A Journey Through Technology

Week 1: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

on May 16, 2017

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “[t]he major concepts and theories of learning include behaviourist theories, cognitive psychology, constructivism, social constructivism, experiential learning, multiple intelligence, and situated learning theory and community of practice.” (n.d.) The Peak Performance Center goes on to further explain three of those theories, behaviorism, “[n]ew behaviors or changes in behaviors are acquired through associations between simuli and responses.”, cognitivism, “[i]nformation processing leads to understanding and retention.”, and constructivism, “[w]e construct our own knowledge of the world based on individual experiences.” (The Peak Performance Center, n.d.)

To me, it appears that the traditional educational and classroom models are tied to the cognitivist theory. We bombard students with information, and they process, understand (hopefully), and retain that information. The most appeal of these three theories to me is constructivism, which I have been working to use more in my classroom. “Constructivism emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to the idea that learners are not passive recipients of information, but that they actively construct their knowledge in interaction with the environment and through the reorganization of their mental structures.” (UNESCO, n.d.) Students should not be passive in their learning, but should be taking an active role in what and how they are learning. Based on my reading this week, constructionism is most closely related to constructivism.

“Constructionism–the N word as opposed to the V word–shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as “building knowledge structures” irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe.” (Papert & Harel, 1991) Based on this description, I think that constructionism does bring new ideas to the table of education. It takes the ideas of constructivism and building your own knowledge, but then extends that one step further to building a physical product. It isn’t just about learning things, but using that knowledge to create something tangible. “The maker ethos values learning through direct experience and the intellectual and social benefits that accrue from creating something shareable.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013)


Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991) Constructionism. Ablex Publishing Corporation. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.papert.org/articles/SituatingConstructionism.html

The Peak Performance Center. (n.d.) Learning Theories. Retreived May 16, 2017 from http://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/learning/theories/

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organiziation. (n.d.) Most influential theories of learning. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening-education-systems/quality-framework/technical-notes/influential-theories-of-learning/ 


4 responses to “Week 1: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

  1. I agree with your thoughts that the traditional education is tied to cognitive. Most times in the normal education teacher are throwing knowledge at students and through repetition hoping that something sticks.

    At the same time constructivism can be traditional also. Here is a good article by J. Wesley Null that talks about this point “Is Constructivism Traditional? Historical and Practical Perspectives on a Popular Advocacy” http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ724882.pdf


  2. waclawskid says:

    I like how you discussed building and tinkering when you discussed what constructionism has to offer education. I truly think this is one way to actually apply this philosophy in traditional education. Students learn best when they are doing and creating things. It is really hard to get from a to z when using constructionism. Have you thought of some good way to implement this in a classroom?


  3. Mariah Smith says:

    If a classroom has the goal of application of their learning, many times this goal can be implemented in a physical representation. The difficult part about Constructionism is when a topic such as writing equations in math class has little representation in the physical world let alone making a product that might solve an everyday problem. I think that Constructionism in the traditional education world is new but I also think that the concept of learning through creating and making is not quite new in an untraditional education environment.


  4. matical4263 says:

    Good blog entry. I agree with you. To me, learning should be constructivist. Students learn by doing and thinking, not by being told and memorizing. The Maker movement is all about constructing things and constructing knowledge. I like to make things.


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