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date: 08 December 2023

Constructivism in Educationlocked

Constructivism in Educationlocked

  • Charlene TanCharlene TanUniversity of Hong Kong
  •  and Connie S.L. NgConnie S.L. NgNanyang Technological University


In light of the broad, multidimensional, and contestable nature of constructivism, a central debate concerns the object of construction. What do we mean when we say that a learner is constructing something? Three general categories, with overlaps in between, are: the construction of meaning, the construction of knowledge, and the construction of knowledge claims. To construct meaning is to make sense of something by understanding both its parts and overall message. To construct knowledge is to obtain what philosophers traditionally call “justified true belief.” There are three conditions in this formulation of knowledge: belief, truth, and justification. Beliefs are intentional, meaningful, and representational, directing a person to attain truth and avoid error with respect to the very thing that person accepts. As for the notions of truth and justification, there are three major theories of truth, namely the correspondence theory, coherence theory, and pragmatic theory; and seven main types of justification, namely perception, reason, memory, testimony, faith, introspection, and intuition. Finally, to construct a knowledge claim is to indicate that one thinks that one knows something. The crucial difference between knowledge and a knowledge claim is that the latter has not acquired the status of knowledge. There are two main implications for teaching and learning that arise from an epistemological exploration of the concept of constructivism: First, educators need to be clear about what they want their students to construct, and how the latter should go about doing it. Informed by learner profiles and other contingent factors, educators should encourage their students to construct meanings, knowledge, and knowledge claims, individually and collaboratively, throughout their schooling years. Second, educators need to guard against some common misconceptions on constructivism in the schooling context. Constructivism, contrary to popular belief, is compatible with direct instruction, teacher guidance, structured learning, content learning, traditional assessment, and standardized testing. In sum, there are no pedagogical approaches and assessment modes that are necessarily constructivist or anticonstructivist. A variety of teaching methods, resources, and learning environments should therefore be employed to support students in their constructing process.


  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Educational Theories and Philosophies

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