This article was written as an assignment in EME6606 Advanced Instructional Design at the University of Florida in Fall 2014.

Discuss how the traditional models of learning, such as behavioral theory or cognitive theory, differ from the constructivist view point on knowledge and how people learn.

The constructivist viewpoint focuses on learning as a collaborative or social experience where meaning is derived from the experience.  According to Richey, Klein & Tracey (2011) constructivists believe knowledge is constructed from experience; learning results from personal interpretation of knowledge; and learning is an active process in which meaning is developed on the basis of experience. 

Behavioral theory looks more at external reward structures.  Learning is often task oriented and reinforced with a rewards structure.  Cognitive theory looks internally and considers how the mind learns and remembers best, as well as internal intrinsic rewards for learning. It seems to me that each of these learning theories builds on the theories developed and discussed by previous scholars.  Behaviorist started with looking at how positive reinforcement can be used to encourage learning.  Cognitive then says, ok, but how does the mind’s functioning play into the learning process?  Constructivist can now build on both and add to the equation the individual interpretation of knowledge, and learning gained by the social/cultural experience. 

Select one or more instructional strategy often employed in the constructivist paradigm. Talk about how the instructional strategy is operationalized in practice.

Computer mediated collaborative (CMC) learning is one of the instructional strategies that may be used to implement a constructivist instructional strategy.  CMC learning provides a space where collaboration can occur.  Collaboration encourages students to work together, discussing strategies, collaborating on editing, providing peer feedback, and helping each other understand concepts.  As a constructivist approach, it is intended that the teacher is not the center of instruction, but rather serves as the facilitator, planning and designing the learning activities that will stimulate the student’s collaboration. (Smyth, 2011)  Much of the learning will occur in a learner-to-learner context.

Advances in the capabilities of CMC tools provides us with the ability to try new ways of implementing constructivist strategies with a variety of learners.  According to Thompson (2013), “an analysis of changing social practices becomes integral to – rather than merely peripheral to – an inquiry into learning and development.” These tools can be used in both online and in blended face-to-face environments to allow students to work together collaboratively and enhance their understanding and integration of knowledge constructed from their experiences.

An example would be to utilize a learning management system, such as Canvas, to host case-based or problem-based group projects.  Canvas provides a group collaboration space which includes an announcement board, a discussion forum, a wiki style pages editor, a collaboration tool, a conferences tool, an online chat and a file storage area.  Students can use the tools to facilitate group discussion, create collaborative documents, host synchronous text based or video chat session, and to store files for the project.


Richey, R. C., Klein, J. D., & Tracey, M. W. (2011). The Instruction Design Knowledge Base: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

Smyth, R. (2011). Enhancing learner-learner interaction using video communications in higher education: Implications from theorising about a new model. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), 113-127. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00990.x

Thompson, H. h. y. c. a. (2013). Andragogy, Computer Mediated Learning: The Demise of the Lecture. Radical Pedagogy, 10(2), 5-5.

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