Constructivism: Overview & Practical Teaching Examples Video

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  • 0:02 Constructivism
  • 1:26 Social Learning
  • 3:04 Project-Based Learning
  • 5:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Learning through real-world experiences with others allows students to grow and understand things more easily. In this lesson, we'll examine constructivism in depth, including social learning, the zone of proximal development, and project-based learning.


Susan doesn't understand physics. It just seems so difficult to her, with all the variables and calculations. The more her teacher goes on and on about how to calculate this or figure out that, the less Susan understands, and the more frustrated she gets.

Constructivism is a philosophy of education that says that people construct knowledge through their experiences and interactions with the world. Essentially, it says that people learn through experience, not through hearing someone give a lecture. For example, Susan doesn't really understand physics when her teacher tries to explain it. But if she was faced with a physics problem in her everyday life (say, trying to figure out how hard to push on the gas pedal to get her car to accelerate up a steep hill), she might understand it better.

Because constructivism points out that experiential learning is more powerful than lectures and worksheets, a related view is that by directing their own learning process, students will understand concepts better than if they were just handed the right way to do things. In other words, her teacher can give Susan formulas all she wants; Susan will never understand them as completely as she would if she were given the problem and had to come up with the formula herself.

Let's look at how constructivism relates to social learning and how it can be used in the classroom through project-based learning.

Social Learning

Remember that constructivism says that people learn through their experiences and interactions with the world around them. And the world around us is filled with other people, so you probably won't be very surprised to find out that constructivism is closely linked to learning through interactions with other people, or social learning.

Take Susan, for example. She can read a textbook on her own, but it doesn't really sink in. But when she's with others, she can ask questions, brainstorm ideas, and flesh out her thoughts until she really understands something.

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