According to constructivist theories of learning, learners "construct" their own knowledge. Learners actively engage in learning, rather than passively receive knowledge from experts. From this perspective, effective teachers structure learning experiences that facilitate this active learning.
Kolb's classic model for learning has four stages:
Research suggests that abstract science lectures are more effective after students have had concrete experiences, presumably because students are better prepared to integrate lecture material into their thinking when they are in Kolb's later stages (Prichard & Sawyer, p. 165).
Byrnes (1996) and Arseneau and Rodenburg (1998) contrast objectivist and constructivist approaches to teaching and learning.
|Knowledge exists outside of individuals and can be transferred from teachers to students.||Knowledge has personal meaning. It is created by individual students.|
|Students learn what they hear and what they read. If a teacher explains abstract concepts well, students will learn those concepts.||Learners construct their own knowledge by looking for meaning and order; they interpret what they hear, read, and see based on their previous learning and habits. Students who do not have appropriate backgrounds will be unable to accurately "hear" or "see" what is before them.|
|Learning is successful when students can repeat what was taught.||Learning is successful when students can demonstrate conceptual understanding.|
Arseneau, R., & Rodenburg, D. (1998). The Developmental Perspective: Cultivating Ways of Thinking. In D. D. Pratt (Ed.). Five Perspectives on Teaching in Adult and Higher Education. Malabar, FL: Krieger.
Byrnes, J. P. (1996). Cognitive Development and Learning in Instructional Contexts. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Prichard, K. W., & Sawyer, R. M. (Eds.) (1994). Handbook of College Teaching: Theory and Applications. London: Greenwood Press.