Thursday, November 24, 2011


Constructionist view learning as an internal process that occurs when students build external artifacts (Laureate Education Inc., 2010).  Students build an object (an artifact) in the learning process.  While they are building, they assimilate and accommodate their schemas so they can move toward equilibration (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010).  In doing this, students are active in the learning process.  The teacher will only act as a facilitator.

Technology can be a tremendous advantage to this type of learning.  As we saw in Ch 11 of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, Mrs. Omar’s 5th grade class learned about investing money and which model works best.  They did not have to spend a great deal of time working out high school math problems in the process.  The spreadsheet she had her students use computed the numbers for them.  This allowed them to accomplish the teacher’s objectives without getting bogged down in mathematical computations.

Using data collection tools is another use of technology to accomplish learning in Constructionism.  Using sensors and data collection probes, allows students to find data, and be able to plot the data accurately and quickly.  This allows students more time to analyze the data.  From here, the teacher can expand the lesson to include additional thought-provoking questions.

In my physics classes, we use Vernier’s LabPros and data collection equipment.  Students like it because it allows them to analyze the data without worrying about drawing the graphs.  The graphs are already drawn.  When students look at the graphs and various points on the graph, they usually are able to identify what it is I want them to see.  One example is a walking activity.  Students can see how velocity and acceleration work together.  This also helps them to see what is meant by negative velocity and/or negative acceleration.  This is a topic that many students find difficult to overcome.

Many of the problem-based learning classes can get caught up in “little issues”.  An example would be the graphs mentioned earlier.  When these “little issues” are resolved, students can focus on the real task at hand. 

Tim Trotta

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2004). Constructionist vs. Constructivist Learning Theories [DVD]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Tim,

    Nice post. I think that is great that the graphs are already drawn so that your students are able to focus on their learning. This extra visual will also help them make more connections to the material.

  2. The visuals do allow students to focus on the learning objectives. Creating graphs by hand can be tedious, and it turns off many students. Using the technology keeps these students engaged.