Constructivism (psychological school)

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In psychology, constructivism refers to many schools of thought (for example, under psychotherapy) that, though extraordinarily different in their therapeutic techniques, are all connected by a common critique of previous standard approaches and by shared assumptions about the active constructive nature of human knowledge. In particular, the critique is aimed at the “associationist” postulate of empiricism, “by which the mind is conceived as a passive system that gathers its contents from its environment and, through the act of knowing, produces a copy of the order of reality.

In contrast, constructivism is an epistemological premise grounded on the assertion that, in the act of knowing, it is the human mind that actively gives meaning and order to that reality to which it is responding”.[1] The constructivist psychologies theorize about and investigate how human beings create systems for meaningfully understanding their worlds and experiences.[2]

In psychotherapy, for example, this frame could translate into a therapist asking questions that confront a client's world-view in an effort to expand his or her meaning making habits. The assumption here is that clients encounter problems not because life is inherently problematic or because they have a mental disease but because of the way they frame their problems, or the way people make sense of events that occur in their life.

Constructivism in Education[edit]

Constructivism learning theory is the further development as behaviorism arrives at cognitivism. According to its teaching theory: knowledge is uncertain; the learning process of knowledge is also the construction process of knowledge; students are the main body of learning activity and they construct knowledge on their own initiatives; teachers are the helpers and the drivers for students constructing knowledge.[3]

Piaget’s Theory (1983) mentions that children do not simply mimic everything that is part of the external environment, but rather that developing and learning is an ongoing process and interchange between individuals and their surroundings.[4] According to O'Donnell, Reeve, & Smith (2012) constructivism encapsulates how a learner constructs knowledge via different concepts: complex, cognition, scaffolding, vicarious experiences, modeling, and observational learning.[5] This makes students, teachers, the environment and anyone or anything else in which the student has interaction active participants in their learning.

Main Constructivist Theories[edit]

Personal Construct Theory[edit]

George Kelly was concerned primarily with the epistemic role of the observer in interpreting reality. He argued that the way we expect to experience the world alters how we feel about it and act. In other words, we order ourselves by ordering our thoughts. The goal of his therapeutic approach was therefore to allow the client to explore their own minds, acting as a facilitator but not intervening.

Genetic Epistemology[edit]

Main article: Genetic epistemology

Jean Piaget argued that positions of knowledge are grown into; that they are not given a priori, as in Kant's epistemology, but rather that knowledge structures develop through interaction.

In contrast to Kelly's implicit verificationism, Piaget's theory is ultimately falsificationist: "behaviour is the motor of evolution." Change only occurs if the subject engages with experiences from outside its worldview.

References[edit]

  • Balbi, Juan (2008) Epistemological and theoretical foundations of constructivist cognitive therapies: Post-rationalist developments, Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences . Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 15-27.
  1. ^ Juan Balbi. "Epistemological and theoretical foundations of constructivist cognitive therapies: Post-rationalist developments". Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences. Retrieved 2010-10-19. 
  2. ^ Jonathan D. Raskin. "Constructivism in Psychology: Personal Construct Psychology, Radical Constructivism, and Social Constructionism". American Communication Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  3. ^ Jia, Q. (2010). A Brief Study on the Implication of Constructivism Teaching Theory on Classroom Teaching Reform in Basic Education. International Education Studies, 3(2), 197-199.
  4. ^ Mussen, P. H., & Carmichael, L. (1983). Piaget's Theory. Handbook of child psychology: formerly Carmichael's Manual of child psychology (4th ed., pp. 103-128). New York: Wiley.
  5. ^ Donnell, A. M., Reeve, J., & Smith, J. K. (2009). Social Learning Theory, Complex Cognition, and Social Constructivism.Educational psychology: reflection for action (3rd ed., pp. 254-289). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Raskin, Jonathan D.(2002) Constructivism in Psychology: Personal Construct Psychology, Radical Constructivism, and Social Constructionism, American Communication Journal. Volume 5, Issue 3.
  • Jia, Q. (2010). A Brief Study on the Implication of Constructivism Teaching Theory on Classroom Teaching Reform in Basic Education. International Education Studies, 3(2), 197-199.
  • Mussen, P. H., & Carmichael, L. (1983). Piaget's Theory. Handbook of child psychology: formerly Carmichael's Manual of child psychology (4th ed., pp. 103–128). New York: Wiley.
  • Donnell, A. M., Reeve, J., & Smith, J. K. (2009). Social Learning Theory, Complex Cognition, and Social Constructivism.Educational psychology: reflection for action (3rd ed., pp. 254–289). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.