Constructionism and Constructivism


“Constructionism supports the constructivist viewpoint–that the learner is an active builder of knowledge” (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001) I believe that constructivism and constructionism go hand-in-hand. In constructivism the learner understands better when they learn through experience. In constructionism the learners are able to show what they know by creating. I believe that both of these create experiences for students where they are better able to understand the concepts being taught in class. Both have a hands-on approach where students are engaged and are learning by doing. There are many ways that teachers can incorporate both the constructionism and constructivism approaches in their teaching practices that incorporate technology.

Project-Based Learning
In project-based learning the student is given the opportunity to develop and use skills taught in the classroom to create a project over an extended period of time. (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001) At this time students work on collaborating, time management, and developing skills while presenting information in a complex way. The learner takes control of their education because they are in charge of how they present their information and what they need to do to get it completed. This method can incorporate technology in various different ways. Students can create power points, movies, websites, and blogs to show what they have learned and what they can do.

Problem-Based Learning
In problem based learning students are able to form an essential question based on a real life situation. (Glazer, 2001) When students are able to make the connection from the classroom to real life learning becomes much more meaningful because they see how it can impact their everyday life. Students are responsible for forming the essential question and then researching solutions to this problem. This not only forms the experiences that the constructivism approach needs, but the hands-on learning and creating that the constructionism approach needs as well. Students are able to use technology to help research, plan, and create solutions to these real world problems.

Generating and Testing Hypotheses
“When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes, applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content.” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007) This instructional strategy is closely related to problem-based learning because students are forming the essential question and then actively coming up with solutions to solve the problem. Here students form the essential question and then test their responses to see if they are accurate. In all of these instructional strategies students are actively engaged and learning through hands-on activities while forming experiences.

Students learn better through hands-on experiences. Both the constructivism and constructionism approaches promote student centered learning and activities. Teachers must provide students with the opportunities to explore and learn using technology. When students are able to take an active role in their education and show what they know the experiences they have become much more meaningful and have a greater impact than they ever did before. These two approaches ensure that students stay actively engaged in their education.


Glazer, E. (2001). Problem Based Instruction. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 24, 2010, from

Han, S., and Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved November 24, 2010 from

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


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristy Burrough
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 16:33:04

    I wish that teachers would have had more hands on assignments when I was in school. I know I learn better that way and a lot of students do also.


  2. missengelhardt
    Nov 25, 2010 @ 17:18:03

    I absolutely agree with you. My colleague, Sarah, teaches 5th grade science and does hands-on experiments 3-4 times a week. I WISH my teachers would have done one experiment 1 time a month. It’s really how you engaged learners and create exciting and engaging activities.


  3. Janice Hutchinson
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 01:15:02

    Hi Jillian

    I am a full supporter of the constructionist/ constructivist theory of learning. The issue of hands on experience is so crucial to success in both the learning environment and the world of work. That is why I always advocate for students at the 11th or 12th grade level to engage in work experience. This opportunity to apply the knowledege gained at school to the real world of work will surely enhance learning. Personally whatever I am able to do remains with me. To often we focus on preparing students to regurgitate what we have taught (Orey, 2010). This is not helping either the classroom or the society that requires the skill we are honing. I have students who have challengies with traditional learning situation but the moment I get them into a pratical session (creating artifacts), I find that I get the best out of them. Not that the other aspects of the learning experience is not important but I believe the most important part of the learning experience is students’ ability to apply the content learnt to the creation of an artifact or carrying out a performance. Afterall true learning is the ability to apply principles learnt to various situation.


  4. Sheryl W.
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 19:00:00

    Miss Engelhardt,

    I am curious to know what kinds of projects or hands-on experiences you use with your students. It can be difficult to provide these types of experiences with my first and second grade students because they are not very independent yet. My grade level team has decided to implement a writer’s workshop approach this year. The students are able to choose what they will write about and the teacher, through mini lessons and one-on-one coaching, facilitates the writing process. At the end of a focus unit, the student chooses one of their pieces to publish, and we have a small writing celebration. I believe that this workshop approach fits the definition of project-based learning as described by Han and Bhattacharya (2001) since it requires multiple stages over an extended period of time, is focused on the creation of a product, and requires the learner to choose and organize their activities. We are in the early stages of the process now, but I have high hopes that this approach will help my students “to become active builders of knowledge while confronting misconceptions and internalizing content and associated conceptions” (Han & Bhattacharya, 2001) since the learning takes place during the creation of the writing projects. Thanks for sharing!

    Han, S., & Bhattacharya, K. (2001). Constructionism, Learning by Design, and Project Based Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from


  5. missengelhardt
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 23:36:57

    In Math right now we are doing a graphing portfolio. I do a mini lesson at the beginning of every period. At this time the students learn a new type of graph. Then they are responsible for completing the project by incorporating each graph into their portfolio. First, they survey they entire fifth grade. They needed to come up with a question that would be a school related or at least a fifth grade related issue. (they need to be able to form an opinion with the information that they collected and make a recommendation). Next, they use that information to complete 8 different graphs (bar graph, double bar graph, line plot, line graph, pie graph, pictograph, mean, median, and mode chart, and a frequency table). Then they need to use that information and answer the following questions in an essay: what did you learn from your survey?, what recommendation would you make based on your data?, what graph best displays your information and why?

    I also use writer’s workshop in my classroom. I think it is an excellent way to make students accountable for their work even at a young age. Do you grade portfolio style? I think that is the best way to keep track on each and every students progress throughout the units. Do you break the writing down by genre at this age or differently? I’m still not entirely familiar with writer’s workshop, but I am getting more training this week! I have only heard positive comments and outcomes from it.


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