Constructivist Learning

Learning theories, taxonomies, and instructional models have been articulated to explain cognitive development and to outline the needs of diverse learners. For example, constructivist learning theorists Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner explained learning as an interactive developmental process. Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia developed a taxonomy that categorizes cognitive and affective learning into six levels of understanding: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Johnson and Johnson outlined a model for cooperative learning. These theories, taxonomies, and models were synthesized by Marzano and incorporated into a framework for constructivist teaching and learning.

Constructivist learning theorists view learning as a highly interactive process, where students construct personal meaning from new information and ideas that are presented in socially supportive contexts. Learning depends on making connections between new information and previous experiences stored in long-term memory. To be meaningful,learning must be integrated with what is already known, and then applied in new situations. The complexity of understandings that students construct depends on the stage of cognitive development they have reached. Conversely, as students mature, their understandings evolve and deepen as they move through stages of cognitive development.

Understanding is much more than remembering new information. For understanding to develop, knowledge must be internalized, transformed, and applied in new contexts. Students develop deeper understanding when they restructure and reorganize new information by deliberately applying a variety of reasoning skills. Over-riding these skills is critical thinking, which involves the use of specific criteria and evidence to make reasoned judgements.

At the most sophisticated level, understanding means synthesizing information and ideas by combining higher-level, critical, and creative thinking processes. Students demonstrate their understanding by inventing, designing, and/or creating original products.

Marzano’s framework for teaching and learning is particularly relevant to the Developmental Continuum for Literacy with ICT because it explains five dimensions of understanding and attitude:
  1. developing positive attitudes and perceptions
  2. acquiring knowledge and skills
  3. extending and refining knowledge
  4. using knowledge meaningfully
  5. developing productive habits of mind

Dimensions two, three, and four are represented across three stages of thinking in the Cognitive Domain portion of the continuum. Dimensions one and five are represented in the Affective Domain portion of the continuum.

Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum. Section 2: Supporting Principles.

Resources for Constructivist Learning

Visit LwICT's Bookmarks on Delicious and select "Constructivist-Learning" in the right navigation bar.