In Constructivist learning scenarios, the learners take an active role in their own learning and develop new knowledge based on their existing knowledge, often through collaboration (Chaves, 2008). According to Constructivist learning theory, peer interaction and collaboration leads to effective development of skills and strategies.
(Ya down with ZPD? Yeah, you know me…)
When learners reach their own individual Zone of Proximal Development (sometimes abbreviated ZPD), the guidance, encouragement, and support of others who have more knowledge in a given topic can help the learner develop skills and proficiencies that he or she otherwise wouldn’t have developed on his or her own (McLeod, 2012).
Constructivism builds upon what learners already know, similar to the foundation of a house, before proceeding to something new. I’ve experienced this scaffolding in math and science courses. Teachers taught us the foundational formulas and equations before moving on to more advanced material that built upon those same skills.
During my college course on sustainability, my professor took a Constructivist approach by allowing students to learn from each other in groups while challenging us to think critically through debates. These discussions had a profound effect on me and helped overcome the Forgetting Curve. You can read a detailed blog post about my experiences here.
Chaves, Christopher A. (Spring, 2008). Adult Learners and the Dialectical Process: A Validating Constructivist Approach to Learning Transfer and Application, Online Journal of Workforce Education and Development Volume III, Issue 1.
Retrieved from http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1066&context=ojwed
McLeod, S. A. (2012). Zone of Proximal Development.