SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVIST PERSPECTIVES ON TEACHING AND LEARNING


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Abstract

Social constructivist perspectives focus on the interdependence of social and individual processes in the co-construction of knowledge. After the impetus for understanding the influence of social and cultural factors on cognition is reviewed, mechanisms hypothesized to account for learning from this perspective are identified, drawing from Piagetian and Vygotskian accounts. The empirical research reviewed illustrates (a) the application of institutional analyses to investigate schooling as a cultural process, (b) the application of interpersonal analyses to examine how interactions promote cognition and learning, and (c) discursive analyses examining and manipulating the patterns and opportunities in instructional conversation. The review concludes with a discussion of the application of this perspective to selected contemporary issues, including: acquiring expertise across domains, assessment, educational equity, and educational reform.

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