Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Embedded Technology in the Classroom Supports Constructivist/Constructionist Learning Theory

The constructivist learning theory explains that an individual creates their own knowledge and understanding through experiences. The constructionist learning theory takes it a step further and the individual builds a project that represents his or her understanding or knowledge. In one of my resources this week, the authors talk about embedding technology in “Generating and Testing Hypothesis…When students generate and test hypotheses, they are engaging in complex mental processes , applying content knowledge like facts and vocabulary, and enhancing their overall understanding of the content” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Using spreadsheet software, data collection tools and Web resources to generate and test hypothesis support the constructivist/constructionist learning theory in the classroom.

The internet has changed how we access information. Information is at our fingertips with a stroke of a key. Technology allows students “…to spend more time interpreting the data rather than gathering the data…” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). Spreadsheets allow students to organize their data in a way that makes sense and it allows them to change the data to investigate different outcomes. Data collection tools such as graphs and charts enable students “…to see the bigger picture and recognize patterns” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). They also allow students to collect data quicker so the students have more time to evaluate the information. Web resources such as gaming software allow students to try different scenarios (hypothesis) in a virtual situation that may be impossible in real life (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn & Malenoski, 2007). These embedded technologies help students gather information, hypothesize, reevaluate data and build a product that represents the learning that occurred.

Just yesterday, I had my math students complete a computer-generated table to record data from a math activity involving the relationship between volumes of solids. My students were able to use the chart to identify the pattern that occurred between the volumes of the solids throughout the lab. It really helped them see the big picture of where the volume formulas derived from. Do you use embedded technology to encourage constructivism/constructionism in your classroom? If so, what do you use and how do you use it?



Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. Jennifer,

    One activity that you could incorporate into your Math class is to have your students create a budget in Excel. I usually give my students a fixed income and some fixed expenses and they get to decide how much money to spend on variable expenses. You can even tell them how much they have to leave at the end of the month to place in a savings account. Students have to figure which of the variable expenses need to be decreased or increase to reach their savings goal. As a extension you can have your students create a graph to see where their money is spent.

  2. JLowe,

    That is a fabulous idea. I already have my students complete a webquest called "Reality Check". They pick their favorite car and house. Then they calculate the payments using the Yahoo calculator. After that, they have to get a job based on their education. I have always had them fill out a budget on paper and adjust accordingly. I did not think about using a spreadsheet instead. They could see the budget adjust before their eyes. I plan on doing this webquest with my students next month and I will use a spreadsheet instead. Thanks again for the idea.

    Jennifer P.

  3. Jennifer,

    I really think your math lesson was a great way to have students show what they have learned. How long does it take you to teach your students to use these programs? I know that with all the pressures of state testing, sometimes it is hard to spend the time teaching our students new things because we are worried about time. Do you find that to be difficult?


  4. Linzie,

    Yes, time is a challenge! I find that most of my students have a natural ability using technology. They are exposed to it using cell phones and computers elsewhere. I have to pick and choose how and when I use technology due to the demands of state testing. In addition, I am in a targeted school which creates additional pressure. I try to implement one big project a year. It helps me keep my sanity.

    Jennifer P.