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The Significance of Social Constructivism in Education

The Significance of Social Constructivism in Education
Dr. Radhika Kapur
In this research manuscript the significance of social constructivism has
been highlighted in the field of education; social constructivism has been
emphasized upon by many writers and has proved to be a concept that enhances
learning amongst the individuals not only within the academic institutions and the
classroom settings but also other training and learning institutions. The main areas
that have been taken into account are overview of social constructivism,
constructing meaning, the social construction of knowledge, and social
constructivism in the classroom. The main objective of learning and education is
leading to overall development of the individuals; through the concept of social
constructivism, the educators formulate means through which individuals not only
enhance their academic learning, erudition and scholarly skills but also learn to
establish a connection between their attitudes, norms, values, behavioral traits,
actions and emotions. Prominence has been laid upon enhancement of social and
interpersonal skills and establishment of effective means of communication with
the outside world; as learning takes place in an efficient manner through
socialization, learning in seclusion does not always prove to be advantageous to the
Keywords: Social Constructivism, Education, Learning, Knowledge,
Teachers, Classroom
The meaning of constructivism differs in accordance to one's perception and
arrangement. Within educational contexts there are philosophical meanings of
constructivism, as well as personal constructivism as described by Piaget, 1967,
social constructivism was sketched out by Vygtosky, 1978, radical constructivism
was sponsored by Von Glasersfeld, 1995, constructivist epistemologies, and
educational constructivism was outlined by Mathews, 1998. Social constructivism
and educational constructivism which includes theories of learning and pedagogy
have had the maximum impact on instruction and curriculum design because they
seem to be the most advantageous to incorporate into the current educational
strategies. Therefore, it can be stated that most of the scholars and writers have
done research on different kinds of constructivist theories (Jones & Brader-Araje,
The social constructivist perspectives focus upon the interdependence of
social and individual processes in the co-construction of knowledge; after the
momentum for understanding the influence of social and cultural factors on
cognition is reviewed, methods that are identified to account for learning from this
perception are identified. The main drawing has been made from the Piagetian and
the Vygotskian accounts. The empirical research that is reviewed illustrates
application of institutional analysis to scrutinize education and schooling as a
cultural process, the application of interpersonal analysis to examine how cognition
and learning gets strengthened by means of communications and discursive
analysis examining and manipulating the prototypes and opportunities in
instructional conversation (Palinscar, 1998).
Overview of Social Constructivism
Social constructivism is a very complicated approach, the more lucid
understanding of social constructivism can be obtained by understanding the points
that state how social constructivism views learning and the learning communities;
there have been five main areas that highlight the overview of social
constructivism: (Toward Social Constructivism in Pre service Education, 2006).
1. Knowledge is constructed by learners – The learners, students, trainees
etc. should construct their own knowledge because that is how the mind
works, in the construction of new knowledge and information, there is
involvement of thinking, accepted wisdom and judgment. New ideas and
notions cannot be seized without connecting them to the existing
conceptions. Dewey stated that “education is not an affair of telling and
being told, but an active and constructive process” (Toward Social
Constructivism in Pre service Education, 2006, p. 3). Information, ideas
and knowledge received from the other persons are modified and
evaluated rather than just being absorbed in the present form.
2. Knowledge is experience based – The knowledge that is imparted to the
learners by the educators is too theoretical and conceptual; an individual
undergoes numerous experiences in his life and acquires knowledge on
the basis of those experiences, when acquiring academic education,
individuals, especially adult learners are required to bring their
experiences so that they can enrich their understanding and are able to
interpret the significance of knowledge which they obtain in school as
well as home. The close connection between knowledge and experience
is observed in teacher education, when teachers are imparting knowledge
about a particular concept such as what is pollution, different kinds of
pollution, and causes and effects of pollution, then they may even give
examples and cases out of their own personal experiences; for example,
the health of an individual is affected due to air pollution and it is
harmful, then a teacher may illustrate the harmful affects of air pollution
upon the health of a person for giving an example of an individual known
or unknown to them who has suffered the harmful affects, this is done in
order to make the concept more coherent into the mindsets of the
3. Learning is social – Languages, cultures and other social norms and
values have a direct influence upon learning; social, interpersonal
interaction, communication with the community members also inculcate
learning amongst the individuals. A person learns multiple things and
familiarizes himself with diverse areas, objects, and articles by becoming
social and in this manner he also develops a viewpoint that learning is a
social activity, it is hard to become aware of diverse areas and subjects by
remaining isolated and not being social. Community makes provision of
strong and emotional support to the learners and enables them to undergo
jeopardy and develop possession of their learning.
