Constructivism & Experiential Learning Theory R. Melcher Anderson

Constructivists believe learning is an active process where the learners construct their own knowledge based on their prior knowledge. Knowledge is subjective, both individually & socially constructed.

Why use it?
*Students learn from others
*Activating background knowledge leads to enhanced retention of new concepts

*Background knowledge should be activated early in lessons
*Curriculum should spiral
*Learners should be grouped & given time to interact with content together

Experiential Learning Theory:
Experiential Learning Theorists focus on personal change & growth, believing learning should be learner
driven, comprehensive, and focus on the process over the outcome.

Why use it:
*Solving real word problems
*Addresses students’ needs
*Self-initiated learning causes more growth & lasting effect

*Learners should drive their learning & have choice
*Assessments should be self-reflective; instructor gives feedback
*Instructors should facilitate efforts to critically think about & solve problems
*Instructors should be ‘real’ with students

*Student Centered
*Instructors is not always the experts
*Instruction should fill in gaps
*Works with the students where they are currently
*High cognitive load

*Cognition over affect
*Novice paired up with expert

Experiential Learning Theory:
*Affect over cognition
*Little to no guided instruction

*Student experts may not be available
*Students might not see the relevance in topic being explored

Experiential Learning Theory:
*Learner must be self-motivated
*Instructor may not know errors in student thinking
*No guarantee standards will be covered

Other Resources:

Clements, Andrew. (1999). The Landry News, Aladdin Paperbacks, New York, NY.

The Genius Hour:

Created by: R. Melcher Anderson


Cooper, Sunny. (2013). Bruner – Constructivism and Discovery Learning. Theories of Learning in Educational Psychology. Retrieved from:

Johnson, Patsy Ann. (2014). Constructivism: A Short Summary. Retrieved from Constructivism.pdf.

Jones, M. Gail & Brander-Araje, Laura. (2002, Spring). The Impact of Constructivism on Education. American Communication Journal, 5(3).

Keasley, Greg. (2003). Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice. Retrieved from:;

Kirschner, Paul A., Sweller, John & Clark, Richard E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work. Educational Psychologist. 41(2), 75–86.

Kolb, Alice Y. & Kolb, David A. (2009). Experiential Learning Theory. Handbook of Management Learning, Education and Development. London: Sage Publications.

Rogers, Carl R. (1969). Freedom to Learn. Princeton, NC, Merrill Publishing Company.

Selley, Nick. (1999). The Art of Constructivist Teaching in the Primary School New York, NY, David Fulton Publishers. 2-45.

Twomey Fosnot, Catherine. (2005). Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice, New York, NY, Teachers College Press. 13-33.

Weibell, C. J. (2011, July 4). 7 Principles to Guide Personalized, Student-Centered Learning in the Technology-Enhanced, Blended Learning Environment. Retrieved from: