Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Constructivism is a contemporary epistemology that holds that human beings construct knowledge by giving meaning to current experiences in light of prior knowledge, mental structures, experiences, and beliefs. It is based on the assumption that the source of a person's understanding of external phenomena is in the person's mind. The grid of the mind shapes the individual's responses. Some constructivists believe that there is no objective world independent of human mental activity. They claim that each individual creates his or her personal world, and any one world is no more real than the other. Other constructivists believe the mind is instrumental in interpreting events, objects, and perspectives in the real world and those interpretations produce a knowledge base that is idiosyncratic. Applied to education, constructivist theory acknowledges the impact of unobservable events on human behavior. The mind is viewed as an active participant in helping people make sense of reality. ...