4. All aspects of the person are connected – From the social constructivist
point of view, social interaction of a person is important for the
attainment of knowledge, but besides social interaction, attitudes,
emotions, values and actions of the person are also relevant. There is a
connection between knowledge, pleasure, ethics, aesthetics, the body and
the human action. Students within the educational institutions require
widespread opportunities and reinforcement to develop their whole way
of life and bring this to accept analytically on their academic learning.
There is a connection between knowledge and popular culture; both these
aspects are used to bring insight, instruction and augmentation to ones
5. Learning communities should be inclusive and equitable – The
requirement of knowledge, information and awareness into the lives of
the individuals, and recognition of the social nature of learning indicate
towards inclusiveness and equity in learning. Dewey and Piaget stressed
upon the inclusion within the learning community and assist learners to
develop a sense of dignity, their own ideas, notions, conceptions,
impressions, opinions, viewpoints and way of life. It is the responsibility
of the institutions to recognize the differences of the other and work to
provide basis for the people in constructing reality from the distinctive
point of view.
Constructing Meaning
Constructivism's perceptions upon the performance of the individual, on the
significance of improvising meaning, and on the dynamic role of the learner are the
very constituents that make the theory pleasing to the educators. Teachers are
normally conscious of the role of past information in students' education,
understanding that students are not vacant slates or unfilled vessels waiting to be
loaded with knowledge. Instead, students bring with them a rich selection of past
practices, facts, data and principles that they use in forming new understandings.
To demonstrate this aspect, recently fifth-graders were asked to create maps in the
concept of "heat" past to training on convection currents. The consequent student
maps reproduced a huge collection of experiences and past knowledge. For
example, the term "heat" extracted descriptions of colors that represent heat like
red or orange, objects that generate heat includes furnaces, microwaves, cars,
curling irons, heaters and grills, processes associated with heat are such as boil,
melt, fever, products of heat are sweat, smoke, melted metal, evaporated water,
events associated with heat include summer, pool party, ice cream, swimming, air
conditioners, as these are some of the ways for a person to cool off, objects used
with heat include lemonade, light clothes, suntan lotion, peaches and hot places
include Mexico, topics, volcanos, and Satan's home. The diversity of students' past
perceptions of heat in this one example offers substantiation that students do not
enter instruction as vacant slates, but instead acquires a multiplicity of
presumptions tied to past understandings that teachers must take into consideration
during curriculum planning and instruction. Constructivism presents the teachers
instructional strategies that are harmonious with modern research on learning. By
viewing learning as a dynamic process, taking students past knowledge into
consideration, building on preconceptions, and eliciting cognitive conflict, teachers
can devise curriculum and instructional methodologies that goes beyond rote
learning to consequential learning that is more likely to lead to deeper, longer
permanent sustenance of knowledge (Jones & Brader-Araje, 2002).
