Contructivism vs. Instructivism

In a broad sense, constructivism has two principles.
What a person knows is not passively received but "actively assembled" by the learner.
Learning is an "adaptive" function. So, the role of learning is to help the individual operate within his or her personal world. (Grabe and Grabe page63)
Implications for learning environment are:
teacher is a facilitator
cooperative learning
active learning
individualized pedagogy

In broad sense, instructivism has two principles.
What a person knows comes from objective matter through his/her senses.
Learning is a form of acquiring truth and it can be measured.
Implications for learning environment are:
teacher is directive
hierarchical learning
sequenced learning
"programmed" pedagogy

Constructivism and Instructivism from a larger perspective.
Competing paradigms for Qualitiative Research.
[table format & analysis of constructivism adapted from Guba & Lincoln]
Saeid's analysis of Instructivism added.

Item Constructivism Instructivisim
( forms and nature of reality)
relativism- local and specific consturcted realities 'real' reality which is apprehendable
(relation of knowner and what can be known)
transactinal / subjectivist; created findings objectivist
methodology hermeneutical / dialectical experimental - sequential - quantitative
inquiry aim understanding; reconstruction prediction and control
nature of knowledge individual reconstructions ; coalescing around consensus verified hypotheses established as facts and laws
knowledge accumulation more informed and sophisticated. reconstructions: vicarious experience cause-effect linkages
goodness or
quality criteria
trustworthiness and authenticity and misapprehensions objectivity
ethics intrinsic; process tilt [sic] toward revelation; special problems extrinsic
voice 'passionate participant' as facilitor of multi-voice reconstruction 'dispassinate participant' and "logical" voice
training resocialization; qualitative and quantitative; history; values
of altruism and empowerment
quantitative and qualitative and technical
accommodation incommensurable commensurable
hegemony seeking recognition and input in control of findings and promotion


Guba, Egon G. and Yvonna S. Lincoln (1985) "Competing Paradigms in Qualitative Research" in Naturalistic Inquiry. Beverly Hills: Sage.
Papert,S.(1980). Mindstorms:Children,computers and powerful ideas. New York:Basic Books.
Papert,S.(1993). The childern's machine: Rethinking school in the age of the computer. New York: Basic Books.
Seymour Papert's paper on Jean Piaget
Seymour Papert
Jean Piaget biography
Click here for a site that explores the differences between Contructivism and Behaviorism


Further Explorations:
There are two school of thoughts within constructivism.
Social constructivism and cognitive constructivism.
Social constructivism argues that "the influences of cultural and social contexts in learning supports a discovery model of learning"
Cognitive constructivism " stressed the holistic approach. A child constructs understanding through many channels: reading, listening, exploring and experiencing his or her environment."