Constructivism in education
Constructivism in educationConstructivism in education is the notion that students create concepts rather than simply memorize them. Constructivism is especially useful for higher level concepts and where students begin with incorrect ideas. In physics, for example, Newtonian mechanics involves several independent principles (force, mass, inertia, acceleration). Students normally begin with intuitive (Aristotelian) notions of mechanics. Students must unlearn old views and construct new views. They use texts, physics laboratories and discussion. Science professionals use professional literature, laboratory experiments and peer discussion. For professionals the process is ingrained, intuitive, and barely perceived. For beginners the process is likely opaque.
The outcome of constructivist education depends upon openness to new perceptions and on perseverance and fluency in using available tools. Naive student peers may reinforce rather than correct misconceptions. Academically elite universities have the advantage of exceptional peers. Isolated groups can create and maintain idiosyncratic constructs.
Knowledge can be considered a network. The nodes represent facts and concepts and the edges represent relationships between them. Acquiring new facts and concepts requires establishing new nodes and linking them appropriately to existing nodes. The more edges connected to a new node the better the concept is understood. Improving the network can also involve removing inappropriate (naive) nodes and edges.
knowledge as a social construct