16 April, 2014

Curriculum Theory Synopsis: Constructivist Curriculum Theory

Constructivist Curriculum Theory

The constructivist theory became predominantly prevalent within curriculum and instruction that was implemented in the early 1990’s (Gredler, 2009). In what seemed to be a resurgence of the application of the progressive theory that included a heavy focus on the development of the individual and the construction of knowledge through experience and discovery (Parkay, Anctil, & Hass, 2010), the constructivist curriculum theory shares many of the same proponents of the experiential approach including, Piaget, Vygotsky, Dewey, Glaserfeld, and Bruner.

The constructivist curriculum theory views learning and knowledge as an organization of ones own experiences that occurs in the mind of the individual. The individual’s experience can be influenced either by personal conflict and reflection or by the influence of a common society that interacts together through shared relations (Gredler, 2009). The teacher in this model is charged with facilitating learning for students through methods that include structured prompts and questioning as applied in such curriculums as whole language, literacy-based instruction, directed discovery, and cognitively guided instruction (Harris & Graham, 1994).

Discussion about the current influence that the constructivist curriculum theory has had on curriculum is mixed. Those committed to mounting a resurgence of the theory argue that as of the result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and a back to basics approach to education that constructivism has not had its fair shot (Gibboney, 2006). Others however, continue to provide irrefutable evidence showing that the effects that constructivist based curriculums have had on student academic performance speak loud enough as to the reason why the approach should not be applied within educational institutions (Hattie, 2009).


Gibboney, R. A. (2006, October). Intelligence by Design: Thorndike versus Dewey. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(2), 170-172.

Gredler, M. (2009). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddler River, NJ: Merrill Pearson.

Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (1994). Constructivism: Principles, paradigms, and integration. The Journal of Special Education, 28(3), 233-247.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge Publishing.

Parkay, F. W., Anctil, E. J., & Hass, G. (2010). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs (9th ed.). New York, NY: Allyn & Bacon.