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Anna-Marie Robertson 1 EDTECH 504

Seymour Papert (Papert, 1980s) has been credited with coining the phrase Constructionism, which builds on the Constructivist theories of Jean Piaget (Han & Bhattacharya, 2009). In a video conference (Papert, 1980s) given in the 1980s to teachers who were half a world away in Japan, Papert compared and contrasted Instructionism with Constructionism. He said that Instructionism is the theory that says, To get better education, we must improve instruction. (Papert, 1980s) Papert feels that while good instruction is important to the educational process, it is learning that we should be more concerned with. He defined Constructionism as, Giving children good things to do so that they can learn by doing much better than they could before. (Papert, 1980s) It is this notion of doing that causes Constructionism to be considered as part of the epistemological belief of student-centered learning environments as discussed by David H. Johassen and Susan M. Lund in our textbook, Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments. (Jonassen & Land, 2000, p. 2)

The main contributor to Constructionism is Seymour Papert. According to a biography compiled by AnnMarie Thurmond for San Francisco State University, Papert was born and educated in South Africa, researched mathematics at Cambridge University from 1954 - 1958, and worked with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva from 1958 - 1963. Dr. Papert relocated to MIT in the early 1960s and met Marvin Minsky who assisted him in founding the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He invented the LOGO computer language in 1967, and defined the theory of Constructionism in the 1980s. This theory was based, in part, on the work of Jean Piaget, John Dewey and Maria Montessori (Thurmond, 1999).

Major Principles
Constructionism maintains the basic principles found in Piagets Constructivist theory - that the learner is the effective builder of their own knowledge. But it goes a little further than this by emphasizing that the learners build or create external artifacts that can be shared (Han & Bhattacharya, 2009). This sharing or reporting is an important part of the process of building knowledge. If the artifact is not shared, critical learning from feedback is lost. In his own words, Papert says that an environment where nothing is created or shared is a terrible way of learning (Papert, 1980s).

According to Han and Bhattacharya, Constructionism in the classroom is characterized by a learner-oriented environment in which the instructor is a guide and facilitator. The instructor assigns tasks that will cause the learner to employ certain instructional objectives. The learners explore, design, and find solutions for problems and projects grounded with application from real life. (Han & Bhattacharya, 2009). They go on to say that lesson and unit objectives are crucial at the beginning of a project-based task so that the learners know up front what is expected of them as they go on to build their own knowledge through the process. Rubrics and examples provide structure and important guidance but do not fence in the student. The student is allowed to pursue these objectives in the way that makes sense to them.

Bibliography Han, S., & Bhattacharya, K. (2009, May 1). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching, and Technology:,_Learning_by_Design,_and_Project_Based_Learning Jonassen, D. A., & Land, S. M. (2000). Theoretical Foundatins of Learning Environments. (D. A. Jonassen, & S. M. Land, Eds.) Mahwah, New Jersey, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Papert, S. A. (1980s). Constructionism vs. Instructionism. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from Thurmond, A. (1999, May). Biography. Retrieved September 17, 2010, from Seymour Papert & Constructionism: