Constructivism
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216 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s ConstruCtivism mAp loCAtion E, 3 threAD loCAtion Page 27 sCApe Learning Theory Constructivism a relevant area is Author Jocelyn Clark Agreement DesCription From the agreement “Importance of a Worldview,” we move along the mission Thread to “The Importance of Theory and Deep Concepts” to “Learning Theories” and then to “Constructivism.” Exploring constructivism as a learning theory as relevant to the mission of librarians leads us to the development of constructivism as a theory of knowledge creation. Constructivism postulates that knowledge is created within a person, not communicated from the outside (i.e., knowledge is internally constructed based on interpretation of our experiences). Cooperstein and Kocevar-Weidinger (2004) give a great summary article on the application as a learning theory. Thanasoulas (n.d.) also gives an excellent overview of the topic. Psychology, philosophy, educational theory, sociology, and other schools of thought have contributed to the development of constructivism as a learning theory. The credit for the development of educational constructivism is generally credited to Jean Piaget and his work on childhood learning. Other names that are associated with this field are Ernst Von Glaserfeld, John Dewey, Jerome Bruner, and Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky developed the theory of “social constructivism ,” which affirms that social interaction plays an essential role in cognitive development. Three particular reference Web sites are listed below with extensive bibliographies of these theoretical works (Ryder and Marsh, Barrie, & McFadden, Jean Piaget Society). Constructivism is generally agreed to be the process where individual knowledge is created internally through a person’s interaction with an external world. “Learners construct their own knowledge by looking for meaning and order; they interpret what they hear, read, and see based on their previous learning and habits” (Thanasoulas). This contrasts with the objectivist philosophy that learning is transmitted from teacher to student directly. Social constructivism acknowledges the roles that social interaction and culture have on that knowledge creation. There are critics of constructivism. They argue that it denies the existence of a true reality—that philosophically there are issues with creating a worldview of complete relativism. They take issue with statements like that of Tobin, “A constructivist perception acknowledges the existence of an external reality, but realizes that cognizing beings can never know what that reality is actually like.” Critics of constructivism as a learning theory suggest that constructivists want to teach that there are no objective facts to be learned; that constructivists want people to reinvent the wheel repeatedly. In addition, there exists an ongoing debate between encouraging self-discovery of science and mathematical relationships through constructivism versus teaching the principles objectively (Chakerian). Despite the ongoing philosophical debates, many constructivist principles are employed Figure 106 A g r e e m e n t s u p p l e m e n t s 217 routinely and successfully but perhaps are not representative of pure constructivism. In the context of new librarianship, we do not necessarily have to enter into the philosophical debate about constructivism because we are looking more narrowly at its concrete applications as a learning theory and at its application within the cosmos of librarianship. In the classroom, constructivist theories are applied through a learning model that includes opportunities for active questioning, interpreting , and problem solving (Marlowe). The work of Jean Piaget is used extensively in developing programs that support active learning. Solomon provides some concrete principles to guide the use of constructivist principles in the classroom. Cooperstein and Kocevar-Weidinger also discuss constructivism in library education. Many other resources are available that discuss the implementation of constructivist principles in a classroom environment. Some are listed below. However, a classroom is not the same thing as a library, and a librarian is not the same as a classroom teacher. In a library, the concept of facilitating knowledge creation is closely tied to the principles associated with developing an independent -learning, inquiry-based, project-based classroom. However, the question relative to the mission of librarians isn’t about classroom studies so much as it is about use of the theory of constructivism to build a model of librarianship that enables people to create their own knowledge. How do we create an information environment that facilitates personal knowledge creation? In most of the classroom applications , we still have a situation with a teacher designing a lesson and then administering it using constructivist principles. The teacher has an agenda for the students, and...



Subject Headings

  • Library science -- Philosophy.
  • Library science -- Forecasting.
  • Libraries and community.
  • Libraries and society.
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