After considering which of the three learning theories (Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism) best reflects the way I learn, I have reluctantly decided on Constructivism. I have preceded my decision, however, with the adverb “reluctantly”, because I think I have established that in some cases, the other theories maybe just as applicable. Due to this conclusion, it made it rather difficult to establish which one I preferred. Since I have been largely exposed to Cognitivism throughout my educational journey, I initially considered this theory as the “best”. After further consideration, however, I decided that while I still rely on rote memorization, and the various other “tricks” associated with this theory (i.e. acronyms, mnemonics, analogies etc.), that an equally valid argument could be made for Behaviourism and its system of rewards, punishments etc. To resolve this conundrum, I had to really dissect what I have not only learned, but retained effectively enough to teach it. Once placing this restriction upon my consideration, I settled on Constructivism.
Constructivism, very succinctly put, is active learning that depends on a student’s curiosity, while utilizing their existing knowledge (i.e. previous information). In the realm of academia, it at times plays out through experiments or real-world problem solving. I, personally, have always appreciated being able to apply something I am learning, while being allowed to explore different approaches. It is likely due to this aspect that won Constructivism the victory laurel for being my “best” learning theory. Constructivism also seems to encourage, “thinking outside of the box”, another characteristic that appeals to me greatly. I also appreciate the manner in which it emphasizes “how to learn”, as it makes students aware of how to build their own knowledge, rather than simply regurgitating information memorized. Although the other learning theories have their rightful place in academia as well, I believe the aforementioned reflections are why I prefer Constructivism. After all, some of the lessons learned through this approach, still resonate with me to this day.
There are several ways technology can be used by a teacher, opting to teach using the Constructivist approach. Learning a type of technology in itself can largely benefit from Constructivism. Some of the computer programs I am most comfortable using are those that were provided to my by a teacher or an institution, before being left to my own devices to discover. While provided with a manual and a readily available instructor for any questions, the approach was largely flexible and relied on the students to use their existing knowledge to figure out the new software. Although it admittedly might have taken longer to figure things out, once I did, I was also less likely to forget it.
Furthermore, there are various computer or video games that would lend well to teaching as well. While perhaps ‘Age of Empires’ might not be the most academic game with a Constructivist approach, simulation games like these provide students with the opportunity to experiment and play out their ideas in “real world” scenarios. They also have the potential to stir a child’s curiosity and lead to the independent or assisted exploration of related subject matter (i.e. certain historical periods etc.). Lastly, students can also literally build their own technology. Just like with Lego Robotics, while some instruction may be provided, the opportunity for students to inject their own perspective is also highlighted. This delicate tension between the knowledge already retained and that which is being sought/ investigated is all a part of what I find appealing about Constructivism.
(Basically, I really hope to avoid the following … 🙂 )