Constructivism as a Strategy to Develop Meaning

What is Constructivism?

Constructivism is the belief that people are best able to create meaning through active involvement and exploration. Constructivism leaves behind the traditional lecture style classroom, where students are expected to learn material though listening, memorization, and regurgitation during assessment. Instead, constructivist teaching puts students in the students in the drivers seat and allows the creation of knowledge to be very student-centered. Students use the experiences provided to them, in and outside of the classroom, to inform their understanding of concepts and make their learning much more relevant. As students explore, they build off their previous knowledge and either add to it or modify it based on their findings. Through the use of constructivism in the classroom, students are better able to connect to the material and create a deeper understanding that will stick with them for use in the future.

Key Elements of Constructivism:

  • Experience
  • Questioning (Inquiry)
  • Exploration
  • Assessment or Knowledge



The concepts presented in constructivist education date all the way back to the ideas of Socrates. His theory brought about the role of teachers to act as a guide and present students with questions to lead their learning. The beliefs of Jean Piaget strongly contributed to the basis of constructivism as well, in that he believed knowledge is constructed based on previous knowledge. John Dewey proved to influence constructivism as well through his idea that education should be rooted in authentic experience. He noted that inquiry is an integral part of constructivist learning. Finally, Lev Vygotsky has provided new concepts to those already existing within constructivist teaching. He introduced the interactive element, in which students are working collaboratively to deepen their understanding past what could be gained alone.












 Pros and Cons to Constructivist Teaching













Current Application


























Examples of Constructivist Teaching in the Classroom


As Simple as it Gets

This very brief article gives an overview of one of the simplist ways that Constructivist Teaching can be implemented in the classroom. By giving all of the students a chance to share their thoughts and ideas and posting them in a visable place in the classroom, they are given a sense of ownership of their learning and accomplishment that they created that knowledge on their own.

Guided Learning 

This link provides a testimony from a school that is currently using guided learning in their classrooms to reduce dependency on the teacher, while using the teacher to tactfully prompt students to ask questions and make discoveries that will build their knowledge and inform their learing of a topic.

Project/ Problem Based Learning

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see a model of project or problem based learning being used in an elementary classroom. This video provides an idea for the way that open-ended questions, group work, leadership opportunities, and presentation through colaboration can be used to enhance students learning and provoke higher-level thinking.

Inquiry-Based Learning

This site gives several examples of integrated Inquiry-Based lessons that have been previously used in the classroom. These lessons can be adapted to fit a particular classroom or used as a springboard for the creation of inquiry-based lessons for any topic.

Socratic Seminars

The second video link at the bottom of the page provides a look into an elementary classroom that is conducting a Socratic Seminar. This video offers insight into how the students are able to interact with each other, learn about other peoples thinking, and building knowledge without getting it straight from the teacher themselves.



Implementation in your Classroom

Lesson Plan Tips

This link will provide teachers with promts to guide the creation of a constructivist teaching lesson plan. It is very informative and helpful for teachers looking to try a constructivist lesson for the first time, as well as every time down the road, allowing possibilities for any content area imaginable.

Contribution by Ashley Mulhern

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