Dr. Orey defines constructivism as “a theory of knowledge stating that each individual actively constructs his or her own meaning (Laureate Education, Inc. , 2010). The theory of learning that corresponds to this would be constructionism. An interpretation of constructionism is that “people learn by actively constructing new knowledge, rather than by having information "poured" into their heads (Thurmond, 1999). The most effective strategy of this type of learning is for students to create actual artifacts that can be shared with peers. This sharing leads to collaboration on particular topics and can be a beneficial resource when engaging in problem and project-based learning, such as generating and testing hypotheses.
As a science teacher, experience working with hypotheses is common. The most familiar task that my students have encountered is experimental inquiry. Through this process, students make observations and generate questions relative to their observations. From here they devise experiments that are designed to prove the question that they have created. The experiments that the students perform can at times provide large amounts of data. It is challenging for a student to understand how to interpret data and provide conclusions related to their experiment. In keeping with the constructivist theory, students will experience success in problem-based learning if they can create artifacts.
Technology can be the necessary tool to create these artifacts. Through the use of spreadsheets, students can interpret data and create nonlinguistic representations of their findings. Because science experimentation involves multiple trials, the use of technology allows students to concentrate more on the process of proving their hypothesis, rather than the vast amount of data that they have recorded. The ability to share the graphics that are developed from their data gives students the opportunity to collaborate with others in the classroom or on the web. As students develop detailed conclusions to communicate their findings, they are engaged in their learning and experience further retention of the subject matter (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007). This retention helps to develop personal connections as students increase their schema.
Department of Educational Technology, Boise State University. (2005). Designing your project. Retrieved
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program seven. Constructionist and
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Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Thurmond, AnnMarie. (1999) Constructivism and constructionism. Retrieved from http://online.sfsu.edu/~foreman/itec800/finalprojects/annmariethurmond/home.html.