Define the Constructivism

Among the educational philosophies, Constructivism came after Behaviorism and Cognitivism. Constructivism is the further development of Cognitivism. Constructivism is divided into Individual Constructivism and Social Constructivism. Swan (2005) mentions that, “Learning theories are called social constructivist when their main concern is with knowledge construction through social interactions” (p. 4). Individual Constructivism focuses on the individual’s reconstruction of knowledge, while Social Constructivism focuses on collaborative leaning perspectives.

Key principles of constructivism are: learners are active participants; learners are self-regulated; social interaction is necessary for effective learning; individuals are encouraged to construct the information by themselves. As Smith and Ragan (2005) mention Constructivists believe that “Knowledge is not transmitted: it is constructed” (p. 19). Duffy and Cunningham (2011) also mention that, “All learning is a process of construction. Knowledge is context dependent, so learning should occur in contexts to which it is relevant. Learning is an inherently social-dialogical activity” (p. 9). Duffy and Savery (1995) explains, “Knowledge evolves through social negotiation and through the evaluation of the viability of individual understandings” (p. 2). Constructivism focuses on the nature of the learners and the interaction between the learners and the learning environment. Individual learners are not passively receiving information but learning from their unique real world experience with their culture background; learning should be an active process.

The Application of The Constructivism

The principles of Constructivism can be applied in the military museum virtual tour design. In Constructivism learning theory, learners are the center of the learning environment. In order to know better about the audience’s feeling about the exhibit; at the audience analysis stage, it is necessary to conduct a survey to some of the previous visitors, such as museum members, to get their feedback about their expectations on a virtual tour design. The virtual tour will need to attract the learners to the American Civil War exhibit at the Military Museum. The virtual tour has to be designed with interactive social activities for the audience to see, hear, and touch.

The target audience of the virtual tour design is Grade 6-8 students, the instructional designer needs to consider Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development” theory and also according to Swan (2005) : “the distance between the actual development level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers” (p. 4). The design document needs to meet the cognitive development level of the target audience. The virtual tour task design cannot be too complicated for the audience to participate, but also has to be a little beyond the audience’s knowledge level. With a little challenge, the learners will start to process the information of the virtual tour, and reconstruct new information into their prior knowledge.


Duffy, T. M., & Cunningham, D. J. (2011). Constructivism: Implications for the design and delivery of instruction. Foundations for Research in Education Communications and Technology.
Duffy, T. M., & Savery, J. R. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational Technology, 35. 31-38.
Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional Design. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.
Swan, K. (2005). A constructivist model for thinking about learning online. In J. Bourne & J. C. Moore (Eds), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities. Needham, MA: Sloan-C.

Further Reading

Baker, E., McGaw, B., and Peterson, P. (Eds). (2007). Constructivism and learning. International Encyclopaedia of Education 3rd Edition, Oxford: Elsevier.
Can, T. (2009). Learning and teaching language online: A constructivist approach. Novitas-ROYAL, 3(1), 60-74.
Lake, C. (1997). Constructivism’s implications for formative evaluation. Constructivism and Fromative Evaluation. AECT.
Lainema, T. (2008). Implications of constructivism for computer-based learning.
Liu, Y and Ginther, D. (1999), Cognitive Styles and Distance Education, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume II, Number III.
Merriam, S. A. and Caffarella, R. S. (1999). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Richardson, J.A. 2000. Field dependence revisited I: Intelligence. Educational psychology, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 255–71.
Tam, M. (1999). Learning Matters at Lingnan. Teaching Learning Center.
Vrasidas, C. (2000). Constructivism versus objectivism: Implications for interaction, course design, and evaluation in distance education. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 6(4), 339-362.