Monday, February 8, 2010

TRYING to make sense of von Glasersfeld and Constructivism

When von Glasersfeld said constructing knowledge, he means the students have to create what they come to know. When a student listens to a lecture they do not take in exactly what the teacher said. The student filters the information and constructs it into knowledge based on how they saw the information through their OWN lens. Von Glasersfeld did not call this aquiring knowledge or gaining knowledge because the student doesn't actually take in what the teacher said. They take in what they thought they heard. It's usually wrong...or as Dr Seibert suggested, viable; however it is not correct knowledge because it is simply how that particular student interpreted what they heard.

If I believed in constructivism I would have a hard time seeing what my students gained from my class/lectures. So in order to work with that problem I would have my students write in math journals. At the end of each class period the students will take about 5 minutes to write what new things they learned and explain to me how they understood it. They can also ask questions etc. As a constructivist I don't believe students actually "aquire" what I have tried to teach. They construct their own knowledge so in order to better teach them I would use journals to properly assess what the students have constructed about the material. This way I can reclarify what was misunderstood and I can keep tabs on my students' knowledge.



  1. Haley,

    I think your idea of a math journal is very creative and implements what the article talked about well. My only concern with the journal is that some students might not be good at explaining on paper their knowledge and understanding and would do better verbally teaching and showing it step by step on the board or something. However, it is still a fine idea, and you explained it very clearly!

    Thank you for your post!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog. The way you would teach by using constructivism is different than the way that I thought about it, but I think that your idea is a good one. If I were to change something on your blog, I would not say that students don't learn things correctly. Sometimes the students interpret information incorrectly, but if taught certain ways, they can construct correct views. Altogether I think you did a great job :)

  3. You've done a nice job of capturing how von Glasersfeld thinks about "constructing" knowledge. On the other hand, it's not necessarily true that the students don't benefit from what a teacher says. Constructivism only implies that the students will interpret what the teacher says and does based on what they know. The resulting interpretation may be fairly close to what the teacher intended to communicate.

  4. I love your idea of using journals to make sure students are getting the concepts correctly. I think that you should give yourself a little more credit, though! I know you are going to be a great teacher because of all the help you given me on homework... so I feel very confident that your students will learn A LOT from your lectures (and according to our test, that isn't necessarily an implication of constructivism). That's all, your great!