What is Social Constructivism?
Social constructivism is a popular theory that has been adopted into the classroom by many teachers and educational researchers
(Howell, 2012). The social constructivist theory based
on the work of Lev Vgotsky, suggests that without socialization and social
interactions knowledge and understanding would not be able to develop (Howell,
2012). According to Kaya Yilmaz (2008) this approach also demontrates how power,
the economy, political and social factors affect the ways in which groups of
people make meaning of the world surrounding them. The
three underlying factors to social constructivism infer that firstly social
interaction plays a major role in the development of knowledge (Howell, 2012).
The Second understanding of social constructivism states that an individual
with a better understanding or higher level of knowledge than the learner (For
example: The teacher, parent or peers) is important to learning (Howell, 2012).
Lastly, it is understood that learning occurs within the ‘zone of proximal
development’. This is the distance
between a learner’s ability to perform a task requiring adult supervision or
co-working with peers to being able to perform a task independently (Howell,
How can teachers adopt this theory into their classroom?
A constructivist pedagogy will require “the creation of classroom environments, activities, and methods that are grounded in a constructivist theory of learning, with goals that focus on individual students developing deep understandings in the subject matter of interest and habits of mind that aid in future learning.” (Yilmaz, 2008) Teachers can easily implement this social constructivism theory into the classroom through the use of digital technologies in their teaching pedagogy. Teachers must deliver activities that facilitate students own knowledge and understanding of concepts (Howell, 2012). Examples of useful activities include problem solving, exploration, presentation, authentic activities and collaboration by group work (Rowe, 2006). Lastly, it is important to deliver lessons that foster creativity and also cater for a range of learning styles (Howell, 2012). These strategies should sound incredibly familiar, as they have been explored throughout the technology blogs. Digital Storytelling and Wikis are both great examples that demonstrate a social constructivist philosophy. All of these examples are also ideal and effective teaching practices which are often promoted as the best teaching practice (Rowe, 2006).
What do teachers need to consider?
When implementing a constructivist theory into the classroom, it is important that teachers carefully consider their role in the learning situation. In order to support a constructivist approach, teachers must adopt a meditational role for student-centered learning rather than instructional role(Howell, 2012). Teachers also must ensure they identify each individual students prior knowledge, scaffold teaching, carefully monitor the development of student understanding (Howard, 2012). We must understand that formative and summative assessment should appear in different forms and contexts such as continuous assessment, group assessment, exams, and online assessment (Rowe, 2006) in order to have a clear picture of a students progress. All of these factors that are recommended to consider in constructivist have become second nature to all inclusive teachers.
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for Collaboration and Creativity. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Rowe, K. (2006). "Effective teaching practices for students with and without learning difficulties: Constructivism as a legitimate theory of learning AND of teaching?" Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/learning_processes/10
Yilmaz, K. (2008). Constructivism: Its Theoretical Underpinnings, Variations, and Implications for Classroom Instruction. Educational HORIZONS. p. 161 – 172.