The Social Construction of Knowledge
It is also accurately at this position that social constructionist discussions
obtain their current importance. Much post-foundational assessment has focused
on reinstating to culture that which had been announced normal that is, substituting
the hypothesis of genuineness verified by character with facts as crafted within the
society. In terms of the above cases, this is to vision information as a derivative not
of individual minds but of communal relationships, or more commonly it can be
stated that all consequential proposals about the factual and the good have their
basis in relationships. This is to bring into pointed focus, the site of knowledge
generation, the continuing process of coordinating actions among individuals. It is
to forefront the moment-to-moment substitution between and among interlocutors,
and locates meaning within the prototypes of interdependency. There is no personal
language a moment prior to relationship in which the individual originates
significance; rather language and other actions gain their transparency in their
social utilization, as they are synchronized with the actions of others. Individuals in
segregation do not thereby cease to be understandable; however, this is to trace the
intelligibility of their private actions to a preceding engagement in relationship.
Individuals may carry out actions traditionally indexed as thoughts, or feelings;
however, these accomplishments may accurately be viewed as forms of connection
carried out on the site of the individual (Gergen, n.d.).
In order to get hold of the social construction of knowledge and information,
individuals get enrolled in educational institutions, training institutions, pursue
programs and courses and through means of various kinds of communication,
learning, interpersonal interaction, group interactions, teamwork, acquire an
understanding of the relevant concepts and other areas, for example, an individual
develops his interest in drawing and painting and wishes to make a career as an
artist, in order to enhance his career prospects, he gets enrolled in an institution to
pursue a degree in fine arts and in addition to his academic knowledge he may also
join private coaching classes to learn for instance a form of painting which is
known as glass painting, therefore, an individual attempts to construct his
knowledge and develops his skills by accessing all possible means and by
developing effective communication with the other individuals. There have been
numerous ways that lead to the social construction of knowledge, these are firstly,
academic and training institutes, secondly, through the means of interpersonal
communications, thirdly, religious places and spiritual manners, fourthly, market
places, organizations, and companies, where individual usually attains knowledge
about products and services, and finally, social construction of knowledge also
takes place in implementing day to day tasks and routines such as carrying out
banking transactions, purchasing of goods and services, going on vacations,
visiting places of friends and relatives and getting engaged in extra-curricular
activities such as arts, crafts, sports, preparation of meals, exercising, physical
activities, playing of musical instruments, dancing, singing and so forth. Therefore,
it can be stated that social construction of knowledge within the mindsets of the
individuals comes not only through academic learning or extra-curricular activities,
but also through getting involved in other life routines as well.
Social Constructivism in the Classroom
The following points highlight the usage of constructivist principles within
the classroom settings: (Watson, 2001).
1. Teachers make use of constructivist principles to promote and accept
student self-sufficiency and inventiveness; the students are encouraged to
become more resourceful through the use of constructivist principles.
2. Constructivist teachers make use of raw data, and prime sources, along
with scheming, interactive and substantial materials.
3. In the structuring of assignments and duties, teachers of the constructivist
viewpoint make use of cognitive terminology.
4. Constructivist teachers permit the responses of the students to constrain
lesson plans, shift instructional strategies and modify content.
5. Constructivist teachers enquire about the understanding of the concepts
by the students before imparting them more information about the
6. Constructivist teachers encourage students to work in teams, get involved
in group discussions and dialogues with both the teachers as well as with
each other.
7. Constructivist teachers encourage speaking and verbal communication on
the part of the students asking thoughtful, and open-ended questions and
even students are encouraged to raise their difficulties and problems; as
in some of the classroom instruction, it happens that students listen to the
teachers and take down notes, but the teachers who are of the
constructivist point of view always encourage the students to ask
questions in order to enhance their learning.
8. Constructivist teachers inquire about amplification of student’s initial
responses. Insufficient knowledge or incomplete learning prove out to be
a hindrance, hence acquiring information about the initial responses and
then elaborating upon those responses is essential in order to enhance
9. Constructivist teachers employ students in understandings and
knowledge that might stimulate contradictions to their preliminary
hypotheses and then persuade dialogue.
10. Constructivist teachers always give students extra time to analyze the
questions, seeking answers and explanations and then giving the
response. When the students are analyzing the questions, the teachers do
wait and keep up their patience.
11. Constructivist teachers provide time for students to build relationships
and generate metaphors. Within the classroom settings, it is extremely
vital to build up associations and correlations with the teachers as well as
with the fellow students.
