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Paper #3: Constructivist Teaching

Sheza Naqi Prof. Janet McCracken October 28, 2012

On Page 37, von Glasersfeld states: " to assess the truth of your knowledge you would have to know what you come to know before you come to know it". He also says " it appears that knowledge is not a transferable commodity and communication not a conveyance" (p. 48). Explain these quotes and what they mean for constructivist teaching. Constructivism asserts that the only reality and truth that one can know is that which is understood through personal experience and thought. Thus, in his article explaining constructivism through an epistemological perspective, Von Glasersfeld states, The question, how veridical the acquired knowledge might be, can therefore not be answered (2008). For constructivist teaching this means learners construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world. As learners explore a new topic or problem they draw conclusions and as they strive to gain a deeper understanding of the topic they come to new conclusions and modify pre-existing assumptions and replace previous knowledge with their newfound understanding of the idea. It is through experience and reflection that learners reconcile new knowledge with previous knowledge and experience. Therefore, knowledge cannot be transferred like a commodity from teacher to student and must instead be created by the student. Teacher-led lessons and lecturing are not an appropriate conveyance for knowledge in constructivist teaching. Knowledge is instead constructed; students enter learning situations with formulated knowledge and are expected to integrate their new experiences and interpretations to construct their own personal meaning with the previous ideas and understanding they hold. Constructivist teaching is active; the learner is the person who creates the understanding for himself. The teachers role is to facilitate that journey but it is the learner who will experiment, manipulate objects, ask questions and try and fail before arriving at an understanding that makes sense. Students are also made into active learners by participating in goal-setting and self-assessment. They also learn through collaboration with their peers when given opportunities to review and reflect on their learning. The Inquiry Based Learning model is highly effective in a constructivist classroom because it encourages students to ask questions, investigate the topic and use a variety of resources to arrive at new understandings. Constructivist classrooms support the idea of life-long learners. References: Von Glasersfeld, E. (2008). Learning as a Constructive Activity. AntiMatters, 2(3), 33- 49.