Social constructivism can be explained as an approach/understanding of teaching and they way in which students learn the information taught to them. It defines the understanding that the needs of students have changed in comparison to previous years and student now learn through interaction, social experiences/group activities, application of knowledge and skills in the correct context, alternate forms of assessment and building knowledge based on previous experiences/knowledge.
The opposite approach to constructivism is also known as objectivism where a teacher assumes students have the same needs and therefore has one main style of teaching that involves teachers teaching and communicating the information that the students should know instead of letting the learn and experience it themselves. The focus is on transmitting the knowledge and skills in a more traditional form of teaching e.g. lecturing the students and giving them information.
Objectivism has been criticised frequently recently because it has resulted in:
- the students being unmotivated and unwilling to learn
- lacks development of social and problem-solving skills.
- Teacher centred learning
Constructivism’s flaws include:
- a need (and often assumption) of prior knowledge
- ability of the students to follow correct instructions effectively
- heavily based on effective communication with students and teacher
- identifying which subjects would be taught the best using this method.
- Transferring learnt skills into practical application.
While both constructivism and objectivism have their independent benefits, i believe the most effective way of teaching students is through the constructivist approach. This approach addressed many of the key areas that teachers need to address when educating students so they effectively build their understanding of subjects and skills.
Constructivism will help students because it allows them to take responsibility for their learning, sparking their interest and enabling them to explore the topic area and skills required. It provides a social setting where learning can take place in a safe environment and children can work with the peers to discuss the content, learning from each other and helping others to understand as well.
Constructivism is therefore a more effective approach to teaching because it involves certain elements that are guaranteed to increase student involvement and the amount of information they retain will be significantly higher if they experience it, rather than sit by and try to take it all in. This approach is a clear example of understanding the needs of the students have changed and a successful attempt to try and overcome learning obstacles by catering to the student’s new needs.