Constructivism is a learning theory where the learner “constructs” knowledge from the information given. Constructivism is at the root of multiple instructional design models, but when compared to passive learning (being fed information or learning through memorization) constructivism is an active learning method. Constructivism and instructional design go hand in hand, with the combination creating courses that ultimately benefit the learner. The core of constructive learning design is the idea that a learner should construct knowledge rather than passively absorb it. This means that students are presented with situations and guided towards the solution. Constructivist instructional design places the learner at the center of the process, giving the learner more agency in their education.
What is Constructivism Learning Design?
Implementing constructivist learning design principles means having the learner actively participate in learning. Active learner participation is the key to constructivism instructional design and task-centered learning plans are a good way of keeping learners actively engaged in the lesson. Constructivism classes tend to be smaller in size so each student can participate and receive individual attention from teachers. This way the learner can receive more direct input, facilitating their “construction”. The premise of an interactive learning plan is one of the core principles of instructional design best practices.
Implementing Constructivism in Instructional Design
There are two roles to focus on when implementing constructivist learning design: the teacher’s role and the student’s role. Both roles are vital to the success of a constructivism course; without investment from both parties, the system will be less effective or fail to accomplish educational objectives entirely.
There are four basic characteristics of a constructivism classroom and each characteristic is centered around the student and teacher roles.
- Knowledge will be shared between teachers and students.
- Teachers and students will share authority.
- The teacher’s role is one of a facilitator or guide.
- Learning groups will consist of small numbers of heterogeneous students.
The Teacher’s Role
The teacher needs to be heavily involved and invested as it is their role to create a problem-solving environment that stimulates students to seek out knowledge needed to solve a presented problem. It is the teacher’s role not to regurgitate information at students, but rather their job is to challenge learners and introduce opportunities to practice new skills. A constructivism teacher functions more as a facilitator than a traditional instructor. By presenting students with a challenge, teachers are forcing students to ask questions and work together to figure out a solution. It is important the teacher correctly raises or lowers the difficulty of different lessons to fit each student. The method of adjusting the level of difficulty of a lesson and the amount of assistance a student receives based on the student’s abilities is called scaffolding.
The Student’s Role
Constructivist instructional design is a student-focused experience and requires the student to actively participate in instruction. It does not matter how many student support systems are in place, if the student is not participating in the lesson, very little learning will take place. The student must be ready to participate as the lesson plan will revolve around their abilities. This is accomplished by completing tasks to practice skills, interacting directly with their instructor or groups of peers, and giving input on their learning.
Constructivism is heavily student-focused, and a student must be actively participating in learning for the method to work. Course structure and teaching style are important elements in creating a constructivism classroom, but the students must engage in their education. SkillSource Learning’s consultants can help you craft constructivism content that will keep students engaged and focused so the model can help students reach their educational goals.