Constructivist theory of learning

What Is Constructivist Theory Of Learning?

Do you know about the term Constructivism.? It is actually adopted by Nicholas Onuf in 1989. He defines it as “people and societies construct or constitute each other.” Constructivist theory of learning found in psychology. It explains how people gain knowledge and learn new things. Therefore, it has a direct relationship to education. The Basic assumption of constructivists is that the basic structures of international politics are social. These structures shape actors’ identities and also interests. It explains how people obtain knowledge and learn about various things. Constructivist theory suggests that people through experience learn or gain knowledge. Also, it is based on observations and scientific studies. We create our own knowledge and we ask questions and assess to gain it.

In this theory, the ideas and perceptions, norms and thoughts of the people are socially constructed according to the environment and circumstances which they face. According to this theory, the world is socially constructed and focuses more on social rather than the material aspect. While realism and liberalism focus on material factors like power or corporation. The constructivist theory of learning concentrates on the influence of ideas and behavior.

For example: When they take the gun, then the material gun is not the issue. But the social behavior or intentions behind the gun is what matters. Like they are trying or going to attack you or not.

History And Importance Of Constructivist Theory Of Learning

Constructivism is not one concept rather includes many concepts. It is difficult to trace out the history. Because there are a number of constructivist thinkers who have contributed to shaping the various versions of constructivist theory.


Plato gave the first early form of social constructivism in his famous “story of the cave”. Many constructivists inspire by this idea whereas some of them argue that this is not the way that Plato designs.

The story stated that if a group of people is in a cave and they are facing the wall. if there are people outside the cave, then they cast a shadow on the cave wall. The people inside the cave would think that those shadows are reality. The job of a philosopher is to free these people, to turn their faces around to show them the reality. The purpose is to teach them that these are mere shadows.

According to the constructivist analysis, this story relates that society only shows us “shadows” of the truth. Though, some of these constructivists argue that it is impossible to set these people free from the cave. Because there is no escape from social construction.


Kant is also one of the constructivist thinkers. He holds some amount of realism. He said that the human thought restricts by some categories. So we don’t escape these categories but we still gain accurate, real knowledge through them.

The example given is that of colored goggles. The image of the world distorts is somehow or appears to be red but you can still look through them. Still, gain knowledge of reality. The Kantian philosophers think that we can understand the categories through a process of philosophical debates.

This is an example of a social as well as a philosophical constructivist theory of learning.

What Are The Principles Of Constructivism?

Let me tell you about some principles regarding the constructivist theory of learning that you can see below:

  • Knowledge is a construction, rather than inherently, or quietly absorbed. That means human learning is basically a construction. So that learners build new knowledge according to the foundations of previous learning.
  • All knowledge is actually socially constructed. Like Dewey said it is something that we do collectively in cooperation with each other. Rather than an abstract concept.
  • Each individual learner has a unique point of view, that is based on its knowledge and values. Fox argues that individuals have their own personal history of learning. They can share common knowledge and powerfully influence by cultural factors. But, cultures construct due to subcultures. Even to the point of being made of sub-cultures of one. Cultures and their knowledge-base are constantly in a process of change. The knowledge stored by individuals is not a hard copy of some socially constructed template. In learning a culture, every child tries to changes that culture.
  • The constructivist theory of learning asserts that knowledge can only exist within the human mind. So it does not have to match any real-world reality.

What is the Constructivist Theory of Learning features of a classroom?

Tam has listed the following four basic characteristics of constructivist learning environments. You must consider them while implementing constructivist teaching tactics:

  • Knowledge should be shared among teachers and students.
  • Teachers & students must share authority.
  • The teachers should play a role as a facilitator or guide.
  • Learning gatherings will consist of small numbers of various students.


Constructivism Theory in International Relations

  • Constructivism is actually a state identity theory explained by Alexander Wendt & Peter Katzenstein. It has become distant from the rationalist mainstream of international relations theory. It gives a concept of state identity, can provide an important alternative and option to rational choice theory
  • Constructivism theory varies from neoliberalism and neorealism by highlighting the ontological reality of intersubjective knowledge. It does not mean that the constructivist theory ignored the material world because intersubjective knowledge interacts to affect and influence each other, rather they have relative autonomy.
  • The constructivist theory addresses the issue of anarchy in the international system. Alexander Wendt says that the realist interpretation of anarchy does not explain why conflict occurs between states. But according to Wendt argues “Anarchy is what states make of it.
  • This theory accepts the importance of nonmaterial power. Such as culture, ideas, language, knowledge, and also ideology. As well as material power because the two powers combine and interact to build the world order. 
  • The constructivist theory of learning also defines the theory of world politics. Like the dominant perception of the threat and conflict in global politics. It recognizes them as socially constructed elements in the process of identity creation under the influence of the norms and shared values of society.

Faces Of Constructivist theory Of learning

Each type of it is a “point of view” according to some individual constructivists. These different groups of ideas are:

Trivial Constructivism

The most simple idea of the constructivist theory of learning, according to Von Glasersfield, is minor as well as personal constructivism. The credit of this principle goes to Jean Piaget. This principle states that

Knowledge is not quietly received through the environment. In fact, it is constructed actively by the learner.

Radical Constructivism

Radical constructivism is both a type of learning theory and pedagogical model. It adds up another principle to trivial constructivism. It states that

The process of knowing is an active change towards working interpretations of experience. The knower does not construct knowledge of the real world. He/she creates his/her own realities

Social Constructivism

Social constructivist theory is also a variety of trivial or cognitive constructivism. Although this type of theory focused on the collective nature of learning.

The founder of the social constructivist theory was a post-revolutionary German psychologist Lev Vygotsky. So Vygotsky social constructivist theory rejected the idea given by other constructivists like Piaget. It is possible to separate subjective learning from environmental or social circumstances.


Educational researchers are now focusing on active, individual learning with the help of the Constructivist theory of learning. According to this, when students are treated the same way, their process of learning is ceased. When they treat individuals and giving them the opportunities to learn from their particular way of learning. Then students will be motivated to gain experience and knowledge that is meaningful to them.

Not only does the Constructivism learning theory help students but also the teachers & becomes creative in teaching. They use high-level technology to allow their students to achieve an active and social approach towards learning.

For further information, you can also read From Here.

I hope you will like the information regarding the constructivist theory of learning. If you want to ask anything from us then tell us in the comment section below.



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