Constructivism Learning Theory - Essay Example

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Constructivism is a theory propounded by Jean Piaget. The theory tries to explain how people acquire knowledge and learn. According to Jean Piaget, he asserts that people construct knowledge and meaning from their experiences (Kivinen, & Ristela, 2003). The constructivist theory by Piaget has had a wide ranging effect on learning and teaching methods in education and has had an underlying theme of many education reform movements. In the classroom, the theory integrates a process of learning whereby the students make their conclusion through the creative aid of the teacher as a facilitator (Jensen, 2000). This is not the case in my class; the teacher makes all the conclusions for us. We are not allowed to work together as students; everyone is for himself or herself. Also, everyone is equal, there no situation whereby one of us is seen as an expert in a subject then teaching the rest of the class. There are no presentations since the teacher does all the research and presents his findings in the class. The concept of constructivism learning such as students discovering their theories, teacher asking open-ended questions and allowing us to analyze and respond based on our personal experiences is not applicable in my class. Also, another important aspect of constructivism is a constant conversation between the teacher and the students, whereby students are allowed to give their ideas and defend them, however, in my class, the conversation is one sided.

Experiential Learning Theory

The experiential theory developed by David Kolb focuses on providing a holistic learning process (Kolb, & Kolb, 2005). The main objective of this theory is an experience which serves as the main driving force of learning. The learning models comprise of four modes: two modes of gaining experience and two modes of transforming the experience which facilitates learning (Kolb, & Kolb, 2005). The modes of gaining experience are concrete experience and abstract conceptualization, whereas the modes of transforming experience are reflective observation and active experimentation. When combined, these four modes form a cycle of learning that learners go through during the process of experiential learning. Application of experiential learning theory is very effective for students since it entails coming up with assignments and class activities that are based on real-life situations or primary research that students participate in coming up with data and find solutions without predetermined right answers (Kolb, 2014). The four modes provide to learn the Kolbs cycle, for instance; concrete experience provides the willingness and openness for students to participate in new experiences example it can be an experiment on chemicals. Secondly, reflective observation provides the student with the ability to analyze what has been newly observed in the experience. Thirdly, abstract conceptualization whereby the student uses the new knowledge acquired to self-improve them. Lastly, active experimentation students try out what they have learned for themselves in response to various experience. All these are not present in our classroom; the teacher does everything while we observe and take notes (Kolb, 2014).


George Siemens (2014) defines connectivism as, a learning theory for the digital age. According to connectivism, the process of learning lays its basis on different unrelenting shifting aspects. Siemens (2014) continues to assert that, the starting point of learning is the individual who feeds information into the network, which feeds information back to individuals who in turn feed information back into the network as part of a cycle. Since there is a lot of information in the network, and it keeps on changing, it is, therefore, the duty of a person to filter content and identify which information is suitable to them. Furthermore, the theory is a pedagogy and creates the ability for learners to connect to one other through networking or collaboration tools. Most theories believe that learning occurs inside the head of a person, but connectivism opposes this notion believing that todays learning is complex to be processed in that manner (Siemens, 2014). Therefore, there is a need for reliance on a network of people for storage, accessibility, and retrieval of knowledge and motivate its users. This theory can be applied in classroom whereby the teacher or the school creates a program or website that ensures connectivity students. However, my classroom we still in the analog age whereby we use handouts, hard copy textbooks, and blackboards.

Behaviorism Learning Theory

The theory focal point is about objectively observable behaviors and discards any independent activities of the mind (Boghossian, 2006). Moreover, theorist of behaviorism asserts learning is behavior acquired based on the conditions of the environment. There are two types of conditioning classic and operant (Boghossian, 2006). Classical conditioning takes place when a natural reflex responds to a stimulus. Whereas, operant conditioning takes place during the reinforcement of a response to a stimulus. Behaviorism theory can be applied in class to evoke and maintain desired student behavior. Some examples of behavior modification methods entail appraisals, giving rewards, giving feedback to the performance of students, positive reinforcements and using non-punitive discipline (Slavin, & Davis, 2006). Unfortunately, in my class it is different, the teacher shouts at us, uses punitive discipline and we are never rewarded or praised for doing extra work or performing better or improving our grades.


Boghossian, P. (2006). Behaviorism, constructivism, and Socratic pedagogy. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 38(6), 713-722.

Jensen, J. W. (2000). Application of Constructivism to Teacher Education.

Kivinen, O., & Ristela, P. (2003). From Constructivism to a Pragmatist Conception of Learning. Oxford Review of Education, 29(3), 363-375. Retrieved from

Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press.

Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. (2005). Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4(2), 193-212. Retrieved from, G. (2014). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.

Slavin, R. E., & Davis, N. (2006). Educational psychology: Theory and practice.

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