Essential Criteria to Characterize Constructivist Teaching: Derived from a review of the literature and applied to five constructivist-teaching method articles
International Journal of Science Education
Sandhya N. Baviskar; R. Todd Hartle; Tiffany Whitney
Idaho State University, USA
First Published on: 18 December 2007
Constructivism is an important theory of learning that is used to guide the development of new teaching methods, particularly in science education. However, because it is a theory of learning and not of teaching, constructivism is often either misused or misunderstood. Here we describe the four essential features of constructivism: eliciting prior knowledge, creating cognitive dissonance, application of new knowledge with feedback, and reflection on learning. We then use the criteria we developed to evaluate five representative published articles that claim to describe and test constructivist teaching methods. Of these five articles, we demonstrate that three do not adhere to the constructivist criteria, whereas two provide strong examples of how constructivism can be employed as a teaching method. We suggest that application of the four essential criteria will be a useful tool for all professional educators who plan to implement or evaluate constructivist teaching methods.