The Constructivist Approach in Teaching

Constructivists view learning as an active process that results from self-constructed meanings. A meaningful connection is established between prior knowledge and the present learning activity. The constructive approach is anchored on the belief that every individual constructs and reconstructs meanings depending on past experiences. They continue reflecting and evaluating accumulated knowledge with an end in view of constructing new meanings.

Instructional Characteristics

  1. Teaching is not considered as merely transmitting knowledge and information such as facts, concepts and principles but rather as providing students with relevant experiences from which they can construct their own meaning.
  2. Constructivism is anchored on the assumption that “the absorption or assimilation of knowledge is somewhat personal and therefore. no two learners can build up the same meaning out of one situation.”
  3. The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning by providing opportunities for a stimulating dialogue so that meanings could evolve and be constructed. She guides the students through skillful questioning and appropriate cognition processing.
  4. The instructional materials include learning activities and events rather than fixed documents (laws, principles) that almost always are learned unquestioned and simply recalled.
  5. Lessons are activity-centered in order for them to experience or gain personal knowledge through active involvement. Participation with understanding enables them to “live through” a learning episode.

Since this approach emphasizes that learning is influenced by past experiences, here are some suggestions on how the students can acquire meanings:

  1. In introducing a lesson, find connection with the previous one through a review or recount of observations done on a past learning activity.
  2. Inquiry teaching suits the constructivists. The teacher poses a. problem, asks questions and facilitates free probe into a particular subject. Both teacher and students engage in open discussions and dialogue, honest exchange of ideas and collaboratively draw conclusions.
  3. Reflection is an important activity wherein the learner re-captures an experience, thinks about it and evaluates it. Through an analysis of experiences, new understandings and insights are gained. After a learning activity, the teacher must allow time for reflection. Only then will the experience gained be useful in arriving at new interpretations and conclusions.
  4. Plan learning activities that will develop critical thinking skills, creativity and innovativeness such as performing own experiments and in-depth investigations. Research activities likewise promote the search for new information based on prior knowledge.
  5. Since construction and reconstruction of meanings is an active and uniquely individual process, students must be encouraged to work independently. They must be allowed to test their own ideas. Self-discovered information creates more meaningful concepts.

Guidelines for Its Effective Use

  1. Encourage students to take their own initiative in undertaking a learning activity. A strong sense of responsibility for their own learning is developed. It develops self-directed learning.
  2. Respect and accept the student’s own ideas. Allow group discussions and free expressions of their own views. They will learn to listen to others and share their own for a consensus. Their self-confidence is enhanced.
  3. Ask the students to recall past experiences, analyze and see a connection with the new learning event. The constructivist allows reconstruction and revision of previous learning. Experience alone may not result to learning. It is recall and objective evaluation that results in new understandings.