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Bruner's theory on constructivism encompasses the idea of learning as an active process wherein those learning are able to form new ideas based on what their current knowledge is as well as their past knowledge. A cognitive structure is defined as the mental processes which offer the learner the ability to organize experiences and derive meaning from them. These cognitive structures allow the learner to push past the given information in constructing their new concepts. The learner, often a child, will take pieces of their past knowledge and experiences and organize them to make sense of what they know, then base further concepts and solve additional problems based upon a combination of what they already processed and what they think should be processed next.
The teacher resources used should be focused on that of encouragement, aiding and allowing the student to uncover the main principles on their own. Communication between the learner and teacher is the key concept. Socratic learning is suggested as the best method of communication in this theoretical framework, as it allows the teacher to actively note any study skills the learner verbalizes, their progression, their frustrations, and form a rubric of their current learning state based on the dialogue. Seeing as this theory takes known information and expounds upon it, any teacher lesson plans, teacher worksheets, or resources should in fact be constantly building the learner's knowledge in a spiral manner.
The four major principles of Bruner's theory on constructivism encompass 1) a predilection toward learning. The second, how a grouping of knowledge is able to be constructed to best be understood by the learner. The third is effective manners for the teacher to present said material to the learner, with the fourth and final aspect being the progression of rewards as well as punishments.
Bruner is poignant about language and how this affects cognition within this theory of learning development. It is pertinent to any success of a child to identify the differences between adult language and the language used by children. With the child being younger, they need time to advance not only their conceptual learning but their language as well. Thus, teachers and parents alike are encouraged to envelop the "scaffolding" method of communication which is a strategy aimed to simplifying tasks within learning by making smaller steps, all leading to the final outcome. This aids in maintaining any frustration while keeping in mind what is important throughout the learning process.
When evaluating study skills of the child, Bruner's theory suggests that the teachers be explicit regarding organization, help the learner to focus on the larger task at hand as well as the goals, instead of getting caught on minor details or frustrations. They are encouraged to praise the efforts put out by the learners while reminding them, helping them focus on relevant items, and encouraging them to practice and rehearse what they have learned. Social as well as cultural contingencies of learning were adapted into Bruner's later work, theorizing how these affected learning.