Constructivist training is favored to traditional classroom training by education reformers based on the strengths of student-inclusive learning models. Reformers advocate a move away from traditional, teacher-centered, (didactic) direct instruction, where students are passive receptors of knowledge, toward more student-centered understanding-based (constructivist) teaching that focuses on exploration and experimentation and reinforces lifelong learning skills. In comparison, traditional classroom learning has several disadvantages.
Lacks Student Focused Learning
A drawback of traditional training is that it inherently places the most value on standards, curriculum and passing tests as opposed to student-focused learning. Student-focused learning places value on the student and builds the curriculum around the questions young people need answered in order to understand the material. Constructivist learning builds on the knowledge students already have allowing them to form concrete associations to new information, which improves retention. Traditional learning is based on repetition and memorization of facts that students care less about and retain at lower rates after testing.
Lacks Emphasis on Critical Thinking
Traditional classroom training doesn't encourage critical thinking skills, the ability to actively apply information gained through experience and reasoning. Instead, traditional training emphasizes the role of teachers as knowledge dispensers and students as repositories. This style of learning doesn't allow students deeper levels of understanding required for complex concepts and lifelong learning.
Lacks Process Oriented Learning
Traditional training emphasizes passing tests, whether or not students under testing material. The learning process is thus devalued, and students are not encouraged to understand the methods, techniques and skills required to find answers. Constructivist learning holds the process as important as the results because it stimulates skills important long after schooling.
Lacks Emphasis on Larger Concepts or Structures
Rather than focusing on larger concepts and considering student context in the learning as constructivist training does, traditional training focuses on basic skills and gradually builds to a whole. While this simplifies learning, it provides little context, which can disconnect learners.
Traditional training emphasizes individual student work and projects and is poor preparation for a student's future endeavors, which are likely to include working on teams and collaborating with colleagues. Under this training model, students receive few opportunities to practice group dynamics and teamwork.
- Teachers College Record; "Access to Constructivist and Didactic Teaching: Who Gets It? Where is it Practiced?"; Becky A., Burkham, David T., Lee, Valerie E. Smerdon; Fall 1999
- Thirteen Ed Online: How Constuctivism Differs from Traditional Learning
- Critical Thinking: Defining Critical Thinking
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