Thursday, May 26, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

In teaching science I have an added advantage over other subjects. We are not only learning and recalling new information, but we are often delving deeper into a subject in a way that many other subjects either do not offer or have trouble working in that fashion. Generating a hypothesis and taking an experiment to a logical conclusion, and then comparing your personal thoughts to the results, is a daily occurrence.

When students are able to construct their own vision within an assignment they become a part of it. I have seen some students who hate school (or at least they put that off as their defense mechanism) give me their absolute best effort in research and the carrying out of an experiment, when they have a say in parts of it. I will often allow the students to deviate from the norm of an experiment and let them roam free. This is when they truly get excited. Now I have planned for 90% of the possible directions that they can go, but there are some original ideas that come out if this that I have not heard. As long as the student can justify the reasoning of their venture, I am game.

Constructivism within the classroom is essential to a true measure of growth of an individual student. Not only can they develop a new appreciation for the content, but they learn life skills as well along the way. It is a higher level of cognitive ability as well as a higher level of maturity that we are teaching our students. They need to have the structure, but also need to perceive they have the freedom to incorporate their own ideas and ideology into the lesson. Only then will we get the greatest outcome.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Program seven. Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.


  1. Mr. Fitch,

    I appreciate that you let your students explore their original ideas. When I first began I taught 7th and 8th grade science. I struggled to let students branch out on their own simply because I was not the most comfortable in my content knowledge. Looking back I see how important it would have been to let the students explore more on their own--even if I was unsure of what the outcome would have been.

    It is also my opinion that constructivism is one of the best ways to me measure student growth. I learn so much about my students just by talking to them throughout the lesson. I understand more about their thinking and learning processes.

    Thanks for you insights!


  2. Mr. Fitch -

    Outstanding work. I love how your students are allowed to experiment. I love that they are a part of the design process. I have done several of those types of labs. I will pose the question and list a couple of rules or requirements. Students are then required to hypothesize, design, and perform an experiment. This really helps students develop critical thinking skills. And they are more invested because of this increased power, freedom, and responsibility.

    What subject do you teach? I have taught both physics and chemistry. Maybe we can share some lab ideas. Keep up the good work.