Thursday, September 29, 2011

Constructivism in Practice

Being able to construct, create, or build something based on your learning is an extremely powerful skill. This is what the Constructionist/Constructivist Theory is all about. There are certain instructional strategies that correlate very well with this theory. For example, the "Generating and Testing Hypotheses" strategy. When we are able to make a prediction on something and then test whether our prediction is correct, we are "DOING" something to prove whether our hypotheses is correct or not.

I have always thought that this strategy could only be used in Science class, but after reading more about this strategy in our textbook, I learned that it can be used in any subject area. The book listed six tasks that help students generate and test hypotheses: systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigations, inventions, experimental inquiry, and decision making (Pitler et al, 2007). I was very interested in learning more about the historical investigations and the web resources that have to do with Social Studies, since this is the subject I teach. Then it talked about technology programs that support this strategy (Spreadsheet software, Data collection tools, and Web resources), all which help students focus on "interpreting the data, rather than gathering the data" (Pitler et al, 2007). All of these ideas are great ways to interact with their information that they have found and since they are able to manipulate the information, they are actually able to understand the process, make decisions, decide whether their hypotheses are correct or not, and revise it if necessary.

Because the students are using these different technology programs to create an artifact that they can use or share with others, they are following the Constructionist Theory. The fact that they are actively constructing their own meaning from the activity, means they are followign the Constructivist Theory (Laureate Education, Inc, 2011). Either way you look at it, using these technology programs with this instructional strategy (Generating and testing hypotheses) directly correlates with the Constructionist/Constructivist Theory and promotes higher level thinking skills and transfer to long term memory!

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011). Program seven: Constructionist and constructivist learning theories [Video webcast]. Bridging learning theory, instruction and technology. Retrieved from

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Crystal Moyer


  1. Crystal,

    I also have had difficulties finding ways to use the Generating and Testing Hypotheses strategy outside of science and math. You stated that you discovered ways to use this strategy in social studies. How do you think you would use this strategy in social studies? I am beginning a new social studies program called "History Alive!" which is on Ancient Civilizations. I am really looking forward to this program, but am not sure how to use this strategy. Do you feel there are some universal ways to use Generating and Testing Hypotheses in social studies? I am interested to see how you would incorporate this into your classroom. Thank you for all of your ideas!

    -Jill Morris

  2. Jill

    I have only started looking at some of the web resources that were listed in the book, regarding Social Studies. Also, I researched a little on Historical Investigations but as far as actually using them in my classroom, I have not. I am still new (this is only my second year in fourth grade Social Studies) to this grade level and subject so I am still learning. So the only thing I can suggest is to research Historical Investigations and see what you come up with. Sorry, but like I said, I am still learning myself. Good luck and if you remember, will you share more about your program, History Alive, it sounds very interesting!!