In psychology, constructivism refers to many schools of thought that, though extraordinarily different in their techniques (applied in fields such as education and psychotherapy), are all connected by a common critique of previous standard approaches, and by shared assumptions about the active constructive nature of human knowledge. In particular, the critique is aimed at the "associationist" postulate of empiricism, "by which the mind is conceived as a passive system that gathers its contents from its environment and, through the act of knowing, produces a copy of the order of reality".:16
In contrast, "constructivism is an epistemological premise grounded on the assertion that, in the act of knowing, it is the human mind that actively gives meaning and order to that reality to which it is responding".:16 The constructivist psychologies theorize about and investigate how human beings create systems for meaningfully understanding their worlds and experiences.
In psychotherapy, for example, this approach could translate into a therapist asking questions that confront a client's worldview in an effort to expand his or her meaning-making habits. The assumption here is that clients encounter problems not because they have a mental disease but in large part because of the way they frame their problems, or the way people make sense of events that occur in their life.
Constructivist psychology in education
Constructivist psychology when applied to education emphasizes that students are always engaged in a process of actively constructing meaning—a process which "the teacher can only facilitate or thwart, but not himself invent".
Jean Piaget's theory describes how children do not simply mimic everything that is part of the external environment, but rather that developing and learning is an ongoing process and interchange between individuals and their surroundings, a process through which individuals develop increasingly complex schemas. According to Angela O'Donnell and colleagues, constructivism describes how a learner constructs knowledge via different concepts: complex cognition, scaffolding, vicarious experiences, modeling, and observational learning. This makes students, teachers, the environment and anyone or anything else in which the student has interaction active participants in their learning.
Some constructivist theories
Jean Piaget (1896–1980), the creator of genetic epistemology, argued that positions of knowledge are grown into; that they are not given a priori, as in Kant's epistemology, but rather that knowledge structures develop through interaction. Piaget's theory is ultimately falsificationist: "behaviour is the motor of evolution". His major publications spanned fifty years from the 1920s to the 1970s. Piaget's approach to constructivism was further developed in neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development.
Personal construct theory
George Kelly (1905–1967), the creator of personal construct theory, was concerned primarily with the epistemic role of the observer in interpreting reality. He argued that the way we expect to experience the world alters how we feel about it and act. In other words, we order ourselves by ordering our thoughts. The goal of his therapeutic approach was therefore to allow the client to explore their own minds, acting as a facilitator of the exploration of their own meanings, or "constructs". Kelly's major publications were published in the 1950s and 1960s.
Post-rational cognitive therapy
Vittorio Guidano (1944–1999), the creator of post-rational cognitive therapy, hypothesized that the mind creates a complex system of abstract rules responsible for the concrete and particular qualities of our conscious experience.:20 His major publications were published in the 1980s and 1990s. In the years since Guidano's contributions, there has been much debate among embodied cognition researchers about to what degree cognition is abstract or amodal versus modal.
- Balbi, Juan (2008). "Epistemological and theoretical foundations of constructivist cognitive therapies: post-rationalist developments" (PDF). Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences. pp. 15–27. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Raskin, Jonathan D. (Spring 2002). "Constructivism in psychology: personal construct psychology, radical constructivism, and social constructionism" (PDF). American Communication Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
- Neimeyer, Robert A.; Raskin, Jonathan D., eds. (2000). Constructions of disorder: meaning-making frameworks for psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1557986290. OCLC 42009389.
- Kegan, Robert (1982). The evolving self: problem and process in human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 255. ISBN 0674272307. OCLC 7672087.
- Piaget, Jean (1983). "Piaget's theory". In Mussen, Paul Henry; Carmichael, Leonard (eds.). Handbook of child psychology: formerly Carmichael's Manual of child psychology. 1 (4th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 103–128. ISBN 0471090573. OCLC 9324435.
- O'Donnell, Angela M.; Reeve, Johnmarshall; Smith, Jeffrey K. (2012) . "Social learning theory, complex cognition, and social constructivism". Educational psychology: reflection for action (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 254–289. ISBN 9781118076132. OCLC 751719458.
- Piaget, Jean (1978) . Behavior and evolution (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books. p. 142. ISBN 0394418107. OCLC 3869418.
- Kelly, George (1991) . The psychology of personal constructs. London; New York: Routledge in association with the Centre for Personal Construct Psychology. ISBN 0415037999. OCLC 21760190.
