Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The constructionist learning theory is based on the idea that students learn best when they build something. Students investigate, create, and solve problems to further there learning. This can be anything from building a website to a drawing.  Dr. Orey states that the idea is for students to be engaged and active in the learning process. This week we studied problem-based learning, project based learning, and inquiry based approaches to learning.  These ideas all coincide with the constructionist learning theory because students are creating something. To further the learning process, using real-world applications will give students a sense of purpose that can they use the information they learn outside of school.  This week we were asked to compare generating and testing hypotheses to the constructionist/constructivist learning theories.

According to Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, there are six tasks that teachers can use to help students generate and test hypotheses.  These include system analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making. These six tasks all fit into the idea of students solving a problem and building something to show their results.  The book mentions having students make predictions about what would happen to an ecosystem if a species of animals was removed or numbers altered.  This is a real-world problem that some areas face when animals become endangered or even when there is an overpopulation of a species. Students could research areas that have been affected by this type of problem and work to come up with a solution to solve it.  Afterwards they could create a PowerPoint or some other project to display their findings and solution to the problem.
Another example given from the book is of a fifth grade teacher that told her students they inherited $10,000 from a relative.  She then had them chart in a spreadsheet how compounding interest and saving money can lead to larger earnings over time. Learning how to invest larger sums of money is something that students may encounter in life.  These types of skills will be beneficial in their lives as they get older.

In conclusion, it is important for students to confront real-world problems in the classroom. They will be more engaged if they have a set purpose to what they are doing.  In addition, students are actively involved when creating projects.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer) (2010) Constructionist and Constructivist Learning Theories. Retrieved from

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


  1. The activity of computing the interest from putting some inherited money in a saving account reminds me of a lesson that my sixth grade math teacher did with me. My math teacher gave us all a check book and and bills to pay. we learned how to wright checks and balance our check book. This project lasted through out the quarter. we would come in to class once a week and have a new check to write. at the end of the quarter i check book was to balance or we had to figure out why. I am very grateful for this experience, because a lot of students today do not know how to write a check and balance a checking account.

  2. Great summary of our reading. So how do you, as a 4th grade teacher, incorporate these ideas into your classroom? What kind of products do your students create? When you do one of these projects is it done in school or mostly on your students own time?
    I teach a little bit of 4th and almost all of 5th, so I am simply curious as to what another teacher does that is close to my grade level.

    Renee Scott

  3. Most projects are done at school because not all of my students have the internet at home. I am still trying to create real-world projects. Many of the projects I find or come up with, seem like they would be too hard for fourth grade. Websites that give example projects cost to subscribe. The other problem I keep running into is most of the programs I can use with my students require an email address which my fourth graders do not have.

    1. I understand the "cost" dilemma. I, too, struggle affording all those kinds of websites. If I ever run into a good one without a cost, I will let you know!

      Renee Scott

  4. Thank you for identifying with the fact that students need to be able to confront real-world problems. I think that as teachers it is important for us to create learning activities that tackle real-world problems for our students. It provides them with the opportunity to relate as well as attempt to solve the problem. Have you found that students demonstrate a better understanding when they are able to relate to the problem? Do you find that creating these types of tasks require more instructional time?