Thursday, February 7, 2013


 Constructivism as a learning theory as proposed by Piaget (Wikipedia: 1) is basically a theory of knowledge that argues that human generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. The main idea of constructivism is allowing students to construct their own way of learning as well as their own idea related to the learning materials. In case of constructing own ideas in developing and exploring the essence of the learning materials, students need previous knowledge related. Other ways, students will find it difficult to construct ideas and select the most suitable way of Learning for them. lt is further formulated (Wikipedia: 3) that constructivism is a theory describing how learning happens, regardless of whether Learners are using their experiences to understand a lecture or following the instructions for building a model airplane, ln both cases, the theory of constructivism suggests that learners construct knowledge out of their experiences.  

According to Sanjaya (2006; 77) constructivism as a mode of learning can make students not only selects their own way of learning but also solve problems by themselves on the basis of their previous knowledge or schemata. In case of learning language, the way of solving learning problems is based frequently on the context of the learning materials. That is why constructivism is considered as the foundation of the birth of Contextual Learning and Teaching (CLT) Approach.
The proponents of constructivism suggest that learning is accomplished best using a hands-on approach in which learners learn by experimentation, and not by being told what will happen, and are left to make their own inferences, discoveries, and conclusions, In line with this notion, Trianto (2011; 13) states that the theory of constructivism suggests learners to self-inquire and then transform complex information, checking the new information by applying previous riles and revise them when found that the previous rules have been out of date.

One of the most basic principles claimed by constructivism theory especially in relation the educational psychology is that teacher does not only transfers knowledge to his or her students but also creating atmosphere through which students are able to construct their own knowledge available in their brain supported by their previous experiences found through social interactions. In relation to this notion, the main role of a teacher as stated by Trianto (2011; 13) is facilitating students to construct their own ideas and thoughts, assisting students to consciously apply their own strategy in learning.

Constructivism is identical with inquiry learning through which learners are expected to construct new understanding. Dewey (1933) in Gijlers and Jong (Cognition and Instruction, 2009: 239) states that inquiry learning is an active approach in which learners explore real problems, ask questions, engage in investigations, and construct new understanding. Besides, inquiry learning encourages students to be active agents in the process of their own knowledge constructions Nevertheless, inquiry learning is generally

recognized as a difficult process for students since students are not always capable of directing their own learning process. Students usually find it difficult to induce information from a simulation-based learning environment. Therefore, it is now widely accepted that unsupported inquiry learning is not effective.

Various scaffolds have been developed to overcome the problems that students experience during the inquiry learning process. Besides scaffolds in individual settings, collaboration with another student might be a natural fond of support during inquiry learning. In a collaborative setting, plans must be made explicit and students’ reasoning, ideas, and theories must be explained in mutually understandable way (T easley, 1995 in Gijlers and Jong (Cognition and Instruction, 2009: 240).

Although constructivism is claimed to be the pioneer of CLT birth, some cognitive psychologists and educators (Wikipedia: 11) have questioned the central claims of the constructivism by stating that constructivist theories are misleading or contradict known findings. Matthews (1993), for example, attempts to sketch the influence of constructhrism in current mathematics and science education, aiming to indicate how pervasive Aristotle`s empiricist epistemology is within it and what problems constructivism faces on that account. ln the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development it is maintained that learning at any age depends upon the processing and representational resources available at this particular age. That is, it is maintained that if the requirements of the concept to be understood exceeds the available processing efficiency and working memory resources the concept is by definition not learnable.

Other educators such as Mayer, 2004: Kirschner, Sweller, and Clask, 2006 0Nikipedia: 12) have also questioned the effectiveness of the constructivism approach towards instructional design, especially as it applies to the development of instruction for novices. While some constructivists argue that ‘learning by doing' enhances learning, critics of this instructional strategy argue that little empirical evidence exists to support this statement given novice learners. Sweller and his colleagues argue that novices do not possess the underlying mental models or “schemas” necessary for learning by doing.

Another criticism comes from Swelier (2004) arguing that not all teaching techniques based on constructivism are efficient or effective for all learners, suggesting many educators misapply constructivism to use teaching techniques that require learners to be behaviorally active. According to Swelier (2004) the inappropriate use of constructivism seems to be of ‘constructivist teaching fallacy’ because it equates active learning and active teaching. Instead (Mayer, 2004: 15) proposes that learners should be ‘cognitively active' during learning and that instructors use ‘guided practice 

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