- Guidano, Vittorio F. (1991). The self in process: toward a post-rationalist cognitive therapy. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 0898624479. OCLC 22665277.
- See, for example, the articles in a special issue of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review on theories of meaning organization in the brain: Mahon, Bradford Z.; Hickok, Gregory (August 2016). "Arguments about the nature of concepts: symbols, embodiment, and beyond". Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 23 (4): 941–958. doi:10.3758/s13423-016-1045-2. PMC 4975657. PMID 27282991.
Constructivism in education
- Slezak, Peter (2014). "Appraising constructivism in science education". In Matthews, Michael R. (ed.). International handbook of research in history, philosophy and science teaching. New York: Springer. pp. 1023–1055. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-7654-8_31. ISBN 9789400776531. OCLC 889928527.
- Kushnir, Tamar; Benson, Janette B.; Xu, Fei, eds. (2012). Rational constructivism in cognitive development. Advances in child development and behavior. 43. Amsterdam: Elsevier. ISBN��9780123979193. OCLC 819572002.
- Fischer, Kurt W.; Bidell, Thomas R. (2006). "Dynamic development of action and thought" (PDF). In Damon, William; Lerner, Richard M. (eds.). Handbook of child psychology. 1 (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 313–399. doi:10.1002/9780470147658.chpsy0107. ISBN 0471272876. OCLC 58919825.
- Simpson, Barbara; Large, Bob; O'Brien, Matthew (January 2004). "Bridging difference through dialogue: a constructivist perspective". Journal of Constructivist Psychology. 17 (1): 45–59. doi:10.1080/10720530490250697.
- Schwartz, Marc S.; Fischer, Kurt W. (Summer 2003). "Building vs. borrowing: the challenge of actively constructing ideas" (PDF). Liberal Education. 89 (3): 22–29.
- Phillips, Denis Charles, ed. (2000). Constructivism in education: opinions and second opinions on controversial issues. Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education. 99th, pt. 1. Chicago: National Society for the Study of Education. ISBN 0226601706. OCLC 44261210.
- Geelan, David R. (January 1997). "Epistemological anarchy and the many forms of constructivism". Science & Education. 6 (1–2): 15–28. doi:10.1023/A:1017991331853.
- Cobb, Paul (October 1994). "Where is the mind?: constructivist and sociocultural perspectives on mathematical development" (PDF). Educational Researcher. 23 (7): 13–20. doi:10.3102/0013189X023007013.
- Smith III, John P.; diSessa, Andrea A.; Roschelle, Jeremy (April 1994). "Misconceptions reconceived: a constructivist analysis of knowledge in transition" (PDF). The Journal of the Learning Sciences. 3 (2): 115–163. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0302_1.
Constructivism in psychotherapy
- Mascolo, Michael F.; Basseches, Michael; El-Hashem, Amanda (2015). "What would an integrative constructivism look like?". In Raskin, Jonathan D.; Bridges, Sara K.; Kahn, Jack S. (eds.). Studies in meaning 5: perturbing the status quo in constructivist psychology. New York: Pace University Press. pp. 248–301. ISBN 9781935625186. OCLC 904782691.
- Neimeyer, Robert A. (2009). Constructivist psychotherapy: distinctive features. The CBT distinctive features series. Hove, East Sussex; New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415442336. OCLC 237402656.
- Winter, David A. (September 2008). "Cognitive behaviour therapy: from rationalism to constructivism?". European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling. 10 (3): 221–229. doi:10.1080/13642530802337959.
- Neimeyer, Robert A., ed. (2001). Meaning reconstruction and the experience of loss. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1557987424. OCLC 44712952.
- Hoyt, Michael F., ed. (1998). The handbook of constructive therapies: innovative approaches from leading practitioners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0787940445. OCLC 38898009.
- Freedman, Jill; Combs, Gene (1996). Narrative therapy: the social construction of preferred realities. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0393702073. OCLC 34358181.
- Rosen, Hugh; Kuehlwein, Kevin T., eds. (1996). Constructing realities: meaning-making perspectives for psychotherapists. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0787901954. OCLC 32969007.
- Neimeyer, Robert A.; Mahoney, Michael J., eds. (1995). Constructivism in psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN 1557982791. OCLC 31518985.
- Lyddon, William J. (November 1990). "First- and second-order change: implications for rationalist and constructivist cognitive therapies". Journal of Counseling & Development. 69 (2): 122–127. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1990.tb01472.x.