Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Fosnot, C. T. (1996). Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. In C. T. Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice (pp. 8-33). New York: Teachers College Press.

What is this constructivist theory of learning that is the basis of the current reform movement, and how is it different from other models of learning? Fosnot thus begins an extensive review of behaviorism, maturationism, and constructivism. Constructivism comes from the field of cognitive science, particularly the works of Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and Gardner. Fosnot describes the work of these theorists and develops a synthesis to describe and define the psychological theory of constructivism. She refers to the debate between cognitive (or Piagetian) constructivists and social constructivists, and concludes that a constructivist learning model can be depicted as a dialectical tripartite drawing of self, others, and medium connected by symbols (primarily language). This theory pictures learning as an "interpretive, recursive, building process by active learners interacting with the physical and social world." While constructivism is a theory of learning, not a description of teaching, it does have applications for instruction. Fosnot challenges educators to learn how to use this new paradigm to inform teaching.

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