12. Constructivist teachers cultivate student’s expected inquisitiveness
through frequent use of the learning cycle model, the model consists of a
three-stage cycle of learning in which meta-cognition is emphasized, at
the initial stage the students generate questions and hypotheses from, for
example, when they are working with experiments, next the teacher
broadens and focuses upon the thinking of the students and thirdly, there
is generalization, as students apply their understanding to novice
problems. In this manner, they enhance the understanding and control of
their own learning. The main focus has been laid upon emphasis of meta-
cognition, student’s awareness of their own individual learning styles and
methods and the identification of their own strengths and weaknesses.
The social constructivist standpoints center upon the interdependence of
community and personality procedures in the construction of information
awareness, after the impetus for thoughtful influence of community and
enlightening factors on cognition is reviewed, systems and techniques that are
acknowledged to report for learning from this observation are identified. The main
illustration has been made from the Piagetian and the Vygotskian accounts. The
concept of social constructivism possess many characteristics: knowledge is
constructed by the learners, knowledge is experience based, learning is social, all
aspects of the person are connected and learning communities should be inclusive
and equitable. The social constructivist viewpoints screen learning as a self-
motivated process, captivating students past knowledge into concern, structuring
on presumptions, and extracting cognitive conflict, teachers can devise curriculum
and instructional methodologies that goes beyond rote knowledge to consequential
knowledge that is more likely to lead to deeper, longer enduring prerequisites of
The social construction of knowledge happens through multiple ways; when
an individual gets enrolled into educational institutions, training institutions, gets
engaged into group discussion, teamwork etc., these are the ways by means of
which an individual acquires an understanding and knowledge of various concepts,
methods, understandings, experiences and astuteness, which he requires in order to
live his life in an efficient manner. Academic and training institutes, interpersonal
communications, religious places, spiritual manners, market places, organizations
and companies, in the implementation of day to day transactions, and getting
involved in extra-curricular activities, these are some of the ways by which social
construction of knowledge takes place.
Social constructivist perspectives are highly implemented within the
classroom settings within the educational institutions; teachers encourage the
students to become more ingenious through the constructivist principles, teachers
make use of raw data, prime sources and cognitive terminology in the impartment
of training and instruction to the students, the responses of the students are utilized
to create lesson plans and modify the content, the understanding of the students is
analyzed, group discussions and dialogues are encouraged within the classroom
with the teachers as well as the fellow students, verbal communication is
encouraged and there is more use of open ended questions, every means is
implemented by the teachers in order to enhance the learning of the students, the
acts of waiting and being patient are focused upon in the implementation of the
social constructivist perspectives, constructivist teachers provide time for students
to fabricate associations and create symbols and finally, there have been
prominence laid upon three main areas that are meta-cognition, student’s
understanding of their own personality, erudition techniques and schemes and the
recognition of their own strengths and weaknesses. Finally, it can be stated that the
theory of social constructivism has been focused upon by many writers and has
been comprised of most of the aspects that helps in encouraging the learners to
acquire education and acumen; an individual learns to establish a connection
between his values, norms, attitudes, behavioral traits, actions and emotions.
Gergen, K.J. (n.d.). Social Construction and Pedagogical Practice. Retrieved
June 11, 2015 from
Jones, M.G., & Brader-Araje, L. (2002). The Impact of Constructivism on
Education: Language, Discourse, and Meaning. American Communication
Journal, 5(3), 1-10. Retrieved June 10, 2015 from http://ac-
Palinscar, A.S. (1998). Social Constructivist Perspectives on Teaching and
Learning. Annual Review of Psychology, 49, 345-375. Retrieved June 10,
2015 from
Toward Social Constructivism in Pre service Education. (2006). Retrieved
June 11, 2015 from
Watson, J. (2001). Social Constructivism in the Classroom. Support for
Learning, 16(3), 1-8. Retrieved June 10, 2015 from
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.