Wikipedia

Constructionism

Not to be confused with Constructivism

Constructionism is a learning theory coined by Seymour Papert.[1] This theory “proposed that the best way to ensure that knowledge is built in the learner is through the active construction of something shareable — a poem, program, model or idea.”[2]Papert was advocating and looking at how students can learn more readily through creating an item that can be tangible or intangible (i.e. computer games).[3] More specifically, demonstrating how a student will and can become active agents in the learning process because this is student centred learning approach instead, of solely learning from the teacher or through books.[4]

Seymour Papert (1928-2016)

Seymour Papert was born in 1928 in Pretoria, South Africa.[5] He graduated with a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1949 and a Ph.D in Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand. [6]Upon the completion of this degree Papert went on to complete another Ph.D in 1959 at the University of Cambridge. [7] After completing this education it led Papert to Jean Piaget. [8]Piaget’s theory and work would influence Papert’s understanding of education and student learning which lead to the creation of his own learning theory, Constructionsim.[9] Through this collaboration with Piaget it would lead Papert to the United States of America.[10]Papert would become a Professor at MIT where he would work in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the MIT Media Lab where he would conduct his own research.[11]While Papert was at the University he would research the use of computer and children learning. [12]This became a pivotal moment during Papert’s career because he would create and implement the use of technology within the classroom. [13]

 

Through the creation of the Constructionism Theory Papert would go on to collaboratively create a computer program called Logo.[15] This was the first online program geared towards children. [16] More specifically, Logo would allow students to better understand mathematics in a virtual context.[17] As stated by Stager, “One Element that made Logo accessible was the turtle, which acted as the programmer’s avatar. As mathematical instructions were given to the turtle to move about in space, the creature dragged a pen to draw a trail. Such drawings created turtle geometry, a context in which linear measurement, arithmetic, integers, angle measure,motion and foundational concepts from algebra, geometry and even calculus were made concrete and understandable. Mathematics became playful, personal, expressive, relevant and purposeful.”[18] This would become an instrumental method in allowing students to problem solve mathematics through the use of Logo.[19] In other terms this paved the way to create various programs and assignments that would be hands on and student directed. [20]

 

Constructionism in the Classroom and Global World

Through the work of previous scholars such as Papert it allowed for the revamping of educational structures and legislation.[22] It led to the inclusion of student centred education into the education system.[23] More specifically in terms of the influence of Papert, it included computers into all facets of the education system.[24] For example, Tangdhanakanond, Pitiyanuwat and Archwamety disccuss the use of technology in Thailand. [25] It was through the research of Papert where it became possible for students in Thailand to use computers to improve various skills. Lastly, through this method of learning it will allow all students to become multiliterate. [26]

Below is a link where Seymour Papert is discussing the use of technology in the classroom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhEovwWiniY

 

References

  1. Kamonwan Tangdhanakanond, Pitiyanuwat and Archwamety. (2005). Constructionism: Student Learning and Development. Academic Exchange Quarterly’. 9(3): p259. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from, [1].
  2. Stager, Gary. (2016). Seymour Papert (1928–2016). Nature 507: p. 308. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [2].
  3. IBID.
  4. IBID.
  5. MIT News. (2016). Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [3]
  6. Stager, Gary. (2016). Seymour Papert (1928–2016). Nature 507: p. 308. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [4].
  7. White, Barbara. (1985). Thinking About Learning About Thinking: An Interview With Seymour Papert. New Idea Psychol 5 (2): 287.283.
  8. IBID.
  9. Stager, Gary. (2016). Seymour Papert (1928–2016). Nature 507: p. 308. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [5].
  10. IBID.
  11. JWhite, Barbara. (1985). Thinking About Learning About Thinking: An Interview With Seymour Papert. New Idea Psychol 5 (2): 287.283.
  12. IBID.
  13. Gillespie, Catherine. (2004). Seymour Papert’s Vision for Early Childhood Education? A Descriptive Study of Head Start and Kindergarten Students in Discovery-based, Logo-rich Classrooms. ECRP Early Childhood research and Practice 6 (1). Retrieved October 3, 2016 from,[6].
  14. Sylla, Fatimata. (1982). Seymour Papert engages with a student in 1982 at the Logo Research Lab in The École Normale Supérieure de Dakar in Senegal. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [7]
  15. MIT News. (2016). Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [8]
  16. IBID.
  17. Stager, Gary. (2016). Seymour Papert (1928–2016). Nature 507: p. 308. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [9].
  18. IBID.
  19. Gillespie, Catherine. (2004). Seymour Papert’s Vision for Early Childhood Education? A Descriptive Study of Head Start and Kindergarten Students in Discovery-based, Logo-rich Classrooms. ECRP Early Childhood research and Practice 6 (1). Retrieved October 3, 2016 from,[10].
  20. Stager, Gary. (2016). Seymour Papert (1928–2016). Nature 507: p. 308. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [11].
  21. TCEA. (2016).Educational Trends The Ed Tech Legacy of Seymour Papert. Retrieved October 3, 2016 from, [12]
  22. Gillespie, Catherine. (2004). Seymour Papert’s Vision for Early Childhood Education? A Descriptive Study of Head Start and Kindergarten Students in Discovery-based, Logo-rich Classrooms. ECRP Early Childhood research and Practice 6 (1). Retrieved October 3, 2016 from,[13].
  23. IBID.
  24. IBID.
  25. Kamonwan Tangdhanakanond, Pitiyanuwat and Archwamety. (2005). Constructionism: Student Learning and Development. Academic Exchange Quarterly’. 9(3): p259. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from, [14].
  26. IBID.
  27. Gillespie, Catherine. (2004). Seymour Papert’s Vision for Early Childhood Education? A Descriptive Study of Head Start and Kindergarten Students in Discovery-based, Logo-rich Classrooms. ECRP Early Childhood research and Practice 6 (1). Retrieved October 3, 2016 from,[15].
  28. IBID.
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