The Ups and Downs of Constructivisim
As with every learning theory, there are also benefits and criticisms to the constructivist theory. Before you read the pros and cons of this theory, consider the following questions:

mouse&cheese.jpgFOOD for THOUGHT:
Do you teach strictly in a constructivist manner?
Is there a way to partially teach using the constructivist method?
What benefits have you seen in your classroom using this method?
What are your criticisms about this theory?

Benefits of Constructivism

1. Students learn more when they are actively engaged.
2. Students are taught to think and understand.
3. Students learn skills that are transferable to other settings.
4. Students have ownership over their own learning.
5. Authentic, real-world activities stimulate and engage students.
6. Students learn to work within a group and collaborate ideas.
7. Students learn to be clear about what they are trying to get across when exchanging ideas.

Criticisms of Constructivism

Instead of us telling you the answer to the criticisms associated with constructivism, we thought it would be helpful to consider some real-life scenerios and see if you can come up with the answer.

Scenario 1 - Mrs. Jones' "Element Superhero" Project

Mrs. Jones has a class of 24 students and they are working on a poster project called the "Element Superhero." The students will have to research information about an element off of the Periodic Table and create a fictional superhero character to go along with that element. Adam, a new student to the school and the class, is very confused about the project, even after Mrs. Jones explains it to him several times.

Background information: Mrs. Jones' class has been studying Chemistry for the past month.

mouse&cheese.jpgFOOD for THOUGHT:
What might this criticism of constructivism be?

Scenario 2 - Mr. Xs Group Space Project

In Mr. X's class, the students are working on a group project about space. The group task is to design and present a detailed travel guide to any location within the Solar System. The groups will then present their projects to the class at the end of term. Their presentations can be a PowerPoint, poster, booklet, movie, or whatever they come up with. The areas that he wants covered in the project are destination details, is it safe to go to their destination, and how are they getting there (space travel and its implications).

One of the groups has 4 members: Peter, Joe, Sally, and Claire. Peter and Joe really wanted to go to Jupiter. Sally wants to go to Neptune and Claire doesn't care. They decide to do their project on Mars.

During their designated work time in class, Peter, Joe, and Sally do the majority of the planning and research. Claire has found a few pictures to add to their PowerPoint, but most days she just sits around. There have been a few disagreements during the project--Sally thinks that probes and satellites should be used to discover the planet, but everyone else just thinks they should take a rocket ship to the planet right away. Sally also wants to create a travel pamphlet to go along with their PowerPoint, but no one else sees the need.

3986759299_5c506bde9f_m.jpgFOOD for THOUGHT:

There are several items in this scenerio that could be considered a critisism of constructivism. What do you think they are?

Click here to see what we came up with


Concept to Classroom: Critical Perspectives. Found at

Driscoll. M.P. (2005). Psychology of Learning for Instruction (pp. 384-407; Ch. 11 - Constructivism). Toronto, ON: Pearson.