Comparing radical, social and psychological constructivism in Australian higher education: a psycho-philosophical perspective

Penelope Van Bergen, Mitch Parsell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

While constructivism enjoys considerable popularity in higher education, both in Australia and internationally, it nonetheless takes a variety of forms. These different interpretations make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about constructivism as a whole. In this essay, we therefore take a psycho-philosophical approach: reviewing and assessing three major versions of constructivism (radical, psychological and social), from both pedagogic and epistemic standpoints. We find no damaging psychological evidence against moderate pedagogic interpretations of constructivism that encourage a focus on how students learn, noting only that these must still be grounded empirically. We find several convincing philosophical arguments against particular epistemic interpretations, however, and against strong pedagogical interpretations that eschew all teacher direction. We conclude by encouraging Australian higher educators to discard the problematic epistemic and psychological versions of constructivism. To expose students to genuine disciplinary inquiry within the academy, we must retain only those versions of constructivism that are philosophically and pedagogically defensible.
LanguageEnglish
Pages41–58
Number of pages18
JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date30 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Fingerprint

constructivism
education
interpretation
pedagogics
academy
popularity
student
educator
teacher
evidence

Keywords

  • constructivism
  • epistemology
  • pedagogy
  • student-centred
  • relativism
  • higher education

Cite this

@article{59643c5a5afa4811acc6a72750cbf340,
title = "Comparing radical, social and psychological constructivism in Australian higher education: a psycho-philosophical perspective",
abstract = "While constructivism enjoys considerable popularity in higher education, both in Australia and internationally, it nonetheless takes a variety of forms. These different interpretations make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about constructivism as a whole. In this essay, we therefore take a psycho-philosophical approach: reviewing and assessing three major versions of constructivism (radical, psychological and social), from both pedagogic and epistemic standpoints. We find no damaging psychological evidence against moderate pedagogic interpretations of constructivism that encourage a focus on how students learn, noting only that these must still be grounded empirically. We find several convincing philosophical arguments against particular epistemic interpretations, however, and against strong pedagogical interpretations that eschew all teacher direction. We conclude by encouraging Australian higher educators to discard the problematic epistemic and psychological versions of constructivism. To expose students to genuine disciplinary inquiry within the academy, we must retain only those versions of constructivism that are philosophically and pedagogically defensible.",
keywords = "constructivism, epistemology, pedagogy, student-centred, relativism, higher education",
author = "{Van Bergen}, Penelope and Mitch Parsell",
year = "2019",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1007/s13384-018-0285-8",
language = "English",
volume = "46",
pages = "41–58",
journal = "The Australian Educational Researcher",
issn = "0311-6999",
publisher = "The Australian Association for Educational Research",
number = "1",

}

Comparing radical, social and psychological constructivism in Australian higher education : a psycho-philosophical perspective. / Van Bergen, Penelope; Parsell, Mitch.

In: The Australian Educational Researcher, Vol. 46, No. 1, 03.2019, p. 41–58.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Comparing radical, social and psychological constructivism in Australian higher education

T2 - The Australian Educational Researcher

AU - Van Bergen, Penelope

AU - Parsell, Mitch

PY - 2019/3

Y1 - 2019/3

N2 - While constructivism enjoys considerable popularity in higher education, both in Australia and internationally, it nonetheless takes a variety of forms. These different interpretations make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about constructivism as a whole. In this essay, we therefore take a psycho-philosophical approach: reviewing and assessing three major versions of constructivism (radical, psychological and social), from both pedagogic and epistemic standpoints. We find no damaging psychological evidence against moderate pedagogic interpretations of constructivism that encourage a focus on how students learn, noting only that these must still be grounded empirically. We find several convincing philosophical arguments against particular epistemic interpretations, however, and against strong pedagogical interpretations that eschew all teacher direction. We conclude by encouraging Australian higher educators to discard the problematic epistemic and psychological versions of constructivism. To expose students to genuine disciplinary inquiry within the academy, we must retain only those versions of constructivism that are philosophically and pedagogically defensible.

AB - While constructivism enjoys considerable popularity in higher education, both in Australia and internationally, it nonetheless takes a variety of forms. These different interpretations make it difficult to draw strong conclusions about constructivism as a whole. In this essay, we therefore take a psycho-philosophical approach: reviewing and assessing three major versions of constructivism (radical, psychological and social), from both pedagogic and epistemic standpoints. We find no damaging psychological evidence against moderate pedagogic interpretations of constructivism that encourage a focus on how students learn, noting only that these must still be grounded empirically. We find several convincing philosophical arguments against particular epistemic interpretations, however, and against strong pedagogical interpretations that eschew all teacher direction. We conclude by encouraging Australian higher educators to discard the problematic epistemic and psychological versions of constructivism. To expose students to genuine disciplinary inquiry within the academy, we must retain only those versions of constructivism that are philosophically and pedagogically defensible.

KW - constructivism

KW - epistemology

KW - pedagogy

KW - student-centred

KW - relativism

KW - higher education

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85062066190&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s13384-018-0285-8

DO - 10.1007/s13384-018-0285-8

M3 - Article

VL - 46

SP - 41

EP - 58

JO - The Australian Educational Researcher

JF - The Australian Educational Researcher

SN - 0311-6999

IS - 1

ER -