Both concepts emerged from the understanding of culture and cognition and acknowledge that variables such as biology, culture, class, gender and age influence the way that an individual perceives the world.
Constructivism was founded by Piaget, while Constructionism was founded by Papert - one of his students. Constructivism is the idea that people construct an internal understanding of reality, and that 'reality' is produced by interactions between people and within environments. Constructivism highlights the abilities of students to achieve different educational tasks at different ages and stages. According to Piaget, Constructivism "opens a gateway to the interests and abilities of children to achieve specific education goals at different ages. It studies the manner in which students engage in different tasks and how these change over time." He acknowledged that children's views about the world are forever changing as children interact with others and acquire new experiences.
Papert based his theory of constructionism on the work and theory of Piaget, however unlike constructivism, in constructionism attention is given to the manner of learning, or the art of learning. Constructionism is more of an educational method which is based on the constructivist learning theory. Constructionism shifts the focus from what is created internally through the process of learning, to what is created externally. Papert believes constructionism adds to the idea of constructivism by saying that it occurs when "the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it's a sand castle on the beach of a theory of the universe". He believes that students will be more deeply involved in their learning if they are constructing something that others will see, critique, and perhaps use. Through that construction, students will face complex issues, and they will make the effort to problem-solve and learn because they are motivated by the construction.
So why is this important?
- These theories open possibilities for alternative understandings of the relationship between learning, education, and society.
- They relate to the ideas about the impact of individual, cooperative and collaborative initiatives on communities and within education.
- We want our students to be creators of learning, not merely consumers.
Guzdial, M. (1997). Constructivism vs. Constructionism. Retrieved from http://guzdial.cc.gatech.edu/Commentary/construct.html
Papert, S., & Harel, I. (1991). Situating constructionism. Constructionism, 1-11. Retrieved from http://namodemello.com.br/pdf/tendencias/situatingconstrutivism.pdf